Friday, September 3, 2010
Editorial: Universal benefit
How proud I was to read that ponies are finally getting a boost from the national governing body. And how disappointed I was when I read further that it was just for the juniors*.
I am open that I am an adult pony rider. It's been my primary interest now for the past six plus years. This is despite being aged out of the FEI pony division for over a decade and now being considered an adult amateur.
I also consider myself very lucky. My primary mount, Sinari, is working FEI, and hopefully Sincere will follow along. I'm also lucky to have exposure to the best in the industry to help facilitate that goal of continuously reaching for FEI.
Unfortunately there are some hard truths to this path:
If you are an adult, training/riding FEI on a pony, in the US, you are out of luck with help from your governing body. FEI doesn't recognize adults on vertically challenged equines (can't compete CDI's unless specified pony classes), and unlike Europe, there aren't specific pony awards, strong pony verbands or governing body supported shows that support the production of dressage ponies.
To add to this conundrum the pony-kid population that does dressage that is qualified for these clinics are low, and sometimes non-existent in some areas. Not to mention the pony population to truly support them is lagging as well.
It is also been known for sometime that the main population of pony candidates isn't with the juniors, it's with the adult amateur/open population who has the time and financial backing to develop the population.
While, this is changing, slowly and for the better, developing ponies with a varied pool of talent, bloodlines and rider capabilities alongside the sheer square footage of the regions is dauntless.
So, if the idea is to develop ponies the are competitive with Europe, while remain competitive to the FEI levels and boost the population, it would be of benefit to have equal consideration among both adults and juniors to participate in the clinics.
This would not only give the pony population a national way of being developed to team quality, but begin to develop a market for breeders to showcase their offspring, a start of an end market and the potential creation of a network of pony schoolmasters. This system creates known riders to develop the pool of talent to further the quality, but also allows breeders to produce the future quantities (weeding out and developing bloodlines) to support the upcoming talent.
But, until a population is developed by the national governing body that is rewarded to its dedication to the ponies, the pony population will remain with the hunters and driving and not dressage.
*Lendon later disclosed on Facebook that they do accept adults as second tier choices.
*Ellie Brimmer also mentioned that Para Equestrians are allowed to compete ponies at the international level, despite age and status with their NGB.