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Monopony: Pony Market 2013

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  • Monopony: Pony Market 2013

    Pony Market 2013: Monopony
    MUST READ ARTICLE about the monopolies in the Hunter/Jumper market. The first step in change is education of the consumers in the market.

    After my article last week on the decline of the pony ring, I sat back, mulled a bit more than usual, made lots of phone calls, received phone calls, sent a few emails, received a few emails and unfortunately came to some disappointing conclusions.

    I used to enjoy the pony ring in Zone 2 which is comprised of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was heralded as one of the most competitive zones in the country and I enjoyed watching the “pony kids” grow up and develop. Unfortunately, looking around now, I do not see many of those riders around on the AA circuit. I could roll off a dozen names of riders that have virtually disappeared. In fact, even the juniors that have aged out and are out of college are barely in sight as amateurs. While I would have liked to see more of these juniors become amateurs, I do realize that there could be a multitude of reasons other than those listed in this article for their absence but it begs noting.

    I also have watched the smaller shows in Zone 2 decline. In my opinion, show managers all over the country are monopolizing the industry. Circuits are never ending. Show managers are increasing office fees and are profiting greatly from staple goods they buy in bulk and receive discounts for. As exhibitors, we are a captive audience and must pay the costs pass through to us by the show managers. Whatever happened to stalls being pre-bedded?

    In my opinion. it has become much harder for a rider, staying in Zone 2 to qualify for some of the major shows because of the smaller less expensive shows decline. While Zone 2 riders can travel to Zone 1 or Zone 3, it still proves difficult. The majority of the riders that qualify for the major shows travel south for the winter. While cost is not just the only factor. this does add another layer to the already expensive sport.

    I did a quick calculation before the economy was in a downswing and on average it cost $50,000 to $75,000 to campaign one pony over the course of year and qualify for major competitions. I do not even need to calculate the current cost, as with the increase in show fees, cost passed through to exhibitors, inflation, gas prices, etc, it has without a doubt increased significantly. These costs create a huge barrier to entry into the pony division for new riders.

    In my opinion, the pony ring has always been controlled by a select few top trainers that are referred to as the “powers that be” and it seems desperate times have led to desperate measures. I have watched one specific top trainer time and time again, steal the riders of a lower status trainer, even before the decline in the market. Even so, this trainer has reinvented himself/herself time and time again only to lose his/her wealthier clients to this top trainer. I would think “once bitten. twice shy” but that rule oddly does not seem to apply. It is a vicious cycle and the lesser trainer is even forced to “bow down” to the “powers that be” or be exiled out of favor.

    In a difficult economy, the “powers to be” have not only monopolized the market, but have been allowed to skirt the USEF Rules and Regulations, while in my opinion, the USEF turns a blind eye. One such top trainer has been, in my opinion, targeted and has had his/her hands slapped. I have no knowledge of the circumstances of the infraction(s) and cannot and am not opining on the appropriateness of the USEF’s decision(s). I actually find it offensive that this specific trainer has been allegedly targeted and have my own opinions on why this was done. In my opinion, this is not the first time the USEF has targeted a trainer and in my opinion, I see a disappointing pattern developing.

    In my opinion, the USEF is only concerned with primarily collecting membership dues and not on addressing the real problems in the Hunter/Jumper industry. Again, in my opinion, the USEF turns a blind eye because, if they impose more than a slap on the hand, they risk losing money for each and every animal suspended, which in some top trainers barns could be significant and make their clientele very upset if it effected their showing at key times during the year. When you add it up thats a mountain of fees paid to the USEF yearly and could possibly have effect on major shows revenue and client satisfaction. It is a double edged-sword, that in my opinion, the USEF strategically avoids or strategically uses to make a statement by issuing suspensions to certain targeted individuals at convenient times.

    The pony hunter ring is supposed to be about encouraging and developing talented young riders. It has now turned into monopolies within a monopoly. This is referred to as an oligopoly which by definition controls the market and distorts market interaction. In my opinion, a few top trainers and show managers control the Hunter/Jumper ring. In my opinion, on top of this, the decline of the smaller shows, the growth of the already larger shows, the economy and the barriers to entry have simply become overwhelming and discouraging to many parents of riders desiring entry to the pony ring.

    With all of this said, how does this translate to the pony market? Logically, with less riders entering the market, there is an overabundance (supply) of ponies being marketed and less buyers (demand) in searching the market for ponies. Ponies are also disappearing from circulation and in some instances sellers are even giving ponies away.

    As a result, pony prices have been driven down, as average buyers have an abundance of ponies to choose from. These buyers also have access to the internet and a wealth of information and have become more savvy. They realize that leasing as opposed to buying is a better option, at least in the pony market. Children outgrow ponies and then their now owned ponies will be included in the over saturated market when it is time for these buyers to revert to sellers in the market.

    Of course, in my opinion, there have always been top trainers who monopolize the market with their wealthy clients and recycle the ponies within their own barns, making commission upon commission (sometimes even tacking on for a trainer “friend”). One trainer I know made 10 commissions off of the same animal by recycling it to customer after customer. This monopsony only adds to the problem of the pony market.

    I often wonder if these wealthy customers realize this and wonder if they are so wealthy that they do not need to sit down and add up how much they have actually put in these top trainers pockets. What amazes me even more is that these top trainers, in my opinion, with a barn full of clients, normally have a “favorite” (the wealthiest/most talented rider in the client base) and do not give equal treatment to all clients even though they all have the same bills each month.

    I have watched family after family, pay and pay and be satisfied with the unequal treatment. I have even heard firsthand, these top trainers, laugh at the customers when they left the ring. What I do not understand is how, given these customers have the same access to the internet and assuming like other buyers that they are also savvy, why they allow this vicious cycle to continue. Are they afraid of being exiled as the lesser trainer? Are the top trainers, in exchange putting monies in the clients pockets on sale transactions to keep them at a satisfied level?

    This year I predict that the major qualifying pony hunter shows will be dominated by a handful of trainers and will have more riders at these shows than in past years. This will only ratify the decline in the pony hunter ring shown in my previous article and subject the pony market for outsiders to further decline.

    The Hunter/Jumper disciplines are just one of the many divisions of the USEF. For example, the Saddlebred discipline is not motivated by “point chasing” and the market has expanded even given the economy. I point this out only to show that there are many other disciplines under the auspice of the USEF and even in the hunter/jumper market collapsed, they would still have membership fees from other disciplines.

    With that being said, the Hunter/Jumper discipline is where the career riders of show jumping develop and even though this is not the only discipline at the Olympics, it is a major part of enabling the USEF to be a National Governing Body (“NGB”) of the United States Olympic Committee. If by chance, they lost their NGB status, another organization could step in and take this prestigious title and status over. Among the ranks, there has been talk of another organization and circuit being formed, as there are many members in the Hunter/Jumper community dissatisfied with the USEF. This could be a positive for the pony hunter market. Of course, this leaves the variable of the unknown.

    In my opinion, the USEF has formed an oligopoly with these show managers and top trainers in the Hunter/Jumper arena while the masses are left as outsiders. As past history reveals, monopolies weaken the market and actually opens the door for new markets to develop.

    As it does not look as if the economy is going to make a miraculous turnaround, something drastic needs to be done to change this downward path of the pony hunter market. The top 1% cannot support the Hunter/Jumper industry. While I wish I had a crystal ball, only time will tell where the Hunter/Jumper world is headed but I do believe the masses need to demand to be heard.

    Thank you to everyone for your input and please keep it coming. I keep telling the USEF that I am part of the solution and not the problem and that they need a “fixer”. Rest assured, I do not think it is me, because I have no desire to assist the USEF. One top trainer expressed that mountains can not be moved but this little pony mom has already been a force of change within and will continue my efforts for the masses.
    Elizabeth Mandarino
    www.amberhillponies.com
    cell 908.397.0977

  • #2
    Go away, EM.

    Just editing this myself to add that my statement was really not that bad and should anyone care to know what I said, PM me.
    Last edited by supershorty628; Mar. 14, 2013, 07:44 PM. Reason: to clarify that I'm not a bad person.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by amberhill View Post
      Pony Market 2013: Monopony
      MUST READ ARTICLE about the monopolies in the Hunter/Jumper market. The first step in change is education of the consumers in the market.

      After my article last week on the decline of the pony ring, I sat back, mulled a bit more than usual, made lots of phone calls, received phone calls, sent a few emails, received a few emails and unfortunately came to some disappointing conclusions.

      I used to enjoy the pony ring in Zone 2 which is comprised of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was heralded as one of the most competitive zones in the country and I enjoyed watching the “pony kids” grow up and develop. Unfortunately, looking around now, I do not see many of those riders around on the AA circuit. I could roll off a dozen names of riders that have virtually disappeared. In fact, even the juniors that have aged out and are out of college are barely in sight as amateurs. While I would have liked to see more of these juniors become amateurs, I do realize that there could be a multitude of reasons other than those listed in this article for their absence but it begs noting.

      I also have watched the smaller shows in Zone 2 decline. In my opinion, show managers all over the country are monopolizing the industry. Circuits are never ending. Show managers are increasing office fees and are profiting greatly from staple goods they buy in bulk and receive discounts for. As exhibitors, we are a captive audience and must pay the costs pass through to us by the show managers. Whatever happened to stalls being pre-bedded?

      In my opinion. it has become much harder for a rider, staying in Zone 2 to qualify for some of the major shows because of the smaller less expensive shows decline. While Zone 2 riders can travel to Zone 1 or Zone 3, it still proves difficult. The majority of the riders that qualify for the major shows travel south for the winter. While cost is not just the only factor. this does add another layer to the already expensive sport.

      I did a quick calculation before the economy was in a downswing and on average it cost $50,000 to $75,000 to campaign one pony over the course of year and qualify for major competitions. I do not even need to calculate the current cost, as with the increase in show fees, cost passed through to exhibitors, inflation, gas prices, etc, it has without a doubt increased significantly. These costs create a huge barrier to entry into the pony division for new riders.

      In my opinion, the pony ring has always been controlled by a select few top trainers that are referred to as the “powers that be” and it seems desperate times have led to desperate measures. I have watched one specific top trainer time and time again, steal the riders of a lower status trainer, even before the decline in the market. Even so, this trainer has reinvented himself/herself time and time again only to lose his/her wealthier clients to this top trainer. I would think “once bitten. twice shy” but that rule oddly does not seem to apply. It is a vicious cycle and the lesser trainer is even forced to “bow down” to the “powers that be” or be exiled out of favor.

      In a difficult economy, the “powers to be” have not only monopolized the market, but have been allowed to skirt the USEF Rules and Regulations, while in my opinion, the USEF turns a blind eye. One such top trainer has been, in my opinion, targeted and has had his/her hands slapped. I have no knowledge of the circumstances of the infraction(s) and cannot and am not opining on the appropriateness of the USEF’s decision(s). I actually find it offensive that this specific trainer has been allegedly targeted and have my own opinions on why this was done. In my opinion, this is not the first time the USEF has targeted a trainer and in my opinion, I see a disappointing pattern developing.

      In my opinion, the USEF is only concerned with primarily collecting membership dues and not on addressing the real problems in the Hunter/Jumper industry. Again, in my opinion, the USEF turns a blind eye because, if they impose more than a slap on the hand, they risk losing money for each and every animal suspended, which in some top trainers barns could be significant and make their clientele very upset if it effected their showing at key times during the year. When you add it up thats a mountain of fees paid to the USEF yearly and could possibly have effect on major shows revenue and client satisfaction. It is a double edged-sword, that in my opinion, the USEF strategically avoids or strategically uses to make a statement by issuing suspensions to certain targeted individuals at convenient times.

      The pony hunter ring is supposed to be about encouraging and developing talented young riders. It has now turned into monopolies within a monopoly. This is referred to as an oligopoly which by definition controls the market and distorts market interaction. In my opinion, a few top trainers and show managers control the Hunter/Jumper ring. In my opinion, on top of this, the decline of the smaller shows, the growth of the already larger shows, the economy and the barriers to entry have simply become overwhelming and discouraging to many parents of riders desiring entry to the pony ring.

      With all of this said, how does this translate to the pony market? Logically, with less riders entering the market, there is an overabundance (supply) of ponies being marketed and less buyers (demand) in searching the market for ponies. Ponies are also disappearing from circulation and in some instances sellers are even giving ponies away.

      As a result, pony prices have been driven down, as average buyers have an abundance of ponies to choose from. These buyers also have access to the internet and a wealth of information and have become more savvy. They realize that leasing as opposed to buying is a better option, at least in the pony market. Children outgrow ponies and then their now owned ponies will be included in the over saturated market when it is time for these buyers to revert to sellers in the market.

      Of course, in my opinion, there have always been top trainers who monopolize the market with their wealthy clients and recycle the ponies within their own barns, making commission upon commission (sometimes even tacking on for a trainer “friend”). One trainer I know made 10 commissions off of the same animal by recycling it to customer after customer. This monopsony only adds to the problem of the pony market.

      I often wonder if these wealthy customers realize this and wonder if they are so wealthy that they do not need to sit down and add up how much they have actually put in these top trainers pockets. What amazes me even more is that these top trainers, in my opinion, with a barn full of clients, normally have a “favorite” (the wealthiest/most talented rider in the client base) and do not give equal treatment to all clients even though they all have the same bills each month.

      I have watched family after family, pay and pay and be satisfied with the unequal treatment. I have even heard firsthand, these top trainers, laugh at the customers when they left the ring. What I do not understand is how, given these customers have the same access to the internet and assuming like other buyers that they are also savvy, why they allow this vicious cycle to continue. Are they afraid of being exiled as the lesser trainer? Are the top trainers, in exchange putting monies in the clients pockets on sale transactions to keep them at a satisfied level?

      This year I predict that the major qualifying pony hunter shows will be dominated by a handful of trainers and will have more riders at these shows than in past years. This will only ratify the decline in the pony hunter ring shown in my previous article and subject the pony market for outsiders to further decline.

      The Hunter/Jumper disciplines are just one of the many divisions of the USEF. For example, the Saddlebred discipline is not motivated by “point chasing” and the market has expanded even given the economy. I point this out only to show that there are many other disciplines under the auspice of the USEF and even in the hunter/jumper market collapsed, they would still have membership fees from other disciplines.

      With that being said, the Hunter/Jumper discipline is where the career riders of show jumping develop and even though this is not the only discipline at the Olympics, it is a major part of enabling the USEF to be a National Governing Body (“NGB”) of the United States Olympic Committee. If by chance, they lost their NGB status, another organization could step in and take this prestigious title and status over. Among the ranks, there has been talk of another organization and circuit being formed, as there are many members in the Hunter/Jumper community dissatisfied with the USEF. This could be a positive for the pony hunter market. Of course, this leaves the variable of the unknown.

      In my opinion, the USEF has formed an oligopoly with these show managers and top trainers in the Hunter/Jumper arena while the masses are left as outsiders. As past history reveals, monopolies weaken the market and actually opens the door for new markets to develop.

      As it does not look as if the economy is going to make a miraculous turnaround, something drastic needs to be done to change this downward path of the pony hunter market. The top 1% cannot support the Hunter/Jumper industry. While I wish I had a crystal ball, only time will tell where the Hunter/Jumper world is headed but I do believe the masses need to demand to be heard.

      Thank you to everyone for your input and please keep it coming. I keep telling the USEF that I am part of the solution and not the problem and that they need a “fixer”. Rest assured, I do not think it is me, because I have no desire to assist the USEF. One top trainer expressed that mountains can not be moved but this little pony mom has already been a force of change within and will continue my efforts for the masses.
      For posterity.

      Comment


      • #4
        Good grief I hope you didn't spend that much time on this. Much like your previous article none of this is news, and most of us don't need pretty little excel graphs to figure it out. But, I understand you are fairly new to the industry.

        The annoyingly ubiquitous use of "In my opinion" shows you are treading a fine legal line somewhere. If you are going to be that careful you should probably ask your lawyer about trademark infringement. Hasbro does not take kindly to illegal representations of Rich Uncle Pennybags and has quite a reputation for going after culprits.

        And finally, Mods, are we allowed to write articles and republish them here on the forums? Cause if that's the case, I know more than a few bloggers that would love to inundate the forums with their self-promotional fluff.
        EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you to everyone for your input and please keep it coming. I keep telling the USEF that I am part of the solution and not the problem and that they need a “fixer”. Rest assured, I do not think it is me, because I have no desire to assist the USEF. One top trainer expressed that mountains can not be moved but this little pony mom has already been a force of change within and will continue my efforts for the masses.
          You aren't part of the problem.
          You're the entire problem. In my opinion.

          Fixing it is definitely NOT emulating Valliere Method followed by endless frivolous lawsuits...throwing tons of excrement against the wall hoping something sticks and everyone else forgets your inexperience killing a pony in front of children in the flying feces storm.

          At least in my humble opinion.

          This post reflects only my opinion and most likely every other educated horse persons' opinions. It does not state facts nor accusations. It does express intended disgust and contempt.

          PS: the screen shot key is on the top right of the keyboard.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!
          ...Belefonte

          Comment


          • #6
            ^To add to that, if I were in EM's position (although I never would be), I would be sitting in the corner being humble and quiet and thanking my lucky stars that, for whatever reason, the USEF didn't ban me for the continued angry tirades, frivolous lawsuits, and oh yeah, the dead pony.

            I would certainly not go around screaming my head off about how everyone else is crazy and doing it wrong and that I've been wronged.

            What's that saying about thinking everyone else is nuts and it's actually you? It's not coming to me for some reason.

            Edited to add: why hasn't this person been banned from posting on here?
            Also adding: if it takes between 50k and 75k to qualify a pony for indoors... I think you're doing it wrong.
            http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
            Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
              Also adding: if it takes between 50k and 75k to qualify a pony for indoors... I think you're doing it wrong.
              And... is it a requirement to qualify a pony for Indoors in order to ride and enjoy it? If it is, I think you're doing it wrong.

              Comment


              • #8
                In a difficult economy, the “powers to be” have not only monopolized the market, but have been allowed to skirt the USEF Rules and Regulations, while in my opinion, the USEF turns a blind eye.
                Wow. Just wow.

                As an aside, Supershorty, when you are a paying client with no pros in the family or professional courtesy discounts, and you are campaigning a hunter, even doing things on the cheap, you will easily spend more than $50k following the circuit. Easily. It truly is that expensive. Ask me how I know.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MHM View Post
                  And... is it a requirement to qualify a pony for Indoors in order to ride and enjoy it? If it is, I think you're doing it wrong.
                  I particularly like this gem from the first article:
                  Originally posted by Amber Hill Farm
                  I did not pick this number randomly, but used it based on the premise that to qualify for Devon or Indoors, ponies need to complete in at least 15 shows over a stated period of time and any pony not competing in more than a dozen shows, for this analysis was considered to be a pony that was not really campaigning, or a serious contributor to the industry.
                  Showing 12 times a year is not seriously contributing to the industry?

                  You fear it's all going to the 1%, and then put a cut-off in your own analysis at 15 shows a year?

                  Devon & Indoors is not the end-all be-all for this sport. Heck, half the west coast doesn't even bother with them. Similarly, HOTY is very well-known to be little more than a checkbook race.

                  If you really care about bringing the little guy back into the fold you probably need give the dozen-shows-a-year folks (which is probably a good $20K in show fees alone) a little credit for their contributions.
                  EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Here we go again! Popcorn anyone?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dags View Post
                      Good grief I hope you didn't spend that much time on this. Much like your previous article none of this is news, and most of us don't need pretty little excel graphs to figure it out. But, I understand you are fairly new to the industry.

                      The annoyingly ubiquitous use of "In my opinion" shows you are treading a fine legal line somewhere. If you are going to be that careful you should probably ask your lawyer about trademark infringement. Hasbro does not take kindly to illegal representations of Rich Uncle Pennybags and has quite a reputation for going after culprits.

                      And finally, Mods, are we allowed to write articles and republish them here on the forums? Cause if that's the case, I know more than a few bloggers that would love to inundate the forums with their self-promotional fluff.
                      I completely agree - this article was so poorly written it was almost painful to read. The redundant "in my opinion" statements could have easily been removed with a disclaimer addressing that the article was merely one individual's opinion. In addition, this article seems to be masquerading as an "insightful" look into the economics of the pony hunter market with vague antidotes that paint certain professionals negatively in attempt to redeem the plight of an "innocent," or "targeted" trainer/individual. If one wants to have an intelligent discussion on the pony hunter market/industry, it would be wise to have a more intimate understanding of economics that avoids biases that completely diminish any credibility of the author or insight into the actual issue.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Elizabeth Mandarino,
                        Y-O-U are the problem. Haven't you figured it out yet that you should be sitting on the sidelines/corner being HUMBLE (see what I did there ) and keeping your mouth shut.

                        Choo chooo, the train is a coming! Popcorn and wine for everyone!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by amberhill View Post
                          In my opinion, the USEF is only concerned with primarily collecting membership dues and not on addressing the real problems in the Hunter/Jumper industry. Again, in my opinion, the USEF turns a blind eye because, if they impose more than a slap on the hand, they risk losing money for each and every animal suspended, which in some top trainers barns could be significant and make their clientele very upset if it effected their showing at key times during the year.
                          And lucky for you that is the case!!
                          "I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy. My reality is just different from yours."
                          ~Lewis Carroll

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Shame on you. You are what is wrong with this industry.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh the irony of calling out the USEF for not handing out penalties more severe than a slap on the wrist.

                              If one has been the subject of a public outcry over events that one caused, you would think one would not be drawing attention to oneself.

                              Maybe replacing one of those lawyers with a psychiatrist would be a good idea.

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                              • #16
                                Please go away. You are the problem, not the solution. The fact that you continue to show your face at horse shows (and on this board) proves how delusional you truly are.

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                                • #17
                                  You will never represent my voice for this sport. Ever.
                                  Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

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                                  • #18
                                    There is a place for blogs and this board is not it. COTH is a site for exchanges of ideas or information of the horsey kind....not a pulpit to preach from. I guess, ultimately, it's up to the mods. This OP sure can't take a hint.

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                                    • #19
                                      I don't think she really dislikes the system, based on her actions - she's just mad that she didn't get to be one of the BNTs.

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                                      • #20
                                        I see Mods have edited a post so they are aware of this thread. This "article" is reproduced verbatim on the Amber Hill website, which is conveniently linked to in the original post. I really would like clarification on this question?

                                        Originally posted by dags View Post
                                        And finally, Mods, are we allowed to write articles and republish them here on the forums?
                                        EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

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