I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I don't understand what the Japanese dressage rules are meant to encourage. People that know me already take it for granted that I rarely go to dressage competitions, and from what I've been told, I'm very glad I didn't go to Gotemba today, because it simply highlights something I've been saying for ages. And with a change in categories, from A3 to L1, it's only made the situation worse, as all the big guns (for which you can read ultra-expensive, foreign-bred horses) are coming out in force and dominating. Whatever the move was meant to accomplish, it certainly doesn't nurture good horsemanship, or the betterment of Japanese bloodlines, it simply encourages money to be thrown at the sport - money most people haven't got, so those with talent but modest means will fall by the wayside, while those with deep pockets (who will probably get bored five minutes later or give up the first time they fall off) are the ones that get spotted. Not enough youngsters coming through, eh? Of course!
Unfortunately, if you put an average rider on a good horse, you get a good result by default. If you then put that same rider on an average horse, you don't get an average result, you get a bad one, because they're not horsemen. In the lower age groups, we need to create good horsemen first and foremost. If these people then get the encouragement they need and the chance to ride decent nags on merit, the whole sport can progress and become truly competitive with other nations...
Due to big match nerves and no chance to prepare, Louis didn't ride anywhere near as good as he can apparently. At the end of the day, he's only done the L1 pattern once before, ridden the horse he's using once before, and hardly had any practice opportunities pertaining to today's event for the last two months, meaning we should really have scrubbed the entry the minute we knew it wasn't going to be A3 level. For one thing, I wouldn't be sitting here in front of the PC getting fat and stressed out due to overwork if we'd made that decision earlier on - I could have continued at a much slower, healthier pace than I am now, having to finance the bloody campaign.
But that's not the point - whatever happens tomorrow, my policy isn't going to falter. My kids will continue to ride Thoroughbreds and nothing else as their main mounts. Period. Sophie is growing as a person and getting there as a horseman with each passing day, riding a challenging horse that would scare the hell out of most people, while I fill up with pride watching Louis handle a raw Thoroughbred with a touch that belies his age. I refuse to support a system that doesn't acknowledge a rider's skill, only their ability to stay on an automatic vehicle and someone else's ability to pay for the use of said vehicle. I was hoping to have my original feelings on the Japanese dressage scene proved wrong today. Instead, they've only been reinforced. If Louis wants to continue entering the All-Japan Championships, he'll have to do so at his own expense in future - I'm finished with it. I will not bow down to a system that never changes, even when those in charge acknowledge it needs to change.