Nothing is more frustrating then seeing people walk out in disgust. Whether it is a room full of people, fans at a sports game, or the show hunter world. This is NOT a time to walk away from the hunters.
I don’t even care if it sounds cliché at this point. I would no more trade my business in for all the bourbon in Kentucky. You must be nuts to think I would do that. Why should I? I refuse to walk away just because I’ll never be on the cover of a magazine winning a derby, that’s just stupid. And wrong.
Peacing out of a sport or industry because you aren’t able to stomach the cheaters and the scandals will have zero effect on the cheaters. They will be like ‘don’t let the door slam you in the ass….suckers’. You know what will have an effect? Sticking around and doing it correctly. Learning how to ride a hunter well. Showing up at the in-gate proud of the horses you are on and not giving AF if you get 10th place. That is what will make a difference. Asking yourself ‘what can I do to solve some issues?’ will make a difference.
Are you going to get recognition or an award for it? Nope. Put a pic on Insta if you need to. #notcheating. Are you going to set a good example for a short stirrup kid you don’t even realize is looking up to you? YES. Chances are that cute short stirrup kid is completely clueless what is happening in litigation in KY or NY, but she really loves to ride her pony and she has been watching you from the beginning toodle around on your big, fancy horse. She deserves to have shot at a dream, too, and she is far more important.
I had a really good client check in on me yesterday and ask if I was following the chatter about my post, I said not really, my girls will probably let me know if something gets out of hand and I need to block someone (I didn’t, everyone was cool). I was spending time in unbelievably warm weather with my horses. After they rolled around in mud for hours I washed it all off of them, tucked them away for the night. I taught a couple fun lessons, went home and ate a pizza.
I woke up with a migraine, maybe all the time at the computer this week caught up with me, thinking and typing can tax a brain, lol. I checked in on the chatter and realized how many voices were venting frustration on even being in the hunter world. and went back to bed. I was in a really foul mood when I woke up.
I get it. I know why there is so much aggravation in the hunter world. It is a hard world to make it in. But don’t just walk away, slamming the entire sport along with it. We have an entire future generation who actually might do a really good job with horses if we show them how. There ARE a few people doing it correctly.
People have been getting away with stupidity for eons, and each person chooses his or her path to take down that road. But it is a public road, and has lanes for horse people with more integrity.
For once, we have a Federation showing some backbone on how to handle notorious abusers in the horse world, and although my eyebrows raised (both of them, not just one) at how it rolled out onto our desktops, it never occurred to me to be finished with the sport all together. I am still going to fight my hardest. Will I win a lot? No clue, it probably doesn’t define who I am anyway. Will I agree with whatever the US Equestrian says we need to do just because they showed us they take a firm stand for fair play? Of course not, I am not an idiot. But I sure am gonna keep an eye on things now, including their new website. Holy crap, there is some good stuff on there.
No one has all the answers, there really aren’t too many answers, why do we need answers all the time? It is a sport, along with a business. However, there is already loads of education out there to take advantage of if we can just set aside our frustration and get busy. I think of all the people working tirelessly for nothing who want to see a healthy hunter world and the cards (or bottles) that are stacked against them, and appreciate their work so much. They will probably never be able to drive a car with heated seats, or take a trip across the ocean, but their horses LOVE them and they love their horses right back. I have friends with good jobs at horse shows I would be crushed if they were out of work. And in a world riddled full of glass houses, these wonderful people are starting the foundation for a brick house. Albeit a small one.
Yes, I am freaking out. I am freaking out because I can think of quite a few young riders (who don’t throw their ribbons in the trash) watching all of this unfold in front of their eyes, knowing full well I contributed to the chaos by writing about it, and knowing they may never, ever touch a young hunter prospect now because of the fear of it all.
If you really love hunters, don’t listen to the chatter, don’t feel you are not good enough. Don’t think there is only one way to get a hunter through the divisions and sell a certain way. You can know all about the dirty details other people are doing and ignore it. There simply has to be a way to prove to the horse world we don’t need to be a solely pharmaceutical sport. Steel yourself for the next few weeks as more press releases come out of the Federation, (kind of like storm prep) and hopefully people around you won’t throw good hunter trainers out with the bathwater, too.
I really wanted to see better horsemen in my lifetime. I cannot believe we allowed ourselves to dig such a big hole. But I know one thing, I refuse to let the other guys defeat me, even if I look like a cartoon character in a comic strip. So be it. Start drawing.