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 Kevin McGinn's Equestrian Blog 
Kevin McGinn rides, trains, judges, and conducts clinics nationwide and locally in the Los Angeles area. He specializes in preparing both horses and riders for the jumper ring. As a widely published equestrian writer, Kevin provides insights on equestrian related topics in his blog and elsewhere.
Sunday, September 20 2009

Kevin McGinn Stables - Horse Sales and Training - Los Angeles CA, Sunday, September 20, 2009

In a sport that is financially demanding even in "good times," one may wonder how to satisfy the instinct in many equestrian to compete on a budget?

Back in the day, when I rode on Long Island, horse show management seemed so much more innovative -- rather than having a calender etched in stone and dates carefully calculated and "divvied up" between a few "horse show czars" as we see almost exclusively here in California, there seemed to be a less monopolistic approach.
When I was a junior rider back in the seventies there was a variety of nicely run two day shows, along with the old standards like the famed North Shore Horse Show, Piping Rock, and C.W. Post HS. Much like the spontaneous parties that are announced and happen in a matter of a few hours in the Twitter age, show managers would select a date and a venue and make it happen.

We showed at dairy farms on the grass cow pastures, old potato farms, etc. In fact, one of those rough and ready lean-to style horse shows was (and is )The Hampton Classic Horse Show (which I rode in its inaugural outing in 1976).

It consisted of a "roach coach caterer," some snow fencing, and modest jumps in what I believe was an old potato field. It was a long way from its current glamor on Snake Hollow Road. However, there was a "riding standard." And once that is in place the rest all becomes interesting because its so much less about "the space " and so much more about the caliber of riding, which is what should "fuel" the sport after all.

Now, to the point of this installment

One of the events that always gets its dates circled on my calender is the Foxfield Jumping Derby in Hidden Valley, at one of the last true riding schools that really start and "make" riders! The Foxfield gang have been at it for 42 years, teaching kids real horsemanship as well as sportsmanship. The Foxfield Derby is exactly what I feel we need more of! It attracts a much more diverse group than the standard Hunter/Jumper event, the touch of cross-country natural obstacles demands a different skill set, and in my opinion separates the "Riders" from the stride-counting cookie-cutter set. There are real Irish banks, drop jumps, coffin jumps and some places to turn and burn.The best thing is its uniqueness fused with its enthusiasm from the entire group (the Postel Family) that put the day together.

The kids and the pros get a shot at some classic stadium along with some good old fashioned "gallop-and-go."

The List of winners is a Who's Who including Susan Hutchison (5 times), George Meyer, Hap Hansen, Will Simpson and Julia Balcom Spreen to name a very few from its 30 years. I can claim entering the youngest rider to attempt the demanding track -- Brooke Faber tackled it at age 11, and placed the following year at age 12.

Anyway, that's it on the Foxfield Derby. Its a great day to ride or spectate, and see something a little bit outside the Southern California box!! And, it's a trailer-in, do-your-thing, and go home deal; which, in today's market can get you alot of "bang" for comparatively little"buck"!!
I know my riders are ready !!

PH # 805- 495-5515

Posted by: Kevin McGinn AT 01:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 20 2009

Kevin McGinn Stables - Horse Sales and Training - Los Angeles CA, Sunday, September 20, 2009

As I was saying how lovely the el Sueno Horse Show was to Judge, I remembered the schooling shows that I attended as a kid growing up on Long Island. They were similar to "real shows" in that the infrastructure and management was comparable to the rated shows. Perhaps the competition was a bit less intense, but the disciplines of the format and the habits we formed directly translated to recognized showing.

Schooling shows (or riding club shows) as they are known happen every weekend in innumerable little towns all throughout Europe as well. And in case no one has noticed, the Europeans are pretty good at show jumping. They are particularly hard to beat indoors.

In our current economic state even MORE people are being excluded from the joy of riding and the concept of show jumping as a spectator sport is a lost dream long given up. WHY?????

Because we have bought into the old stereotype that horses are for "the elite" and thats just the way we like it!!! The clients get to play "Queen for a day," and the trainers can cash in on that fantasy. In Europe, the best riders are received by the public like rock stars. They sign autographs in airports and on the street (not just at the table directly following a grand prix win).
WHY ????????

Because in Europe even people who have never sat on a horse follow horse sports because its leaders have come from a grass roots level and everyone knows someone who has been televised on the 6 o'clock news sports segment.

I really feel that an interest in riding needs a wider bridge to the show ring if we want to attract new people to the sport, which can only enhance its value and quality in our day to day life. I feel that if we want this sport to thrive (especially in the "new economy") and cultivate talent, keeping the standards a bit higher and the costs a bit lower is the answer!

The reason it was possible to find quality horses with significant ring experience from Europe is that it doesn't cost upwards of $1500/week to show a horse in Europe -- classes are cheap, there are more levels of shows, and people aren't afraid to trailer in for a day and do some of the "dirty work" themselves -- I promise you that no one "over there" spends $300 on a braider.

Posted by: Kevin McGinn AT 01:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 07 2009

Kevin McGinn Stables - Horse Sales and Training - Los Angeles CA, Monday, September 7, 2009

Firstly, I must say that the management of el Sueno on Kingsgrove Road in Somis have designed a perfect equestrian venue.

With its perfect climate, (Somis is the most temperate climate in the California) el Sueno is both picturesque and functional -- with an impressive indoor riding hall and perfect footing, it's quite a place.

I was thrilled when Lisa Westin invited me, on behalf of the ownership, to judge the 3rd show on their calender. Aside from being non-rated, there was nothing second rate about this show. It was perfectly managed by Patty Littman, with perfectly turned out arenas thanks to the the help of Esteban Rodriguez and what seemed to be enough staff to put on an "A" show. Everything was organized, and the classes started on time. The back gate stewards kept the show moving. The courses made sense and were level appropriate for each class. And most impressively, el Sueno's owner, Gina Atton Thomas, was often seen bouncing from ring to ring to hand out the winners' prizes -- beautifully made baseball caps and directors chairs.

There was only one thing missing for me on the day; (happily) absent was any feeling of "ATTITUDE" or "One Up Manship" that, in my opinion, is far too often seen at far less opulent show venues !! These kids had a first-class introduction to the world of horse showing, and I believe they went home having had more fun than stress! And maybe even having made a new friend or two?

For the Parents' part, el Sueno kept the fees on the nominal side, and hopefully other show managers can "CATCH ON" so that horsemanship can once again become a sport that can, at least on some level, be accessible to everyone. This, to my thinking, is the most certain way to insure its place as part of the American lifestyle.

More on schooling shows in my next entry!

Posted by: Kevin McGinn AT 01:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

    Kevin McGinn
    Horse Training, Lessons, Judging, Clinics, and Sales

    Hansen Dam Equestrian Park •  11127 Orcas Avenue • Lake View Terrace, California  91342

    Phone: (818) 512-4550

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