If you're like me, you spend the majority of you evenings stalking COTH, blogs and Facebook for horsey related news because as The Boy likes to say, "I'm addicted to the naynays". Its true. I am. Forever.
Recently though I've been feeling pretty discouraged (another post on that later), wondering what am I REALLY doing and getting more & more frustrated with the direction my sport is heading.
It started a while ago when eventing took away the long format. I had just recently entered the sport and was hooked. Back then, I had a little bit of familial support, but I still had to front most of the cost myself as a teenager in HS. And I wanted it, so I made it work. But I distinctly remember the uproar that change caused in the eventing community. I was even "that girl" who chose it as the thesis of my english class research paper.
It was a difficult paper to write since there wasn't much research done on the topic, more opinions floating around than anything else, but I dug in and read more articles and books on equine fitness than I care to ever again.
I still don't have a specific "opinion" on the matter after all of that, but I knew deep down that the sport had been changed forever.
That was just the beginning.
Im not sure if its because I was a spritely young thing, but NOTHING scared me & I always went into each event with vigor and fervor for competition. Even on Spirit, who was fugly and awful at dressage, I STILL loved it, even when we were in dead last after dressage. Even with an awful coach who made me cry, I STILL loved it. I wanted to show every weekend and tried my hardest to do so.
|Like, really ugly|
I worked SO hard with that horse, and the greatest moment in my life is when we won FIRST place at USPC champs in Novice. I couldnt believe it! My backyard, newspaper horse had killed it and we had WON.
|Our last show together (training level)|
I haven't won a recognized event since, and thats okay. I loved it nonetheless. The feeling of galloping XC, getting fancy for the judges and competing against other people and myself. I never had the privilege of riding "made" horses or being able to afford weekly lessons, so I did most of the work myself, slugging day in and out trying to make it work with my OTTB & backyard pony & I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm not sure when "the feeling" changed for me though.
Shows were getting more expensive. Dressage was becoming more important. The judging changed. You could no longer move up in the jumping phases if you had a less than stellar score. People started riding fancier WB's. XC got harder. It was becoming harder and harder to do it alone, and without a coach I started slipping and it wasn't as fun anymore.
I think it really changed for me when Yankee and I had the best test of our life and placed 3rd after dressage. He was fluid, responsive, & calm all throughout sleeting rain and freezing temperatures. We had trained for YEARS to get to that point. I was so proud of him and knowing *I* had made that test happen. But then we went out for XC and it all fell apart. The cold was unbearable. The course was INSANE. We shared half the fences with Prelim and I had never done some of the combinations before, and I went out already nervous. It was the first show of the year and we shared fences with PRELIM. WHY?!
Every show I went to after that just wasn't fun. Yankee was amazeballs in dressage and we still rarely scored under a 35 or even placed in the ribbons. XC was terrifyingly complex & maxed out, and stadium was always difficult and we barely made it. I was literally throwing away money to show, & I wasn't even having fun. It was really discouraging & I wondered if it was just me being a wuss.
Then there were the converted hunter princess's out there with their headsettin, fancy steppin horses creaming us all, and it was infuriating. I couldn't believe judges were placing horses with no true connection above other people who had the correct training under their belts, but less fancy horses.
I wasn't the only one who noticed either. Dressage was changing, for the worse. In my circle of people, we couldn't believe it. It seemed that if you had a horse with fancy feet that could curl his head, you placed above everyone else. Nevermind that his back was as hollow as a dead tree, no, he could trot like an imported WB (if he wasn't one already).
Not to mention by this time the upper levels were becoming almost scary to watch. XC was way too technical and the speeds remained the same. Even the great riders seemed to struggle with the technicalities of the courses. Horses and riders started dying. The jumps became harder still.
I started to prefer local, cheap, fun shows over anything else.
|Spring dressage show|
|Winter jumper show|
What is the actual point of making everything so damned difficult on XC that riders have to consistently push their horses beyond what their capable of?
Denny from Tamarack Farm in a FB article said it best,
If THIS is what the FEI wants the "new" sport to be, tricks and traps and angles, and other idiot crap that no sensible horse would want to jump, then I think they are painting themselves into an increasingly dangerous corner.These are THE BEST horses and riders we have in eventing. These are brilliant riders and elite horses, and even the very best of our very best are having rotational falls.
Seriously, does ANYONE like to see this?
Wake up, FEI.
Its becoming a game of who has the most money, who can dressage the very best and hopefully make it over fences later and how else can we discourage riders.
Perhaps I am being a titch dramatic, but I lost the spark a while ago and I just don't know if I even want to get it back with the direction eventing is going.
Am I the only one who feels this way in the blogsphere, or have you other eventers noticed eventing following a path you don't know if you want to take anymore?