Saturday, June 28, 2008

Discussion: Amateur Classes

I've wanted to talk about this for a long time.

Under the current amateur rules in AQHA, I'm not one. I never have been, even as a youth, since I started teaching lessons at age 15 at the broken-down barn I mentioned yesterday.

I don't have any AQHA points. I've never owned a horse good enough for AQHA competition before now. Had a student who had one that was good enough and we did some of that with him and he earned points, but that is as close as I have ever come.

Most of my professional (i.e. paid) work in the horse industry has consisted of:

1. Teaching beginner to intermediate lessons (i.e. when they got to where they could jump bigger than 2 feet, I handed them off to a Big Name Trainer)

2. Exercising polo ponies

3. Green breaking horses (mostly hunter pony prospects, in the past, since I'm petite)

4. Grooming (polo, show, whatever)

5. Show and event management (my favorite, I really do wish I could get a job doing just that)

6. Hauling horses

7. Stall cleaning and general barn management

Now, I don't see where any of those things really have much to do with my ability to compete in, say, an AQHA working hunter class. Yet, they have effectively barred me from any ability to show with people who are actually at my riding level. If I wanted to show AQHA at all, I have to go out there with, like, Hilary Carrel and Linda Crothers, and look completely ridiculous and get my ass whipped. I don't ride as well as people like that, and I never will. I kind of figure the zenith of my riding career was winning a lot of open show high points fifteen years ago.

I've always thought that instead of having the divisions based upon whether or not you've ever made money in the horse business, they should base them on your total # of points earned - since that is actually proof of ability. That would also be more fair for pros who are trying a new discipline - let's say the hunt seat rider who is learning to cut.

But what do you think? Do you think the rules as they stand are fair and people like me should just suck it up and realize we chose to make money in the horse business and now that means we have to go up against the big guns or not show at all? (I understand that opinion and it's a perfectly fair one to have) Or do you think a point based system is more fair and would make it so that activities like, say, breezing racehorses or leading guided trail string rides didn't mean you have to show against the pros in western pleasure? I just think there is such a broad range of activities that can make you a "pro" based upon the current rules, and they don't really relate to what I assume is the intent of the divisions - putting riders of similar abilities up against each other.

The other thing I've always thought is just dead-ass stupid is how ammies and youth have to own the horse they ride in AQHA. What is the point of that? Why make it so difficult? If I have a super nice pleasure horse and want to let my friend's kid show it, why is that a problem? And wouldn't more amateurs be able to afford AQHA showing if they could co-own a good show horse and both ride it in a few classes on the same day? Are we trying to exclude people who aren't wealthy from showing?

Also interested in hearing what your breed association has for ammie rules, and comparing AQHA with AHSA rules.