Like many of us, I get to see lots of horse magazines and books, and usually their primary emphasis is upon the higher levels of whatever horse sport they promote. I see photos of the same relatively few riders over and over, and get to read about the bigger competitions.
There`s nothing at all unusual about this scenario. I don`t expect to get a local newspaper and read primarily about the local high school or Little League results. In Vermont it`s all about the Boston Red Sox, or the Patriots, or the Celtics, and it`s been that way “forever.”
In broad based participatory sports, though, this emphasis on the upper levels can easily lead to the perception that competitions at lower levels are somehow inherently less “worthy” than those that are more difficult. If going beginner novice in eventing is an entry level, then, according to this line of reasoning, it`s better to go novice, better still to ride at the training level, and transcendently better to ride at the Rolex Three Day Event.
It`s harder, that`s for sure, to ride at the upper levels, but “better” is a most subjective word. I was aware of this subjectivity when I write “How Good Riders Get Good”, because a good rider is simply a good rider, no more, no less. The intrinsic worth of that person is tied up in her ability to ride well ONLY if she is judged according to that narrow standard. If it matters strongly to someone to be a good rider, then it matters. If it doesn`t matter, then it doesn`t matter.
Years ago, I read an article about a couple of riding instructors who were talking negatively about a not very fit, not very expert rider who they both found difficult to teach. They made the usual comments. You can well imagine those, I`m sure. A couple of days later, the young son of one of the trainers was riding his bike and was struck by a car, and it was that not so great rider, in her other role as a doctor, who saved that child`s life.
Does it “matter” how good a rider someone is, in the greater scheme? Only if it matters to that individual. Apart from that, enjoy the level where you find fulfillment. And if you want to get to a higher level, by all means, struggle along, but don`t feel that anyone cares very strongly, one way or the other, except, as that old saying goes, “you and your mother.”