When you were little did any of you ever dream of becoming a movie star or professional athlete, but later figured out you can’t amount to either of these things unless you have millions of dollars? And, speaking from experience, the percentage of little girls who dream to own and show a horse in the Olympics is very large, I’d say about 99.9% of them do.
But, later the harsh reality of life kicks in, and the kids, as well as their parents, learn that the cost of showing, owning, and maintaining a horse of that stature is much more than the average American earns a year. Even the cost to purchase this caliber of horse can range from $100,000-millions of dollars. The thing is, the rich-and-famous stereotype is completely true. The cost of showing a horse on the international circuit can exceed $200,000 a year. Riders often will have more than one horse to compete in each of three different classes, which include jumpers, hunters, and equitation.
It’s the epitome of a luxury good.
Alongside that, the classes in which you compete are judged on how nice of a horse you own, even in the walk trot divisions with four-year-old girls and their ponies. The collegiate level, along with the other levels, in horseback riding are judged unfairly because of the imbalance of wealth.
The wealth indifference lights up in the average person’s face saying, “Only the rich make it.”
“No wonder the elite equestriennes gracing this month’s Town & Country are all billionaire princesses.”
The connection between horses and wealth began a millennia ago.
In fact, the first people who were known to commend hierarchies of power and believe variations of wealth were vital to their society were also the first people to own and ride horses.
Picture a movie based in the renaissance period. You can imagine the king riding into the shot on his noble steed, while the peasants walk in on foot; this is because of the imbalance of wealth between the king and his subjects. Now, take the millionaires and billionaires in the world and insert them into the king’s spot, and the rest of the world into the peasant’s spot. The rich have the privilege to trot around on their fancy horses while the rest of us travel in our subpar cars to work and school.
Do you think this is fair?
Horseback riding is a dubious sport when an animal of great value is involved; the person competing in the sport vanishes, showcasing your wealth through the one thing being judged, your horse.
In a division known as hunters, the judge is only allowed to judge the horse, and not acknowledge the rider upon its back. Because of this, the wealth difference between riders is highlighted and becomes very clear about who will take the win home.
Amongst the 5,000 horses and 2,800 riders at the equestrian festival near Palm Beach, Florida lies many of the world’s elite. Let’s say you are competing at this festival, and while you’re scrolling through the list of people you are competing against, you come across the last name that rings a bell in many people’s minds: Gates.
Jennifer Gates, also known as Bill Gates’, “the richest man in America,” daughter, is competing in your division. By seeing this name, you automatically know you stand no chance of beating her. Her dad is willing to spend millions of dollars on horses, which many families are not able to do, despite how much they want to.
“The billionaires are funding their daughters through the circuits and through life.”
Jennifer Gates, Charlotte Casiragni, Georgina Bloomberg, and Reed Kessler rise to the top of their divisions, as they prance around on their dreamworthy horses. At 18 years old, Reed Kessler became the youngest rider in show jumping history to ever compete at the Olympic Games. Her parents, being the multimillionaires (possibly billionaires) they are, could afford to buy and pay Reed top of the line horses and trainers.
Imagine a world full of horse shows that don’t judge the horse’s length of stride or merely on the way they look. A world where it is equal; as Thomas Jefferson once said, “All men are created equal.” If this is the rule we are truly supposed to live by, why doesn’t it apply?
We are not judged fairly, we are not given equal opportunities to prove ourselves to the judges, and we are most certainly not all of the same wealth. A new and upcoming way of competing has blossomed from the roots of riding.
It’s called the Interscholastic Equestrian Association or IEA for short. It is a show where all the competitors are taken to a barn and given horses of the same caliber to ride. With all of them being equal, and it not being the rider’s personal horse, the judge is finally only allowed to judge the rider and not the horse. If this becomes as popular as regular horse shows, it would finally give the people of average wealth in the US a chance to enjoy the sport they love.
Well, I guess to wrap up my rant about the unfairness of the various judging techniques, people eventually get adjusted to it and just accept that it will be hard as heck to rise to the top because the wealthy are favored. The wealthy people all around the world maintain control over the scoring; they mostly win and we mostly lose. Sports are supposed to be judged on how much time you dedicate and how much effort you are willing to put in; but instead this, it is based on how much money you’re willing to spend. But in the end, the elite equestrians “may be young, rich, and beautiful, but it takes more than fresh looks and a bank account to ride at the Olympic level.”