Fixing horse sport in the U.S.A.

12 Aug

Spelling it out, standing on soapbox.

standing on soapbox

How to fix horse sport in the US:

Use Pony Club as a vehicle for standardizing horsemanship/flatwork/basics. It is a base organization that ALREADY exists all over this large country.

There was a time, when the US had a national show governing body–AHSA (American Horse Show Association)– and a top sport governing body– USET (United States Equestrian Team)– that many team riders came from Pony Club, especially in eventing and dressage. Jumpers were always a world unto themselves, much to the envy of all others. But even jumper riders often had Pony Club in their backgrounds. It was, simply, the most effective way to gain a background in horse management, horsemanship AND the concept of responsibility, team effort, the sense of competition as a positive force. Because to truly succeed in horse sport, there is a need for horsemen, not only people who own/ride  horses.

When the bitter struggle for dominance between the two governing bodies was over, Pony Club proved to be a disconnect as well. All forces were turned on to finding Big Sponsors to salvage horse sport.

And that is fine for the short run.

But WHERE is the next generation to come from, if not from the one place that turns out horsemen? Turns out people with passion as well as ambition? Determination and perseverance as well as monied parents? Turns out people who care about horses and sport?

The eventing world is already reaching out .

I think we need to re-establish a connection with the true base, the true grass roots of horse sport.

A small panel can determine how best to reach these grass roots, create  better communication.

I nominate George Morris, Hilda Gurney, Lendon Grey, Denny Emerson and 1 more to re-establish communication with Pony Club. These are people who have had success, have had successful horses, have had successful students, have promoted horse sport. Have proven they can think as well as ride.

We have to use the lessons learned from other sports– start early enough that there is a chance for the riders to get their 10,000 hours in before they are too old to gain the finishing touches that makes champions out of competence.

Every  nation successful in any sport starts with its children. Not juniors, not young riders–children. Top sport is achieved through passion as well as dedication and passion starts early or really not at all.  Not so long ago, Pony Club was the place horse

Instruction has to be standardized so that more new riders do not waste so much time going down dead-ends. The sport is just too expensive and frustrating to waste that much time and horseflesh.

That’s it , in a nutshell.



One Response to “Fixing horse sport in the U.S.A.”

  1. Karen Drown August 14, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    I agree that our superior riders have traditionally come from Pony Club. Today’s young riders and juniors are often mounted on made and extremely expensive horses. Pony club stresses good horsemanship and that builds a bond between horse and rider. I wish that I had been fortunate to have had that background. But at least I have been taught by people who have. Karen Drown

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