The comments to my previous post certainly served to highlight some of the reasons why many shows, circuits and systems have seen declines in participation. I'm sure that the Horse&Rider reader who wrote to me with the original questions about show decline will appreciate all the input. I let her know she could catch the discussion here.
Now, here's part of a letter from a reader involved in a completely different form of horse activity--one that also shows signs of being in decline.
Her family runs an outfitting/packing business in the mountains of southwestern Colorado. Her concern:
"Our inquiries from folks about our horseback services have been steadily dropping from season to season. We are in good communications with the other outfitters in our area, and they are discussing the same problem. It seems that the general public is less interested in hitting the trail in the high country. Even our friends who work in the Forest Service are shocked by the decline in the use of the wilderness. Seems like backcountry use is becoming extinct."
As it turns out, studies show that visits to roadless backcountry areas are indeed in decline in general. Furthermore, the average age of those who do partake of such primitive recreation is on the rise--an indicator that young people aren't coming along in adequate numbers to take the place of those who cease participating due to older age. (That's the thing about primitive forms of recreation, like horse camping: You have to be able-bodied and in reasonably good health to do it.)
So where do you come in on this subject?
Do you do any kind of overnight trail riding/horse camping at all, even if it's not out into designated wilderness but on tamer trails? If so, what participation patterns do you see?
If it's something you used to do, but have given up--how come?
If you're among those whose Bucket List includes "go on horse-packing trip in mountains," what's kept you from gettin' goin' and crossing that one off the list?
--And feel free to point out any of the ironies between the previous post's comments on the lines of "why I don't show," and this one's subject of primitive horse-recreation.
I mean, here we have a horse activity with no judging/politics, no "social requirement" of bling, silver or fancy anything, no points chasing, and very little in the way of expense for the sake of trendiness. Horse camping, in many ways, is the antithesis of horse showing.
Are we that addicted now to our digital devices, Internet connections, and full-service bathroom facilities to make us contributors to this activity's downturn, too? Or what?