Jumper Exhibitors, Trainers and Friends,
Over the last 36 hours, I have read every word of feedback that has been sent to me at least ten times. I have taken every word of it to heart. I have written down all of the suggestions, weighed what the best options were, and made some decisions regarding the Jumpers at my Show Series. I asked for honest feedback, and it was given to me. I will address some specific concerns that have come up. It is clear by the feedback, that whatever decision I come to, I will have a group of unhappy people. I honestly do not have a solution for that, and so desperately wish that I did, and sincerely apologize.
For the remained of 2016, I will continue to hold my Jumpers on Saturday’s in the Grass Field. That is what the majority that currently attend my shows have asked for, and that is how it will continue. Many of you have asked for more schooling breaks at different heights, so I will add breaks. However, there were also complaints about the days running long, and adding those breaks will add time to the day. I will also put a “not before” time into the class list so that anyone who wants to come just for the higher levels will have a schooling break, and will not have to wait around for the lower levels. Again, this is all based on feedback. I will have the website updated by the end of this weekend to reflect these changes.
A number of people commented that they feel that the jumpers are a second thought to me and that I do not care about them. This was hard to hear considering that I continue to ask for feedback and continue to try to do what I can to keep the jumpers running, even at a financial loss. I can assure you that the jumpers are not a second thought to me, and that is why I am here right now, doing all that I can to prove that to everyone. Everyone thinks I play favorites to the hunters. I am not sure where that comes from other than the fact that they are in the main arena. The bottom line is that they are in the main arena because it would not be safe or suitable for the beginner classes to run in the large grass field. That is the only reason. The reason the main arena takes “priority” when trainer conflicts arise is simply because of the higher volume of classes we run in the main ring, and the entries are higher, so it runs later. Giving the main ring priority is a time management decision and nothing more.
A few comments were made that the jumpers do not like schooling with the hunters, it seems unsafe and disorganized. When I first put the hunters and jumpers on the same day, I made two different schooling areas and designated them for each. Only one area was ever used, so I went back to just using the one field for schooling. Starting next week, I will again offer two schooling fields and designate them for hunters and jumpers to see if this will help.
I had comments all over the board that my courses are too hard, too easy, too many rollbacks, too long, etc. I am not sure how to address this since everyone seems to have a completely different opinion. What I can say is that I put a lot of thought into my courses, I build them myself, and if I don’t get a chance to teach a lesson over them to test ride them, I jump a horse around them myself. I try to always offer both inside, more challenging turns as well as larger, easier turns. I try to provide areas where you can gallop, and areas where you should be slower and more technical. There were comments that people are dangerous and running as fast as they can around the courses and that I needed to put a stop to this. There were also comments that when the footing is wet or slippery people are having trouble going fast. The thing is, when it is wet, everyone should be going slower, so nobody is at any more of a disadvantage. If someone makes the choice to go fast and turn tightly on slippery footing, that is their own personal judgement call – not mine.
A number of people have commented about my jumps in general. Primarily in regards to my poles not being 12’ and my standards not being 6’. The primary reason for my shorter poles is because I can build more in the main arena, which is smaller, and all of my jump equipment doubles in both rings. I am constantly building new jumps, painting and adding new things. As I add new standards, I will be sure to always replace them with 6’ from now on. I have made sure that every jump has heavy duty cups minimally on the top rails. I try to offer either a gate, a plank, barrels, or some type of filler under the top rails, and this year have gone back to adding flowers at the request of many of you.
I have been asked to add flags and numbers to my jumps, but at the same time I have been asked to run at least 3 consecutive courses at the same time. This makes flagging and numbering very difficult. I have been asked to use electronic timers, and the reality of that is that they cost thousands of dollars, and this is a schooling show. I simply cannot justify that expense when we are charging $10.00 per class. In order to keep things as inexpensive as I do for all of you, some things need to be sacrificed. I always felt that flags, numbers and timers were not critically important in a schooling show environment, but I am happy to add flags and numbers.
There were comments about my staff and myself treating people rudely and to this I can only say that I am embarrassed and terribly sorry that anyone has felt this way, and I take personal responsibility for my own actions, and for those of my staff and assure you that each of us will do better to welcome you with a smile, and a positive and helpful attitude. I say this sincerely, and will do all I can to improve this area for everyone who attends our shows. You should never ever be treated with anything other than respect and courtesy, and no question is a bad one.
My final comment is that I do not post asking for feedback on social media as a way to create drama, as commented in my survey. I post because I sincerely want to fix what is wrong and I can only do that by understanding from each of you where I am falling short. I am a very up front and vocal person. I do not remotely mean for that to come off as arrogant, pushy, rude or attention seeking. I want to do better, and this has been me asking for help to serve all of you better. I hope that my actions and changes to my show will help to prove that.
Lesley M. Jenks