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.
I recently interviewed Kevin McGinn, a trainer at Ever Wood Stables, part of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. When asked what advice he had to give to young equestrians, click here to read what he said.
"BENCHMARK" — A standard against which others can be measured
"Rally" — "bring into "order" again / a renewal of strength / a call to come together/ revive
California delivered its best as the sun rose over Somis, CA, known as the most temperate climate in the United States. Linda Allen was already putting on the finishing touches for the first horse of the day, a 6 year old Argentine horse ridden by California based trainer Laura Santana. She had mentioned to me earlier that week that although 6, her horse was quite green to step into the YJA ring at Thermal and the pressure to keep up with more experienced jumpers would be to her horse's detriment. Laura realized that what she really needed was a "real" yet inviting track where she could "practice" in show ring environment, and who better to provide that venue than Linda Allen? Aside from her Olympic credential from '96 Atlanta, Linda is constantly advising, consulting, judging and clinicing.
Her broad perspective was dead on when she combined both a practical and an "esthetic shift," offering a setting where professionals /amateurs and developing horses alike could compete over the same track with descending heights throughout the day so that you could Jump - Assess - Repeat. Opposite the "convention" of Big, Bigger, Biggest by day's end, this system offers a logical reprieve from that formulaic approach.
First, you can be scored in the data base on your first round (after all, how accurate is a jumper score if the horse has addressed the same jumps 3 times prior til they get it "right").
Secondly, if you want a "RE-DO," it's about 1/2 the price of the already reasonable first round ($35 dollars /then $25 for each subsequent round). But more importantly. if you had hit a rough spot, you can go jump it. Again, but lower so the green horse /rider leaves with MORE confidence NOT LESS.
How may times have you had a tough time in the AA jumper class and your choices are limited to (A) waiting for tomorrow or (B) jumping a bigger track? Neither of these make sense to anyone who has just felt a bit "over faced."
Linda wasn't there to CLINIC per se, but her generosity and real desire to make sure everyone learned and had fun had her dispensing tips that made all the difference!!!! This is a GREAT IDEA that was beautifully executed.
Real jumps, perfect footing, efficient ring crew, and a USEF official. It was a perfect beginning to what we hope will be a groundswell of interest and a return to the business of training horses and riders to compete on their own merits and efforts. Like so many things that have become out of reach for the shrinking middle class, good horsemanship and riding (particularly competitive riding) have become increasingly elusive.
Almost 20 years ago, George Morris predicted in The Chronicle of the Horse column "Between Rounds," that the American love affair with buying "made" horses from Europe would come to an abrupt halt at the first sign of any financial distress here in the USA. That event surely did come to fruition in 2008 and the horse business has, as a result, made a huge adjustment. Gone for many are the easy shopping sprees through Germany and Holland to pick up the new "winner," oftentimes without the background to sustain the import's "winning ways"!!
Change can sometimes be challenging, but then isn't that the nature of sport???
Linda is correct and her timing is perfect. The Benchmark Program isn't a horse show, nor is it a "clinic": it's a hybrid venue where the word "elite" refers to an "aspiration" to strive for, NOT merely "EXPENSIVE."
Linda has drawn heavily from the one-day local European one-ring concept of a gathering of horsemen; thus the term "rally" is applied. With one "rally" under our belts, strong support from you, Bernie, countless online publications, and our friends at Show Jumping Unplugged -TV, I feel confident that this program, found online at www.thebenchmarkprogram.com, will re-open the sport (by remaining affordable) to many equestrians who increasingly have been out priced from the sport they love.
They say for every dark cloud there's a silver lining. For me the "silver lining" comes in the form of a "Back to Basics" concept of exactly what "horsemanship" is: it's certainly more than collecting ribbons that get left behind when the horse trailers go off to the next show ground.
I'd close by saying that at our "debut rally" — with very nice trainers /amateurs and horses in attendance and only one ring to be accountable for — we actually stayed and watched each other "GO" rather than jumping on the nearest golf cart to quickly get on the "next one."
Kevin McGinn Stables - Horse Sales and Training - Los Angeles CA, Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I recently had the honor to be tapped to host JMR's page, Thursday night Trival Pursuit presently being presented on Facebook by Jennifer Parsons and Noelle King with "R" rated judges Carol Dean Porter and Rob Gage.
This is a just-for-fun evening that goes out on Judge My Ride's Facebook page at 9pm Eastern time (6pm Pacific time). It's a great way to reminisce about equestrian heroes and equine stars of yesterday, and to teach the kids about equine theory.
It's a fast-moving stream of questions of the historic events of all disciplines; dressage, foxhunting, show jumping, polo and racing.
So join me or even better send me your most coveted questions to my private page on Facebook or visit the contact page of my website.
See Ya Thurs !!!!!! Be There / be Square !!!!!!!!!!
Kevin McGinn Stables - Horse Sales and Training - Los Angeles CA, Wednesday, March 3, 2010
One of my newest finds...and favorite things to do, is playing Equestrian Trivia served up by none other than Jennifer Parsons and her side-kick Noelle!
This is a weekly event that has quickly become an obsession of mine: every Thursday evening from 6pm-8pm Pacific time! What better way to sharpen your equine "theory," reminisce, or battle the wits of pros like Dianne Grod, Carol Dean Porter, and countless other trivia masters??
Great fun on these cold winter nights!!!!!!
Don't think it's a "walk in the park" -- Jenn digs DEEP into the history of our sport,
testing young and old alike with name that horse/rider/pony, and horse show rules ad infinitum.
The competition is fierce and it captures something I feel is lost in today's Horse Show world. It conjures up magic moments, forgotten heroes, and the excitement that comes from the love of the sport. It's a great way to re-connect with friends from all over the country as it resides on FACEBOOK on the “Judge My Ride” page AND the Price is right (FREE )!!!!
It's just a nice example of having simple fun, kind of like what we did in "THE OLD DAYS."
A warning -- these girls take their "trivia" DEAD SERIOUS!!! Check it out!!!
Every Thursday, 6pm-8pm Pacific time
Facebook/ Judge my Ride
You can also submit photos and video clips to be critiqued by the one and only
Rob Gage -- Check It OUT !!!!
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 !!
FOXFIELD IS LOCATED AT
1250 E.PORTRERO ROAD
PH # 805- 495-5515
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).
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.
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.