Brutal Honesty 

Boy did the interwebs get all spun up yesterday about Katie Prudent’s comments on the WiSP Sports Horse Show podcast. I read the transcript of her interview really early, as soon as it was posted, and when I was finished I knew that a whole lot of people were probably going to be all kinds of offended soon. And, because the people of the internet are nothing if not reliable, they were.

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I have to say though, for the most part I agree with Katie. Sure, lots of people got their hackles up about this particular comment: “The sport has become for the fearful, talentless amateur. That’s what the sport has been dummied down to.”. Many folks got knee-jerk mad about what they perceived as being called talentless and fearful, taking it as a slam on all amateur riders. But really… put your emotions back in their glass case for a second and ask yourself – is she wrong? Because, at the root of things, I don’t think she is.

First of all, her complaint here really is the fact that the sport now caters to the lowest common denominator, and somewhere along the way has become more about horse showing and less about horsemanship. Both of which are pretty true, although whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on where you’re standing. Her second end point from that statement was that these talentless, fearful people can buy super nice horses and rise to a level (sometimes near or at the top) that they wouldn’t otherwise be riding at. That point I’ll leave alone, because I don’t think I’m qualified enough to determine that one. I do see what she means though, and can think of a couple examples right off the top of my head. But let’s go back to the part where a bunch of people got offended at the idea of Katie Prudent putting a spotlight on the “fearful, talentless amateur” (even though, IMO, a lot of people took that comment out of context).

The reality is, I’ve known for a long time that I’m not exactly chock full of top-tier talent, and the fact that I can’t really make eye contact with a Prelim level table kind of speaks volumes about the fearful part (I mean… I prefer to call it “knowing my limitations”, but, a rose by another name). So I have no real problem with someone at the very top of the sport thinking that I am talentless and fearful. On the scale of a lot of other amateur riders I know, I’m probably marginally talented and considerably less fearful than most, but that’s not the measure she’s referring to here. On Katie Prudent’s scale of talent and balls, the one that is looking for the next McLain, I’m DEFINITELY talentless and fearful. I can own that with no problem.

And while people don’t greet me at the gate with a bottle of water and a fan, hey, I wouldn’t turn it down if you did.

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Look, there are A LOT of things in our sport that cater to amateur riders. The governing bodies themselves even cater to us a lot, because they know we’re their bread and butter. There are plenty of people plugging away at USEF, USEA, USHJA, USDF, etc who are tasked with reeling in the amateurs and keeping them entertained. Because let’s face it, as amateurs we really do own the sport these days, at least at the lower/national level. We have entire divisions, special awards, points categories, programs, etc. We outnumber the pros at staggering numbers. We bring in the majority of the money that keeps the associations and horse shows in business. There are even support groups for amateurs, for god’s sakes. We’re not victims, so let’s move on.

Rub a little bit of ointment onto that initial butthurt from Katie Prudent pointing out that talentless and fearful amateurs are a real thing that exist, and then please keep reading the rest of her interview transcript. What Katie has to say is a whole lot bigger than that one comment. It isn’t an attack on amateurs, it’s an observation of the current state of the sport itself, what it’s evolved into, how the business has changed, and how that effects what’s happening at the top levels.

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A lot of what Katie says during that interview is pretty spot on. It might make some people uncomfortable, and it seems to have come across as a bit too brutally honest to the more sensitive among us (which, ironically, kind of proves her point), but her comments are honest and I can certainly appreciate that. She says what a lot of people don’t have the guts to. It’s easy to see that the sport is changing (not just showjumping, either) and her concerns about where we’re going to get our next generation of top talent is valid.  Her comments on the dumbing down of the sport are valid, too. I mean… it’s worked out to my own particular benefit, but it’s still a valid observation.

It’s entirely different now than it was in Katie’s heyday, some ways for the better and some ways for the worse. It seems like pretty much everything circles back to money, which was really one of her biggest concerns. It’s turned into a little bit of a pay to play game, even at the top levels, which she believes has been a bit detrimental to our pool of young talented young riders… and really that was the entire point she was trying to make here, IMO.

Of course, I don’t have any answers for how to fix it, and she didn’t seem to either. Honestly, if you’re asking me, I don’t think it’s fixable, but that’s because I think a lot of it is a reflection of our culture in general. There’s no turning back the clock at this point, it’s more a matter of finding our footing in our current reality. Something that, luckily, is not my job, because that’s a pretty tough thing to try to conquer.

But that’s just my very amateur opinion on the whole thing, which is probably worth about as much as you paid for it.

 

40 thoughts on “Brutal Honesty 

  1. I think a lot of the backlash is because she seemed to pin in at all on the riders, and nothing on the trainers. They have created this atmosphere, too. I cringed when she made the comment about the nails – because I have seen riders like this a lot here locally and it drives me nuts. So I see both sides. I think more people need to get a bit more involved in their horses care, and trainers need to encourage that also.

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    1. Hmm… I guess that wasn’t the impression I got from it. She specifically pointed out the trainers several times for catering to them and mollycoddling their clients.

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    2. I think it hurts quite a bit when someone shows you a mirror and you don’t like what you see. I agree trainers helped create the situation but I also feel that riders need to win and move up as fast as possible started the ball rolling. Trainers, needing to earn a living, did what was necessary to give their clients what they want. It snowballed out of control. They developed a façade rather than a real horseman.

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  2. Amen! It hurts to hear it, but the sport we love is floundering. Too much focus on showing and developing fast. Screw true horsemanship and education, get that ribbon. I’m an amateur with a healthy respect for my ability and limitations. I don’t care if I never get out of long stirrup as long as I ride well and can care for my horse.

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  3. It’s pretty funny to me how many amateurs assumed Katie Prudent must have been talking about them when she called some amateurs “fearful and talentless.” I think she was really trying to explain the current horse show environment, and how the next generation of riders have grown up riding, and that it can’t produce the type of rider that it has produced in the past (because it’s driven more by money and not by love of the horse)–the type of American rider Katie Prudent is looking for for international-level showjumping competition. Every other amateur who shows 2’6″ can check their vanity at the in-gate, put in a great round, pat their ponies, and try not to worry about what other people think so much.

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  4. My thoughts- how much do you think Katie’s riders pay her? Does she take on “hard working talent”, let them pay next to nothing, and give them a talented but green horse to bring along? Otherwise, I honestly think she can shut her trap because pot meet kettle 🤣. I mean, I totally do think she makes some good points, but at the same time, this is a sport for the rich, and unless she is charging next to nothing, it’s not like she’s doing things any differently, except for maybe being harder on her customers. George is the same way- he says he clinics all across America because he wants to get good horsemanship out there. He is actually coming to Dallas in October, and a 3-day Clinic is $1,350. That is WAY out of reach for the average Horseman; it is really only knowledge for the rich. Just sayin!

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    1. Oh for sure, they themselves could definitely do more to prevent the exact thing they love to complain about so much. But that still doesn’t mean she’s wrong, it just means she’s perhaps (I don’t know her business details, so I can’t say for sure) a part of the problem. 😉

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    2. Also-she insulted one of her former students, Reed kessler. If she was so concerned why didn’t she make Reed work like she’s saying kids need to work in order to appreciate the sport? Or was the money the Kessler family paid her that much more important than making sure reed was a well rounded horse person that could ride anything she swung her leg over…

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      1. Reed was only mentioned by name one time and it was by the interviewer, not Katie. And all she said in response was: “They all have great basics. They’re all very good riders. But they have all, the ones you’ve named, only ridden the best horses money can buy. In their lives, from the time they were little children, they have only ridden the best horses that money can buy.”. Which is a factual statement. I don’t see what’s insulting about that?

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  5. I think the true parts of her message absolutely got lost when she made the comments about amateurs. However if she is so upset about how things are in today’s horse show world, what is she herself doing to fix it? Anything? For me it just sounded like so many of the articles and interviews blaming millenials for this problem or that. Well your generation created this business model where the entitled competitor is now #1 and then you turn back and make condescending remarks about it?

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    1. I guess it’s a matter of perception, because to me the remarks weren’t condescending. I wasn’t offended by it. It’s not news to me that a large majority of amateurs do not have top level talent or are fearful. It’s not news to me that the sport has changed, or that money talks. To me I just heard it as a factual statement and observations. I 100% know exactly what she’s talking about, and I’ve seen it too. She answered the questions honestly and frankly, and I can appreciate that. My feelings aren’t hurt by it nor is my first reaction to be defensive. That’s all. Other people reacted differently.

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  6. I attended the Longines in Omaha in March and during the Grand Prix there was a young lady who was balancing on her horses neck and grabbing mane on EVERY jump (total SAINT of a horse if you ask me). Then another who was similarly using the horses neck to hold herself up (can anyone say CORE?!!), who lost her outside stirrup about 4 strides from the fence so she circled and stopped to get it back. WHAT?!! My lovely, and tortured as a child to ride without stirrups on a regular basis, daughter immediately turned to me and said, ‘OMG! You would kill me if I did that!’ Haha! True. If you are jumping in the Grand Prix class at the World Cup Longines, you better be able to ride that entire course without any stirrups – in my opinion anyway. Was I surprised? No. But I am sad that I totally agree with Katie. You just don’t find barn rats anymore who would give their teeth to pick out a horse stall just to be around a horse. They just want to ride, even though they don’t even know a bridle from a halter. Barn owners and trainers are certainly part of the problem because in our eagerness to get these kids to love horses we make it easier in an attempt to fuel the fire. Sure we know its not the best way but when you are competing with technology and parents who don’t want to bother driving their kid to the barn constantly, its reality. Then you have to worry about some parent suing you because their kid fed their finger to the pony, or got their foot stepped on by the draft who thinks its a pony. I quit giving lessons for this very reason. Even at the up-down level I was doing, the lack of willingness to even sweep the aisles afterwards was just too much. I would have swept barn aisles for days as a kid if it allowed me to be in the presence of horses.

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    1. This. Your last sentence is spot on–that was me as a kid…tripping over myself to be allowed to do barn chores in return for merely being around horses! And now as an adult and a riding instructor, I expect the same fervor and work ethic from my students. If any of my students ever turn their nose up at cleaning stalls, sweeping, etc. they are assigned clean-up-the-whole-barn duty until their attitude changes. If they or their parents didn’t like that lesson and want to leave for another barn/trainer, fine by me! Thankfully that kind of kid is not super typical around here. It makes me sad that that attitude is prevalent in our sport, but remember–kids aren’t BORN spoiled brats…parents and trainers need to be willing to teach the hard lessons (even if it means you lose a client every now and again) and nip certain behaviors in the bud. And maybe don’t hand your child everything…heaven forbid they work and earn it!

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  7. I saw good and bad in it. I have a lot of thoughts, but frankly I’m too worn out to talk anymore. I don’t think anyone listens. Not necessarily to me, just in general. They wait for their turn to talk.

    What I hear people say and what they do, I’m just… At a loss. I can’t even really organize the thoughts to blog about it. There’s a lot of disappointment, frustration, and realizing I need to just do me. And for me, that is alone.

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  8. Eh, I’m fearful and moderately talent less. There’s a place for everyone in this sport, but I agree that there needs to be some separation (?) (something…) to bring the real talent up to the top where they belong. At the end of the day though, it IS about money. And that money has to come from somewhere. And often that’s the fearful and talentless amateurs who are also hard working and respected in the “real world.”
    I don’t have a solution either.

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  9. Thank you for laying out your thoughts like this- I think Katie made some interesting points, but in my mind there were a couple different issues getting overlapped into one. Some of which I agreed with, and some of which I thought was a little out of touch with the non-national levels. As others have said, I think a lot of it comes down to money- a horse that can navigate the junior jumpers don’t come cheap nowadays. We all hear the cinderella stories about the rescue horse that rose to the GP levels, but in reality it is a very rare, and usually expensive horse that can do that. Even the prospects and foals and unbroke babies are completely out of a lot of people’s budgets. So I think the rising price of horseflesh absolutely contributes to the proliferation of these lower level classes- people simply can’t afford a mount to do the bigger classes. Horses are more expensive, the economy is shittier, and everything is so interlinked and intertwined that it’s tough to tease out the causes and effects.

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    1. I agree, I think she touched on several issues and it just kind of exploded and went all over the place… seemingly mostly depending on whether or not the reader was offended. It’s kind of funny to me though that it blew up as much as it did considering GM says, and has been saying, the exact same things for a really long time.

      But yes, horses are a lot more expensive now. Everything is more expensive. The sport has evolved and changed just as the world has. That’s why I think there’s definitely no going back. But I do think there’s a solution in there somewhere for finding and nurturing the good young talent… I personally just don’t know what it is.

      Agree with her 110% about all the mollycoddling that goes on these days though… are we raising riders to need that kind of treatment these days? Have they lost their toughness and thus their edge? Do the top riders not want to develop their own horses anymore? Do they lack the skills to do so? I dunno. Like you said., lots of different issues at play. Glad it’s not my job to figure it out.

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  10. I agree a lot with what she has to say but she is missing three key points IMO.
    1. Amateurs support the horse show industry. Not pros. Pros would not have jobs with amateurs, so its just natural that the horse shows and training have shifted to cater towards the adult ammie.
    2. You cannot compare the show world today to what it was 40 years ago. Things were A LOT more affordable back then because they were less fancy, people hauled their own horses, kept horses at home etc. That is a different crowd than the rated show scene today. TB and field hunters were the majority and those horses were affordable to your average rider with an average income.
    3. She forgot one vital change for the adult amateur world that, in my mind, is the biggest contributor to amount of riders below 3’6. The cost of the horses with the level of talent that you need today to be competitive. You cannot get a $1000 OTTB and jump around the AOs and win. Here you could try, but would have plenty of snickering going on ringside as you rode your trip and my guess is most judges would be checking their phone while you jumped around. You need need a horse that costs the same as most people’s starter homes to have a shot at ribbon at an AA show. Sure you can buy a prospect, but at what? Mid to high 5 figures even unstarted? Not everyone has that kind of money. I am a decent rider, and I was good in the hunter ring. I probably could have made in the in AOs with the right horse. But even being in the top 5% income bracket for my age in this area, I could not afford to spend that kind of money on a horse. Talented riders, like KP is talking about, who ride because they love horses are priced out of the bigger rings so it leaves just her talentless fearful riders with deep pockets (or parents with deep pockets)

    Its frustrating to me because no one wants to admit that. If top prospects were less expensive, I think you would see bigger numbers in the bigger rings.

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    1. Hmmm see, I don’t think she missed those points. I read it as her lamenting for a time that will never ever come around again, because of exactly your three points, but I also think she knows that. The question really is, with all these changes to the industry, how to we still produce the tough, uber-talented riders who have superb horsemanship skills? These days everything is pretty amateur-centric, or a lot of these rich kids are catered to because the trainers need their money. Building tough, genuine, tip top talent is not something that the current system nurtures, and it’s starting to show in our international results. That demographic has kind of gone by the wayside. The nice horses are never going to get cheaper, because it takes SO MUCH money to produce a horse of that caliber these days. In my mind I read it is a “here’s what used to work for us, here’s why it doesn’t happen anymore, we need to find a way to bridge the gap”. But, maybe I’m giving her too much credit. 😉

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  11. She didn’t say anything out of line with what most people have been saying for years. She just said it with a bit more bite. I’ll be honest, I side eyed a little bit at the amateurs comment, but I understood that she wasn’t literally biting her thumb at amateur riders. I’m actually shocked that she wasn’t afraid to respond to comments about specific young, talented riders. Props to her.

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  12. My trainer shared the transcript and, admittedly, I felt bad about myself reading through the first part of it. I’ve only been riding for a year but often get discouraged because I wasn’t able to start until I was 21… a far cry from the pony kids jumping and riding circles around me. I have no dreams of being at the top but I want to go somewhere. Sometimes that feels impossible and her words brought all those feelings of hopelessness rushing back. But I think her words are what separate the ones who got in with money from the ones who are in it to work for it; the ones who truly love the sport. It’s the difference between crying “that’s not me!” from the ones who grit their teeth and say “I’ll prove to you that’s not me.” Being sad that I’m almost the same age yet not as advanced as Lillie Keenan doesn’t make me a better rider. Never quitting and always making strides forward will. If you’re mad about what Katie said… prove her wrong.

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    1. Agreed… most of the people I’ve seen take offense are the ones who are probably afraid she’s right, or who are uncomfortable with what they are. Honestly, just because someone isn’t going to be the next top rider doesn’t mean they aren’t important to the industry in some way, and that they can’t have some fun supporting the sport that they love. Granted, I think Katie wants most of us to quit being such babies (which, hey… she ain’t wrong). It just means we’re legit useless to the USET and Katie Prudent. 😛 Which, hey… they’re both useless to me too, so fair is fair!

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  13. I read the article yesterday, and wondered if you’d make a post about it. And you did lol. I think you make some good points on that, and I completely agree with Katie and it was a hard lesson seen when I was in the reining world. There was no shortage of riders who (IMO) did not know how to ride. But they could buy the horses, and trained with the trainer who didn’t teach them how to ride but to bump the reins here and drag them into the stop here (even though the amateur had no clue what the horse did to warrant it). And the assistants trained under the pros because…well…I don’t even know why but they didn’t love horses. Not at all. And the real kicker? One of the pros/trainers even said on an interview that riders who want to learn/train under them should not expect the pros to teach them “all their secrets” because those people would later be their competition. (of course, this could not be the mentality for English disciplines) And those trainers aren’t teaching the amateurs horsemanship, just how to perch on a horse. So I totally think Katie’s article is so very true, and also a catch 22. Just one big circle that goes around. Because yeah, these people may want to put in the work, but are pros truly interested in helping these talented and hard working people to “make it”? And in light of international level competition, Katie’s article hit the nail on the head. America is really pretty terrible. Our two Olympic finishers are born Australians. Europe beats us nearly all the time. And even watching those competitions you can see a difference in the riders. But, it is a rich man’s sport. We amateurs can’t afford most of these horses/lessons. (that cost that someone commented for a GM clinic seriously made my heart stop) I know I may be able to take lessons with someone maybe once a month. If that. So is there a solution? I agree with you – I don’t think there is one. We have to go forward from where we are right now. How? I’m glad it’s not up to me because I have no idea! But, her article is very true, and I think those that got butt hurt about the amateur comment missed the point of what she was saying entirely.

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  14. I read that and, as a an amateur, was not offended in the least. I thought she was spot on. Did I think she was talking about me? Nope. Am I fearless? No. Am I talented? No. Am I working towards my goals and taking full responsibility for my success and failure? You betchya. Do I push my limits and work hard to become better? Yes – and THAT is her point. If I had purchased a fancier horse and was taking lessons each week with very little of my own training in between and expecting to be coached through e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, I would feel the bite of that comment. I make sure to ride outside an arena frequently, I don’t get my value from what other people say about me (although, to be fair, if I get compliments, I seize them and cling to them like they’re the last brownie on earth), and I put in the work. Plus, honestly, I do think it’s absurd and ridiculous to have alllllll these different divisions in the hunters and jumpers – granted, it’s pride that’s keeping me from the show ring in those arenas until I can confidently put in a 3′ round. Like hell I’m going to let someone congratulate me on a round I could walk over.

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  15. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure how to respond or react to everything Prudent had to say. Was she wrong? Probably not. Do I necessarily agree? Not exactly. And that ‘s ok.

    As a less than talented adult with plenty of fear, I don’t really care that I’m not out there showing 3’6″ nor do I have any plans to (ever) show at the AA rated level at 3’6″ (or any height for that matter). Not in the cards for me. Financially or otherwise (I live in an area with a wonderful local circuits). I also don’t feel like jumping a 3’6″ course, well, ever. I’ve had a whole lot of concussions and I need to limit risk. Riding and jumping in general cause enough risk and coming off over 2’6″ seems less risky than 3’6″ whether or not it actually makes much difference! Plus I have more FUN over small fences. This sport is too expensive not to be fun so why stress myself out and push myself to do more than I want to? So she’s right, lacking ambition over here! But who cares? I’m never going to be the next big name. I don’t want to be. But, I keep my horses at home, feed them daily, and do all of their daily care. So just because I don’t have any ambition doesn’t mean the dumbing down of the sport took away the basics of horse care.

    The thing is, this sport costs money. For everyone. How well off you need to be varies, but you need to have access to something or be willing to work some extra jobs or something to be involved with horses. To be involved with BNT, you need more than a strong work ethic, you need money to first get noticed. You need money to be showing a riding on the A or AA circuit or riding with a trainer that has connections, or owning/leasing that horse that will get you noticed or something. Even years ago, people still had money. Anyway, she identifies a problem (with the pipeline of developing new talent), but how does she propose fixing it? As I see it, she’s just as much part of the problem. Money talks right now and the young riders with financial means to get noticed rise to the top as juniors. Where do we go from there? That is a different issue than the “dumbing down” of horse shows for those NOT seeking a future as a rider…

    As for A or AA shows and fence heights, is it that bad to have 3’ and under classes? They usually fill and financially support the 3’6″+ classes that tend to be smaller…

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  16. While I agree with many of her comments, and I appreciate blunt honesty as much as the next person, I think that she could have worded her opinion much more eloquently. With her and GHM and others of that ilk, I find myself noticing that while they began just being blunt and honest, it has now become a bit of a “show” to put it in a bitchy, snarky way just for the attention that it garners.

    As far as the actual content of her bitchfest, I also noticed her disparaging the Reeds, Lillies and Jessicas of the world when she herself has had just as big of a hand in creating them as anyone else. I would be willing to be dollars to doughnuts that she doesn’t take on any “talented, but not financially backed” students and fosters their learning by providing them with good, but appropriately challenging horses all throughout their junior/early GP career. I bet that her students all have multiple horses that HAVE to be in full service training with grooms and training rides and the whole nine yards. Sure she might be “tougher” when she coaches them, but thinking that she does it like the old school horse(wo)man trainer who makes all the kids do all their own grooming and braiding and ride rotten ponies and quirky greenies is just kidding yourself.

    Lamenting about how GOOD it was back then, and how millenials have just RUINED everything without even proposing a solution let alone being a part of one is laughable at best. Nevermind that whenever people lament about the “good old days” they seem to just conveniently gloss over the fact that bad shit happened just as much back then, we just didn’t have social media to publicize it to the entire equestrian population within minutes. -end rant-

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    1. I don’t think she was disparaging them at all. She said they had great basics and were good riders. All she said was that they have always been mounted on the very best horses that money can buy, which is a factual statement. I don’t see that as being disparaging? It’s true that their upbringing in the sport is not the same as it was for so many others who are currently at the top of the sport, who did not have access to the best horses. Always being able to afford the best can be a double edged sword, which I think was her point.

      I do agree with you that she’s had a hand in creating exactly what she is lamenting, but I guess I just didn’t read her comments as rude or disparaging to anyone in particular.

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  17. Meh, I get what she is saying, but I always feel like Katie and GM and those of their ilk are largely ignorant of the outside forces that are shaping society at large. I do think they tend to look back with rose colored glasses at the past. I think that there was always the haves and the have nots. But in the past, it was the social norm for wealthy owners to have really nice horses that they hired Pros to ride and show, while they sat ringside at Madison Square garden in ball gowns and tuxedos and fanned themselves with their programs. Now, the same wealthy owners want to actually be the ones ON those really nice animals. Thus the culture we have in place now was born.

    Couple that with the fact that land is being developed at critical mass, people today are very safety conscious, and kids are over-scheduled and over-supervised from birth. The culture has changed. Why and/or how are we to blame those that have been shaped by the very forces they may or may not have been aware of, and certainly, in some instances, unable to change?

    And the very people who criticize are party to the driving forces of the culture they helped create.

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  18. I honestly don’t give two shits if people want to pay someone to train, tack up, care for, etc. etc. their horses. If they want to just hop on show, hand their horse off and go have a drink. So what? I get the point she is trying to make. But just because you pay trainers and grooms etc doesn’t make you worthless to the sport. Just means you enjoy your horse differently.

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  19. I thought the article was spot on. I don’t event, but I do ride dressage on horses that I am bringing along on my own. I purposefully keep my horses at a ranch where I do everything but toss their hay to them. I want to control every bit of their lives because it allows me more time to connect with them. I know the instant one of them is off in any way.

    Aside from putting in the sweat equity, which a great many riders don’t do, I also agreed with Prudent’s point that we learn so much more by riding anything and everything. How many bloggers (and I am about to offend big time here) write about being nervous to jump 2’3″? How many write about needing their trainer to warm up their horse? I don’t know if it’s because riders are over-horsed, but it does seem as though a lot of riders are mounted on horses that can do the job better than their riders.

    It’s not sour grapes … I truly think we would all be better riders if we spent more time working through problems on are own without always having a trainer ready to step in and rescue us. With that said, I do have a trainer. She’s two and a half hours away though which means I have to work my tail off in between lessons to maximize the once a month lesson that I do get.

    In the interview, Prudent said, “And so to any young rider coming into the sport, I would say, “You get on that horse, and through a long time, spending hours with the horse, getting a good education in basics—how to use your leg, how to use your reins—see if you can take that animal and get him to do what you want to do.” I think this paragraph illustrates her point; the rider needs to take responsibility for her own education.

    I imagine I am preaching to the choir though. :0)

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  20. This is such a great debate. Thanks so much for blogging about Katie’s article. I admit, when I first read it, I was one of those knee-jerk butt-hurt sensitive over-reactors you mentioned. But then I got over myself, because, well, I am a little fearful, and I’m only mildly talented (and I’m a dressage rider so, not at all talented, really, if we’re comparing me to, say, anyone who is competently jumping higher than 2′ LOL)…

    So, looking at things in perspective, I don’t think Katie’s comments were wrong. And if you take out that one comment, the rest of the article really is pretty darn accurate. It’s a pay-to-play world out there, and money beats talent a lot of the time. But, unfortunately, that’s just the world we live in, and sorry, but, America is currently the biggest offender (the “sorry” in the middle of that sentence was for no other reason but I’m Canadian and saying sorry is what we do – it’s the equivalent of the obligatory smiley face at the end of an offensive statement).

    Thanks again for the great post – you really helped put Katie’s thoughts into perspective, even better than she did herself.

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  21. I completely agreed with Katie, and I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, I think her message is going to be lost among those that focus only on her one observation regarding “the talentless, fearful amateurs”. These very same people will zoom in on how offended they are by the fact that someone had the guts to say it out loud, and instead of being humbled, they will continue to toot their own horns.

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  22. I’m a fearful talentless amateur hopping around at 18″ and feeling like I conquered the world. Yet I agree with her. I didn’t take her comments to mean she wants all low level people to quit riding or showing. What I took away from it was that people like me, if backed by enough money, could find myself on a world class horse hanging on for dear life and winning. Next thing you know there I am, still afraid and with minimal talent, on the US team getting my butt handed to me on the international stage. That’s where our team is headed. Is there a solution? I’m sure there is though don’t ask me what it looks like. Probably a lot of hard work and determination.

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  23. We really like to bitch and complain that the only thing keeping us from glory is money. “I’d win all the time too if I had a $100,000 horse.” I think that’s really bullshit and that if someone put me on a Grand Prix horse right now I’d fail miserably. Riding good horses still takes a lot of talent and feel (and I don’t think Katie would disagree).
    As Americans I think we really just like the idea of a scrappy underdog who rides crap horses until he/she gets a shot at the big time and makes it.

    You can learn a lot from being willing to hop on any horse. I think it also shows good character and determination–and the type of people who are true horsemen/women that are in it for the love of the horse. I also think that if all you ever get to ride are green to moderate horses that’s all you’ll ever be able to produce. I’m sure there are exceptions out there, but the majority of us simply could not train a horse to a higher level than we’ve personally experienced.

    I fully credit my feel and seat on being able to ride and show a 4th level dressage horse for a year in college (and it only cost me $1,100/semester plus show/travel fees). I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know before being exposed to something a whole lot better. But there are opportunities still for those who want it–be a working student or suck up to a rich person at your barn. This is addressing everyone who was offended. We all need to embrace our talent-less selves and enjoy watching the pros to magical things with magical horses OR we need to shut-up and put our nose to the grindstone.

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