As we look forward to an exciting and challenging 2016 show season, let’s take a few moments to consider just exactly what we are undertaking when we hack our horses, or lesson and compete. To own a horse or pony, to ride, to enjoy any and all things equine, is a privilege. In fact, it’s a huge privilege. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s time-consuming. Yes, it’s a complex and arcane world, tough to figure out, even tougher to navigate successfully. But remember, we are students, not customers. Our love of horses, our commitment to the art and mystery that is riding means we are in this for the long haul, for the process as well as the prizes. Again, we are students, not customers. Those who guide us, the trainers, breeders and veterinarians, judges, farriers, braiders and all the others are teachers and allies, not personal assistants or disposable vendors. Where would we be without their knowledge, patience, dedication and persistence?
Okay, then. Bring on 2016! We are ready, willing and able. And just to keep us all on track, here, from the USEF Rulebook, is The Sportsman’s Charter:
That sport is something done for the fun of doing it and that it ceases to be sport when it becomes a business only, something done for what there is in it;
That amateurism is something of the heart and spirit – not a matter of exact technical qualifications;
That good manners of sport are fundamentally important;
That the code must be strictly upheld;
That the whole structure of sport is not only preserved from the absurdity of undue importance, but is justified by a kind of romance which animates it, and by the positive virtues of courage, patience, good temper, and unselfishness which are demanded by the code;
That the exploitation of sport for profit alone kills the spirit and retains only the husk and semblance of the thing;
That the qualities of frankness, courage, and sincerity which mark good sportsmanship in private life shall mark the discussions of his/her interests at a competition.
Could anyone have said it any better?