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Why is success in the show ring suddenly the only measure of a rider/trainer?

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  • Why is success in the show ring suddenly the only measure of a rider/trainer?

    Do people completely discount the excellent riders, trainers, instructors, horsemen/women out there that (for various reasons) have not had extensive opportunities to show and therefore limited show records?

    I know plenty of pros who are very successful in the show ring that I would not let NEAR my horses. Can people not recognize that a good rider is a good rider, and a great trainer a great trainer, despite what their show record may be? Why is the show ring the only standard?

    I'm curious...

  • #2
    well said.... unfortunately, people want "objective" measures and this is the only one that seems to exist....

    Comment


    • #3
      There are many fine horsemen that don't spend all year on the circuit. Of course unless you happen into their barn and discover them, or get introduced to them some other way, you'd never know about them.
      Shows are the proof of the pudding. Until they are out there in front of people demonstrating the skills of their horses or riders, they are sometimes hard to find.
      F O.B
      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        See, I don't consider shows to be the proof of the pudding. The proof of the pudding is a rider that consistently improves the horse on a daily basis, both on the flat and over fences. It's the horseman that perpetually keeps the horse's best interest at heart first and foremost, the one that never loses their temper and always has the right tools in their toolbelt to deal with issues without always resorting to gadgetry. It's someone with vast amounts of knowledge that is able to convey the knowledge to others so they can also reap the benefits.

        What I find sad is that a rider/trainer can possess all these things, and for whatever reason (lack of finances as a junior rider, family obligations, etc.) cannot claim extensive success in the show ring, and are commonly passed over in favor of those of much lesser ability/knowledge but good show records...

        Comment


        • #5
          I also wouldn't send my horse to 90% of the trainers on the circuit. Some because I don't like the way they treat their horses, some because of the way they treat their clients, and most because of they way they are WAY out of my price range. I'd love to find one of those "undiscovered" gems out there to give my mare to, but alas, I don't have the time to search, so she'll continue to be very happy doing way less than she should be...
          Not all who wander are lost.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LudgerFan View Post
            See, I don't consider shows to be the proof of the pudding. The proof of the pudding is a rider that consistently improves the horse on a daily basis, both on the flat and over fences. It's the horseman that perpetually keeps the horse's best interest at heart first and foremost, the one that never loses their temper and always has the right tools in their toolbelt to deal with issues without always resorting to gadgetry. It's someone with vast amounts of knowledge that is able to convey the knowledge to others so they can also reap the benefits.

            What I find sad is that a rider/trainer can possess all these things, and for whatever reason (lack of finances as a junior rider, family obligations, etc.) cannot claim extensive success in the show ring, and are commonly passed over in favor of those of much lesser ability/knowledge but good show records...
            That's all fine and dandy, no really, it is. All of the qualities you've mentioned are fantastic ones. But the fact of the matter is what someone already mentioned. If they don't show, how are you supposed to find them? Sure, you might happen across them while selling a horse or see an ad online or something, but it's sure not as accessible as heading to a show and watching all the trainers and their students all at once.

            Furthermore, if your goal is the show ring, it doesn't really make sense to set yourself up with a trainer that doesn't have extensive show experience. No matter their lovely methods and technique or experience as a horseman or woman, they aren't going to have the same ability to guide you through the whole show process as someone who shows extensively or did show extensively in their younger years. The show ring might not be the only standard of merit, but for people who want to show it's obviously a large consideration, although obviously not the only consideration.

            The ideal trainer, to me, anyways, would have all of the above, extensive show experience and impeccable horsemanship. I went to the trouble of finding one. Everyone I know went to the trouble of finding one. Obviously, some people don't. Or, the people who don't might not have the same list of priorities as myself. Or maybe they haven't been educated about horsemanship in the same way I have. Either way, I think it's unfair to say that in general people would not recognize a good rider or trainer as one, if their show record does not display it.
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            • #7
              I find it unfortunate as well, in many ways because I'm in that boat. I'm a 'good' trainer (I'd like to believe anyway lol), but I don't show very much. I'm not good in the show ring, period. I don't like it, I don't particularly aspire to do it, but I know its a necessary part of being a trainer. It DOES make advertising a wee bit tricky.
              You know, if you took this jello, put it in a mold and froze it, you could be like look....an emerald. Dude, I'd kick some guys ass he ever tried to give me a jello ring.

              Comment


              • #8
                Show ring success means nothing to me. There are plenty of talented & skilled riders/trainers that either don't have the interest or $$$ to go to shows.

                Just because you don't have big $$$ or know the right people/have big $$$ clients doesn't mean you arn't as good as the ones that do.

                Everyone is so caught up on names.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kitsunegari View Post
                  Show ring success means nothing to me. There are plenty of talented & skilled riders/trainers that either don't have the interest or $$$ to go to shows.

                  Just because you don't have big $$$ or know the right people/have big $$$ clients doesn't mean you arn't as good as the ones that do.

                  Everyone is so caught up on names.
                  agrree matey, bnt trianers arnt the be all and end all
                  what matters is each person with ther horse enjoys what ever they can afford to and keep the horse safe and well as the horse is thy partner in anything equine and one cant acheive anything unless it has a horse to do it on

                  goals -and aims - small steps make a huge ladder - each step is a goal and each ladder is something we aim for
                  but most of all we tried - win or lose we won becuase we learnt something every time out so its a win win

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Shows are like advertisments. It is tough to have a fantastic product but no one knows about it because it isn't advertised. Shows are not the be all and end all but are a place to advertise (by performance) what your" product " can do.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My mother is BY far one of the best trainers I know,she is an awesome horsewoman, has that natural instinct and can train with the best of them ( and NO I am not clouded in my judgement I have trained with many OTHER trainers and spent years on the circuit watching and listening) but growing up she trained kids with less money and they did the local circuit, it was NEVER about winning ribbons it was about learning to ride YOUR horse and how to care for it and how to move to the next level instead of staying at a lower level just to win some big ribbon at the end of the year.
                      I think it is a personal CHOICE for the TRAINER, some people don't care if they are a BNT they just do what they love because they love it, they are not looking for the recognition from others they want to share their knowledge with the people who happen to stumble upon them, my mother has produced kids who have gone on to vet school, run large lesson programs and another who married a vet and now runs a awesome breeding program, all of the things these people are doing NOW are directly related to their experiences as kids in our barn. To my mom that is her measure of success! My mom also has her own successful breeding program, and each year her babies win awards and move on to great show homes, for her these quiet accomplishments are what matters.
                      But unless you see her ad in the yellow pages or follow breeding in PA your not likely to run across her, and for her thats ok.
                      Kim
                      If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        LudgerFan wrote: "See, I don't consider shows to be the proof of the pudding. The proof of the pudding is a rider that consistently improves the horse on a daily basis, both on the flat and over fences. It's the horseman that perpetually keeps the horse's best interest at heart first and foremost, the one that never loses their temper and always has the right tools in their toolbelt to deal with issues without always resorting to gadgetry. It's someone with vast amounts of knowledge that is able to convey the knowledge to others so they can also reap the benefits.

                        What I find sad is that a rider/trainer can possess all these things, and for whatever reason (lack of finances as a junior rider, family obligations, etc.) cannot claim extensive success in the show ring, and are commonly passed over in favor of those of much lesser ability/knowledge but good show records..."

                        I love this post! I am right there with you LF. To me, the horse, the way it is handeled, trained, and ridden is the PROOF IN THE PUDDING. I could care less about show record. I am a cross over from the dressage ring. Frankly, I am sick to death of all the things that are wrong with the show world - irregardless of discipline. I personally know trainers, on both sides of the fence, who are sick and tired of what is being pinned in the show ring today.

                        If you think of it this way, when you go show you are judged against what ever and who ever decides to show up that day. Your competitors could truly be the best of the best, or the worst. A judge's job is to simply place what he/she sees in front of him/her on that given day in that given class. It is still a subjective opinion, even in dressage. Yes, I know there are "standards" that their judgements are to be made against, but I don't think I've ever heard of any rider being turned away (not pinned) because their riding and horsemanship didn't meet the established standard.

                        Personally, I think it one's decision should be made about a trainer, etc. based on what is most important to them. If feeding a purely human ego in a quest for greatness and glory in the show ring is what fuels them, then by all means seek out the "competition" trainer.

                        If your horse, and its ethical treatment, correct training, and physical and mental preservation are the most important to you - then perhaps you should seek the sort of trainer you so eloquently described!

                        I know a handful (a small handful) of dressage trainers who fit to a T the description you posted. They are one that I would willingly leave my horse with. Actually there are 3 that I know personally that I would trust implicitly. All three have trained ad ridden to the FEI levels. Out of those three, one no longer actively shows. One periodically shows with great results. A third is at the top of her game nationally and internationally, and is a regular contributor to Dressage Today, and is aligned with some of the BEST trainers in this country.

                        LG - you rock! Keep on questioning and seeking the BEST for your HORSE who is your FAITHFUL friend and who relies on YOU to provide him with the BEST in care, treatment, training, and yes, love.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree but I see it this way also--

                          I understand there is alot of people just burned out with showing , but for some like me I see it differently. Maybe it is the amount of showing some have done, like to much, or maybe some injustices have happened. But her is my take.

                          SHowing does many things- As to how solid the training is.

                          What a horse can do at home may not accomplish at a show. With some of the top trainers shows are easier than home training--- at least in our barn!!!!

                          There is a basic truth that a Famous Trainer said to me" The hardest thing about Showing " is "You cannot create what goes on in the showring but in the showring"

                          At shows you learn if you observe in a non - critical attitude that horse's are dynamic. They put up with our mistakes all kinds of weather and our nerves.

                          Now you can be the best rider, trainer, barn help , whatever but understanding that when that beautiful horse steps in the ring you need to remember in the back of your head --- it is not all about you as the rider.

                          Chances are the majority of riders have help along the way. Maybe not like a full service barn , but maybe you did.

                          Where would I be with my ever so dedicated blacksmith??
                          How about the unrecognized trainer that drills you about your equitation.
                          There is so much than the Tailored Sportsman and Navy Jacket.

                          And since I know what it takes , my hat DOES go off to our Barn & Trainer cause you know their riders when they show.


                          Showing means different things to all people. WHen it all comes together understress and a new environment than I personally think it is beautiful.

                          I use my shows as goals. After I come back I usually have something new to work on , because some issues you can't fix at the shows.

                          DOes showing have an ugly side -- yeah it does -
                          Mama Rose always said " You don't to look twice at the dead skunk to know it probaly stinks, hold your nose and move on"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            While I do agree that showing should not be the be all and end all of riding, I wonder if the big show barns you are critiquing are as cruel as you make them out to be. In my experience (limited, I will admit), the care at these barns is exceptional and the horses are happy, even if the grooms are in charge of daily care and the owners show with silly year-end goals in mind.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There is definitely a place for these trainers. I don't think that if you are good with horses and people that you will have a hard time carving out a niche through word of mouth and referrals from other trainers.

                              I never had the money to do the As as anything other than a working student on green horses. But I learned the skills, and set up shop pretty easily, with local parents approaching me to ask if I would work with their kids. They told other parents, and voila, I had a business with as many kids as my lesson horses could support. I also had a substantial number of adult ammies with fear issues who liked my encouraging but no-pressure style. Most of my horses in training came from owners who had watched me grow up on the local circuit or referrals from trainers who didn't want to work with their problems. Again, it filled up my card, which is all a beginning trainer can ask.

                              Of course a lot of trainers are great with horses but don't have the people skills to keep their clients. I cannot stress how important it is to KEEP clients -- by creating a fun, no stress, no drama environment with reasonable costs and plenty of opportunity to grow. This is the missing link for most low-level trainers -- there's a little too much crazy in the mix. Same can be said for lots of A circuit trainers as well, but people will put up with it a bit longer for a big name.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think if your goal is to show/have a winning show horse, you need a trainer for whom that is a priority. You need someone with the mass of clientelle so that you can get to shows. Sometimes geography is not your friend and you end up with someone less than stellar.

                                For me, hiring a trainer, I like to know who someone has worked with and learned from, and that the person continually educates themself. A stint with George Morris or Anne Kursinski or Denny Emerson impresses me far more than having won champion somewhere. I also like to know if they have relevant experience- as an owner of an OTTB trying to be made into a packer hunter, I'd rather have someone used to working with greenies and nervous novice riders than someone who has spent 25 years winning Grand Prixs on $750,000 horses.

                                That said- I think long term competitive success- where you consistently have top riders and top horses speaks positively of a program. If you can continually produce winners, you are doing something right. It's the trainers who once won the greens at Devon or once took a kid to the Maclays - and use that as their marketing device- that I am most leary of. You get a lot of people, particularly locally.... that get a lot of advertising mileage out of a green ribbon at Devon.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by LudgerFan View Post
                                  Do people completely discount the excellent riders, trainers, instructors, horsemen/women out there that (for various reasons) have not had extensive opportunities to show and therefore limited show records?

                                  ...
                                  YES, people DO completely discount the excellent horses/riders/trainers that have no show record.

                                  NO Money, No Recognition! That really is the bottom line - really, that's it. Sad but true. It was made this way by horse people, just escalting over time.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Kinsella View Post
                                    I also wouldn't send my horse to 90% of the trainers on the circuit. Some because I don't like the way they treat their horses, some because of the way they treat their clients, and most because of they way they are WAY out of my price range. I'd love to find one of those "undiscovered" gems out there to give my mare to, but alas, I don't have the time to search, so she'll continue to be very happy doing way less than she should be...

                                    If you're in California, I know an undiscovered gem.
                                    **************
                                    http://img.skitch.com/20100717-q91i7...u2ub8k6b15.jpg

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                                    • #19
                                      I know the pain of NOT having the money to show a lot...

                                      I moved to MS to reopen a farm here, they used to have a full barn of boarders at around $4** a month, I have been here 6 months now and haven't had $hi_. I'm a decent rider and trainer (starting thru level 6/7 competition), only have my own horse now, so people have only seen me riding a "hand-full" horse. The economy here, is so bad, the high end barn, has lowered their prices to keep boarders. I can find nothing online to indicate this farm has a bad reputation, but not getting any follow thru, on website hits.
                                      How can a decent trainer, new to the area, and almost no funding get known? Even the local shows here are 3 hours or more away.
                                      I even tried putting on schooling shows, and can't get people to come.

                                      And even if I did come across a Grand Prix horse, for example, to really care for that horse and they have a long life, you would only compete them once a month. So people looking for riders see you ONCE IN A WHILE, but see the BNR's on 3 or more horses EVERY WEEK. How can an up and coming compete with that?
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LudgerFan View Post
                                        See, I don't consider shows to be the proof of the pudding. The proof of the pudding is a rider that consistently improves the horse on a daily basis, both on the flat and over fences. It's the horseman that perpetually keeps the horse's best interest at heart first and foremost, the one that never loses their temper and always has the right tools in their toolbelt to deal with issues without always resorting to gadgetry. It's someone with vast amounts of knowledge that is able to convey the knowledge to others so they can also reap the benefits.

                                        What I find sad is that a rider/trainer can possess all these things, and for whatever reason (lack of finances as a junior rider, family obligations, etc.) cannot claim extensive success in the show ring, and are commonly passed over in favor of those of much lesser ability/knowledge but good show records...

                                        In the H/J world showing is the goal, so of course those trainers out there with successful barns are the ones people notice, it is a community based on reputation and results. Of course there are some amazing trainers out there who don't show or do not have the show record, of course there are but with so many trainers to choose from and people wanting to show, most people who want to show are going to go to a trainer/barn that does? And you assertion that just because people have success showing means they result to gagetry is the other end of the pendulum you are trying to stop.

                                        Sadly a picture is worth a thousand words, more than ever in our society and out of sight out of mind, if people don't know anything about you then how can you expect them to trust you or come find you? I agree it is a tough situation, not sure what the answer is, better marketing? Advertising? It is a business after all whether you want to teach at home or spend time on the road week after week, you have to run your business the best way to promote it and be successful.

                                        Many riders are sad to leave trainers they have learned so much from, but if they want to show and there trainer wants to stay home and only teach then the programs are not compatible, not that no one wants to ride with that trainer because they don't show it is because they show they choose another trainer.
                                        "All life is precious"
                                        Sophie Scholl

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