Saturday's Subject: Showing and why, part I
I keep thinking I will be on it when it comes to our Blog but time escapes me and next thing I know, it has been weeks since I last wrote something! So, since I'm a planner, the goal is now to write every Saturday night. Welcome to Saturday's subject!
For the first Saturday Subject, picking a subject that I think many adult amateur riders have felt about horse shows/events - why I am doing this? There is a post circulating around facebook and has received over 3,000 comments last time I looked. The author cites 6 reason why they are done with showing. The comments are everything from supportive to critical to suggestions for different riding disciplines.
One of the reasons for the author's " I'm done" is the "working for months and spending a small fortune to get there only to experience the resentment from some of the 'top riders' when the mere amateurs dare to muddy their course. " I get this. Have felt sideways looks from some 'pros'. 2 years ago I went solo as in no coach, no instructor, no 'barn family'. It was a good decision on my part and my mental state has been so much better. I do sometimes get a little lonely but that passes after a few minutes. When I get asked why I do not ride regularly with a team or instructor, I state that time was an issue. When I did ride with a 'barn', it was a 4 - 5 hour affair for about 25 minutes of actual ride time. 1 1/2 hr to get there, sometimes 2 hrs if traffic ( as instructor only did late afternoon lessons and it was rush hour traffic time). 20 min to park/unload/tack up. Group lesson that was scheduled for 1 hr but as a group of 4-5 riders = 20-25 min of actual personal instruction. Cool off, untack, load up for another 20 minutes then the trek back home for 1.5 hrs. So yes, time was a big issue but lets also talk cash. $75 for my 25 minutes of instruction. Lesson were purchased via a monthly subscription which I had no issue with. Actually liked it. But for me, who keeps horses at home and lives over an hour away, I could not take advantage of the other 'perks' that were part of this subscription package. I would have adored private lessons for 45 minutes, and that would be more acceptable for the 5 hour time and price tag but that was not how the program was structured. Let's not even talk about the 1/2 tank of diesel for one lesson in the dually.
Thus went solo. I do ride 1 -2 times a month with various clinicians that come to the area regularly and that has been amazing. I have grown as a rider and I feel that now that I am solo schooling, it's all on me so I better do it right. I am more focused and can 'feel' more of what I did good and not so good. I also record my schooling as I am my most devoted critic. I set up exercises, courses, and patterns. I have been become much more educated. I have always been a confident rider but even more so now. Which brings me to why I get how a rider can feel like they don't belong there at the show. Some Pros and Trainers are not exactly welcoming to the rider that shows up alone and has no trainer. It seems that going sans coach/trainer is an oddity. Most everyone rides with a team, a coach and has a 'barn family'. So going it alone can feel like you are out there in the fringe. What does cause me to channel my inner yogi and not drop some f-bombs is the trainer/coach who feels they have total rights to the warm up area and jumps. Everyone within 200 feet should know this and stay away. Their riders don't call out the jumps, don't mention they are passing behind and on which side...nada. Apparently when said coach/instructor is standing next to a warm up fence, even if their riders are still warming up on the flat, everyone should stay away. Well, I say no. I have worked hard, paid my fees and have every right to warm up. I should not have to stand in the corner until all trainers clear out so that us solo folks can hop over a fence. If the trainer's riders are not actively, and obviously, jumping ( as in not calling out the fences), oh yes, I will call my fence and jump it. I'm also the rider that goes in to the ring when no-one else will so I need to be ready anytime. Thus I will call my fence and jump it.
To all solo amateurs out there, yes it can be frustrating and discouraging when you get stink eye from the local pros but you have every right to be there. You paid your fees, put in the time, prepared your horse to be successful and showed up! You got this! Do not let others bring you down.