The grassroots serve as an excellent training ground: participants benefit from the spotlight of competition with gains in confidence and experience. Of course, this is the normal role of conventional grassroots competition … but the horse’s version is something more.
The equestrian grassroots can deliver to the public an experience of horses in the modern world, thereby serving to retain and/or recover the positive traditions of horsemanship. This “restoration” purpose differs from other grassroots sport endeavors, and also from the purely competitive focus addressed by most official organizations.
Acknowledging there is a new, special role for the equestrian grassroots is the first step in a new and positive direction. The grassroots can fulfill this unique role by delivering a great horsemanship experience that meets the needs of participants today.
What the Modern Horse Experience represents to the public
- Learning about one of our most intimate and well-understood animal connections
- Participation in the thrill and adventure of horseback riding
- Taking part in one of the foundational experiences of human history
- Finding greater connection with Nature and the natural world
- Testing oneself in one of the greatest and most ancient challenges of civilization
- Experiencing the quiet restoration of human spirit inspired by our ancient, sacred partnership.
The final item is especially important, because it expresses the sustaining energy that comes from the love and dedication inspired by horses. The recreational horse experience is invigorating and lifelong. There is always something deeper to discover with horses … even for seasoned professionals … even now, after all the centuries.
The beautiful shade of evergreen
In examining the unique potential of the equestrian grassroots to educate and engage the public, it becomes clear that an ‘evergreen’ jumping experience can be an endpoint too–not only a stepping stone to bigger and faster.
Equestrian competition over smaller fences provides an intrinsically meaningful measure of progress for both horse and rider. This challenge can provide many rewarding years of enjoyment and adventure. One of the greatest pleasures of riding is competence, as in “simply” cantering around a course in balanced, flowing accord. This goal is valuable in itself, and does not require the expensive trappings of higher competition.
Riding well has earned a special space in our world; it is one of profound harmony and natural recreation.
Many dedicated horse-enthusiasts do not have current ambitions for higher competition and ever-increasing challenge and expense. The grassroots naturally offer a way for participants to enjoy their time with horses, and that path should be embraced and celebrated.
A thing we need
In a sense, horsemanship developed as a spiritual practice. Mankind’s foundation of social empathy grew in part from the recognition and celebration of our beautiful and inspiring partner: because better care of horses has always been rewarded. Cooperation made us stronger together. Jumping depends upon this kind of partnership.
Grassroots show jumping can help foster a renewed horse/human partnership by acknowledging its unique new role in building that connection. Equestrian grassroots are less about competitive ranking, and more about exploring the values of education, achievement and sportsmanship that horsemanship represents. By understanding this new role, recent business experience can integrate and reinvigorate traditional ‘best-practices.’
Today a horse event is a step back into time, an experience literally of the ages. By presenting the public with enjoyable, humane, and safety-conscious ways to be with horses, the grassroots can restore and preserve some of the most thrilling and enriching experiences mankind has ever enjoyed: on horseback.
“There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it’s the risk, the gamble. In any event it’s a thing I need.”