L. @ Viva Carlos asks in her latest blog hop- what's one unpopular horsey opinion that I have?
Inevitably whenever the hunter division is brought up on COTH, be it for poor hunter eq, jazzing up the courses, the "good old days," there's a general theme woven in asking the question- "We keep manufacturing a division for everyone at any level, and those divisions grow and take away from all the divisions. What can we do? We have top hunter riders, from pony riders through professionals, from all over the country. What goals are we having our riders aspire to?"
This quote comes from a Susie Schoellkopf at at the Chronicle in her article- How Do We Inject Excitement into the Hunters.
Oh man. I get a bee in my bonnet every time this comes up but I'm too afraid to comment lest I am murdered while sleeping.
Listen Susie. Gone are the days when TBs (go OTTBs) galloped around an entry level 3'6" course costing nickels on the dollar.
And it's not coming back.
Adding the Crossrail, Long Stirrup, and 2'6" divisions at rated shows have opened the doors to the true amateur owner- one that has a career, family, and fits riding in whenever they have a spare moment. Their steadfast, although perhaps not derby, horses get them around the ring so they can come out with a smile and enjoy a glass of wine with their barn buddies. Some may use these divisions as a stepping stone and some may not. And there's no shame in not moving up.
Let's get real. It's not like local rated shows attract a spectator audience anyway- so suggesting that lower levels weaken the crowd is quite ridiculous. There's not much of one to begin with.
Frankly- it's a business. The more competitors that sign up- the more money for the show and trainer. What trainer wants to take 2-3 3'6" riders and leave the rest at home? What show only wants to open divisions to 3'6"+ riders? They'd cut their entries by more than half. Even at the 3' level.
Cost. These shows are expensive. For real. And the horses that are winning in the big hunter ring are too. I'd love to get Ellie into that ring someday but also recognize that we probably wouldn't have a shot in hell of getting some satin (fingers still crossed to just get there). News flash- I've never shown above 2'6" at a rated show. Because I've barely been able to afford to own a horse- let alone one that was made enough to jump around the AAs.
On a tangent- .70 meter Jumpers? Same damn thing- why does everyone gripe at the Hunters.
So for me? I want to go to a rated show, be in the "scene," spend time with friends. I'm not chasing points. I'm there for the experience. And there had damn well better be a crossrail class for me to show in. Because if I have fifteen hundred bucks to drop on cantering around a course, be it crossrails or a derby, take my money and say "good luck." How am I possibly hurting the sport by showing in a crossrail division at a rated show, coming out of the ring, and saying, "GO ME!!!"