Older jumper folks, your thoughts on the jumper culture

Full disclosure. I am 59 years old and am an eventer that bought a fabulous jumper to have fun with at non-rated shows. The first time I scratched my head was when a 20 something rider whom I knew was at a low level informal schooling show (think ugly Christmas sweater) with her group. I am trainerless as my fav trainer moved a couple of states away. I was happy to see her at this show and pulled up a chair to catch up with her. Everyone in the group sat stiff and didn’t make eye contact even though they didn’t know me from Adam as this was my first show.

Fast forward to recently to a large schooling hunter/jumper show I went to with my barn. My barn owner teaches little kids in pig tails and fat ponies over cross rails and she is the barn owner , not my trainer but I hang with her because I like her and the little kids. I was also there with another rider from my barn in her early 20’s that has done jumpers for years.We are walking thru the barns and we have to zig zag as we can’t walk thru certain groups that she knows and then it comes out. None of these groups are friendly to each other and the culture is you stay with your group and you don’t speak to anyone in other groups. I was in the warmup arena getting ready for my 3’3" class when I trainer came in and put the jumps down (way down) for her kids. No worries my guy doesn’t need much. So as she was walking out, I very (VERY) nicely asked her if she could put one of the jumps up about 4 holes and thanked her profusely. She glared at me put them up and walked out with out a word. I’m in there by myself so obviously no trainer around.

When I asked my barn owner later, she said it isn’t like that everywhere but is endemic to here. I remember when I first started eventing, I commented to myself out loud I had forgotten something and the person next to me next to me offered me hers and I did not know her at all. That’s eventers. We are welcoming to everyone and our trainers all hang together and students bounce around to different trainers. We bring extra beer in case the person next to us had a bad round.

So would this be different if this was a straight jumper show? Is it the hunters? Or is this how it is?


H/J rider here. Older.

Last week I was a show (rated) and when I went to put on my freshly dry-cleaned hunt coat, I discovered that one of the buttons was missing. I was a bit panicked since I needed to get on for my class, and one of the young women who was stabled across form our barn noticed and immediately offered to lend me a jacket. A complete stranger, I might add, and probably 30 years younger than me.

The rudeness isn’t everywhere, I’m happy to report!


I see the behavior you’re talking about from teens and some immature a-holes at H/J shows but thankfully I haven’t noticed it becoming the actual norm.

Or maybe it is the norm and I’ve been too oblivious and old to notice :sweat_smile:


IME It is not discipline specific, it is people/location dependent. Some dressage shows here I’ve gotten that video, other dressage shows (same show series, mind you, just different barns came to each show) have been great. Same experience at H/J shows in Ohio, same experience at horse trials.


I’ve not noticed that especially in the jumper world in NOVA, NC, or SC. Most people are friendly and in the past I’ve been lent crops and stuff.

Where I grew up it was definitely a problem. I was at a fun show once and one of the riders would talk loudly about how they couldn’t believe they allowed me in to the show grounds (I have an APHA, who is lovely and well behaved). It was common for certain barn cliques to hold the wash stalls hostage at the temp stalls, leaving horses in there because they didn’t want anyone to use it but them.
It certainly wasn’t everyone or every barn. But there were only a few show barns where I lived and it was so competitive between them to try to hold onto clients that the show scene tended to be very negative.


Isn’t that a shame for young riders though. I mean, young adults are already plagued with social medial, anxiety and eating disorders only to have their hobby have the added stressors. Glad I’m old!.


It’s awful, and so very tribal. I think it’s a reflection of being so desperate to be part of an “in group” that “out groups” are conjured from thin air. Or complete strangers.


OK I’m not quite in the same generation, but having done a significant break in between junior and ammie years… I’ve seen this kind of behavior/attitude. I agree with others it seems to be more based on location than discipline.

But the other thing I will say too is that it REALLY depends on the trainer/barn owner. Boy I didn’t realize how much the trainer sets the tone for the barn until I got to my current barn. Trainer has a strict no BS/no drama policy and has no problem taking out a rider who isn’t be respectful to the horse or to others.

By comparison, there was another barn I was riding at for a bit where I could not believe the amount of drama was let to run wild, and it came out at shows in ugly, disrespectful ways. And half the time the BO was driving it. Super anxiety-inducing at the shows I was a working student for.

This leads me back to my very long pedestal talk about how there are “professionals” out there who really shouldn’t ever be called “professional…”


The girl from my barn said she would get in trouble if she talked to anyone in another group. I took her to a benefit jumper show last fall at a eventing trainers barn. All the people who attended were eventers. At the end of it, with tears in her eyes, she said it was the most fun she had ever had at a show. It made me happy and sad at the same time.


While I’m not “older” I have been involved in HJ land for many years and with many barns. Not talking to a friend of a friend is absolutely insane.


Ugh, that makes my stomach churn. Poor gal.


I’ve been on my own at shows for many many years. I have always interacted with anyone and everyone because the shows are a lot more fun that way! There are definitely barns that are less welcoming to outsiders than others, but generally speaking I think most barns are friendly and helpful. But most of my time has been at the big shows, and I have found a strange sub-culture at some of the smaller shows that doesn’t seem to exist on the same scale at the bigger shows, so maybe that is a part of it? And I agree with others that location can probably have a pretty big impact on that as well.


Definitely not the vibe I have gotten in the 30 years of showing in H and J here in the PNW. Granted, I’ve encountered the teenagers who hang in cliques and only associate with their barn or age group, but nothing like you’ve indicated. I’m open and friendly and get that back from those I run into at shows. The older ladies (I’m 53) who ride in the low jumpers and hunters alongside me are a great group-- we are very competitive but also chatty at the back gate and in warm up, easing each other’s nerves, celebrating or commiserating. My barn is fun and friendly so that sure helps.

I’m guessing it’s the culture of the area you’re in, rather than a trend.


Also another PNW H/J here and I am now an ammy and loving it! I socialize with trainers & fellow amateurs and honestly it is way more fun this way. Yes, certain barns are less social, but I don’t take it personally.

My husband is a groom and used to groom at a top barn in the area (while I rode at a different barn) and I used to bring our kid over and hang out with all of their clients at shows. It was so fun and I actually made several friends this way!

Sorry your experience has not been this. People in all facets of life can be unpleasant (trust me, I’ve worked retail plenty), but it can’t hurt to always be kind and outgoing. People will either be receptive or they can continue to be unhappy with themselves :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: my two cents.


It is present in the schooling show structure. I’ve actually seen a little bit of this in eventer-land too (again, schooling). I can’t speak to rated or recognized, as I’ve not had the funds to do them in a looooong time.

I came out of nowhere with no trainer out of a no-name barn and started placing well in divisions - I won the year end award two years in a row. I drive a large recognizable rig, and try to stay to myself as I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. I’m friendly, cordial, not rude, but I really don’t want a show to be a big social event. I want to relax between my ride times. I hang out with my dog a lot.

I think the fact that no one knew who I was or where I came from, coupled with the fact that I’m not super bubbly, made the environment. Really though, I’m a big girl, and it doesn’t matter to me. I still cheer everyone on, even strangers, tell people what a nice looking horse they have, etc.

The same sort of thing happened when my Old Man was dominating the local rated jumper circuit (at that time, he was leased, but I showed up when I was home from college). I was actually starting to get worried that someone would do something to hurt him, as there was so much animosity towards him being on site.


I agree with you that it is a shame.
However. :slight_smile: I think these young people bring the stressors of the rest of their lives into their horse activities. That’s their culture.

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It’s a product of the times - their phones go everywhere with them, and therefore it isn’t really an “escape”. I think social media and constant access to it are much larger problems than they’re given credit for, but that’s a topic for another thread.


Not a jumper person but we have competed in all types of events over the years and it can be interesting and varies with location and discipline.

TWHBEA if you were not with a trainer show management would not give you the time of day. Exhibitors though were very friendly.

APHA people would not even speak to us.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting was friendly but distant.

Sorting/Penning was always great fun.

We did go to a schooling show a couple of times and had a woman yell at us for not running our stirrups up before leading out a 12 foot gate. We were also the only ones that tied our horses to the trailer and we got some strange looks and were actually questioned about the safety of doing so. That one really blew our minds.

The most welcoming group in my experience has been Saddleseat at Georgia State 4-H and Southern Regionals. We were always in the Non-trotting Group but the entire division was always fun and inclusive.


Dont define an entire “culture” on the behavior of a few jerks who behave like they are still in High School. There are jerks in all disciplines, trust me. Just ID them and avoid/ ignore them,


I’ve always shown alone, for 50+ (yikes) years. Have always gone to traveling clinicians and local coaches for input, but not part of “the barn scene”- I keep my horses at home always, I’m a “ship in”. I have friends, and make friends at shows sometimes. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m so shocked and appalled by what goes on that I just don’t want to be involved in any way. If things look like they are going to get dangerous, I remove myself and my horse before I am likely to become involved in any way. I usually foresee disaster and accidents in warm up rings with accuracy.

Is it any worse than it has ever been? I dunno. Maybe. There are always lots of people who are wrapped up in themselves and their clique, and have an “us and them” outlook I guess. If that’s the way they want it, it’s OK with me. They are not my people. If someone wants the warm up jump I’m jumping, I’m probably done with it anyway, OR I just insert myself into their rotation to use the jump, and if I bring a rail down, THEY can pick it up, since I don’t have any groom or trainer. If they don’t like that… too bad. Want to try to run me out of the warm up ring by being cranky? Good luck with that. I’ve likely been doing this since before they were shitting yellow, and am unlikely to be intimidated by anyone. If they want to raise the schooling jump, I’m OK with that, or if I’m not I will go find another jump to use. Or I’ll go with the warm up I’ve had already and insert myself into the “order of go” at the show ring, since I have no cell phone, my presence at the in gate usually gets me into the class soon enough (when somebody’s coach fails to show up to watch their round). Whipper ins love me.