If the sea of female faces that currently make up the lower levels of show jumping are any indication, women will soon be killing it in the equestrian industry.

According to USEF, 85% of its membership is female, which means that the most-talented, longest-serving, and best-qualified women in show jumping are about to flourish as changemakers at its highest echelons.

Given the great gender imbalance in favor of women, it’s expected that a newly released survey of male/female roles in show jumping will almost certainly reflect this common-sense conclusion.

Women, it’s predicted, will no doubt be equally represented running the sport’s most illustrious competition circuits, in the top-100 of the Longines World Show Jumping Rankings, and elected to the top leadership positions in governing bodies such as—

“Let me stop you right there, Nina—can I call you Nina? That’s not strictly true, according to our 2024 survey,” says Richard P. Johnson, who headed the new study conducted by the Y-Research Institute and agreed to comment on its results over a Friday night dinner date with his wife.

“Women are welcomed as equals in all boardrooms and across all disciplines in the international equestrian industry, and if they want to be in positions of authority in horse sport, it’s not like anyone is stopping them,” Johnson says. “Any amount of navel-gazing and who’s-who-ing about ranking lists and show runners on major international circuits is, to my mind, a moot point.

“We can’t do everything for women, but the door is open, and we in equestrian sport are certainly looking to mitigate gender boundaries where we can.”

When pressed on the fact that female show jumpers represented only one-fifth of medals awarded at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, and that only one woman (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) has ever reached no. 1 in the world in the sport, Johnson brushes off the implications.

“Some write-ins to our survey—a very limited number of female write-ins, I’m sure—suggested that lady riders may need to take time off in the prime of their careers to have children. But I think that’s a bit of a fallacy.

“Pardon me for just one second, please—our waiter just got to the table. Yes, we’ll have a bottle of your Hall Cabernet. Thanks…

“So, as I was saying, sure, childbirth can be an ordeal for some women—but sometimes those suckers pop right out! My wife had a C-section and she was up getting her nails done in two days. She wasn’t going to miss that appointment. And lest we forget that men also face unique challenges based on their sex: prostate issues and male pattern baldness, for example.

“Helmet hair aside, I have yet to hear of one single guy in the many, many men that make up the International Jumping Riders Club complaining about having to take time off for that!”

In response to further questions on whether gender bias may grant male riders and show runners greater access to sponsorships and world-class horses from top owners in the sport, Johnson says his study’s findings are clear.

“I can’t speak to that very anecdotal evidence, but it starts with the basics. The fact that men will continue to run the vast majority of top horse show venues across North America and beyond, for instance. Our study indicates there may be a very good reason for that.

“Eight out of 10 male respondents in our survey found that they were required, on occasion, to instruct their female colleagues on business best practices. A few of our male write-ins even described explaining the basics of using ‘our best outdoor voices’ to female colleagues in order to help them command a room.

“That shouldn’t be a hard one,” Johnson continues. “It’s about towing that line between being assertive without getting too shrill. Honestly, Nora—it was Nora, right? I don’t want you to incorrectly read into our findings. All in all, the results were positive for women. And—can you hear me? I apologize if I’m chewing too loudly, this tartare is delicious!

Anyway, I think this whole thing is just a lot of smoke and not a lot of fire. Even if the survey hasn’t shown as much movement in show jumping as you or others might expect or wish to see, I don’t think it’s worth breaking into hysterics over. We are seeing progress—

“Oh, waiter! Great, you’re back. Sorry, just hang on one second, Nora. I’ll have the filet—medium-rare, please—and my wife here will have the chicken Milanese…”  

More satire from Nina Fedrizzi:

• Mankini Fails to Make List of Silliest Riding Costumes, Study Finds
• Future Horse Show Stage Parents Vow to Start Newborn in the Saddle “ASAP”
• Hunter Under Saddle Rider Removed from Flat Class for Trash Talking Fellow Competitors 
• Aging Parents Can’t Understand Why Daughter Spends So Much Money on a Passion That Brings Her Joy

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