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From The Outside Looking In By: Blogger Chad Oldfather. A suggestion for addressing the financial inequality in Equitation Finals.

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  • I call BS on his blog. I stopped reading at his paragraph devoted to numbers. I know many Jr riders, yes in the last 3-8 years, that made it to Eq finals that didn't do a bazillion shows and have a string of horses. Did they win? No, of course not. It takes practice, focus (not doing any other extra- curricular activities) and yes you do have to do enough shows to get in the experience to be prepared. But they did nothing close to his statistics.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by paw View Post

      I don't necessarily disagree, but I think at least part of the reason standards have changed is that by and large kids don't get the opportunity to just play with their ponies and do all the stupid stuff that eventually makes them feel confident cantering down to a 3'6" fence. As a society we've gotten much more risk-averse (and more inclined to litigate when things go wrong), so most kids are in structured programs (much less goofing off), and most adult-learners are (like me) not able to be that fearless any more.
      In addition, even within structured programs, kids don't spend as much time in the saddle as they used to. I know someone who used to run a lesson program, take kids to shows, the whole deal. She said she finally quit doing it because kids couldn't even manage to show up faithfully at their regular scheduled lessons, which made it even more difficult to get them to the appropriate skill levels for showing.

      I don't know if it was because the kids had too many other activities going on or because the parents had other obligations (e.g. other children in various school/sport activities) - probably both - but the end result was students who were only riding once or twice a month.

      Originally posted by kenyarider View Post
      ...USEF and USHJA need to be more aware of and provide more for every member which is my point at looking and talking about ways to make it more inclusive. ... we need to talk about the sport and how to make and keep it inclusive for a lot more people than it is.
      So how do you reconcile that with the demise of B and C-rated shows? Ostensibly, those shows exist for the horses and riders who lack the means, the time, and/or the ability to compete at the A/AA level. Isn't that the simplest and most obvious way of making showing horses a more inclusive endeavor?

      It seems to me that, rather than, as you suggest, USEF telling us po' folk to STFU, they instead said, "Here, we have created a system under which people of even modest means and ability also have a venue to compete." And, instead of embracing it, we have, as a community, said, "Nah, no thanks."



      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
      that's even remotely true."

      Homer Simpson

      Comment


      • Originally posted by IPEsq View Post

        Even my nice jr hunter (also a TB but not OTT) who jumped around the hunters at Harrisburg just fine could not get me there in the eq past the qualifying classes. I remember once trying the regionals warmup class on him. There was a triple bar among some other tough questions. He jumped so big and so careful, he was completely exhausted after the “warmup”, and I couldn’t put him through the regionals much less think about the finals and those airy jumps, even though he was one of the few options I had who didn’t have a stop in him.
        Yikes! Your story also reminds us how hard this is for the "ambitious" horses who aren't quite able to do these courses without some cost to them. It would give me pause to bring my "carpet bagger" wallet to a show and know that I was also really taxing my "budget" horse as well. After all, he didn't say that he cared about being a hero or a come-from-behind winner.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

        Comment


        • Originally posted by mvp View Post

          Yikes! Your story also reminds us how hard this is for the "ambitious" horses who aren't quite able to do these courses without some cost to them. It would give me pause to bring my "carpet bagger" wallet to a show and know that I was also really taxing my "budget" horse as well. After all, he didn't say that he cared about being a hero or a come-from-behind winner.
          If only he jumped quite so good over the jumps with all the fill! But yes, the equitation specialist horse is not just any old horse that can jump 3'6"... or even higher, necessarily, since I felt like I was going to the moon over the triple, which was set IIRC on a fairly short approach away from the gate. The jumps set at this year's final were no joke for the horses.

          By the end of my career, I got around the Maclay finals on a leased horse with one stop...which was many fewer stops than happened in practice so I guess it was a win. I got around AHSA finals with a very nervous horse but no major errors and no callback either. I was top 10 in the USET flat phase only to have horse melt down on the field in Gladstone before we even got to the really hard stuff (bank, grob, water), stopping out in both jumping phases. Did not ever try to get enough points for WIHS. I also had some success at the state final level, which was pretty good validation for my hard work even though I definitely didn't win them all and wound up getting beaten by some who went on to become big names, including being on the short list for the Olympic team.

          It still took a lot of money to accomplish what I did, and I think even considering how much more expensive shows are now, we probably spent a good bit more to show than the blogger did for his kids based on some of the numbers given...although none of my horses that I owned were top dollar purchases (for example, the "nice jr hunter" spent quite a bit of time bucking, pulling, and swapping leads around the children's ring before my previous story happened).

          I'm not in favor of having the different league versions of the major finals even though that idea might have benefited me. I mean, if you want to allow more people to enter the Maclay finals, just get rid of the regionals, which they did when it was held at the Meadowlands. At the end of the day, not everyone needs to have access to a major national final. Let's work instead on having horse shows in general and some lesser goals (e.g., local/state finals) attainable for more people again.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by IPEsq View Post

            Even my nice jr hunter (also a TB but not OTT) who jumped around the hunters at Harrisburg just fine could not get me there in the eq past the qualifying classes. I remember once trying the regionals warmup class on him. There was a triple bar among some other tough questions. He jumped so big and so careful, he was completely exhausted after the “warmup”, and I couldn’t put him through the regionals much less think about the finals and those airy jumps, even though he was one of the few options I had who didn’t have a stop in him.
            Yikes! Your story also reminds us how hard this is for the "ambitious" horses who aren't quite able to do these courses without some cost to them. It would give me pause to bring my "carpet bagger" wallet to a show and know that I was also really taxing my "budget" horse as well. After all, he didn't say that he cared about being a hero or a come-from-behind winner.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Blinky View Post
              I call BS on his blog. I stopped reading at his paragraph devoted to numbers. I know many Jr riders, yes in the last 3-8 years, that made it to Eq finals that didn't do a bazillion shows and have a string of horses. Did they win? No, of course not. It takes practice, focus (not doing any other extra- curricular activities) and yes you do have to do enough shows to get in the experience to be prepared. But they did nothing close to his statistics.
              His numbers weren't based on the kids who made it to the finals. It was based on kids who made it to the second round of the finals. I also know several kids who made it to the Maclay finals this year who did a "normal" number of shows on a "normal" number of horses (1-2 horses, 11-14 shows). However, not a single one of them made it to the second round. So I guess his statistics really were what it takes financially to be competitive at the Eq finals, not to actually get there.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post


                So how do you reconcile that with the demise of B and C-rated shows? Ostensibly, those shows exist for the horses and riders who lack the means, the time, and/or the ability to compete at the A/AA level. Isn't that the simplest and most obvious way of making showing horses a more inclusive endeavor?

                It seems to me that, rather than, as you suggest, USEF telling us po' folk to STFU, they instead said, "Here, we have created a system under which people of even modest means and ability also have a venue to compete." And, instead of embracing it, we have, as a community, said, "Nah, no thanks."


                This has been discussed before by people advocating for "grassroots"..... stuff? I'm the rider its all aimed at, and I still can't get on board with it. Wish I could, but I'm too much of a stubborn douche to support it, isn't that terrible?

                What it kind of boils down to is people feel like its a consolation prize. There are things like the Colonial Classic where you qualify by doing well at a local horse show series, and you get to ride in the big indoor at Harrisburg. It's cool and all, but not something I would save up my hard earned money and vacation time for because its not the real thing.

                The IEA is another one. It is often viewed as a consolation for people who want to compete and can't afford a horse. In college I looked down on IEA, and I didn't own a horse or ride for most of my college career. I rather not ride at all then actively participate in an activity like that. All I can say about that mindset is that it stems from pride, and there was no way to make it appealing to me. Sour grapes would be an accurate description. Again, I wish I wasn't such an elitist brat, but something in my childhood being surrounded by snobby riders in Hunterdon County, NJ conditioned me to feel that way.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Can'tFindMyWhip View Post

                  This has been discussed before by people advocating for "grassroots"..... stuff? I'm the rider its all aimed at, and I still can't get on board with it. Wish I could, but I'm too much of a stubborn douche to support it, isn't that terrible?

                  What it kind of boils down to is people feel like its a consolation prize. There are things like the Colonial Classic where you qualify by doing well at a local horse show series, and you get to ride in the big indoor at Harrisburg. It's cool and all, but not something I would save up my hard earned money and vacation time for because its not the real thing.

                  The IEA is another one. It is often viewed as a consolation for people who want to compete and can't afford a horse. In college I looked down on IEA, and I didn't own a horse or ride for most of my college career. I rather not ride at all then actively participate in an activity like that. All I can say about that mindset is that it stems from pride, and there was no way to make it appealing to me. Sour grapes would be an accurate description. Again, I wish I wasn't such an elitist brat, but something in my childhood being surrounded by snobby riders in Hunterdon County, NJ conditioned me to feel that way.
                  I'm really sorry you feel that way, because you shouldn't. A lot of these people aren't worth envying.

                  Let me apologize in advance.

                  Comment


                  • kenyarider Its not fair to say that we deserve as much say as the mega rich. We may pay the same dues as the mega rich, but what we don't do is compete every weekend. They are members that are more active than we are, so they end up wielding more say. If the USEF or USHJA inconvenience me, they'll lose my participation at a handful of shows a year with my one horse. If they piss off a rich lady with 4 nice horses and two daughters that are active in pony hunters all summer, that's lot more participation to risk losing. So me and my one horse can go kick rocks. It is what it is unfortunately.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post

                      I'm really sorry you feel that way, because you shouldn't. A lot of these people aren't worth envying.
                      I know they aren't worth envying, and at 12 years old I could that they were all a-holes. But they looked down on me, and its been hard moving past that.

                      I think the real danger here is letting kids do anything that is too competitive. If I had kids now, I'd rather they be total yahoos in the backyard then ever wear show bows. All the riders I know now who grew up doing redneck things on horses with their friends are fairly well adjusted. I think its pretty clear that I am not.

                      Comment


                      • Wasn't there someone who was working with USEF on this "grassroots" thing, but didn't want to call it "grassroots"? Anyone remember that, or know if there is an update?

                        I already mentioned the school programs that have really taken off in my area, and there is also the thoroughbred makeover program that is the topic of another current thread in this forum. So there are other options, it just seems that most of the complainers won't open their minds to anything less than the USEF providing a way for them to jump around 3'6 courses at the top shows in the country at a cost they can afford, and that's just not going to happen.

                        Comment


                        • Already - scope creep!

                          Now everybody has to get to ride in the Finals ???

                          I thought this started by making the standard Big Eq classes more accessible to the masses who don't have Big Funding.

                          Plus there was the issue that Elsewhere Shows didn't set their courses up to height, so Elsewhere Shows weren't meeting the need of riding a Big Eq standard course.

                          And that was because the standard horses and riders couldn't jump to that level anyway.

                          So somehow this pretzel of a conversation has traveled to getting people who can't ride to the level on horses who can't jump to the level into not just the Big Eq classes they can't afford, but into the Finals. So they can have that experience, too.

                          Not sure money is the major roadblock, here.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Can'tFindMyWhip View Post

                            This has been discussed before by people advocating for "grassroots"..... stuff? I'm the rider its all aimed at, and I still can't get on board with it. Wish I could, but I'm too much of a stubborn douche to support it, isn't that terrible?

                            What it kind of boils down to is people feel like its a consolation prize. There are things like the Colonial Classic where you qualify by doing well at a local horse show series, and you get to ride in the big indoor at Harrisburg. It's cool and all, but not something I would save up my hard earned money and vacation time for because its not the real thing.

                            The IEA is another one. It is often viewed as a consolation for people who want to compete and can't afford a horse. In college I looked down on IEA, and I didn't own a horse or ride for most of my college career. I rather not ride at all then actively participate in an activity like that. All I can say about that mindset is that it stems from pride, and there was no way to make it appealing to me. Sour grapes would be an accurate description. Again, I wish I wasn't such an elitist brat, but something in my childhood being surrounded by snobby riders in Hunterdon County, NJ conditioned me to feel that way.
                            That's just messed up. That's like saying, "I refuse to drive unless I can have a Ferrari. A Ford is just a consolation prize and I'd rather walk than drive a car like that."
                            "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                            that's even remotely true."

                            Homer Simpson

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Groom&Taxi View Post
                              OverandOnward I think you make some valid points in your post (109). I think English riding instruction probably has been "dumbed down" over the past 40-50 years, and I think our litigous society, the tendency to over-protect kids, and the trainer-centric hunter-jumper model that has evolved over those same years all contribute. However, I am scratching my head about where all the horses that can do a 3'6" course are. From what I have seen in the past decade or so, they just don't exist at lesson barns - even pretty good discipline specific ones. They aren't coming out of the woodwork and being made available for IHSA or IEA shows - especially in the weaker zones. You talked about a "common capable horse", but I'm really not sure that the horse capable of coursing 3'6" is that common - and if it was common back in the day, I wonder what has changed.
                              IMO what has changed is expectations.

                              I rode a lot of horses over 3'6" courses (*not* Maclay Finals courses) that would probably never be asked to jump more than a couple of feet high today.

                              It is a pretty deep exploration to uncover all of the difference behind the change in expectations. Of course they range from the dependence on the arena, the lack of time riders have to spend riding and learning to ride, the comparative energy, motivation and confidence of riders/horses then and now, the effectiveness of the coaching/training, and even the fitness of many horses today compared with then. A horse does have to be fit enough in its core as well as its legs and haunches to jump the higher jumps with confidence.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post

                                That's just messed up. That's like saying, "I refuse to drive unless I can have a Ferrari. A Ford is just a consolation prize and I'd rather walk than drive a car like that."
                                This.

                                (I love my Ford. )

                                Comment


                                • Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post

                                  That's just messed up. That's like saying, "I refuse to drive unless I can have a Ferrari. A Ford is just a consolation prize and I'd rather walk than drive a car like that."
                                  Not exactly. A good Ford can hold its own against a Ferrari, I understand that. I understand that I can only afford modest horses that I have to bring along myself, and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem becomes if a Ford is a Thoroughbred and a warmblood is a supercar, I'd like to think that if I can find the Ford GT50 of Thoroughbreds, I should be able to compete it against whatever imported warmblood-du-jour if I work hard enough. But that's not how it goes. Instead I am at a figurative go-kart track when I aspire to make it to the Monaco Grand Prix.

                                  Comment


                                  • Originally posted by Blinky View Post
                                    I call BS on his blog. I stopped reading at his paragraph devoted to numbers. I know many Jr riders, yes in the last 3-8 years, that made it to Eq finals that didn't do a bazillion shows and have a string of horses. Did they win? No, of course not. It takes practice, focus (not doing any other extra- curricular activities) and yes you do have to do enough shows to get in the experience to be prepared. But they did nothing close to his statistics.
                                    They may not be far off- and maybe I was reading it wrong- but his median of 34 classes over 5 shows is only 6 classes a show. Did he say it was all in eq or are the kids also doubling in the jumpers or JH? Another came out to 5 and 9 shows. My trainers kid goes once a month to a series, shows in a eq division of 3 or 4 classes and a jumper class. So she's doing, let's say 11 shows at this venue for a total of 44 classes on 2 different horses. That's guessing she may not enter all classes etc. Plus she shows down in KY. So tack on maybe another 10 classes.

                                    So I guess if the kid is on the Florida circuit, comes east and hit Vermont or WEC or whatever.

                                    I know of a show barn local to me and the kids probably hit the higher of those numbers. They get year end awards because of volume but in PF etc- they can't out ride most of the kids. So the parents may have the money to send them to a zillion shows but they are not necessarily riding better (but do have more experience).

                                    Maybe I read his number wrong.
                                    Come to the dark side, we have cookies

                                    Comment


                                    • Fairness and Equality are not the same thing and are all relative terms. I am not sure there is anyway to make finals like these or any competition equal- someone will always have an advantage over another- mentally, talent, decision making, the horse they are riding, etc. What we should expect are fair judging systems- that every rider who steps in the ring is judged to the same standard and not who they are or who they ride with.
                                      "All life is precious"
                                      Sophie Scholl

                                      Comment


                                      • Originally posted by Moesha View Post
                                        Fairness and Equality are not the same thing and are all relative terms. I am not sure there is anyway to make finals like these or any competition equal- someone will always have an advantage over another- mentally, talent, decision making, the horse they are riding, etc. What we should expect are fair judging systems- that every rider who steps in the ring is judged to the same standard and not who they are or who they ride with.
                                        Let's rewrite Harrison Bergeron for the horsey set.
                                        Let me apologize in advance.

                                        Comment

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