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.