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Breach and Spur 3: Drama


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2023/02/25

Be ready for headaches. They’re inevitable.

Whether a woman or a man, young or old, if you are getting into this industry, you should note: Drama is real. As one equestrian friend noted a couple of nights ago to me, “it’s a girls’ sport” now.

Ian Millar is stepping down and back. Eric Lamaze is stepping back and down. The team to Denmark was all women. I am the male only staffer here 7 days per week at an Olympic level, 4*, hunter-jumper facility.

Most of the staff are women, by a large margin. The only other man here is much younger and married to one of the younger trainers/coaches. He likely doesn’t want to be here for the sport, except for the love of his life.

Another Indo-Canadian fellow only does machine operation and some other heavy-duty stuff. However, his thing: “I don’t work for those girls”. One might get a humorous image of the man being burned verbally by a white, Euro-Canadian women.

Which goes back to the conversation with the Chinese equestrian friend who goes to UBC, it sparked some reflection for me.

The continual message, at times, is making something out of nothing. Given the preponderance of women across the industry, especially staff and clientele, the rational spectre is raised: The majority demographics of women means the culture is a subculture of, and by, women. What is happening in this culture to produce something lacking appeal to men for better balance in Canada?

The drama can be one part of it. Then there can be being pushed out of it. My first week in the industry was marked by intimidation, threats, and bullying by some staff. One of the middle managers, the stable manager, made the direct point of letting me know; she had gotten a male staffer fired, bragged about it to me, and concluded, “So, don’t get on my bad side.”

This was stated in front of another staffer. Nothing is done. If I was another man and not interested in the journalistic experience, then I would have left a long time ago, likely the first week on the first moment of threat, intimidation, and bullying. These are all white women.

When another gentleman had come into the staff, he was a divorced alcoholic or out of a relationship and a heavy drinker. Rather than go to management for a proper firing, the stable manager called the cops on him, making sure he had been drinking, so he’d get jail time. I’ve never seen him since, and didn’t enjoy the company or the quality of work by the way. In cases like these, men are threatened out of the industry in the former case and driven out in the latter.

I don’t think the work environment should have a drinker on site. However, there is a proper procedure for dealing with these contexts. The real fear of management is if a case arises and causes trouble rather than the issue itself.

When diversity came into one recent work meeting, the issues for management was not the contexts of diversity, and so on, but the things to do if this arises in the work environment. Because one client and some others, apparently, had issues with trans staff members and pronouns.

One gets a sense of ad hoc as the rule in ethics in equestrianism.

In the contexts of interviewing, I started the series interviewing Erynn Ballard:

Jacobsen: Every person who I met who competes and works in the stables, or as a full-time in the stables, have all been incredibly impressive in their own ways. Some have tragic personal histories and have overcome them. The work ethic is there.

Ballard: People are drawn to horses, maybe, if they aren’t good with people.

Jacobsen: That’s an interesting hypothesis, maybe.

Ballard: A connection with the horse that they can’t have with the person. The turnover in my life, as far as clients who ride with me — and people who work for me, is very high, very. Grooms come and go, there’s students, young kids, even riders. A lot of girls ride until they turn 15 or 16. Then they have a choice to make. Are they going to keep riding, to go skiing, to go hang out with boys, to go to university? At the younger age, it is mostly girls.

If a teenager sticks through that stage, maybe, they’re not that social. They don’t love going to the parties on the weekend. Or they struggle with being in a school, in girl gangs. They like horses. They hang out with horses. Then they create a friend group, which they didn’t think they could have in school because they have a common interest with other kids in horses. Maybe, they don’t want to go to university.

They have to work for a living, so they become a groom. Maybe, they want to go to law school, but they don’t have enough money. So, they groom on the weekends. The turnover of people who work in the industry versus me is high, because not everyone is a lifer.

I would modify some of the commentary with more experience. One of those is the impressiveness. A lot of these people have tragic stories. While, at the same time, they are stuck; they have no other skills. Their grade level is 9 to 12. So, the lowest levels of high school to a high school diploma. They work very hard.

This is home for some of them because they have no home other than necessity. Substance misuse, alcoholism, sociosexually unrestricted behaviour, and the like, are common too. These are self-trashing behaviours done by the women on staff to themselves.

I went out with two women staffers. Both got smashed drunk. I felt as if I was babysitting adults. The issue came when one was shocked after going away from the group. She was shook up. The reason: She was almost shoved into a car, to presumably be dragged off, by two men attempting to force her into the car.

These sound like the conditions for sexual assault and sexual harassment. It took some time to get the men to go away, which required a black ex-bouncer who I befriended to help me. I sent him; I’m a wuss, but smart. I’m an egalitarian. Women are free agents to do stupid things and be judged fairly if doing so.

The reason for the high turnover, and between the lines of Ballard’s statements, is the need to survive in a world of clashing needs and trauma. The young women create drama for one another. I’m told by many women flowing through here as staff that “drama is so high”. It’s part of the lifestyle of the moment, the Great Now.

The ‘impressiveness’ is more often a veneer exemplifying surviving. Ballard, certainly, is correct. The turnover in the industry is very high. One of the reasons in drama; and they do it to themselves, making everyone’s life harder for no reason other than the need for drama.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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