I really thought I cleared that up. Abuse comes in when the definition of success becomes skewed towards trophies, rather than partnership with the horse. When beginner and intermediate riders only see that recognition comes with trophies, trophies is what they'll go after. If they saw that recognition comes with ethical training, the mindset would shift.
I did not say lower-level riders emulate bad practices they observe. I said that lower-level riders slip into bad practices because their definition of being a "winner" does not include good practices, but only being the fastest, the most high-stepping, etc. Applying ethical practices in keeping and training of horses has to become part of the definition of success in equestrian sports, so even people who are not intrinsically motivated to do right by the horse will be induced to apply them. But only people who are already successful by current standards can guide such a shift, because they're the ones who are being emulated, admired, and listened to.
Fair enough, I see what you're trying to say.
I guess it's hard for me to paint the whole horse show world with a broad brush. That it is all about the buckles, ribbons and checks. I find it disheartening some people have that attitude towards horse shows and come to find out they have never been or tried.
Don't get me wrong, I love to win! But I am not going to sacrifice my horse to do so and I know more people in my boat than not.
The people I try to associate myself are the ones you ask, "how'd you do at the show/rodeo?"
"Didn't draw a check but my horse worked good."
And I am happy for that person, that's winning too.
It is about goal setting and achieving for me. It is an awesome feeling when my horses and I are working together well and then anyone has shown knows keeping together while in town showcasing it is a bonus!