So the past week has been a bit tough for me mentally. Am I doing the right thing for my horse, my program, my life? So much deep thought and reflection. It took me a while to write this post and the two before it because of some flipping out that was going on the internets.
The Monday after the show, I was still struggling to put things in piles and figure out where to go with my "big" horse. Consequently, early that week this article popped up.
When this popped up, I ignored it. When it popped up again and again, I ignored it. When Sarah asked me if I'd seen it, I said I saw it going around but hadn't clicked. She mentioned some other things and I ended up clicking. Since I was feeling like a borderline horse abuser myself from the past weekend, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel. So. I have a better seat than her. OK, a much better one. Her horse appears to be a tolerant, lazy, hot type. I have one of those. In my mind I was questioning (again) my choices at the show the weekend before but realized I didn't look like that.
So I debated if it was someone with money just "chasing a dream." I know as a trainer the pressure to get people up the levels (especially those with large pocketbooks) is intense. I didn't see anything that was "blatant" abuse as mentioned in the article. Overuse of the aids due to a rider's lack of core? Yes. The horse kicked out WAY less than Vana does for the whip. Granted her award riding made her hands and aids really poorly timed. I saw a rider that had been told to "ride forward" as I was on the same type of horse at that same level. I saw a wealthier, less talented, less fit, less experienced version of myself and Vana in my mind in the beginning.
The other video was later posted and well. OK, maybe it was excessive and it no longer reminded me of myself. It reminded me of how I'd see many of the other trainers in the area "schooling" their horses and some of the behind the scenes "corrections" that made my working student and myself squirm. When the rules of reporting abuse was released, my emotion was now mad at myself for not reporting this instance that we had witnessed in the past year with a local well respected trainer.
I guess my point is that the trainer didn't let this person down. The horse wasn't let down. This is what is wrong with the "pay to play" system AND the "look the other way" system. I don't believe the judges should have done anything different. IF she was scoring over 60s, ok fine. Bad on the judges. They appeared to judge as fairly as they could. With my most recent shit show of a test on the previous Saturday, I HEARD as I rode by how hard it was for the judges to tell the scribe what to write as they move quickly to the next movement. An ENTIRE test of this is going to miss some things and there's no way around that.
Not every test is going to be perfect. Not every rider is going to be perfect. I can see the argument for the rider, the trainer, the horse, the sport, the judges from all angles and I'm not sure what the right answer is. Writing this article in a bullying type way isn't the right answer, but sensationalism gets people to read your article and thus talk about it. It's Journalism 101.
The following counter article came out addressing the bullying and several other topics.
I mean we can go round and round on this. I'm not going to. I'm just going to report abuse next time I see it at a show instead of looking the other way and keeping quiet.