At one stop in Wisconsin, I met a parent I will never forget. On day 1, she put me in my place by declaiming that she had low expectations for the camp because, “I know you only get what you pay for,” and it was clear that my meager salary meant that these Pony Club lessons were next to worthless. She was a serious dressage rider who believed that mercenary instructors dole out exactly $50. worth of training for a $50. lesson fee – and not a penny’s worth more. She was intent on purchasing her way up the levels, and now, almost forty years later I still think about her and wonder if she ever achieved the success she sought to buy? The idea that Americans only value what they pay for has troubled me ever since, so I’d like to pose the question, “In the horse world, does more money always equal better quality or is it possible to acquire the occasional free lunch?”
In a culture that celebrates extreme coupon shoppers with their own reality television show, it’s clear that Americans love to get something for nothing. But how often do we devalue an experience if we haven’t paid for it? Here’s why I ask. The IEO is offering a horse management clinic this month which promises 6 hours of interesting and important topics from longeing skills to rider core strengthening exercises and the clinic is free to members and non-members alike. Now don’t be misled into thinking that we aren’t paying for this experience – the club is footing the bill for renting the indoor arena, copying costs for handouts and even the coffee that will keep everyone energized and warm. But notice that the wonderful instructors who are teaching all day are not part of the budget, but have volunteered their time and expertise because they are motivated by caring, not cash, and believe that this type of clinic fills an important need in our horse community.
So is this clinic like unsolicited free advice and only worth what you are paying for it? Or a prime example of that elusive, yet delicious blue plate special that leaves your wallet intact and your tummy full? I’m voting for the latter and hope to see you in the lunch line at Homestead Farm on March 10th! - Susan Moody, IEO President