PDA

View Full Version : Susie Schoellkopf article in this week's Chronicle



111
Apr. 14, 2009, 10:42 PM
Did anyone read this article?
Did anyone else think she was lumping all students & their trainers in together, when I contend that at the lower levels kids & their trainers DO take care of their horses. I can tell you volumes on every horse in my barn. My working students know how to do all the things Ms Schoellkopf implies the younger generation is in capable of.
Who created this problem? The BNTs! & now a BNT is complaining in a national publication about a problem her & her upper level friends have caused. I don't know, I guess I'm happy to be down in the lower B & C level shows where mostly we all care for our own horses.
What do you think?

[Mod note: Here's the text of the article!]


Think "We" Not "I" To Succeed In This World
April 10, 2009 Issue

Our columnist would like to see young horsemen replace their blaring iPods with solid horsemanship skills.

When times get tough people have different reactions and demonstrate their feelings through how they behave toward others. A lot of the mess the United States is in right now is because we have become a nation of “I and me” instead of “we.”

As I’ve looked around the shows and my everyday life the past few months I’m amazed at the lack of manners I’ve
witnessed. Manners just don’t seem to exist anymore, and maybe that’s an outward manifestation of our times. I see a general lack of courtesy between fellow professionals, amateurs, juniors, management, staff and so on.

I think one of the problems we have right now is a lack of forward thinking. It seems that few people set long-term goals anymore, so our junior riders and up-and-coming professionals are left floundering and don’t develop a serious work ethic. We need to help them refocus and think ahead and, most importantly, learn from those horsemen who have been in this sport for many years with much success. You don’t have to try to reinvent the wheel or the system when others have already done so for you. You just have to plan ahead and take the time to absorb their experiences.

Looking Back

When I was a junior, amateur and then a professional I was lucky to have mentors and great horsemen to guide the way. They all worked hard—drove the van, braided (manes and tails!)—and were always at the barn at dawn’s early light. They knew their horses’ every move—how they acted in the stalls, what they felt like to ride, and what it took to win.

I began going to the top shows in the 1970s with trainer Roger Young. His horses were always turned out the very best—shiny coats, clean tack and thus great performances. We always knew our goals for the year, whether it was qualifying for Devon (Pa.) and the fall indoor shows or year-end awards for our local chapter.

We also had the benefit of observing top professionals like Dave Kelly, Red Frazier, Kenny Wheeler, Rodney Jenkins and Dan Lenehan who produced top conformation horses year after year.

This younger generation of horsemen, currently in their formative years, needs to read and review the tools and knowledge the past generations have taught us. Many of these younger horsemen don’t know top horse people like Rodney Jenkins or Michael Matz and grew up after these horsemen had left their respective marks on the sport.

Some may remember Michael from his famous race horse Barbaro who won the Kentucky Derby, but they probably don’t know how Michael came up through the hunter ranks to became one of the top riders and trainers of our time. Michael’s and Rodney’s barns are run with the horse front and center. That’s why they were able to move to the racing world with ease and success. Those of us who watched and learned from them were fortunate, and
we didn’t try and change the system they followed.

We Must Take Action

We as teachers, parents and mentors should seek to educate these younger professionals and help them on their way. It’s too easy now to just hang out a shingle and become a professional. But, in reality, to succeed in this sport over the long term you have to work hard and climb the ladder. Sure, some people have done it the hard way on their own, but why not move up the rungs with someone more experienced showing you the correct way?

Sadly, there’s a reason many people simply print up business cards and call themselves professionals—we’ve become a country of easy short cuts, and taking time for long-term goals and educational opportunities are fewer
and farther between.

I’m disappointed to say that the hunter/jumper world is currently producing mostly a group of arrogant and self-serving professionals and students. It’s too easy to text instead of speaking one on one. It’s too easy to go to a website or bulletin board and say whatever you want about someone under an alias. Well, guess what? The days of slacking are gone.

The economic downturn is showing us that we need to get back to basics, hard work and learn from those established horsemen who have come before us. They have survived hard times of the past because of their work ethic. Today’s young professionals may now be forced to learn how to braid, drive the van, clean tack correctly, bandage and manage the lives of the horses and students under their care. The era of having “a complete staff” for all of the day-to-day work may now be behind us.

It’s all too common for top junior working students to rarely be seen back at the barn taking care of the horses they’ve been allowed to ride for customers. At the ring I hardly ever see these juniors checking their tack—bridles and saddles, girths, pads, stirrups—before they get a leg up! We need to insist they have a thorough education from the ring to the barn.

Bandaging a horse is also a lost art. If the professional hasn’t learned to bandage correctly how will he teach the next generation? More importantly, do these professionals actually monitor how their horses are cared for? Do they care what their barn aisle looks like or do they check the cleanliness of their tack at the end of the day or beginning of the next?

Many of those in the past generation consider feeding an art. Can you recognize the early stages of moldy hay? Is monthly deworming something you’ve discussed with your veterinarian? What are the pros and cons of each deworming method?

Does your staff know why feeding times should be on a set schedule? Do they know what happens when a horse isn’t drinking? Would they know the difference between a pawing horse simply rearranging his bedding or one showing the distress of colic?

Shipping horses is another topic that’s largely been ignored. Shipping a horse in a two-horse trailer, a four-horse gooseneck or a semi-tractor each requires different skill sets. One bad shipping incident while loading, unloading or being placed in a shipping stall is critical. Now it’s the norm for our young professionals to hand their horses over to a shipper and just show up at the competition. They don’t know enough to give the shipper any tips on each individual horse or pony because they’ve not bothered to watch or learn how it’s done. That’s unfortunate.

A Fresh Start

In order to succeed in this sport, trainers and riders must have a passion for the horses and know them inside out. There should never be a day that goes by that you don’t learn something new from your horse or from another professional. Now that we are seeing smaller shows and fewer people showing, an economic silver lining might be that we have the time to watch the best in the schooling areas, the ring, teaching lessons, giving clinics and more importantly back in their barns.

We’ve heard countless stories over the years of people who have run their businesses based out of greed. It’s all
about bonuses and commissions. Many in this industry have allowed their horse businesses to run without consequences to certain actions because there’s always another opportunity down the road. Has that road reached a dead end now?

In the past, courtesy and respect took precedence over dollar signs. Not so much now. What happened to calling other professionals when a customer intends to leave a barn? What happened to making sure all bills are paid when
you leave? Not long ago professionals protected their fellow professionals whether they were friend or foe. Now it’s easy for people to switch trainers and leave owing money. You cannot switch schools or lawyers or accountants while owing money without facing the consequences. Why have we allowed this situation to become the embarrassing norm in our business?

Today’s economic climate is providing us with a fresh start; we simply have to take it. Professionals with established barns will always have to employ people to help them. In the past we’ve paid cash to foreigners who ended up making a small fortune. Our justification was that we couldn’t find U.S. citizens who wanted to work as hard or had the knowledge. It wasn’t always that way.

Top horsemen of the past and present have spent long hours working with their employees to educate them and make them the best. In these tough economic times we need to return to those roots and take the time to train all of our staff members to be horsemen, whether that’s young working students or established workers. In return, we have to bring their salaries in line, provide health benefits and workers’ compensation. We have to train our staff for the future—not for short cuts.

In many countries grooms are proud of the care they take of their horses. The young and upcoming staff and riders need to know and understand that working in all aspects with horses is crucial and rewarding–not just riding in the ring for the blue ribbon.

I’ve read that our youngsters have the nickname the “iPod Generation.” And, unfortunately, I see this is true even in our world. It’s becoming the norm to ride with an iPod and tune out everything around you. I would seriously doubt that you would ever see any of our top riders preparing a horse while listening to iTunes. They are great riders because they have great focus.

It’s time for us in the “older” generation to take a stand. I’m not saying we ignore beneficial technology and return to antiquated ways. I do believe, though, that we need to reconnect with the past to make a better future.

We’ve coasted for a while now and have allowed, for example, this formative generation to take the easy way out. Now our junior and pony riders speak to us through texting instead of speech! Face to face communication is vital to succeed in our world and to develop manners and courtesy. If you can’t communicate well with a person, how are you going to relate to your horse?

I’ve been fortunate to have wonderful kids ride and train with me in the past and now. I find the ones who are dedicated to their horses and have focus in the barn are the ones who do well in school. They are the ones who go on to good colleges and succeed in life. They are the ones who have “we” in their vocabulary not “I”.

Susie Schoellkopf


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Susie B. Schoellkopf serves as the executive director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, which is the home of the Buffalo Equestrian Center and SBS Farms in Buffalo, N.Y. An R-rated U.S. Equestrian Federation judge, Schoellkopf has trained numerous horses to USEF Horse of the Year honors, including Gabriel, Kansas, Big Bad Wolf and GG Valentine. She started writing Between Rounds columns in 2002.

TheOrangeOne
Apr. 14, 2009, 10:48 PM
I filed that article under "things that make me want to bang my head on my desk". I find a lot of the between rounds articles go there. I think there is a very visible minority of top juniors who aren't all around horsemen, but for every one of them, there are 10 kids in the barn at 5 AM to feed and hack.

CookiePony
Apr. 14, 2009, 10:51 PM
I am an eventer and therefore unfamiliar with the h/j world, but as I read the article I thought, "there MUST be a whole bunch of h/j kids and ammies who drive their own trailers, wrap their horses' legs, and are hardworking caretakers." I do not doubt that there are entitled, spoiled riders, but perhaps her perspective is a little narrow.

trail blazer
Apr. 14, 2009, 11:29 PM
I read the article and feel that Susie was pretty much on target. However, I didn't take it as though she was implying "all" juniors are not good horsemen/women. I think what she said is indicative of what we see in every other area of life....people are consumed by cell phones and technology and therefore losing the personal touch. Teenagers especially, substitute texting for talking and have become obsessed with "keeping in touch" with their friends to the extent that they cannot go for any length of time without checking their phones. I see all of this at the horse shows, they ride with their phone on silent or rush back to their tack trunk to check messages. If they were as consumed with their horses as they are with their phones, they would take more time to prepare for their classes and actually spend more time with their horses daily. As we see it, on the A circuit, most riders are using day care, so they aren't actually responsible for the hard part. Someone else, feeds, bathes, braids, hacks, lunges, mucks, tacks up and cools down. For those of us that do all of their own work, we enjoy the relationship we build with our horses as much as the money we save by doing so. you also have so many riders who fly in just to ride for someone else. Gone is the day when trainers looked for capable riders who were there the same week.

Rhody Ram
Apr. 14, 2009, 11:35 PM
Wellll I know that the kids at Susie's barn sure aren't taking care of their own horses. But no, she shouldn't assume the same is the case at all barns.

Bailey1994
Apr. 15, 2009, 01:14 AM
It was a great article!!!!! It is something that we as trainers only need to be aware of so we keep on track. For those of you who have students that do all the things Susie mentioned, great job! But, don't get so deffensive instead feel proud your stundents don't fall into those catigories. Lets try to stay positive......

fourmares
Apr. 15, 2009, 01:18 AM
It's nothing new. I remember back in the 80's and 90's there were kids ridingin the medal classes that didn't know how to tack up their own horses.

shedllybip
Apr. 15, 2009, 08:55 AM
Hey Rhody you obviously haven't been back at Susie's barn. Those kids do a little bit of everything. Yes there are certain 'levels' of the work each one will do - but those kids DO work! And no, she doesn't ask them to muck their own stalls, but they can give baths and clean tack and get their own ponies/horses ready.....she has been doing business with my tack shop for years, and I have seen all of those kids (rich and not so rich) doing everything back at the barn.

Moderator 1
Apr. 15, 2009, 08:57 AM
We added the article to the OP to help foster the discussion.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Mod 1

sporthorsefilly
Apr. 15, 2009, 09:17 AM
I rode Medal/Maclay in the 60's and remember both Susie and her sister Penny and they were both riders to be admired.

My parents were not rich, and I learned to ride, and do everything for my horse. It never hurt me, and today, I still do everything for my horses. If you don't learn from the ground up, you will never appreciate or really know what horsemanship truly is. I braid, bandage, muck, clean tack, bathe my horses, clip, pull manes, and can school a horse to a high level of performance. I know what my horses think and feel, I know their personalities, and that level of horsemanship is what makes great riders and trainers.

I was also fortunate to watch the top riders in their fields, Steinkraus, Chapot, Rodney Jenkins, Dave Kelly, Ben O'Meara, Bernie Traurig, and many more. Those who think riding is just calling the barn, getting a leg up and then handing the sweaty horse to someone else, really are not horsemen or horsewomen. I know that everyone of those great horsemen, knew how to care for a horse from the ground up, which contributed to their excellence.

magnolia73
Apr. 15, 2009, 09:48 AM
The kids at my barn work pretty hard. One girl in particular rides quite a few. They can all tack up and groom and do so. They trim the horses and pull manes and clean tack. There is a curiosity about care and problems a horse might have. They can feed and muck. Help move jumps.

I watched schooling at a recent show though and saw some kids who gave me pause. One called for her mother to take her horse so she could finish her book. (LOL, it was not a school night). There were other cases of .... "oh my". And I have seen parents tack up and care for the horses etc. etc. I think a lot of that issue is kids that really don't care about riding with mom's who love the horses. I think MOM should be showing and enjoying. You can tell the kids that don't care- the barn is a social event and they treat the horses as an afterthought. Honestly, if you made it burdensome, they'd probably whine and quit riding.

That said, there are still plenty of kids with curiosity and love for the horses. I think they'd like to learn whatever someone will teach them. I think its a bit of a rare thing- not every kid wants to spend time mucking or cleaning out wounds. I doubt a trainer could pay the bills if they didn't cater a little to the kids who don't care.

Lucassb
Apr. 15, 2009, 11:32 AM
My junior days ended several decades ago, but even then there were always some "full service" customers and some, like me, who mostly came from more modest circumstances and who learned to groom, wrap, braid etc to support our riding habit. However, if you wanted to learn, it seemed there was always a good older horseman around to teach you.

What stands out to me now, as an amateur rider, is the reality that a knowledgeable/involved customer is generally simply NOT welcome in most BNT barns.

I have witnessed this firsthand when checking out barns or looking for training programs. Even in the barns where full service is not mandatory (though it seems always encouraged) I have found that trying to participate in decisions about my horse's care/feeding/work program is NOT well received, no matter how carefully the topic is broached or how many assurances you give that you just want to collaborate on the program to make it as successful as possible.

At best, the BM or trainer will listen politely, with a somewhat strained expression, and then more or less pat you on the head - and then go about doing whatever they were going to in the first place. As an adult, I can push back on that behavior, but I can't see a junior doing that effectively, much less being able to get involved in the hows and whys of horsecare.

The excuse is always "we want the horses turned out to a professional standard," or "the staff doesn't have TIME to teach wrapping or feeding or whatever to the customers," (and clearly the trainer doesn't have time to even DO that stuff, let alone teach it.)

My personal solution has been to ride with a smaller barn, with a pro who is happy to have a knowledgeable, involved customer in her program. She is happy to collaborate on my horse's program and we work quite well together. However, when you are talking about show barns, those situations are few and far between.

TheOrangeOne
Apr. 15, 2009, 11:38 AM
Now THAT is a good point. I think my trainer has a certain amount of respect for me that I trailer myself and take care of the horse, but I am sure he'd prefer that I keep my horse at his barn and show up once a week. An involved customer really is a lot more work for a barn that is primarily full service.

Lucassb
Apr. 15, 2009, 12:06 PM
Now THAT is a good point. I think my trainer has a certain amount of respect for me that I trailer myself and take care of the horse, but I am sure he'd prefer that I keep my horse at his barn and show up once a week. An involved customer really is a lot more work for a barn that is primarily full service.

Yep, and that is a large proportion of the customers you see at the bigger/rated shows. So I kind of wonder how many opportunities those "top juniors" have to learn or do a lot of behind the scenes care. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. But for the most part, the barns that play at that level are full service set ups, and customer involvement simply isn't welcome.

I guess this is a pet peeve of mine in a way, because I have *always* insisted on being the primary caretaker of my horse. It has made it *really* difficult to show at the A/AA level.

I have a really nice horse and I ride OK. I ride very consistently and work hard at lessons, training etc. I am (finally) at a point where I can afford to show at whatever venues I'd like to, and I have a very generous amount of vacation time to devote to clinics, showing, whatever. I have been a groom and a barn manager in some very good programs, so despite the fact that I now spend my days at an office job, I can and do turn my horse out at a very high level, so he isn't going to embarrass anyone. But IME, BNT barns aren't looking for (or willing to tolerate) clients like me. They much prefer the customers who will show up, ride, and leave without asking too many questions or, god forbid, having any opinions.

OkLurchers
Apr. 15, 2009, 12:38 PM
Lucassb,
you bring up some very good points & I've witnessed similar behavior to a degree in my neck of the woods. I started in Pony Club in the 70's with backyard horses, and braided my way through grad school in late 80's-mid 90's, so I've seen 'show behavior' over a couple of decades. I remember seeing much of the same behavior >20 yrs. ago among juniors--then it was walkmen instead of ipods. And the greed has always been there, it's just that (I think) it was less socially acceptable to be as open about it, plus there are just more people showing as well as more shows today.
That said, I've worked with trainers who had more respect for me because I braided & did my own care--a lot had to do with the fact that I didn't need my hand held & could be counted on to help out if necess. (plus, I always offer).
On the other hand, my beef with trainers is the attitude that they can't possibly like a horse they didn't sell you themselves...
I think what Susie was referring to was the mindset that is so common today--that of selfishness & lack of concern for the horse; a lack of bonding, if you will, that comes from literal time spent with the animal.
I thought she was on point--especially about the texting--because I see the same behavior in my college students. It's a common rant of mine that people today miss being in the moment when they're texting random, stupid things to their friends. It seems to be done, as Susie pointed out, mindlessly, & I'd say it's damn close to an addiction with many people.
There. I said it.

TSWJB
Apr. 15, 2009, 12:47 PM
What stands out to me now, as an amateur rider, is the reality that a knowledgeable/involved customer is generally simply NOT welcome in most BNT barns.

I have witnessed this firsthand when checking out barns or looking for training programs. Even in the barns where full service is not mandatory (though it seems always encouraged) I have found that trying to participate in decisions about my horse's care/feeding/work program is NOT well received, no matter how carefully the topic is broached or how many assurances you give that you just want to collaborate on the program to make it as successful as possible.


The excuse is always "we want the horses turned out to a professional standard," or "the staff doesn't have TIME to teach wrapping or feeding or whatever to the customers," (and clearly the trainer doesn't have time to even DO that stuff, let alone teach it.)

.
this post hit the nail on the head! i try to do all my horse grooming braiding myself. and i have been looked down on for doing it. i wasnt respected! wow she really cares and can turn out a horse herself and it looks great! no! i was pushed aside for the better customers that sat on their butts and had the horse brought to them.
if susie wants things to change she should start making the idea that the do it yourself customer should be respected!

precious
Apr. 15, 2009, 05:10 PM
Typical SS. Look down my nose at everyone and let them know i'm better than they are, my program is better than they are and they should all just pay me to learn it my way. I agree with her that there are a lot of primadonnas out there, however she only needs to look at her own backyard to find them! And as for her comments on rudeness, she might find you get more bees with honey! She was after all the trainer who barked at and dismissed an amateur from the scholling area at Washington who was preparing to go 1st in her class, whilst she prepared her horse to go last in the class before. Kindness, respect and decency are a two way street MS. SS and you should practice what you preach! Shame on you!

cbiscuit
Apr. 15, 2009, 06:23 PM
I can do those things - braid, wrap, notice moldy hay and communicate face to face. I even did well in school, went to a good college and became successful in life. But I still can't afford to buy, keep and show a nice horse. Bummer. :lol:

Peggy
Apr. 15, 2009, 06:38 PM
Guess it's a good thing that I can't afford the amenities and show schedule associated with riding with a BNT:D. My expertise, along my collection of Vet-Rap and other emergency supplies as a back-up to the barn collection, is welcomed at my barn. Some of the kids even ask me how to do things like pull manes and wrap legs.

But, I have heard tales from the other side of trainers who don't want clients to groom their own horses, either b/c they won't do a good enough job or they don't want them getting too attached to their horses. This would make it harder for someone to learn. I know there are kids in those programs who can take care of their own; ones I know learned at home or from the smaller NT they rode with on the way up.

I have come to the conclusion that SS doesn't think much of the internet, based on reading several of her columns.

2ponykids
Apr. 15, 2009, 06:40 PM
While I agree with some points made in the article, I find it interesting that some of Susie's pony clients do not take care of their ponies at shows. I actually only noticed this at a show when my daughter was showing against one of her kids because her kid won. They pony and rider were turned out beautifully and obviously did well, but I noticed that the girl just showed up to the ring dressed and handed the pony off when she was done.

It doesn't bother me that people do this because I realize that other people have lives besides riding. However, I don't think it is right to complain about everyone in the industry when it happens to her as well.

Whether people are full service clients or they do everything themselves, the owners are paying the bills and shouldn't be totally trashed.

mroades
Apr. 15, 2009, 09:28 PM
I can look at it from both sides. I know how to do all of those thing, I am a trainer, I have taken kids as far as Medal Maclay FInals....My kids all know how to do all of those things...and guess what
I am starving to death...because I cant charge them for all of things that they know how to do now...its a double edged sword, no doubt.

MILOUTE55
Apr. 15, 2009, 10:17 PM
no offense but I think it's really an American problem she's talking about.
Where I come from there is only one "groom" (= palfrenier) per barn, whatever the barn's size, and his/her job was to clean the stables and feed the horses. I cannot begin to imagine the look on a palfrenier's face if you asked them to get your horse ready for a ride!! The most you could get was a little help from your trainer provided you asked nicely and they had time! Unless you were a beginner and horse care/tack cleaning were the first lessons before you were even allow to climb on the beast!
We would go to the horse shows with a dozen horses, our dear trainer, and no groom.... and we didn't have any problem! At 12 years old we were all able to do all the things she mentioned and more.
I'm sure there are also some rich French riders who need the help of a groom to take care of their horses.... I'm just saying I managed to live and ride over there for close to 30 years and I never met any.

Now as far as kids those days needing to be more responsible and more careful for other people/animals/things..... mmmmhhhh, let me ask those middle school kids who think it's funny to write insanity on my perfectly white office's wall everyday as they walk by..... Last time I caught one in the act, he threatened to "sue my ass" if I said anything.... Are you kidding me?! Saddest part is, I think he would actually have done it!

Granted, this has nothing to do with riding and is a worlwide tendency of "over-spoiled", "over-protected" kids....

Horseymama
Apr. 15, 2009, 11:04 PM
What stands out to me now, as an amateur rider, is the reality that a knowledgeable/involved customer is generally simply NOT welcome in most BNT barns...

The excuse is always "we want the horses turned out to a professional standard," or "the staff doesn't have TIME to teach wrapping or feeding or whatever to the customers," (and clearly the trainer doesn't have time to even DO that stuff, let alone teach it.)

My personal solution has been to ride with a smaller barn, with a pro who is happy to have a knowledgeable, involved customer in her program. She is happy to collaborate on my horse's program and we work quite well together. However, when you are talking about show barns, those situations are few and far between.

I don't understand why these BNT's would want the responsibility of making decisions for everyone's horses. I've always though the most difficult clients were the one's that knew nothing.

We are not a "show barn" per se as we live in a small town/remote-ish area, but we do have training clients that go to 3 or so rated shows with us a year and a few locals. I personally cannot handle clients that do not know how to be involved in their horse's care. If someone does not know how to wrap, then I expect them to come to me so that they can learn. This is part of why they are in a training barn! I have been in barns when I was an amateur where I was discouraged to participate in my horse's care, but only for a short while. I have to participate. For me, the joy of horses is not just riding and showing, but everything combined: grooming, feeding, lunging, choosing tack, meeting with the vet and farrier, tractoring the ring, etc, etc!

But sometimes I see clients that are beginners that think they know everything and refuse to listen. I want to do all that I can so that they and their horse can be successful together and it is hard when they do not listen about what I think is best for them. However, I recognize that I have to respect what they want, even if I think it is a mistake, because that is how you learn. And ultimately I do not want the responsibility! It is their horse and they have to be the last word.

I guess we must be strange! (At least according to SS.)

Lucassb
Apr. 16, 2009, 10:19 AM
I don't understand why these BNT's would want the responsibility of making decisions for everyone's horses. I've always though the most difficult clients were the one's that knew nothing.

We are not a "show barn" per se as we live in a small town/remote-ish area, but we do have training clients that go to 3 or so rated shows with us a year and a few locals. I personally cannot handle clients that do not know how to be involved in their horse's care. If someone does not know how to wrap, then I expect them to come to me so that they can learn. This is part of why they are in a training barn! I have been in barns when I was an amateur where I was discouraged to participate in my horse's care, but only for a short while. I have to participate. For me, the joy of horses is not just riding and showing, but everything combined: grooming, feeding, lunging, choosing tack, meeting with the vet and farrier, tractoring the ring, etc, etc!

But sometimes I see clients that are beginners that think they know everything and refuse to listen. I want to do all that I can so that they and their horse can be successful together and it is hard when they do not listen about what I think is best for them. However, I recognize that I have to respect what they want, even if I think it is a mistake, because that is how you learn. And ultimately I do not want the responsibility! It is their horse and they have to be the last word.

I guess we must be strange! (At least according to SS.)

To some extent, this is apples and oranges, I think.

Local programs have the luxury of the time to focus on teaching horse care and show prep and so forth. The clients' expectations probably include the desire to learn all of that information, and they probably *don't* include being a Zone champion or HOTY at the national level.

Most of the clients of BNTs are looking to show, and show often. The investment required is substantial, and there is frequently a LOT of pressure to make sure there are plenty of ribbons to demonstrate that money was "well spent." Please note, I am not saying that everyone in a BNT program is just a rich, point chasing type who doesn't care about their horse(s) - just recognizing that those programs are about competing at a very high level, and being surrounded by those who focus on being successful at it.

Remember that big show barns are on the road a lot. These days it is fairly rare to have a "second string" program at home to bring along the beginners, take them to the smaller schooling shows, and work up to the big A program as was more common when I was growing up. We learned by doing, but it was "in private" - as we first did the little schooling shows at HOME... (spending the entire day prior bathing and scrubbing and clipping and braiding, under the watchful eye of the instructors and BMs.) Once you did well at that level, you could start attending the little schooling shows down the road. Eventually, when you had that down to a science, you finally started making your way up the ladder to go to the bigger rated shows, by which time we could ride and turn our horses out to the appropriate high standard.

Compare that to today, when even the most novice beginners can show in some baby-pre-novice WT class at the biggest shows in the country. No BNT is going to let one of their clients show up to the ring in DIY braids on a shaggy pony because little Suzie is just learning to clip and braid. They understand that if they *did* allow that... half the show grounds would be whispering, "Did you see that?!! Can you believe it?!?!? Three grand a month and a buck seventy five a day in day care, and they send the kid to the ring looking like it got pulled out of some muddy backyard!!!"

So from the BNT perspective, it is bad business to let customers learn the ropes the way I did so many years ago. Every horse must be turned out like the next Devon winner, and that frequently takes an army of professional grooms who can focus on that task, not the efforts of the kid who has to get going in order to get to soccer practice, or the tired adult ammy who has to get home in time to put dinner on the table for the rest of the family - and who probably has an office job to afford it all, and can't even BE there during the week.

Unfortunately, that means there really isn't much place in those BNT programs for a good ammy or junior who *can* turn a horse out to that kind of standard, unless they can do so as a working student or something along those lines. As mroades noted, it is insanely difficult for a professional to put together a high level program that doesn't include full service, simply based on the economics of the business, even if the clients are (taught to be) capable.

I feel very fortunate to have my horse in a program with an extremely capable trainer who encourages her clients to learn to be knowledgeable horsemen instead of just riders. She values those of us who are able to care for our own horses, groom, braid and manage them appropriately. But we are in the minority, even in her barn, and she acknowledges that without her full service clients, she would likely not be able to make it either. Luckily for us, she has the support of a spouse with a well-paying profession, and can afford to run things the way she does.

poltroon
Apr. 16, 2009, 01:08 PM
I've learned more about feeding horses from the internet - where I've been able to see the latest research, and even directly question experts like Dr. Eleanor Kellon - than I ever learned from horsemen in person. ;)

mvp
Apr. 16, 2009, 06:06 PM
If I read one more hypocritical, hand-wringing, "What's wrong with the kids of today," "Things were (and I was) so much better when I was a young sprout" kind of article written by a BNT...

Seriously? Who created the rules and logic that helped grow horse showing into the huge industry it is? It could have gone otherwise, you know. It makes no sense to blame kids for behaving as they are taught. Diffuse blame on a whole generation, of course, is easy and blaming decadent whippersnappers is a time-honored theme.

But, it's cheaper to pay grooms to do things than to stay home and have clients learn or, God forbid, like their horses enough to not want to trade them in when the next (lucrative) phase in their show career invites it. (Wow. I had never thought of the "advantage" of having a client who regarded her horse as vehicle.)

Maybe part of the solution is not having BNT trainers be the ones invited to write columns or sit on USEF committees with such regularity. There are many, many barns and lesson programs around the country that have programs different from the ones SS describes. We just don't hear from them. Clients, for their part, need to be a little more selective in choosing their trainer and kind of horse experience they want.

All in all, doesn't it seem that this kind of article has been written before with no effect? Why publish another?

Horseymama
Apr. 16, 2009, 08:31 PM
Compare that to today, when even the most novice beginners can show in some baby-pre-novice WT class at the biggest shows in the country. No BNT is going to let one of their clients show up to the ring in DIY braids on a shaggy pony because little Suzie is just learning to clip and braid. They understand that if they *did* allow that... half the show grounds would be whispering, "Did you see that?!! Can you believe it?!?!? Three grand a month and a buck seventy five a day in day care, and they send the kid to the ring looking like it got pulled out of some muddy backyard!!!"

So from the BNT perspective, it is bad business to let customers learn the ropes the way I did so many years ago. Every horse must be turned out like the next Devon winner, and that frequently takes an army of professional grooms who can focus on that task, not the efforts of the kid who has to get going in order to get to soccer practice, or the tired adult ammy who has to get home in time to put dinner on the table for the rest of the family - and who probably has an office job to afford it all, and can't even BE there during the week.

Unfortunately, that means there really isn't much place in those BNT programs for a good ammy or junior who *can* turn a horse out to that kind of standard, unless they can do so as a working student or something along those lines. As mroades noted, it is insanely difficult for a professional to put together a high level program that doesn't include full service, simply based on the economics of the business, even if the clients are (taught to be) capable.


I see what you are saying Lucassb. It is like we are missing a step today, the local level step. I know this will date me, but when I was young the lowest hunter class you could go in at a rated show was the 3'. If you were more of a beginner then you went to schooling shows and rode school horses. And if you were like me, you became a working student and learned all the horsemanship things so that you could move up to work for better and better trainers and eventually afford to someday work and ride with a trainer that did the rated shows. But now you can be a total beginner and buy a fancy 2' horse and go on the road with your BNT. So the problem isn't with the kids of today, it's with the system.

Because before, even if you could afford a fancy horse, you first had to learn how to ride at the local level and do things yourself because the little classes weren't offered anywhere else.

I agree with you, too mvp. Whining about "the kids of today" isn't going to help. It's evident to me now it's not their fault. The system is set up to produce riders, not horseman.

Long Spot
Apr. 16, 2009, 08:57 PM
I can look at it from both sides. I know how to do all of those thing, I am a trainer, I have taken kids as far as Medal Maclay FInals....My kids all know how to do all of those things...and guess what
I am starving to death...because I cant charge them for all of things that they know how to do now...its a double edged sword, no doubt.

You make an excellent point.

All of my clients know how to take excellent care of the horses. From tacking and proper grooming, quite a bit about health care (both emergency and monthly and annual things), how and why their horses are shod the way they are, right up to being involved in decisions about their nutrition. And I'm having trouble paying the bills too. I still wouldn't change the way I do things, I firmly believe in people learning horsemanship, and not just how to find the jumps, but you are right, mroades, it's a double edged sword.

mroades
Apr. 16, 2009, 09:10 PM
oh, and as an aside...my students check the cellphone and the ipod at the door, they can pick them up on their way out...its like taking the needle out of a heroin addicts hand....sigh

OkLurchers
Apr. 16, 2009, 10:24 PM
Yea!! Mroades--way to go! More teachers & trainers need to do that IMHO.

CanadianBlue
Apr. 17, 2009, 10:30 AM
All I have to say is that I wish I could afford to pay the $1300 to board at the BEC. 7 min drive> 40 min drive.
But since I can't see spending that kind of money I will continue driving my 40 min and pay less than 1/4 of that.

mvp
Apr. 17, 2009, 11:51 AM
I was curious about one thing Lucassb said. If I have this right, she/he implied that time spent at home learning the broad details of riding, caring for horses, even training our own to an extent is often a different goal than a big, year-end award.

Lucassb was not issuing an opinion about whether this was good or bad, or even saying that "apples and oranges" kind of difference is true of every program. I think the point was to characterize the difference.

Still, it surprises me. Are the two mutually exclusive? I wouldn't know. I didn't grow up with the point-chasing option, and I know I couldn't pursue it now. It has gotten harder and more expensive. So looking "in" from what must be an outside, I don't understand how BTN and their successful programs produce the show-ring results without some solid riders/horsemen to boot. Really, I could be quite, quite naive. Perhaps it is common to have a "hot" rider who has no clue how her horse was tacked up, but I can't help thinking that the really good riders are somewhat more involved.

True? Not true? If you are down (or up) in these trenches, let me know this all works, day to day.

Thanks!

Nikki^
Apr. 17, 2009, 01:03 PM
.

Still, it surprises me. Are the two mutually exclusive? I wouldn't know. I didn't grow up with the point-chasing option, and I know I couldn't pursue it now. It has gotten harder and more expensive. So looking "in" from what must be an outside, I don't understand how BTN and their successful programs produce the show-ring results without some solid riders/horsemen to boot. Really, I could be quite, quite naive. Perhaps it is common to have a "hot" rider who has no clue how her horse was tacked up, but I can't help thinking that the really good riders are somewhat more involved.

True? Not true? If you are down (or up) in these trenches, let me know this all works, day to day.

Thanks!



There is rider who was Circuit Champion in the Jr's in a AA show this year who was interviewed and she said that she doesn't practice riding, she just horse shows. She didn't know anything about her two horses other then that they were boarded away from home. She just flies in and shows them. She didn't even know the breeds or ages of her horses.

Is this the type of riders we want to be in winning in our sport? For me, no way.

cbiscuit
Apr. 17, 2009, 03:11 PM
Can I ask the Mods to change the subject heading from "article" to "column" or "op-ed?" Some of what's in the Chronicle surely counts as news, and it's unfair to confuse the two. Although it seems as if Horse Showing lends itself to real journalism about as well as sports like Gymnastics or Track, since what's most compelling to a general audience is our massive, festering underbelly and built-in illogicalities...

Also, I kind of love a good old-fashioned crotchety rant like this one.
Why, in my day, we had to walk 15 miles in the snow just to get to where the wraps were kept and spin our own braiding yarn from virgin wool! And we were grateful!

Dun Ciarain
Apr. 17, 2009, 06:52 PM
Starting an article with this:

"Our columnist would like to see young horsemen replace their blaring iPods with solid horsemanship skills.

When times get tough people have different reactions and demonstrate their feelings through how they behave toward others. A lot of the mess the United States is in right now is because we have become a nation of “I and me” instead of “we.”

As I’ve looked around the shows and my everyday life the past few months I’m amazed at the lack of manners I’ve witnessed. Manners just don’t seem to exist anymore, and maybe that’s an outward manifestation of our times. I see a general lack of courtesy between fellow professionals, amateurs, juniors, management, staff and so on."

...means that it is written by a very bitter person who needs to evaluate themselves first, rather then critizing everyone else.

I'm not sure what in the world the author is referring to, but I have never been to a barn where students are listening to iPods during lessons or to a show where riders are listening to iPODs during horse show rounds. If someone is trail riding or just hacking their horse, SO WHAT IF THEY ARE LISTENING TO MUSIC - BIG DEAL. I often listen to specific background music depending on if I am writing legal documents, programming computer code or other things. I have specific music for each type of activity - it's just background - I'm not really even listenting to it. I used to run and listen to music before there were iPODS. Author, do you remember the WalkMan??? Portable music has been around a lot longer than the last few years.

The whole article is the same as comments expressed by certain people in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and through today. WAS IT REALLY BETTER IN THE 80's or can't YOU remember what happened at shows back then???

HOW DID THE KIDS ACT BACK THEN??? TELL ME IT IS MORE CRAZY NOW. It is much more sane now.

This sounds like someone who said they used to go to Studio 54 in the 70's and remembered being there and what happened at the time. :lol:

Horseymama
Apr. 17, 2009, 09:10 PM
There is rider who was Circuit Champion in the Jr's in a AA show this year who was interviewed and she said that she doesn't practice riding, she just horse shows. She didn't know anything about her two horses other then that they were boarded away from home. She just flies in and shows them. She didn't even know the breeds or ages of her horses.

Is this the type of riders we want to be in winning in our sport? For me, no way.

Wow. That's hard for me to fathom. There is so much more to horses than the actual riding I do at horse shows. For me, shows are the goal of all my practice. I have been on the road and gone from show to show to show, but that's after tons of practice at home.

But it's not her fault. The system is set up to allow for people like this to exist and win. I don't think she will go far, however. There is more to riding well than just swinging a leg over. I don't think any of the really long-term successful riders don't know what bits they have in their horses' mouths, what their horse is eating, their ages, needs, etc.

If memory serves me correctly I believe in France to horse show, you have to pass through the levels signified by medals (bronze, silver, gold) and you have to prove yourself riding and on a written test! I want to say (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that some of the questions on the tests were things like knowing a horses resting heart rate, body temp, how to tell when they are dehydrated, different types of bits and what they do, etc. Imagine if here in the U.S. in order to compete at a certain level in an A show riders had to pass a written test like that!

Midge
Apr. 18, 2009, 05:27 PM
There is rider who was Circuit Champion in the Jr's in a AA show this year who was interviewed and she said that she doesn't practice riding, she just horse shows. She didn't know anything about her two horses other then that they were boarded away from home. She just flies in and shows them. She didn't even know the breeds or ages of her horses.

Is this the type of riders we want to be in winning in our sport? For me, no way.


It's a riding competition, not a horsemanship competition.

I read children's novel written in 1935 called Kelpie the Gypsy Pony and in it the Gypsy boy who worked at the estate scorned the son because he had the grooms doing all the work for him and wouldn't be able to saddle his pony if he had to.

Remmah
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:31 PM
Wow. That's hard for me to fathom. There is so much more to horses than the actual riding I do at horse shows. For me, shows are the goal of all my practice. I have been on the road and gone from show to show to show, but that's after tons of practice at home.

But it's not her fault. The system is set up to allow for people like this to exist and win. I don't think she will go far, however. There is more to riding well than just swinging a leg over. I don't think any of the really long-term successful riders don't know what bits they have in their horses' mouths, what their horse is eating, their ages, needs, etc.

If memory serves me correctly I believe in France to horse show, you have to pass through the levels signified by medals (bronze, silver, gold) and you have to prove yourself riding and on a written test! I want to say (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that some of the questions on the tests were things like knowing a horses resting heart rate, body temp, how to tell when they are dehydrated, different types of bits and what they do, etc. Imagine if here in the U.S. in order to compete at a certain level in an A show riders had to pass a written test like that!

What ever happened to questions on horsemanship being part of the tests in the Medals? I haven't seen that in years. I wonder why;)
Anyway, I'd love to see it again.

Linny
Apr. 18, 2009, 08:55 PM
Lucassb makes many great points. Today's "system" of shows encourages novices (of all ages) to show at A shows because that's where the trainers are. BNT's don't have time or energy to spend a "free" weekend at the locals or the C's with novices who clipped and braided their own horses. They don't even want to send their assistants to small shows with less than perfectly turned out horses as it "reflects on them." While I do understand that sentiment (in the many way it's used in discussing trainers and shows) it makes "beginner lessons" like how to clip/braid/prepare for show moot. I rode at a fairly well known barn (at least in the area, if not nationally) as a kid. We learned to braid, wrap etc ourselves. Of course a trainer supervised and made sure that when we showed up at our little locals we looked like we had our acts together but we did for ourselves.

I don't begrudge those who can afford the luxury of a groom. I do think that they are missing out on an important part of the experience of horse ownership. Many of those who board at BNT full service barns DO know how to tend to their horses but don't have the time. If you are showing at the highest levels your horse must be perfectly appointed and full time care is the norm.
That said, I have seen many BNT's lamenting the dearth of horsemanship while their own students horses are required to be in full care. (I have no idea if this is the case with SS, but it is with others.) Most of the kids at the level just below BNT are working hard to learn horsemanship skills. They have trainers that want them to be the next generation of horsemen (pro and ammy) and possibly pass horsemanship on to the next generation. Most of the barns I have ridden at expect kids to learn how to care for their horses. The issue is that kids from those barns (local BNT's etc) rarely get a chance on the national stage because they don't have high six figure Jr hunters and EQ horses. They are too busy wrapping and braiding and trimming the whiskers off their OTTB.

Dinah-do
Apr. 18, 2009, 09:09 PM
Good post Linny. Now that horse shows other than A or AA are becomming a thing of the past I think the above post is totally on the mark.

mvp
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:28 PM
Linny makes a couple of great points.

First, we are going to be SOL in 15 year or so when the next generation of BNTs are the grown-kids that came from full-care program. Actually, GM and others have published "Where has the horsemanship gone" articles for a long time, despite the BNTs' enormous part in creating the problem.

Second, it's interesting to think that the trainers making horsemen and women--kids who can recognize colic, build a gymnastic, choose a bit, tell you where the suspensory ligament(s) is/are-- are not at the biggest/best shows.

Also, I don't think it takes a professional groom to get a horse turned out for rated competition. I'm an ammy, I have been a groom as a kid and college student, and my horse gets to the ring looking just fine. It's not rocket science. It's not even "too much time."

With respect to the time factor, however, I guess things have changed if kids want to play a sport, do volunteer work and, say, the Big Eq. I don't think this was the norm or expectation when I was a sprout.

Marcella
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:38 PM
...

Marcella
Apr. 19, 2009, 10:50 PM
Wow. That's hard for me to fathom. There is so much more to horses than the actual riding I do at horse shows. For me, shows are the goal of all my practice. I have been on the road and gone from show to show to show, but that's after tons of practice at home.

But it's not her fault. The system is set up to allow for people like this to exist and win. I don't think she will go far, however. There is more to riding well than just swinging a leg over. I don't think any of the really long-term successful riders don't know what bits they have in their horses' mouths, what their horse is eating, their ages, needs, etc.

If memory serves me correctly I believe in France to horse show, you have to pass through the levels signified by medals (bronze, silver, gold) and you have to prove yourself riding and on a written test! I want to say (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that some of the questions on the tests were things like knowing a horses resting heart rate, body temp, how to tell when they are dehydrated, different types of bits and what they do, etc. Imagine if here in the U.S. in order to compete at a certain level in an A show riders had to pass a written test like that!

Many of the top riders today (Olympic level) went through Pony Club and could certainly answer those questions! I wonder about the disparity between high level nationally, and then the international riders. I think many of the Grand Prix riders are excellent horseman and women, and not only know about riding, but also the management of the horse to make them a true athlete. On the other hand, the high level juniors and amateurs that are perhaps being referred to in this opinion piece are still at the mercy of their trainer for instruction and direction. Does it really matter if these people don't know horsemanship because they will never be teaching others or running their own stable?

It seems like one of those, "But why do I need to learn calculus if I am not going to be a math major in college? Who the heck cares about this stuff? I just want to do xxx!"

equest
Apr. 27, 2009, 04:11 PM
I don't show and am not that involved with the scene, but in my understanding, riding and showing at the top levels is just not accessible to the kids (and adults for that matter) who once could go work off lessons and board, and then go to shows doing "DIY" to cover expenses.

Even if you do everything yourself and are on partial board, going to an A show is out of reach for these do-it-yourselfers. Just the entry fees and associated fees, stalls, etc alone are too high. I'd love to go to a show and do everything myself (other than braiding, of course :)) but I still can't justify all the expenses.

I feel like, with a few exceptions, the only people who can afford to show are the ones who can afford to pay full care and groom expenses. The shows have gone up so much in price that they just are not accessible to the DIY-ers (see all the other threads on this issue recently).

DancingQueen
May. 3, 2009, 08:35 PM
I'm going to put myself out there and say, yes, I am certainly guilty of enabling some of this behaviour.
I am one in a team of trainers at a very busy barn. All of our students groom and tack their own horses etc. At shows the grooms help out a lot but hardly ever leave the tent. The only reason a groom will bring a horse up to the ring is if the rider is showing in multiple rings and needs the help.

That said,
somebody mentioned a kid in the authors barn just showing up at the ring to step on her pony. Maybe she too had multiple rides and needed that help at that moment. Maybe she had another conflict. Who knows?
I think it's OK to consider our riders athletes from the point they set foot on the showgrounds. If an athlete needs for their team to support them on showday, that's fine with me. Most of them put in some long hours to get to the point they are. I don't know the authors operation well enough to comment but I will venture to guess that this particular kid knows how to take care of her ponies at home? It could very well be that she went back to the tent after a long day of showing and grazed her ponies? I don't know but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on this one.

To my point,
I am also guilty of enabling ignorance on key points. As I mentioned, our barn is pretty busy, sometimes it's just easier and faster (specially when you are in the middle of something else) to say "Don't worry about that cut, I'll take care of it" or "I'll get you checked in and I'll call you when you need to be by your ring" then to take the time to educate the rider.
I know I'm sometimes shooting myself in the foot by doing that, 30 min now would be a good investment for the future but I don't always have that 30 min.

Part of what makes me do that is knowing that most of my students are, even on a higher level, in this for the short run. They will go to college and not ride again until perhaps maybe when their daughter is old enough to take lessons.

I've also found that a few of the kids wants to learn and they show interest, they make sure that they are there when things happen and they get themselves that knowledge.

It's a weigh off for sure. I was lucky enough to grow up in the business so just by being there I learned a lot. Many of the kids we teach are somewhat overscheduled and they don't live and breathe horse the way we do. To them it's a hobby, not their life. Should they not be able to be hobby riders during highschool? A good few of them can't commit the time needed to be fully involved, should they then not ride at all?

I think that there's still plenty of riders interested enough to learn that they will make that knowledge available to themselves.

We have a big lesson program. Over one generation many of them will step up and own a horse. Some will go to shows. A handful will be very competitive but only a few will continue their career after high school. One or two will want to persue a career in the business. Those are the ones who needs the know how on every level and in my experience those are the ones who will make sure they get it.

I think that it would be great if everybody felt the way me and my collegues do about horses but I understand that this is not the case. For many this is a hobby, not a lifestyle. They are perfectly happy handing the reins over to somebody who has enough experience to take care of their horse.
I am not ashamed to be able to provide them this service. Give them a chance to experience the beauty of the sport and the beauty of the companionship they develop with their horse on whatever terms work. They may become patrons of the sport in the future, if even just taking their kids to lessons 15 years down the road.
It's ok in my eyes to be a hobby rider or a competitive hobby rider and let professionals handle the know how and perhaps also the ground work if that is all you have time for. I'll rather see somebody do that then not ride at all.

For comparison,
I love my car, if I was truly commited to it I would learn how to fix it. I'm not so I pay people that know how to do it to take care of her for me. Doesn't make me love my car (or driving her) any less....

In conclusion,
I don't think that there will be a shortage of people in the business who has the right heart and desire to figure it all out the right way. The sport is way to complex and way too humbling not to intrigue enough of the next generation to go at it head on and try to get a handle on it the same way we did!

mvp
May. 3, 2009, 11:39 PM
DancingQueen,

Thanks for the thoughtful post and the insider's view of the situation. I'm glad you provide opportunity for those who want to learn enough to turn pro (or just be a damned good ammy later) and also an opportunity for those who decidely see horses as a short-term hobby.

But I don't agree that the short-termers should be catered to to the extent that their living partner can just be handed off to a groom. Unlike your car (and mine!) whom we hand to mechanics for expert care, horses have feelings. I think its a big (or bigger) problem when we set up a situation that says "When you are busy and want to get something done, you are allowed to cut corners in the way you treat horses..." Extrapolate to people and you can see the issue.

There is an option between riding with full service and not riding at all. It's called riding at a lower level where you take some of your time and put that into caring for your horse rather than riding or competing. I'm sure the intense hobbyists would be dismayed or bored, and big barns would lose money. But I don't think it's doing anyone a real favor to suggest that riding and showing don't include the whole package.

DancingQueen
May. 4, 2009, 01:24 AM
I see your point, and trust me, I would very much like for everybody involved in the sport to really embrace every aspect of it but this is simply not the case and I am not going to judge those who doesn't share my passion.
I am not a pro because I like horse or even because I love them. I'm a pro because I can't live without them.
It would be wrong of me to demand that everybody involved in the industry shared my lifestyle choices.

You say that you don't agree that short termers should be catered to to the point that their horses can just be handed off to a groom. I agree with you on this to a point. You also say that there's an option between riding with full service and riding at a lower level.

We don't offer full service at our barn. We accommodate one junior rider in her final year of high school with tacking up during the week since she has multiple horses on top of her schoolwork. She takes care of her own horses on the weekend. We have in the past had one other rider on full service. He was an adult with a high powered job who simply lacked the time to tack and groom during the week. He too would care for his own horse at lenght on the weekends.

Right now we have a few other active adult riders who work full time and have important positions at their various workplaces. They have opted to focus their barn time on a few days a week when they can give their horse full attention and have their horses pro ridden or just happy in turn out the days they can't come.

They are all already at a lower level. Showing on occation just for fun. Should we tell them that they can't own their own horse because they can't devote 3 hours every day to their horses?

We have one highly competitve adult who works on wallstreet. Should we tell her to quit her job or quit riding?

All of our junior riders also knows how to care for their horses, some of them have very busy schedules that involves tutors as well as other sports. Many of them have siblings who have not decided to spend every waken hour at the barn.
They all started at a low level. Should we tell their parents that they shouldn't buy them a pony or a horse but rather stick to swim meets or soccer because they themselves have decided to have 4 kids and can't always make it to the barn every day?

No, we are not doing anybody any favors. We are providing a service. Some of our boarders consider their horses pets. Most of them consider their horses good friends and team-mates. Their horses are loved for their personality and the relationship that develops between horse and rider but they are also athletes.

If we told all of our students that they could not buy a horse until they could devote at least 3 hours a day 7 days a week to their horse, more then half of them would never know the joy of developing that relationship with a horse. They may not devote their life to the horse world but they may kick back in the form of a kid of their own who takes up riding.

A good few of the riders who start out owning their first pony will half the time in a few years time have talked their parents out of all the other sports. Some of them have enlisted their grandparents in driving duties. On occation we see a brother. A few of the older ones enlist a boyfriend. It doesn't matter how they get here, they come and they take care of and they love their horses as much as they have time for. They all pick their horses feet and forget to sweep up, they give baths without cleaning out the washstall and they graze their horses in the flowerbeds in front of the barn. Some of the junior riders like riding more then caring for the horse a few like taking care of them more then they like riding.

A small number of them end up leaving the sport because they were not into it enough or because their parents would not let them upgrade but their horses are well taken care of nonetheless.
Most of them develop a real passion but can't/are not allowed to keep their horses when they go to college.
One or two goes on to be real horse people. Most of them started with one lesson a week, upgraded to two or three. Half leased for a while and then bought their first pony, upgraded as they grew and got better. Got bitten by the horse bug real bad and plan to go to an Equestrian college.
Those riders make sure they suck every little bit of knowledge out of us and they also get a little extra. We may call on them to assist when the vet comes along because we know that they are interested. They will get to do the extra rides etc.

Most of them started out the same and there's no real way of telling who will be what at the end of their junior career. Some might have the desire but not be allowed, some might have the desire but get side tracked by boys. Some might start out with riding as a third hobby but make it their priority. Some of them will say they want it but not really pull through and some of them will quietly grow into themselves.

Those who are serious will soon realize that talent and desire is not all. The only way to gain respect with peers and staff is to know how to do it all and then if not before will they make sure to learn what they need to know.

Should we not allow anybody who doesn't express the desire to learn it all? We might miss out on a late bloomer. Should we kick those out who discovered that they like this but their passion lies elsewhere?
Where would they go?

The horse world is not for everybody but that doesn't mean that everybody can't enjoy a little bit of it on their own terms.

I for one don't mind sharing that and helping those who wants to just take a small part.

mvp
May. 4, 2009, 10:19 AM
DancingQueen-- the instinct for inclusion is admirable. But as a dedicated pro, you know the busy people who schedule horses into their PDA along with everything else are missing something right?

I guess I don't get the need to tailor (or contort?) horse ownership to accommodate all. It seems to me that there is a limit to how much horsemanship ought to be sacrificed.

I don't see why a minimal standard of horsemanship can't be presented as part of the deal. I grew up riding what I was given, cleaning stalls and have never had a horse handed to me tacked up. I also managed to get into one of the top five universities in the country. Several degrees later, I balance a career and a horse whom I made up myself. I understand that, whatever my schedule, his needs are non-negotiable. I have no problem with that because I was taught that it could not be otherwise.

We all get the same 24 hours in a day. It's a question of learning to use those well, or to do with them what you want. I know this sounds hard-a$$ (as well as unprofitable for trainers!), but if you can't or don't want to include, say, cold hosing your nice packer's legs after a jumping school, then you de facto decided you didn't want to own him.

But please don't tell me that people who want it all without working for it should be accommodated to the extent that they neglect their animals. That's just not worth having.

TheOrangeOne
May. 4, 2009, 02:40 PM
I don't think you're a bad horseman, provided that you ensure that your horse is taken care of to the highest standards that you are able to provide. I don't think my horse cares who does his stall or who cleans tack. I can't come to the barn twice a day to feed him, so I pay for board that includes him being fed. I assume it's the same situation for people who can't come to the barn for 3 hours a day, I don't think the horse is missing out. Actually, how many working adults have time to curry for half and hour and keep tack spotless? Full care might mean the horse receives BETTER care than it would otherwise.

Janet
May. 4, 2009, 04:05 PM
I know this will date me, but when I was young the lowest hunter class you could go in at a rated show was the 3'. Yes- dates you as "young".

When I was a junior, the lowest hunter classes for horses were 3'6", the lowest jumper classes were 4', large ponies jumped 3' and small ponies jumped 2'6" (there were no medium ponies).

Only (for horses) the equitation classes were below 3'6".

Janet
May. 4, 2009, 04:18 PM
Should we tell them that they can't own their own horse because they can't devote 3 hours every day to their horses?
That is certainly what our parents told US when we were kids. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

DancingQueen
May. 5, 2009, 10:57 PM
#mvp

As (I think) I said, I do agree with you in that in our world assuming responsibility for an animal means being fully commited to that animal. Buying a fixer upper house instead of a turn key condo just so that my adopted cat will be able to roam free for example is something that I've decided to do because I myself am of that mindset.

However, what I'm trying to say is that I don't think that excluding those who are not (yet) of that mindset is conducive to what we do.

We have started kids in our lesson program (a couple comes to mind) who were juggling their riding lessons with a number of other sports. They developed an infatuation with horses and talked their parents into buying them a small pony that they had a half leaser on. They outgrew that pony and got a nicer large that they were the sole owner of. They slowly got rid of the other sports and got a horse that they took to some smaller shows. In cahootz with grandparents they finally got their hands on a nice younger horse that they with help trained and got to experience bigger show on. They now wants for nothing more then to go to an equine college, learn all there is to know and become pros themselves at some point.

If we had told their parents way back when that they had to commit 3 hours a day 7 days a week to that pony they would never have gotten their child a pony in the first place! No less spending 10 hours at a horse show in freezing rain.
I doubt that we would be missing out on a new Olympic champion, but who knows. Either way this sport is not built by olympic champions, it is built by people who dreams of stardom but more so of people who lives for the understanding of the horse.
This child could become the next big thing but more likely in their turn inspire somebody else to love horses.

Many of the kids we teach will never adopt a true passion for it but there's no real way of knowing who will take to it like a house on fire and who will just like doing it so how do we differentiate? Where I'm at we don't. We embrace those who've come to live it and we cater to those who just love it or just like it.

In any case, those who love or like are boarding their horses with us and we will do the best we can to see that they are taken care of properly.
Those who love will come out every day to see to their sick horse, those who like will not.

As far as the adult beginners go, that's a different story altogether. There's no real incentive towards the future of the sport at all there. But, an adult who takes riding up on their own terms could perhaps mention how much fun it is to a friend, who in turn brings their children for lessons etc. Either way, I will not deny them their fun. Even if they will never "amount to anything" who says we all have to be olympians at what we do?

Every single one of our riders will hand walk and cold hose if they need to, they might not be able to do it every day. They will not sleep in the barn in order to keep an eye on a colic horse or to change infusion bags (no, that's one thing they would not be allowed to do even if they wanted to because there's people living there who also need their alone time) but that's ok, because they have made sure that somebody else is.
Outside of slleping in the barn we don't discourage anybody in our program to learn and partake but we also don't require it.

Bottom line is that kids doesn't grow up with animals the way they did and in this time of computer games etc I don't think that we can afford to be too picky with who we introduce to the horse world.

I've said it before on "riding with a different trainer" topics. I don't mind if my kids ride somewhere else as long as they ride and love horses I am happy.
I guess a variation of sorts could be applied to this topic, I don't care what the circumstances are, as long as people ride and love horses I am happy.

I grew up on a farm, I got my bedtime stories interrupted by birthings of various species, me and my sisters helped bringing hay in as early as I can remember, we sat up with colics, we witnessed slaughters we carried water when the pipes froze etc. We lived and learned.

No, boarding and relying on full service is not the best way to do it but I'd rather see it done this way then not done at all.
I think that if we exclude everybody who can't commit themselves fully we limit ourselves in a way that the sport can't afford in these times.

#janet
yes they did and rightfully so, but times have changed. At least where I grew up there was still a generation alive who grew up with horses as a part of their everyday life, for good and bad. They had a sometimes more insightful and experienced point to make as far as training a horse, but sometimes they were too pragmatic in their "means to an end" viewpoint and their methods to get there. Sometimes oldstyle knowhow and turn of the century experience in handling offers a lot, sometimes it's slightly outdated.

In any case, most of the riders I start out doesn't have a background in horses at all. We are spoiled in a way growing up poor and dirty but happy and with acess to everything we needed to know within a conversation away.
(I know I'm pretty young still but I grew up like that, no internet, we got our first tv when I was 7 and it was black and white, part of our chores as early as I can remember was bottle feeding the runts of whatever species).

I wish everybody could grow up the way I did but the kids of today have different luxuries and they don't include the experiences we had.

I grew up on a farm and I'm not in heart the biggest fan of the american system of keeping horses (boarding with a barn rather then having your own place, figuring it out and shipping out for lessons if needed) but I stand firm in my believe that any and every way we can make it possible for people to own a horse and perhaps fall in love with the lifestyle is a good one.

Again, many of the kids at our barn would gladly spend 3 hours or more there some of them do but others are limited outside of their own control and we will not shut them out.

It's a complex issue and as I stated in my first post I am not entirely without fault when it comes to just taking over and doing myself rather then spending the extra time teaching a skill.
This is something that I am aware of and I will be trying to correct for the future.

However, I will not turn anybody down who looks to be involved in the horseworld no matter at what level just because they cannot be as involved as I would like for them to be.

Lucassb
May. 6, 2009, 03:22 PM
I don't think you're a bad horseman, provided that you ensure that your horse is taken care of to the highest standards that you are able to provide. I don't think my horse cares who does his stall or who cleans tack. I can't come to the barn twice a day to feed him, so I pay for board that includes him being fed. I assume it's the same situation for people who can't come to the barn for 3 hours a day, I don't think the horse is missing out. Actually, how many working adults have time to curry for half and hour and keep tack spotless? Full care might mean the horse receives BETTER care than it would otherwise.

EXACTLY!!!

I currently have the luxury of being able to spend a couple hours a day with my horse most days. He gets that serious curry comb and rub rag treatment and his coat looks like a million bucks, but since I can only come after work... I am not there to feed him or to muck out his stall, so I pay to have that service provided, as well as to have him blanketed, turned out, and held for the vet/farrier as required.

He is not on full service, although I've done that in the past when the demands of my job required it. It wasn't optional for me at those times, frankly, since around here boarding at a well run place with decent footing, adequate turnout and competent help more or less requires a six figure income to afford it all - but I would NEVER look down on someone who chose differently. To suggest that there is some kind of appropriate minimum investment of time required (THREE HOURS DAILY?) to qualify for horse ownership is absurd. As Grace notes above, what matters is that the horse is properly cared for.

There are plenty of customers at my barn who are on full service because they feel that they don't know as much as the professionals (yet) and they want to ensure their horse has the best care possible. There are others who have full service entirely out of convenience, whether because it is someone who simply doesn't have the time to spare or because they've chosen to spend that time pursuing some other activity or interest. In either case, the horses are all happy and well cared for. Suggesting that those people should not have the opportunity to own and ride their horses is more than a little outrageous, IMO. Without clients like that, my trainer would probably be out of business and ALL of her students would lose out. She is terrific about teaching her clients as much as they'd like to learn and will gladly show someone how to wrap a leg or devise a feeding program... but it isn't mandatory, which is as it should be for someone operating in the real world.

Pickapace
May. 6, 2009, 05:28 PM
My daughter has been searching for a trainer that will let her work, and learn as much as possible about caring for horses, as she plans on being a pro - but nobody wants to take to time! She isn't even asking for pay or trade! This is a good kid, serious rider that the trainers are happy to use for hacking, and can offer 5 hours a day Well, she got into the EAP, hopefully that will be a start