Archive for August, 2010

Holding Their Horses
August 2, 2010

California’s equine enthusiast community is not in good shape.  It’s at its worst in the Los Angeles are, where horse property has rapidly disappeared from virtually everywhere in used to flourish. Legendary racetrack Hollywood Park faces the wrecking ball as soon as the economy improves (let’s hope it never does). Horse sports and horse shows are almost secretive affairs, with little publicity and hardly any casual fans attending.

Ask anyone if they would like to go riding with you, and you will receive a blank stare and a confused, “huh?” as a reply. Invite someone to a horse show and they will smile condescendingly and reply with an artificially sweet, “Ooh, that sounds like fun,” as if you just invited them to play house with your imaginary friends.

Invite someone to the track and you’ll get a look of disgust and a bundle of excuses. ” A racetrack? I don’t gamble!” “Aren’t there a lot of shady characters there?” “There are racetracks around here?” “It’s too far!” “You mean NASCAR? I love NASCAR!”

Horse sports and horse riding are seen as novelties. Something NO ONE ever does. Something dirty, smelly, icky, old fashioned. Most people today have never even seen a horse; or at least not since they were 5 and rode a pony. Once.

Oddly enough, it is horse people that are primarily to blame. There are horses in the valley, you know. They may even be right next door. You would never know, because their owners make sure to place giant walls and shrubs around their homes so you can’t even see what they’ve got in their yards. A stroll down a Chatsworth street reveals nothing but the usual dull city sidewalks and block walls – until a huge dark head pokes over and dangles itself curiously in front of you.

Try to pet or even look at a neighbor horse and the owners will glare at you and warn you to stay away. Ditto for horses on college campuses. They may not be able to stop you from looking at the horses – from a distance, of course – but they will watch you and make it clear you are not welcome there.

And forget about wanting to work with horses. The equine community only hires its own people, and thumbs its nose at outsiders. Never mind trying to learn – you’re supposed to have been born into the industry. If you are not “one of them,” forget about ever aspiring to be.

And the snobs make sure to price any and all horse activities way out of the average person’s league. They make the usual excuses: running a horse establishment is so expensive, they have to charge what they do just to break even, they say. But there simply are not enough wealthy people and established equestrians around to make equine-oriented businesses thrive. One has to think business would perk up considerably if they merely lowered their prices and offered deals and specials, especially to novice riders and those just developing an interest in horses.

Then there are the “breed” people: my breed is better than your breed. My breed is the only horse for you. Oh, and the “My way or the highway” people. The saddleseat people,  the huntseat people, the dressage people, and the western people. If you don’t ride the way they ride, better don a sweater because you’ll need it to handle the icy chill coming your way.  And being a beginner is only acceptable if you are under age 12.

Hell, horse people cannot even get along with their own kind, let alone outsiders!

How much longer until the only horse you’ll see is in a zoo? And all property zoned for horses has become parking lots and condos? Or nurseries? Apparently even plants are more socially acceptable than horses.

Horse people, your anemic hobby is your own whiny fault. You need a transfusion quick.

Get over yourselves, get out of your cliques, and start introducing the new blood.