Sunday, July 19, 2009

What do you think of Riders that refuse to move up?

I was at a little schooling show the other day for a Throughbred charity. There were classes for beginner riders as well as beginner horses. One of the classes that was offered was a W/T/C class but you only had to canter in the lead of your choice individually. I clearly saw the class as a class for horses that were just beginning to canter, however not everyone saw it the way I did.

The horses that pinned 1st, 2nd, and 3rd where clearly accomplished in their ability to canter. When the class was warming up those three horses were cantering in both direction and jumping over fences.

I also was at a dressage show not so long ago and the top horse recieved an 85% in Intro and the horse that came in 2nd has been doing endurance for the last 4 years and can obviously do higher level test.

Why do people choose to stay in a divison or class when they are clearly over qualified. Perhaps it is just me and I am missing something. I always feel that showing is a place where you have the ability to compete against others so that you can see where you should concentrate and improve.

Please let me know what you think!


  1. Generally speaking, it's the same motivation that makes people show every weekend, or Bute up a horse to get it through a schooling show. If there's not a rule expressly forbidding it -- or anyone to enforce the rule -- people will do it.

    Sometimes there's more to the story... My old boss had a Dutch WB, one she imported herself and brought up through the levels to show at Fourth. He had an injury, and after rehab she brought him down to Wellington so she could get him back into work over the winter. He spooked in his paddock and pulled a suspensory running in the deep sand. While he was recovering he pulled another suspensory -- both hinds. After two years off, she started to slowly bring him back into work, and let one of her adult novices take lessons on him. The student wanted to show but didn't have her own horse, so my boss let her ride him at a schooling show -- he wasn't fit enough to canter yet, so they entered Intro. They had average scores (60s), but I know as they were warming up a lot of people were wondering what this big, fancy Warmblood was doing in the walk/trot class.

    That's why I like dressage, though. Even if there are people in the class that don't belong, you still get a score and feedback from the judge. And sometimes you CAN beat those overqualified people with a good ride. :)

  2. In addition to the rehabs, or experienced folk with green horses, there are others. Here are a couple I've seen in the past.

    There are the folk who like to think of themselves as Big Fish. They (usually) mistakenly believe that others will look up to them for their ribbons and awards, despite performing at an inappropriate level. This sort doesn't see the string of "wins" as anything other than validation that they're the best.

    There are also folks who can't or won't, for whatever reason, move out of they're comfort zone. They know they're good at training level--what if they "lose" when they move up? Or Top-Tenning a 25 mile LD is a snap, but 50 miles seems so far. It seems the risk outweighs the rewards.

    It can be frustrating to observe, so I try not to watch. When I do pay attention, I try to make encouraging noises and plant the seeds for future growth in both of these kinds. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. Overcoming issues based in personal esteem is chancy, especially when your "operating" on a total stranger.

  3. An 85% at INTRO? Good lord, that is bad. Maybe the horse is in "rehab" but if it can score an 85% at Intro, it should be at Training level IMO. We had a young rider here in Maine do the same thing last year. All about ribbons and scores....and it was worse to me because she was raising money for a well known cause based on her high scores. AND deliberately competed at Intro at Nationals despite having done Training all season.....again for RIBBONS and thought she would not get caught.

    I agree the Intro WTC class you described should not have had the higher level horses in it. But again, people do stupid things for ribbons. It stinks for someone like you who tries to be fair, but you gotta either look the other way or find the right channels to state your case.

    I have tried WTC classes in the past, but Dreamy has a hard time maintaining her canter leads all the way around a big ring for a long time. A 20 m. canter circle at Training level is OK (we still get 4s....) but she is not ready for WTC classes. Though there are people who think I am "cheating" by doing WT classes while doing Training level dressage. I can see both sides.

  4. Hi, new here! Found you through Harnessphoto over on LJ.

    Traumatic experience could be a reason to bump someone too. I have been at a schooling show where I was originally slotted to ride training and ended up showing intro because the weekend prior my horse threw me at the canter. This isn't a likely thing if someone is claiming to be a professional but as a somewhat timid amature I was really glad to not have to canter a second weekend in a row.

    Ps. The SPHO of Ohio does their can you canter class and you can choose which direction you's pretty great. At the one show I was at all the horses were a lot alike and I think only one had a true three beat canter.