​iJump Sports 
The Fascination of the Love of the Sport....and other musings!

March 13, 2017 edition
I know I sound a little bit like a broken record sometimes but I love this sport and these horses and the shows and the management who I believe are doing a great job...not perfect but certainly great. I’ve lived a long time through lots of evolution's and watched it change as its morphed into our now “normal” sport....and you know what? It’s not bad and in a lot of ways it is SUPER!!!

As we start into week 8 at HITS COACHELLA, I am here early on this Monday and I notice stuff, it’s just my nature. I notice the beauty and grandeur of it all in the peacefulness of the morning, but I notice other stuff too.

First thing I see, as I have every week, the many grooms hand walking horses or maybe doing a soft lunge. This week these are the guys and girls who worked all day yesterday in the 97 degree heat, most of them did not get time to go to the air conditioned VIP or the food court to get at least a little reprieve. They are the wheels of the sport that kept rolling so riders could show their horses and the show could go on.

Long after riders made a run for houses and the air conditioning at the end of the day (95 degree heat at 5:30 pm), I watched the grooms bathe and groom and put away our equine athletes and that continued well into the late evening.... probably their day was done about the time a lot of people had already enjoyed a cold drink, showered and changed clothes and headed off to the Cantina. But this workforce we completely rely on could not go ‘out’ and probably were lucky to get fast food or left overs as they fell into their beds exhausted...all day working in that heat is certainly difficult. BUT, they were the ones that were here to take care of the horses when I hit the showgrounds at 7:45 am this morning.


SO, I say again……tip them BIG TIME, bring them cold drinks, be a little kinder and not so demanding. Yes, they get paid for a job but the dynamics of that job certainly changes as the temperature climbs toward triple digits!!! They don’t get to ride the horses to the ring, they hand walk them there and then they hand walk the horses back to the barn…a lot of repetitive walking in the heat. Just notice this ‘stuff’.

An opinion for our next generation

I also notice who else was here on the grounds this morning by 8AM….some amazing horsemen, some doing a light ride, some hand walking a horse, some actually cleaning tack, some in the office doing entries. Most of these were the ‘old timers’ from a generation or two ago…where were our young trainers or young assistants. YES, there were some here but the glaring observation was NOT MANY!

I fear the horsemen commitment of long ago is fading fast in the sport and being replace by the love to win, especially after a very hot day at a horse show. A horsemen does not mean only winning, it means taking responsibility for the comfort and life and care of the horses with a passion and a heart throbbing love far bigger than what happens in the ring. It means they want to know everything about each horse. It means they still consider themselves privileged to be a part of this.

I watched one of the long-time trainers this morning walking into every stall in their barn. He would stop at every stall, feed a carrot and pet the horse for a moment and then on to the next one, there was nothing hurried about it. The reality is he was checking each horse in each stall and loving every minute of the personal touch of each one! Another trainer was sitting on a berm olding a lead rope and watching a horse graze. Another was washing water buckets to give her grooms a break. Another was having a cup of coffee under a tree with two interns getting ready for their week while they watched a horse from yesterdays Grand Prix hand walk in the ring just to make sure it was OK today.

Some new arrivals here at HITS COACHELLA (one from back east) were marking stall signs with emergency information and helping the grooms with the set up…also an older generation.

My point to this is simple….to become a craftsman in anything, especially horses, requires “us” to be committed to insuring a dedicated skill and passion be passed on to the ‘next’ generation. And I am afraid in many instances we have missed and possibly failed them completely by settling for, and accepting, less.

BUT in reality, it only becomes a part of the people who strive to be the next generation of a craftsman’s life if the heart and soul of that individual is deeply committed to the horse first. Someone else cannot pass on the love and fascination of the work, they either have it or they don’t …..it’s a natural part of a horseman’s DNA that is as important to them as the air they breathe. Those of us out here can help educate and instruct the work, BUT the ‘in your blood’ part cannot be taught.

I call it a blood disease with no cure … it becomes a part of every waking moment for us.

Our sport needs more than winners, we already have a lot of those!!

It needs the next generation to have the ‘DNA blood disease’ I speak of and be as deeply committed to the welfare and care of the horses as the ones I see at the show EARLY on these show mornings, especially Mondays after a horrifically hot weekend of competing. OF COURSE you can say “I had a hard week/day, it was hot and I hired people to do that!”….and yes you may have. But if you don’t personally know your horses, especially after a hot-stressful day, you are missing a great deal of the love and dedication so evident in the trainers of years gone by.

Maybe that is one of the biggest missing spokes of our ‘wheel’!