Competing without the budget?
My daughter and Harley just finished the year-end championship show. To recap, Harley is a 20 year old Arab we got 4 years ago and they have worked their way up to jumping 2'3" fences. That's as high as they will go, due to his age and arthritis in his hocks. He has the biggest heart, and is very happy to jump for her. She is continuing to work on a lot of things, but especially her position over those heights since they had only done low cross-rails until about two months ago. At the championship show (this is a province-wide show), they got two reserve championships (intro hunter stake and equitation), a few other seconds (including a 2'3" jumper class), and various other placings. Obviously she would have loved to have gotten at least one first, but it didn't happen. They did win a number of division championships at various sanctioned shows over the summer, so I think she was expecting to do better. Over the course of the two-day show, I kept asking her how she felt about her rides REGARDLESS of placings. I asked her to just forget about what she got in terms of ribbons, and just think of how she rode. On the first day, she wasn't very happy with her riding. Her position was too far forward up his neck, and his takeoff was often long. But on the second day, she worked really hard, and ended the last class of the day (for them) with a reserve championship, but most importantly, she was much happier with her position and her spots for that one. So that's great progress, and a lot of people noticed how she persevered. I am very proud of both of them - Harley was a perfect gem, getting his leads, and not ever touching a rail.
But here's what bothers me as a mom. All the other horses (especially the winning horses) are five-figure warmbloods, with the odd OTTB mixed in. Long, leggy bays were clearly judge favorites. And the tack! The saddles on most of those horses cost more than all three of my horses combined. Equipe, CWD, all the big brands. And there we are with our cheap, used Hastilow that is too small for my daughter (we're trying to find one that fits her better, but have a very limited budget), on our little 3/4 Arab. It is very discouraging. There is no way I can ever buy her a 7K saddle, or a 10K horse unless we win the lottery. To be fair, some other riders from our stable were not on 10K horses and were riding in Stubbens and Schleeses and still got some firsts, so I'm not saying it can't be done. But as a parent, it's a bit heart-breaking to see your kid trying so hard to compete against people with unlimited financial resources.
I guess I'm just venting a little. I know it's a good life lesson for my daughter who appreciates everything a lot more than the brats who get handed their fully-groomed, tacked-up, warmed-up horse (not saying they don't have to be good riders too, don't get me wrong, but it certainly helps to have a perfect horse and custom saddle). And my daughter doesn't have olympic goals or anything. She's pretty happy just sticking to the provincial show circuit, and she loves Harley so much that she doesn't want another horse anyway. It's just a little discouraging when you're always the underdog. A lot of the riders and parents are very supportive, but I did hear some girls snickering at Harley at one point, which absolutely broke my heart. I understand why some people get completely turned off showing now.