The mind, she is boggled!
"It’s been years since I’ve taken a horse in the show ring and if I get back to it, I don’t see myself joining organizations and showing rated. The cost is so high and the competitor experience is not great. Why would I spend hundreds of dollars to wear white spandex for a couple minutes and sweat my ass off only to be told that my safe, appropriate horse isn’t as fancy as a much fancier horse?
I find my competitive outlets other places and while I enjoy my horse, I have no interest in getting back to showing."
There was a lot of discussion, but another person came back with two things:
- Amateurs are too fixated on winning
- Amateurs who aren't winning blame their non-fancy horse instead of their own poor riding
I'd like to discuss these responses just a little.
1. Winning fixation-as the other poster illustrated, people run 5ks with no expectation of ever winning. Why should they expect to win at dressage?
Let's talk about this a little.
Running is a sport with a very low barrier of entry financially. You can do it with things you already have around the house. You can spend a lot or you can spend a little. For the sake of discussion, let's focus on the full-time worker who runs nights and weekends for fun and does 5-10 5ks a year.
They pay $30-100 to run a race. At that race, they can wear anything they feel like running in (barefoot in shorts and a sports bra? fine. designer shoes, olympic branded gear, heart rate monitor? equally fine.) They get a tech fabric shirt, a finisher medal, post-race snacks, and frequently a meal or beverage. There's a start time and every participant can set objective time goals and work towards them.
If their friends or family want to come watch, there is a start time and a published route. Cheering and participation is encouraged. If they have plans after, the whole day is typically ahead of them. If the family wants to participate, hey, they can.
- This person will literally never win a 5k unless they are over 70 years old.
- This person will never appear on the "national running scene".
- This person will have the full running experience, probably including a couple of irritating injuries that will result in a few days away from work over their career
|they may get a wild hair and run a half marathon too|
And how does horse showing stack up?
Riding is a sport with a very high barrier of entry. Whether you own or lease, you need a horse. The horse needs to live somewhere. You need appropriate tack and gear for the horse, a way to get the horse to and from competitions, and a bevy of memberships to be allowed at the competitions.
And this is for the nights and weekends rider who wants to do 5-10 shows a year.
We're going to talk about recognized/rated horse shows since these are the ones squealing about diminished participation. Participants pay $150-500/day in show fees just to the show (not including coaching/stabling/hauling/grooming/schooling/etc). The participant (and the horse) have to wear approved outfits and the person in charge can literally wave around a color wheel and kick a rider out out for being a shade off. If the person wins the horse show, they get a $2-$5 ribbon with no cash value. Maybe a wine glass. If they don't win, hopefully there was a peppermint in the competitor pack that they can suck on. They can try to set individual score goals, but since judging is ultimately subjective and influenced by trends and the class around them, they may or may not meet the goals. (You ride Backyard Betty after Hopfenschnerflgard the Import? -5 for looking worse in comparison. Whoops. Too bad your ride had to be scheduled around multiple trips in the ring for the ammy with 3 imports who's competing in multiple divisions and worth way more money to the show organization than you ever will be!)
If your friends or family want to come watch, they will have to show up to a multi-hour event that is nearly always behind schedule. They will be subjected to a complicated set of expectations for the horse show spectator and ignored at best, or (likely) mocked, hushed, and glared at for not following the intricate social mores of a rarefied upper class club. If they have plans after, too bad. The event will go all day. If they still want to participate after all that, the barrier of entry is just as high as it was for the first person.
- This person might win a class here and there because hey, participation is declining and sometimes your competition gets the flu!
- This person will never appear on the "national riding scene".
- This person will always know that they aren't a "true equestrian" because their middle class life requires they have a real job and health insurance, which precludes long hours at the barn.
- This person runs the chance of a catastrophic injury from being around horses which could result in weeks or months away from that all-important job.
|oh hai decently fancy ribbon|
TL:DR USEF shows come with very high costs and little to no reward. Running 5ks is much more competitor and spectator friendly.
2. Non-winning amateurs on affordable horses who ride on nights and weekends and take a weekly lesson should blame their own riding instead of the fact that they got beat by a purpose-bred sport horse that cost more than their house ridden by an-equally motivated amateur who trains 5-7 days a week with the best trainer money can pay for in a sport that literally takes a lifetime to understand.
If you say there isn't a divide here, I don't know what to tell you. It's a money sport. The people who can afford top of the line horses, get more show ring experience, and ride with better pros are not less motivated than you are and yup, they're going to beat you every out.
And they should. They literally paid for the privilege.
They're better than you (at this sport). A lot of them are great humans and they work hard at it and that's nothing to be ashamed of.
|i'm being a dik dik again|
There's not a whoooooole lot of point in paying money to go get your subjectively-judged ass handed to you to the tune of your mortgage payment per weekend when you literally don't have a chance. (Unless you're short on wine glasses? Even then I feel like amazon prime might be a better shot if you want a matched set.)
So yeah. If you want to be blamed for not having enough money to compete in a moneysport that's literally populated by the Eve Jobs, Jennifer Gates, and Georgina Bloombergs of the world, I mean, there's always USEF shows!
Sound off, internet. Why am I wrong?