Numbers.... frustrating.

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The Chronicle just sent an email to us asking about numbers for horses, clipping, blankets, etc... sometimes it is outstanding when you step back and look at numbers:
39 - numbers of horses that are on our farm
40 - estimated number of sheet and medium weight indoor rugs we own.
20 - number of light and medium weight turnout rugs
30 - horses have been clipped once
20 - of those 30 horses that have been clipped twice
4 - horses that did a fall three day that are about to be clipped for a third time....
Got me thinking about other numbers...

1 - events the OCET has gone to this year.
12 - number of horses that competed
11 - number of clear rounds
6 - number of horses that placed in the top 5

Sometimes number should make us smile... we had a good first outing with the young horses this weekend. I do feel though that the season is starting too early; no one (horse, rider, coach, owners) is getting enough of a break and making the time for proper training. We are so quick to have a competition as our goal and not a milestone in our training as our goal. Why not use schooling jumping shows as a means of checks and balances? Or dressage shows? And then you can work on what didn't work instead of spending a minimum of 200 dollars on an entry, minimum or 100 dollars in fuel, etc, only to find out that your horse has trouble tuning right or you didn't have the correct bit and you had two rails and no ribbon and you still ran it cross country to find out the same... There are very few "schooling jumper shows" on good footing; it would be great to see some! For event riders to go to a "HITS" class or a WEF class is just as expensive, if not more, as going to a horse trials.

The leading area for our sport used to be in South Hamilton - where, people ask? Yes - North of Boston was the mecca of eventing 20 years ago. How many people under the age of 25 can tell you what importance Ledyard had or that Flying Horse Farm hosted the first multi-disciplined young rider championships or that the USEA was based up in Hamilton? Very few. And tell me how many people want to spend their winters on the North Shore; none...... Where have our basics gone?

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Lets take a look at England - weather is about the same there as it is in Massachusetts. Their first event isn't for another 8 weeks - that is 60 days, give or take... Badminton is 100 days away - that technically gives them 40 days of competing to prepare for on of the the biggest 4 star in the world... And yet, they have handily beat us on our home turf and abroad for the last 10 years - Thy spend their winter time getting their horses fit, long trots, long walks, working in the indoor or outdoor on basics and going to said schooling shows; getting themselves fit at the gym, and making a plan that works for each horse. We forget that in America.

And at the end of the day - the percentage of people that actually get to start their season this early is small, but the pressure to start early is so big! The majority of eventers in the US are in an indoor until May if they are lucky - we just need to find the right exercises to keep training. It can be done.... take the geographic pressure off and enjoy training your horse. Challenge yourself to find the right distance to that pole on the ground 8 times in a row each direction; a jump is that pole and your perfect distance every time is a clear round....

But here is something that doesn't quite look right -
4 - number of High Performance riders in Ocala
7 - number of High Performance riders in Aiken
2 - number of High Performance riders in CA
1 - number of training sessions in Ocala, total....
4 - number of times Katie Prudant is planning on going to Aiken.... not including Mark Phillips and Oded's trips there.
Not sure on the numbers for West Coast....
What is not right in that balance - how is it that the Ocala developing and high performance crew get the short stick? Where has our sport gone? How is it that a group can punish those who choose to live in Ocala? It shouldn't be about where we are, it should be about what we do and what we need.... as it should be in life in general. People can say what they want about the quality of riders in each area, but last I checked, no one produced at the Worlds or Olympics from either place - After the debate between the two areas - The West Coast is the only area that has produced Worlds and Olympic medals in dressage and eventing in the last 4 years.

Something else to think about:
2 - teams trained in Ocala leading up to Pan Am's
1- team gold
1 - team silver
3 - individual medals
1 - teams that trained in Ocala leading up to the World Championships
1 - team silver medal won by said team....

Don't get me wrong - I love my country and I love this sport. It seams to me that we are going down a long and dusty path that has led us to bad horsemanship.... we are all to blame getting caught up in the energy of it - but isn't that what our journey with horses is supposed to be about, becoming better horseman?