I mostly ignore these cycles. They come around often enough that if I miss one, another will be along to passively participate in a few months later. This time around, just for shits and giggles, I thought I'd share how I feel about the subject of the sport I compete in.
Warning: I am ambivalent. I don't care.
I am an eventer. I don't compete at the upper levels. I have no desire to compete at the upper levels. But let me set this straight: it's not because I'm afraid for my life, or the life of my horse. I'm not going to hit a point in my competition career and think, "This horse is trained through PSG. He can jump 4'+, and his gallop is fantastic. This horse is brave, bold, and brilliantly trained. But I will not enter him in any horse trial above preliminary because this sport is not safe."
My mental comfort zone tops out at around 3'6". I'm all for a strong or even flat out gallop, but approaching jumps at that speed does not appeal to me. Were I braver and bolder and I had a horse with the talent to go to the upper levels, I would.
There, I said it. Were I not afraid of the height (cross country or stadium), I would participate in upper level eventing today as it stands.
I understand where the complaints are coming from. I understand your statistics on rider and horse injuries and deaths. They're horrible, yes. However, if I want to risk myself by setting out on these courses, that's my own choice, not yours.
"BUT!" you say. "Your horse doesn't have a choice in the matter!"
Since you probably already hate my passivity and are rolling your eyes, I'll give you a little more fuel to the fire. I believe that you can't make a horse do something it doesn't want to--not something like upper level eventing. All the whips and spurs and giant bits in the world can't get a horse to jump a four foot solid obstacle in its path if there's not something inside that animal that doesn't want to get to the other side.
"It's fear! It's scared you'll punish it for refusing!"
Well then you're an asshole for not treating your horse right. Look at the horses that hunt for the flags, the ones that lock on and go even when their rider makes a mistake. That's an animal that loves its job. That can't be bullied into happening.
Where are the upper level riders complaining about the safety and integrity of eventing? Is it because this is their livelihood and they don't want to lose it? Are they afraid of being fazed out of the sport for stepping up and trying to take action? What are they supposed to take action against? Or are they more in tune to the risk-reward ratio than we are? They can't all be blinded by the chance of success, can they?
What bothers me about all these "Eventing is dangerous and the devil and has changed for the worse and I am never doing it ever!!!!" posts is that people just sit behind their computers and complain about it.
What's the solution? What do you want people to do? Abandon the sport completely? At all levels, or just the upper levels? Do you want to wipe eventing completely off the board?
What's the answer to the problem?
Maybe if people spent a little less time bitching and little more time actively campaigning for change--whatever that change may be--eventing would turn into a sport that polarizes people a little bit less.
I won't be one of those people. Call me the problem if you'd like, but I'm going to work through the winter on preparing my horse for Training next year. Eventing is my chosen sport, and my horse loves it just as much as I do.