In an age where technology can bring you front row seats to events you never had access to before, where complete strangers can make comments and state opinions openly and freely with the world, and where misinformation gets disseminated quicker than the facts, I sometimes wish I was offline.
Its not that I want to have my head buried in the sand, but sometimes I believe we create our own environment of perpetual stress by involving ourselves in things that at then end of the day we would have been better not knowing about in the first place.
Had I not known that the World Equestrian Games (WEG) were going on last week and had I not been getting facebook updates/pictures from a lady who stayed up all night to post them then I would have happily continued on without a care. But instead I did know and I did pay attention to the flurry of posts and so I did react and my reaction was frustration, anger and barely wanting to stay in this sport.
I don't care that team USA lost. I care that team USA didn't even finish. In a sport where "To Finish Is To Win" only 1 of our 5 riders even made it through the finish lines and placed 32nd. From the little I saw it seemed pretty clear that we had no chance of keeping up with the front runners who finished the 100 mile race in something like just over 8 hours. So why not slow down and finish the darn race?
But then I realized something very, very important. What I was watching/reading wasn't my beloved sport of endurance. It wasn't a group of people tackling the trail and bonding with their horse. It truly wasn't "To Finish Is To Win". It was "Win At All Costs" It was a race to the finish and to not complete was apparently being viewed as better than finishing in a poor position. So that's what we did. We ran the horses until they got pulled. If it happened to be before the finish line, chalk it up to strict rules, bad luck or the footing. But don't question the strategy.
Fine. I could come to terms with that. Approve of it or support it? Not really, but then again I'm not of that mindset. But that's fine if that is what that level of riding entails. At least our horses were all healthy and happy the next day.
But then the other shoe dropped and now I am 100% completely and entirely against all things International Endurance/FEI/WEG.
Only 2 of our horses are actually coming home. The others have been sold and will be added to the string of horses being run into the ground, worked as slaves and eventually die a premature death.
Now from a personal standpoint I am strongly opposed to this. You are not working with a machine. You are not driving a car. You are working with another being who feels pain, sadness, loneliness, happiness and bonds to the partner chosen for them. You have just asked the world of this animal. Worked them hard to prepare, flew them across the pond, beat them into the ground over difficult terrain in poor conditions and they stepped up for you and gave you their all. And how to you thank them? By leaving them behind.
But even if you take a step back from personal feelings and opinions, this decision to sell the horse immediately after the WEG makes no sense. These horses supposedly represented the top 5 horses we had in this sport in the USA. No horses were deemed to be better. And they are all young and fit still with many, many miles ahead of them. The next WEG is in 4 years. Why on earth would you sell the team off just to start fresh? Why not keep them, return home to keep working, and return in 4 years with veterans? Why give our top horses to our competition??
So...with this news I am done. Finished. I will never watch/support/or have anything to do with this level of whatever you call this sport. I already contacted AERC to make sure that none of my dues go to fund the international level. They assured me that it is separate. Had they said yes, I would not renew my membership and instead pay the extra fee at each ride to avoid any money of mine going to AERC-I. I will also avoid all rides that coexist with FEI. There are two that I know of here in SC and they were on my radar due to the proximity and timing, but nope. Not a single cent of my money will go there.
But I will continue to love going down the trail on my mare. I will continue to fight for my miles, learn as I go and grow. I will continue to add up the time and miles and even the fates allow maybe Gem and I will make it 1000 miles. Maybe we will even make the decade team list. I will support AERC for what it stands for:
TO FINISH IS TO WIN