Regard-Less

If you are looking for a conventional recap of the USHJA Annual Meeting this year in Denver, please refer to the Plaid Horse and/or Chronicle articles. If you are home for the holidays, have nothing better to do, and feel like taking a walk inside my head, by all means, let me entertain you with my own perspective. It is long, not that interesting, and covers a lot of material…. If you are going to read it, read it all, answer the questions at the end, or turn back here. No judgement. My opinion is not law.

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December 2019

Alarmingly naive and unprepared, I started regularly attending these USHJA Annual meetings a few years ago in hopes you would share the experience with me, learn with me, and be left to help develop the sport after I was gone. I cared, but I was really hoping more people would care alongside me for the sake of the industry. We all need the work, after all. No work, no purpose.

I realize now how broken our system really is, and I am standing on the edge of it, wondering if it isn’t better to simply embrace the broken. After all, when you look around at horse show people, we are often …. broken.

Over the course of the first decade of the USHJA, circa 2004, it seems like ten thousand committees were formed to keep people (like us, but more famous) busy with a variety of ideas, proposals, thoughts, and whatever else to launch the newly formed Association into existence. The ‘think tank’ of equestrians came up with some brilliant plans and took advantage of the wave of prosperity in the horse world, remarkably joining an incredible group of stubborn, hard headed, and independent individuals – the horse show equestrians. These dedicated horse people created programs within the USHJA, catering to just about every known individual who could balance on the back of a horse, and many of us know about those programs.

We know Derby Finals, Green Incentive Finals, EAP,  Child/Adult Jumper Champs, Hunterdon Cup, HQC, Gold Star Clinics, and maybe a few others right? The more involved you are with horse showing, chances are the more programs you are familiar with, correct? Correct. I would spare a guess the average trainer can name 7 of the programs offered within the USHJA without looking it up on the website. There are not merely 7 programs within the USHJA, however.

Equestrians, as a society, were starting to feel overwhelmed; information, and opportunities were coming from all directions, and we had to learn social media at the same time, (lol). No one said STOP! We have enough programs, let’s hit the pause button so we can grow those programs specifically. If some one did say STOP! then his/her voice was drowned out in a flurry of commotion, confusion and creation of more programs, more activity,  and more money.

USHJA meet Icarus.

Being overwhelmed can be a really big deal for people. I know it is for me. I hate it. I basically become a giant asshole and lose friends. (I guess I spend a lot of time being overwhelmed). Some people lose more. When an Association becomes overwhelmed, good creators simply leave, lose hope, become tired of hitting the same old red tape, hearing ‘no’ one too many times, or ‘be quiet, this is confidential’ and return to their horses – fingers crossed they still have customers at the end of the day, maybe try to stay partly in the game with the programs they helped to create, but truthfully probably just want to simplify their lives.

After all, no one was compensating them for their time ‘thinking or creating’.

The ‘creating of new programs’ becomes more of a deterrent to newer up and coming good thinkers because it is no longer a fun environment to be creative in, it is fucking work. Regular people start looking for explanations, start looking for answers, and start wondering what could be different. Whenever I wonder why this blog took on a life of its own, I keep coming back to my initial motivation. I wanted clarity about why my dues were being raised. When I started seeking clarity, I discovered others looking, too. I found a lot of commotion, then created my own. I also realized the time people spent explaining shit to me was staggering. If I had to make my own pie chart it would look like this:

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The State of the Association. and SPC. 

You can see for yourself, the pie charts are all on the USHJA website.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fm59o7j0rnunh4e/State%20of%20the%20Association%202019.pdf?dl=0

The slides all at once aren’t clear. We had a lot of material thrown our direction Tuesday morning. I started to take notes, but gave up. It was tremendous. Overwhelming. I vowed to sort it out later if the materials could be made available. I looked around and saw most people were starting to check their phones.

Now, one by one, looking at each slide is a little easier to comprehend, yet I am not sure what I am looking at. Or, why. Or who for. I think some of these pie charts are dangerous to share with ignorant people, because assholes like me start asking inappropriate questions, and next thing you know a staff member gets fired. Just kidding, that’s not how the world works.

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Here is another link to take you to the presentation, in case you missed it the first time : https://www.ushja.org/about-us-and-news/annual-meeting/presentations-handouts

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I should applaud the efforts of the strategic planning council for spending a gross amount of time this year working out how to simplify the erratically built USHJA. Andrew Philbrick, Sissy Wickes, Britt McCormick, and Cheryl Rubenstein set aside their families, horses, and whatever else to conceptualize an easier and stronger Association. Maybe the issue in 2004 was that the USHJA was desperately needed, but fabricated by equestrians, not business people.  What was not known about forming a new organization was filled in with the same bullshit we use to sell horses. It worked for a time, but eventually the drugs wore off and the horse went lame. Years later, we really need to restructure…. something.

After the new Strategic Plan was revealed to us, the audience (that’s us) was invited to contribute feedback.  Some people said thank you, we can’t wait to see it all work out!  It was almost a slow clap moment. Like, maybe this should have been accomplished already. I mean, I get it now, but, I am not sure what was expected of us directly following the presentation. No one won anything.

Eventually and rather inadvertently, one person changed course a bit by mentioning the absence of thoroughbred programs on the West Coast and literally like ten people jumped up all at once to talk about thoroughbreds, their personal experiences with thoroughbreds, the success of Thoroughbred programs, the insane wildfire of activity in the nation surrounding the thoroughbred, what about this for the thoroughbred, has anyone seen my program for thoroughbreds?? etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. People like to talk about subjects they are comfortable with, right? Maybe it was twenty people who jumped up, I lost count.  If it wasn’t so upsetting to see the look on the faces of the horsemen on the stage, it would have been more humorous than it was. There was a small attempt to stifle the conversation, but no luck, it only fired up more people. In the blink of an eye, it went from the future of the USHJA right to the future of the thoroughbred. Sigh. and LOL.

I stifled a laugh ( I couldn’t help it)  as I remembered I have been working for the last two years to bring a lower height to the Thoroughbred division we offer on the Zone level, hoping to bank on the shift of the people, but was met with more resistance than I anticipated. Meanwhile, off the rated circuit, we all watch a 2’6″ Thoroughbred height flourishing like gangbusters, and I have to wonder if our ship has sailed once again. Oh well.

(Just for clarification, I was not the one who brought up the topic of Thoroughbreds at the State of the Association)

 

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It’s a joke, everyone should know how much I love TB’s.

 

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Hunter Champs for 3′ riders (.90-m riders).

Since early this past spring, I have pushed nearly everything concerning national horse governance out of my mind. My priorities changed, I was forced out of work to recover, I barely wrote a word or paid attention, and even though I never assumed the USHJA was in good hands, I certainly didn’t give it much thought. The only time I remember finding the urge to climb out of bed for a volunteer position was when I didn’t want the Zone 3 Child/Adult Hunter Championships to be without a chef d’equipe for their finals, but we couldn’t find anyone to volunteer for the position, so I took my very first road trip following my heart surgeries to Tryon, North Carolina. It was stupid on my part to commit to a long trip three months following hospitalization, but I did, despite my doctors raising all of their eyebrows (I’m kidding, I didn’t tell them), and for many reasons, it was well worth it. I enjoyed the experience quite thoroughly, I saw friends I hadn’t seen in ages, (nor expected to see again), and it was a great experience for the child/adult riders attending. The show management clearly made an effort to entertain this fairly new USHJA program, and it went off remarkably well, we learned a lot, and everyone agreed they would try to support it again. I had no students competing, no compensation for my presence, but there was enough satisfaction in the trip to make me a little less pessimistic about the future of our sport. Some of the experience admittedly is a blur, it took three naps on the way home to make it, but I did it, held up my USHJA swag proudly, and said yay! go Teams! I reported back to the Child/Adult Hunter Championships committee chair my thoughts on future improvements, and warnings for other events following ours (we were first on the 2019 calendar) and put my energy back into recovery.

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It may not have been enough. By now you have probably learned about the one year hiatus of the Child/Adult Hunter Championships. I won’t spend any more time to bemoan the loss, but I will invite you to help me bring it back if you want it. If you loved the program, would you tell your friends? Would you tell me? I am not sure why we couldn’t continue the Zone Hunter Championships specifically in the Zones who want it, but I aim to find out. Not all USHJA programs are required to be held in all Zones, so it makes little sense to me why the entire thing has to be axed across the nation? Hit me up with some more thoughts, and be sure to point out the irony here.

(If you are unfamiliar with the “Zones” in the USHJA, there are 12 Zones in this country. I live in Zone 3.)

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Educate me.

I didn’t really care for the Zone Education portion of the meeting this year. It was a Town Hall, not an Education hour. Maybe one day a new vision I heard suggested of Zone Education will come to fruition. Set the tables up in the ballroom with EACH TABLE representing a Zone, invite collaboration between Zones, and offer clinics afterwards to help Zone committee members learn how to become licensed in Course Designing, Stewardship, or Judging right there on the first day. We can be encouraged to take the first step to becoming licensed, and if some people are already licensed, we can utilize their knowledge to be better officials. Mentorship, face to face interaction, do’s and do nots coming from our peers might be very helpful.  Help us develop our industry locally first, so eventually those people don’t walk away, but become better investors in our sport. I would love to be able to avoid private Zone meetings behind closed doors, because after all, there isn’t really anything private to be discussed in a Zone meeting. All the minutes are already posted online (for y’all to read as well), and typically the discussion is ‘open’ discussion or summary and review of our past competition year, mixed with thoughts on the year to come.

Parts of a new Zone restructure were indicated to us during the Zone Education hour, more of which was to be revealed in two more days.  If there had been a quiz on all of this at the end of the week, I would have received a D-.

I am not sure if we were all just tired, lost, or not really caring, but a lot of information went over our heads. I had to ask my ‘boss’ (Oliver Kennedy) to clarify what is happening with the Zones, but I think the basic summary is the USHJA is slimming down how information gets from riders to board members. So we, as a Zone committee, will have a better chance of informing the Board of Directors how we are managing our exhibitors in our Zone through one hunter enthusiast and one jumper enthusiast from each Zone. Funny how some people do both, but ok. I guess it doesn’t really matter. I don’t want to say Zones will start to be able to make more decisions for themselves on managing programs offered from the USHJA, but this actually might be a reality moving forward. Fingers crossed.

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The burgundy coat joke got old real fast.

It started Sunday morning and stayed with us far into Thursday afternoon. It was funny once. Not so funny when it was uttered every time I walked in a room. Ask me about it when you see me next time… I am referring to the seemingly benign Rule Change Proposals (RCP’s) which draw out endless discussion on issues you may or may not feel passionate about.

1. Regulating Jump Cup Depth

2. Going metric in the hunter ring

3. Numbering the jumps for Equitation Finals.

4. JOGging, JUGlling, JOKing.

First, I googled Potter Steel jump cups, because I was lost. Why is it so important to regulate jump cup depth and use the correct jump cups in hunters and equitation? Don’t we do that already?

https://pottersteelservice.com/product/breakaway-pinned-steel-jump-cups/

 

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Now I know what you are thinking, this should be common sense, right? At first glance it is, but do a little research and suddenly jump cup depth becomes a whole new ball of wax. I was beginning to wonder, just like the burgundy coat, if we were all missing the actual point here. (It is not about the color of the coat, it is about defining and clarifying what other people simply interpret for themselves.) So, as far as jump cups go, maybe we are at a point where we really do need a standardization.

The Equitation Committee has a lovely presentation about it.  <<–   Click on that highlighted word ‘presentation’ to get to it.

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I don’t know. I am guilty of dismissing RCP’s when I see them written out in the yellow book, and it is obvious I am not alone. I think to myself, no one will ever agree on jump cup depth, how will this become a rule? The committees should be deciding whether or not the rules are good enough to be dismissed or accepted and passed along to USEF, so why are we even wasting our brain cells here?

Secondly, I tried to ‘imagine’ selling the metric system to ALL exhibitors, hunter, jumper or equitation across the country…..

cross rail hunters, .70 baby green hunters, .80 hunters, .80 equitation, .85 hunters, .75-.85 hunters, mares only, .90 green hunters?

My brain stuttered…

Maybe the American system is dated and archaic, no one can do the math, and USEF is very reluctant to send out letters informing exhibitors who have inadvertently jumped too high so they are no loner eligible for the division they want to receive points in because they didn’t realize the horse they rode in the 1.10 jumpers (3’7”)  disqualified them from being eligible for the 3’3” hunter division so now we need a rule instead of a helpful discussion? K.

Yes, I know you had to read a run-on sentence, but it seemed appropriate here.

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I don’t worry about the metric system affecting rated shows and exhibitors, I worry about the metric system not being used on the local level, and becoming yet another deterrent to cross over to the rated level.

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Thirdly, I probably shouldn’t even go there with numbering the jumps in Big Equitation Finals, but it was pointed out there is nothing in the rule book which says you CAN’T number the jumps, so by all means, tell your show managers jumps must be numbered. Personally, jump cup depth I can be persuaded to understand and maybe even vote for, but a rule requiring numbering the jumps is not something I can see for the whole country. Yes, sometimes every single rider does a test incorrectly, but I see a learning opportunity, those mistakes won’t be repeated, and, do we number jumps for us or the spectators? 

What happens of you make a rule like this, it passes, then someone forgets to number the jumps, then, does that make the whole class void? The words ‘blame game’ come to mind.

 

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Fourth on that list – Jogging.  ::__:: there was so much discussion on jogging, I actually can’t remember where we ended with this one, so I made some shit up:

  1. We really should be jogging horses for soundness in every division
  2. Owners of lame horses are always going to pine for the wasted hours waiting for the jog
  3. if we do away with the jog, we will just have to bring it back in two years
  4. It really isn’t such a big deal to jog for soundness
  5. this is an annoying discussion
  6. I just lost five more friends

It is an archaic system, isn’t it.

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Beards.

Clipping or not clipping the muzzle. There is currently no rule regarding beards in the show ring, so there is no reason to invent one now. Don’t want to clip? Then don’t clip. No one will forget to give you a ribbon based on a beard. If you don’t get a ribbon and you claim it is because your horse has whiskers…..?

That’s how we got out of a national BAN on clipping whiskers.

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look close all you beard lovers out there, it’s ok not to clip.

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Boots on Hunters

Well, no?

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Where do I go next?

The joys of being unable to see all meetings covering all areas of sport, because they all convene at the same time.

waiiittt, I have a question. Speaking of equitation, what happened with the equitation committee which was supposed to convene on Wednesday? Or was it Tuesday? I usually never go into that meeting for personal reasons (I don’t care for the part of our sport and am not fond of how those horses are treated) but I was curious if the Hunterdon Cup was going to be renamed. However, Six people were missing from the committee, a quorum was barely met, and a lengthy shaming occurred of those 6 people. Are we still allowed to shame people for not showing up?  I have a very active imagination, but that looked more like an intentional protest to me. Or, maybe there were not enough equitation issues to discuss? However, André and I are not like bff’s or anything so I couldn’t text him and be like “dude, where is everyone?” Did they not show up because they were worried about snow? Did they not show up because the RCP’s had already been discussed at great length? Big mystery. Even bigger silence.

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Amateurs.

An Amateur is an Amateur is an Amateur. I feel like if I keep repeating that phrase in ten years people will see an amateur is an amateur, no matter what height they are comfortable jumping or what horse they lease or own, or how old they are, or what demographic they come from. When those divisions were formed 300 years ago, I feel they were formed for specific people, not all people, and they were formed to keep certain people OUT of sport. Do we really need to be keeping people OUT of sport? Programs are being cut yet we insist on keeping people out of the competition ring?

The jumper discipline is actively working to bring those divisions forward into the 21st Century considering actual ownership of horses in sport. Amateurs seem to stand all over the map on this one, but take the time to think before you protest “God save the Amateur division!” Are you protesting to KEEP other amateurs out of your way so you can win more money for yourself with smaller and more complicated divisions, (leading to bigger headaches for show managers?) or, do you really believe the current setup is perfect? When we start to accept that no level playing field actually exists with horse showing, and your best friend might always have an advantage, we can move forward as a group.

As if I needed another reason to question motivation of Amateurs in the show ring, there is an actual rule regarding time frames surrounding Amateur Owner classes in the rulebook. I’ll give you five dollars if you can find it. Hint: it is on page 799 of 1221.

Hear that? Was that the sound of me losing more friends?

If the horse show world could take a step forward to really work together on the specifics of the amateur divisions – heights of jumps,  ownership eligibility, prize money awarded, etc., then maybe in the future we could work on the specifics of what really makes up an amateur versus a professional.

While you are standing still, the rest of the world is moving forward. And if it doesn’t work? Lesser rules have been reversed.

Hunters, don’t panic, you have ‘Tradition’ on your side….

**

Juniors

Have you thought about the heights of smalls and the heights of larges in the junior hunters, and if they are truly correct? Well, not correct, but need updating? Discussion is starting to ensure one group doesn’t have more entries than another group. And should Devon offer 3’3″ Juniors? Shooby.

TCP or not to TCP.

Under construction. To be continued… and don’t freak out, if you were currently certified, you are still certified. But, they are looking for ways to credential trainers, not certify them. I think.

This poor program is a tough one for me. Are you more likely to be under the scrutiny of litigation with certification or without certification, does it affect what you charge for riding lessons, does it help you get more work, put you in a special category, disallow you from benefits, what is it about this country being too spread out to initialize certification? Money? Ignorance of state laws on horse activities?

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Design me.

2021 will have a new requirement for Regional I and II shows, but two years should be an adequate time frame for the adjustment. Hello! to the certification needed for anyone designing courses on the Regional levels… yep, it is coming. I was against this when I heard about it  last year because I personally kind of like it when you don’t know how many strides are in a line and you can just make up shit as you ride along and if it works out, you still get a ribbon, maybe even a blue one! However, there is a strong belief courses on the Regional level are downright dangerous and what better way to attract future course designers than requiring managers to only hire certified ones. If it truly becomes law, I might participate in the certification, and drag my friends along, too. Why not be more educated on all aspects of equestrian sport?  If there is a silver lining, it could be a reality for certification to happen at the Zone level to expedite education and eliminate travel costs. Each Zone should already house enough certified CD’s to teach us dingdongs how to build a proper jump course.

Shit, though, will we have to measure the 72′ line in metric?? I’m out.

**

International Derbies.

There was no quorum in this meeting, but active discussion instead. Louise Serio promoted advancement in this area and sparked an interesting conversation. Consider for a moment how handy hunters are scored. Turn tight, receive high points.

(Speaking of Course Designers), should the handy courses offer a different track for different height options? Right now, bad jumpers can be awarded more for taking the handier track. So the handy points awarded are high, but the actual performance is low. Knowing their horses aren’t ready for those very handy turns riders choose wider tracks, jump lower, but have brilliant jumps…..and are penalized. Is this a bit backwards or does it truly align with judging hunters in the derby ring.

Do we want to see the horses with bad ‘front ends’ scoring higher and leading the class with wicked inside turns over the horses with good ‘front ends’, but conservative tracks and no inside turns?

Again, it was discussion, not rule making, but always keep the door open for improvement, right? Right.

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Unintended Consequences.

A phrase all too common at horse conventions. Make a rule, then watch the rule cause a major deficit somewhere. Rescind the rule. Welcome to the Young Jumper Schooling Steward Rule Change Proposal of the last however many years. I think I remember there was a big push for a required schooling steward for those naughty Young Jumper riders who were riding in the wrong kind of hind boots, because they forgot to read the rule book, is that right? So when show managers went looking for this new required steward or wouldn’t pay for one, they simply dropped all of the Young Jumper Classes from the schedule. At least, that was what we were told.

My suspicion is show managers dropped the Young Jumper classes because no one was entering them, but what the heck do I know about Young Jumpers? I don’t have any. It is my understanding the requirement for a steward for the naughty rule breakers might be going away.

**

Rating Relevance. 

Show managers will have their work cut out for them as they re-negotiate relevant prize money in relation to show Ratings with the USEF. Billy Moroney is hot to bring horse showing into the 25th Century by claiming the current system is indeed archaic and shows better step up and start calculating what is fair. With restructuring of A and AA shows, I would hope show managers will earn more ability to move required prize money payouts to the divisions which are more heavily attended, rather than throw large amounts of prize money to the three people signed up for High Performance Hunters.

Don’t understand? Right now, the rules dictate where the money should be distributed, and those rules were set up years ago to attract competitors to jump higher for bigger money, and a REQUIRED PAYOUT was seen as the way forward to solve the issue of depleting divisions. Very few shows still fill the High Performance these days, yet those couple or three horses receive the bulk of the prize money within a AA horse show.

Some argue it will kill off the High Performance hunters all together, because surely the only reason people encourage horses to jump 4′ (1.2192m) is for the bloated prize money. It won’t, as long as we continue to have International Derbies, and as far as I can determine, those 4′ (1.2192m) High Performance classes are only relevant where an International Derby is being held during the same week. The logic of offering High Performance classes with no one willing to enter them is beyond me, and if it prevents the A show from being a legit AA show, why on earth wouldn’t you want a restructure? HOTY points….. because HOTY points are based on money won.

How about just prize money requirements for the Young Hunters? The Young Horse Show Series based out of Lexington, KY offers crazy generous $$$ for YEARLINGS to FIVE YEAR OLDS of EVERY discipline and we can’t offer prize money for the Young Hunter Division? When I say I don’t get it, I mean it. I. really. don’t. get. it. (The young hunters are standing right there with their hooves in the air, screaming, if you won’t give us a finals, at least give us some money!) They also still don’t have a model class. They also should have become the Pre-Greens, or Greens, or whatever you want to call them, but we missed the boat right from the port, despite how Young Hunters was originally envisioned. We ARE supporting moving the height for 5 year olds down three inches to 2’9″ (0.8832m), so chances of demanding prize money probably just flew out the window.

The current system really is set up to penalize riders choosing to jump a lower height like 3′ (.9375m) by not giving them prize money, and although it might be smarter, safer and welfare conscious, equestrian society chooses to scream ‘we are watering down the hunter divisions!’ and bemoan the loss of excessively tall jumps in the show ring. Honey, it is 2020. Find a new slogan.  And you can leave the mileage rule banner at home, too. because shouting about eliminating the mileage rule is easier to comprehend for people to think they can solve the future of horse showing, but once you read the rule book, you understand it is an unachievable goal. A relevant rating system is more likely the solution.

Again. Stuck.

Stuck in a world where tradition and common sense clash.

I worry how this is going to end up and one of those times I think about who the right people to make such a change in the industry should be. Based on history, the track record may not be all that great about who makes rating decisions, because we have ended up with an extremely fractured rating system within the United States, which very few people understand. Fixing it within a time frame and from the perspective of either Show Managers or Exhibitors? Ugh, not sure about that one.

I spent the last week once again pouring over the structures for show ratings, and I gotta tell you, we are so fucked. If you own a red pen and are really good at slashing through complete paragraphs of nonsense, please hit me up.

**

Please don’t Safe Sport me.

2017-9 has proven to be a rather horrific couple of years for equestrians in this country, splitting and dividing us worse than I can remember in my forty some years of participation. Yes, we are athletes, the kind of athletes with really bad drinking habits, smoking habits, and drug use, (not judging) so hearing the bulk of what was unfolding in Michigan with the gymnasts may have failed to appear on many of our computer screens for quite some time. Like, really a delayed reaction in our tiny bubble of ponies and horses….there are even a few people who have yet to watch the documentaries about the athletes. I understand. It was hard for me to watch, too.

I was going to write quite a bit about this topic, but you know what? It isn’t worth it right now. Did I walk out of the Safe Sport Meeting? Yes I did. Do I see an agency covering the ass of another agency rather than actual people? Yes. Is someone going to misinterpret my actions/beliefs/morals/ and thereby label me? Most assuredly. Do people label me anyway? well, yes.

Shit, what a horrible conversation. It seems like every equestrian has become an expert on the topic, and every equestrian needs to be an activist on the topic.

I personally think it is totally unfair for me to not stand behind a government created agency which protects minors, and I will do as I am told here, but don’t make me hate it.

** 

Vet Conference

Another missed opportunity to receive education? I would love to know how I was so ignorant of the AAEP convention being held next door until three days before our Annual Meeting started, but dang, I feel like there was a huge missed opportunity to learn from. okok, move on. moooooving on. relevance – 0.

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Colorado Horse Park

Rumors flew around the internet about the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Co. and started right before I peaced out of Denver. Was it closing? Not closing? Preemptive assumptions may turn out to be nothing more than ‘we don’t really want boarders anymore’ (I get that),  but it brings up a good conversation. Land Preservation isn’t much of a topic us fancy show people take seriously enough, but should it be? The Fox Chasers certainly take it seriously.

Take a moment to write down your favorite show facilities and do some research. Are they ok financially? Are they owned by a foundation? The State? How are they operating? Are you taking their presence for granted? Most horse people love access to nice facilities, but yes, indeed, I think most facilities are taken for granted and the bigger mystery often is ‘who owns’ your favorite facility? The State or a Private entity? What is the difference? Will the google help me here?

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Stirrup Cup

I never had a chance to address this poor little overlooked program. (It was not a topic at the annual meeting.)

The specs on Stirrup Cup Classes say competitors need to attain points at three different competitions, before earning a year end award. I am grumpy about this because most competitors don’t seem to have access to three B or C shows in their Zone, and if now the USEF is allowing those same B and C shows to qualify Junior Hunters for a National Championship with one tri-color, it would seem to me the correct number for a year end award would be 2? 1? Anyone out there know about the Stirrup Cup? Is each program within the USHJA an important link from not horse showing to horse showing?

And….do we give equal attention to both Stirrup Cup Championships and International Derby Championships?

**

Are you confused? Lost? Tired? Yeah, same. It is a stupidly long article, no matter how you look at it, and I touched on merely half of the subjects, even when I leaned on others to fill in a few gaps I either missed or couldn’t remember.

I considered walking away from all of this and let silence be the mic drop we all wish for to end the suffering you bear regarding my opinion on governance within the Federations. Just pay up, shut up, and try to keep up. Lord knows I have better things to do. I may still walk away, who knows, there is still a lot to weigh in on about exactly where I fit in, if at all.

These committee meetings take place all year and involve all of these same discussions, yet, we only hear about them at the annual meeting. We are not encouraged to read the minutes before we arrive, still lack knowledge on the process of governance, process of rule changing, and we will pass this on to the next generation. What a shame.

**

Riddle me this?

Do you need to take a moment to identify why you are a member and what kind of member you are?

1. For Prize Money

2. Points

3. Travel

4. Time

5. Quality/Amenities

6. Ability to sell a horse/product

7. Introducing new clients to sport

8. Young up and Coming Trainer

9. Social butterfly

10. Don’t know what else to do

11. Other.

**

More Challenges

Imagine looking around the room at the people you have placed there and wondering if they have a completely clean record with no skeletons in the closet? Equestrians have played on the luxury lot for decades. Equestrians have served on boards, entered governance, shaped our industry, and many equestrians have questionable personal lives. What if those same equestrians, who made poor decisions outside of the show ring are snatched up from right under our noses while serving on a board or committee and can no longer shape our future? Can I ask that question? Is it at all relevant? The sport moves on regardless, correct?  It is a hard question. The anonymity of people making decisions is almost preferred so we can be spared gorey realizations, yet anonymous and transparency don’t exactly rhyme..

If you are still reading, why? Really ask yourself why. Do you cling to the four letter word of HOPE?

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We are and always will be equestrians at the end of the day…..

I have to go throw hay out to the horses. Happy Holidays everyone.