Oct 18, 2017

#MeToo in the Horse World

by Kim Ablon Whitney

#MeToo has been a powerful social media movement that has brought to light just how many women have been sexually abused and sexually harassed. After actress Alyssa Milano asked followers to write "me too" in response to her post, the hashtag went viral and the stories of abuse and harassment flooded social media platforms.

What of the horse show world? Certainly we are not immune. 

When I was learner-judging twenty years ago, I sat in judges' booths with male judges who continually made sexual references. They talked sexually about the women who came into the ring and stood on the sidelines, commenting on their figures and body parts. I also clearly remember a list being compiled of the most desirable (fill in the real word here) women at the horse show.

I cringed. My face grew hot. I felt deeply uncomfortable. But I tried to chuckle along with them and pretend I could be "one of the boys." I wasn’t risking getting my license because I spoke up about the inappropriate nature of their talk. Even as I type these words, I worry that this blog post may very well cost me jobs.

I know another female judge who was propositioned by a horse show manager. When she said no, she was never hired again. 

How many more female judges have stories like these? 

To be clear, this is not all male judges or horse show mangers. There are plenty of perfect gentlemen out there and I’ve been privileged to work with them too. Nor is this issue unique to women. I’m sure many gay men have their own #MeToo stories.

And what of the riders and trainers and horse dealers? The riding world is full of women and many men hold the position of power as trainers. You do the math. 

I saw a lot of #MeToo hashtags on friends’ walls. But the majority of those was from friends in the non-riding world. 

And why wouldn't we keep quiet in a world where the person who harasses you is often the person who decides whether you are hired, whether you win a class, whether your horse is sold, or whether you receive attention as a student and a client.

Maybe I am the only one with a horse world #MeToo story or maybe we're okay with keeping quiet.

Kim Ablon Whitney is a 'R' judge in hunters, equitation, and jumpers.

Oct 12, 2017

Changes Ahead for the Saratoga Springs Charity Horse Show

By Maggie Junkin

Maggie Junkin and her horse Tommy Bahama entering the back gate of the Saratoga Springs Horse Show in 2017.

Saratoga Springs, NY has always been one of my favorite venues for a horse show.  I have been coming to Saratoga to show since I was 8 years old. The wooded atmosphere always made for a unique change to the horse shows usually hosted in large open fields.  

Stabling “behind the scenes” of the racetrack is also different and so much fun. I love my walk behind the track making my way to the schooling rings while watching the Thoroughbreds breeze on by.

The town of Saratoga Springs is also something to look forward to. With its shops, restaurants, and outdoor cafes there is plenty to explore during my downtime.  

My favorite horse show here is the Saratoga Springs Horse Show, a charity horse show held for three weeks in May. What makes this show different than most of the shows I attend is that the Saratoga Springs Horse Show is non-profit and supports local Saratoga area charities. This past year I was happy to spearhead a supply drive and money collection for the Saratoga County Animal Shelter with the help of horse show management.

It was during the 2017 show that I discovered this would be the last year the show would be held at this venue. I was disappointed to think we wouldn’t return; however, I am happy to learn that the Saratoga Casino Hotel and the Capital Fund of Saratoga County, Inc. have entered into a joint venture to keep the Saratoga Springs Horse Show within the city of Saratoga Springs. The three-week horse show will take place in May, 2018 at the Saratoga Casino Hotel, not far from the original venue. As an exhibitor I look forward to enjoying the many new amenities of this venue while maintaining the traditional feel of the original Saratoga Springs Horse Show.

I know so many of my fellow equestrians, spectators, and vendors love this show, but in order for this move to take place by 2018 they are accepting tax deductible donations to defray relocation costs. For more information contact Tom Fueston, President/CEO at (518) 490-1214 or Tom@SaratogaSpringsHorseShow.com

Another way to help is to host a BARN CHALLENGE at your barn. My barn family is joining together to help raise money for this great cause. The Saratoga Springs Horse Show has given back to so many charity organizations in the Saratoga community over the years. It is time for us to come together and help them continue their mission.

Maggie Junkin is a 15 year-old hunter rider. She began riding at the age of four and her first horse show was the leadline class at Devon. She has competed all over the country, including Pony Finals, Devon, Harrisburg, and WIHS. She loves showing in different venues and has competed in Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 7 and hopes to complete that list someday. She continues to show large pony hunters and also shows her horse Tommy Bahama in the Children’s Hunter Horse Division.
Maggie trains with John Mastriano of Tustin Farm in NJ. She lives with her family, six rescue dogs and three cats in Jenkintown, Pa.

A Junior Changemaker and avid fundraiser, Maggie is committed to animal rescue. In fifth grade Maggie started “Mags For Wags” an initiative to help homeless pets across the USA; their mission is to fundraise for shelters and rescues to help homeless pets in need.  Her favorite rescue to support is Danny and Ron’s Rescue.