By Kama Godek
Katie Prudent recently had a podcast interview with WiSP Sport’s Chris Stafford about how the sport of horseback riding has seemingly taken a turn for the worse. Kama Godek, an international Grand Prix rider and the owner of a prestigious equine sales business, Kama Godek LLC, responded to the podcast interview and released the statement below:
I lived in Katie’s house in France for several years. I was that middle-class kid that couldn’t even afford a saddle when I started working for her. Three months into my job she gifted me with the saddle of my dreams on my birthday because of my hard work. I knew that saddle was made possible because of clients that she had paying the training bills, which in turn paid my bills. Those clients are important!
Experienced horses are important and have their place in training young riders. McLain Ward and Laura Kraut, who I also worked for, were both children of professionals who were steered down the correct path, with good training and mounts from the beginning. I saw that first hand with Adam Prudent, he had good instruction on experienced horses. I believe good horses are great teachers and it does help your riding evolve, and then after riders learn, they are able to move on and teach those young horses.
Katie is the first one at meetings standing up and speaking her mind. She’s not afraid to be bold and it might not be everyone’s style, but she got to this point because of her boldness, both in and out of the saddle.
Well it starts with ourselves as trainers, juniors, and amateurs in the industry. Everyone.
Full training – Perhaps I spent too much time in Europe, but I conveniently have less staff in the barn and do a lot myself. I love to spend time brushing and playing with my horses. I encourage clients to watch the farrier and vet, ask questions and tack their own horses. Of course there are times when they will need their hand held, or to answer their questions. Take the time – which is the root of the problem – we don’t have the time! Dare to let the kids attempt to braid themselves at a smaller show, which are less important (eek, but you know which shows you can get away with it). If they want to be good you don’t have to push them, they will push themselves.
The mileage rule and point chasing – At some point we lost our local shows because “A” shows dummied down to become all encompassing when they saved dates, thereby creating monopolies. Trainers wanted to be able to teach riders of all levels. Having lower level classes at “A” shows allowed beginner instructors to push themselves to teach beyond their own experience level. Now you see ‘professionals’ who have never even shown at the height they teach. Just like your favorite elementary teacher would not be your favorite college professor, what you look for in a beginning riding teacher is not the same as the person helping you warm up for the 1m40 class. In Wellington there used to be Littlewood for the developing horses and riders. It had it’s place. There is nothing wrong with showing 2ft, horses and riders have to start somewhere! But let’s be honest, showing 2ft should only be offered at local B / C shows. “A” shows should be the best – the best juniors, amateurs and professional levels – not for beginners. Beginners should start at local shows and then move UP to national and international shows. There should be a minimum height for both the “A” level jumpers and hunters. It should be exciting to watch ANY class at a national “A” show! Equitation finals and indoors should have a cap to the maximum number of shows included to qualify. Best results out of 10 shows? 3’3”? Really? Did they need another division? 3” really makes a difference? That’s the width of a jump poll. And all the splits between the division. There’s excitement in getting a yellow ribbon in a class of three?
Hunter scoring – Can someone give me a reason why there can’t be more transparency with hunter and equitation scoring? Give us a score over the PA, is that to much to ask for? We pay a lot of money for each class, I’d at least like a number.
Amateurs – The definition has to change. If you show 10 horses a day, five days a week, you are riding full time, regardless of what you call yourself. There are a lot of great riding amateurs that have more experience and show miles than some professionals now. Why does an amateur 1m40 class pay more than a professional 1m40 class? How about splitting pros/am by the total number of horses shown per year? or money won the previous year? i.e. if there is a 1m40 class with 60 entries at WEF, perhaps split it by how much money you won the year before, or give a bonus for “emerging” riders who have won less than x total. i.e. if the median jumper money earned per rider in a class is $15,000 from the prior year, anyone that earned less then $15,000 would get bonus money for being emerging in the class.
Horse prices – Junior, Amateur, Professional or Fred Flintstone. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, the price of your horse is dictated by your riding ability and willingness to pay the price. If you try 20 horses and can only ride 3 of them you will certainly be paying more than the person that can ride all 20 and has more to choose from. It’s great that horses are selling for big money; it helps the entire industry. Horsemen that can continue to scout and develop sound competitive horses will continue to profit, regardless of having a label as professional or amateur.
I appreciate all of the time and encouragement fellow professionals have given me along my path and hope to continue to learn from everyone.