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View Full Version : Poor Trainers = Poor Performance at Show



oldenmare
Oct. 18, 2009, 09:50 PM
Please note that I am not posting this as a vent or rant - but in the hopes that it will raise awareness with parents of horsey children.... and am hoping others will post their experiences as well.

Okay - so, I manage a number of schooling shows throughout the area, for different organizations. I also manage rated shows - but my observations here are based primarily on what I have seen at schooling shows - and this is from just this fall. And I'm talking about a majority of the children's trainer's I've seen at these competitions - not just one or two here and there.

1. Trainers sending in incomplete entries. Yep - I can tell which are going to be the poor performing riders based on the fact that the trainer can't even pull complete entries together. Ummm - not that hard to submit a signed waiver, entry and coggins (usually coggins are the item not included) - even for multiple riders (so far, no more than 4 riders per trainer). Yes - there has been a direct correlation between this and the poorly scoring riders - at every show.

2. Trainers who observe no rules of the ring in the warm-up. A simple left-to-left as a rule of thumb - especially after the show manager has given you a verbal warning - should be elemental knowledge for all trainers. Riders careening about as trainers shout directions - hazardous to all.

3. Trainers coaching kids over the fences with no regard to "red on right" posted on jumps. Yes - show manager has to again give you a verbal warning (because you ignored jump ring steward's warning). All of the kids in question were almost hazardous in their competition jumping (racing at fences, careening around corners)- and most were eliminated (refusals).

4. Trainers who don't understand that just because a kid had a clean jump round doesn't mean that kid should win class. Ummm - its a combined test - so even though kid A may have had a clean round, she also had a significantly worse dressage score, so while kid B may have had a fault, kid B's dressage score was sooo much better (not excellent, btw, just better) that the jump faults did not place her behind kid A. The trainers *should* understand how the scoring system works (and I have to say that when I have to repeatedly explain it to you, *I'm* not the one that looks foolish.... despite your rolling eyes).

SERIOUSLY - if the children are the future of this sport, then we need to be cognizant of the trainers working with them - and parents need to be aware that if the trainer they are working with fits into two or more of the above categories, and/or if their child is consistently getting poor scores, then its quite probably time to stop and reevaluate training methods.

Just the safety issues alone concern me. When I (as manager) have to go intervene on a regular basis because the coaches won't use basic common sense (much less courtesy) - then there is a problem. When the dressage and jump judges are making comments to me about the behaviors they've witnessed - there are problems.

Its disheartening to watch these children try and just not really have a clue why things aren't coming together for them. I'm just glad that so far, we've had no serious injuries.

Meredith Clark
Oct. 18, 2009, 10:16 PM
1. Trainers sending in incomplete entries. Yep - I can tell which are going to be the poor performing riders based on the fact that the trainer can't even pull complete entries together. Ummm - not that hard to submit a signed waiver, entry and coggins (usually coggins are the item not included) - even for multiple riders (so far, no more than 4 riders per trainer). Yes - there has been a direct correlation between this and the poorly scoring riders - at every show.

.

This is sort of weird to me... why does a person who is able to show not able to complete and send in their own entry?

My parents always had the sort of rule that unless I was able to handle all the aspect of showing I wasn't allowed to show. I had to be able to braid my horse, clean my stall, make sure I had everything in my the closing date (or that I had signed up for the right divisions if it was a hunter show).

They were the sort of parents that never let me do leadline I had to "just keep taking lessons until I could steer on my own" :lol: Don't get me wrong, they helped. The were always there to hold my horse if I had to use the porta potty or wipe a boot !

My trainer had the same views, if it was a hunter show she'd highlight the classes we could do and then let us us go from there.

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 18, 2009, 10:29 PM
Agree with Meredith, but this kind of mentality is much more common among those from (ahem) a different discipline--might these trainers in question indeed be from this very discipline?

And yes, it's pretty inescusable (and clearly there is a link there, as you say.) Some folks are rather obtuse when it comes to self-analysis and the ability to understand "cause and effect." And the need for patient, proper preparation, and how important it is to know the rules...Etc. etc.

tle
Oct. 19, 2009, 09:01 AM
I'm not disagreeing with you but in my own case (as an adult just out of college), looking back I find it absolutely flabbergasting to realize how much I didn't know I didn't know!! I thought the trainer I was with knew her stuff. She talked a REALLY good game! It was only after several years (we moved up through Training level even!!) that my eyes began to open. I came back from a clinic and started talking about how the clinician wanted me to do this or that and I had never done that and her reply was "yes you have". It started me questioning her and that continued through the summer.

Anyway... I am getting a little off track. My point is that especially when it comes to parents who have no horse sense, no desire to have horse sense and only want to see their prince(cess) happy, how are they to truly understand that even though their little one is riding and is happy (and hasn't had a bad accident yet), the trainer they're with is only talking a good game and truly couldn't ride or teach their way out of a wet paper bag??

KateWooten
Oct. 19, 2009, 09:16 AM
well, what they do in England, is they have a system of training for instructors, then you know what level of instructor you're paying for. I don't prefer that arrangement, for many reasons, but it does have a big advantage for non-horsey parents, that they have at least some fixed scale to compare their trainer against.

tle
Oct. 19, 2009, 09:36 AM
Yeah, I've heard a lot of people talk about instituting a system. USEA has it. Other places have it. In my case, the "trainer" had "gone to college" for horses... and she was still crappy. ;)

Arcadien
Oct. 19, 2009, 09:54 AM
I've been advising newbies to look for a trainer who at least has a solid record competing Prelim a season or two minimum. Still not a guarantee, but we know then at least they should have a handle on the rules and on what riders are getting into.

A local barn is excited about their new young trainer who claims to have competed Training level eventing. A few things I heard raised my eyebrows (schooling a clearly lame horse over jumps, teaching a weak legged rider to sit into jumps and bury her hands in the pommel, hitting the horse over every jump) prompted me to look her up.

No record of competing at all, recognized. Asked my friend if she perhaps competed under a maiden name? No one has gotten back to me on that, but I think I know they answer. They had no idea this stuff was now public. They are still in doubt though, wowed by her brave cowboy antics on their crazy horses so far. But these poor students will find out the truth if they actually try to compete in an event, beyond unrecognized "Elementary" (they all just did that, and not well, but blamed the horses and the weather, sigh).

So anyway, for anyone who cares, I think that my baseline is a sanity check - if you want to event, ride with someone who has a proven record they can get around a Prelim course at least, safely & competitively!

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 19, 2009, 10:00 AM
I've been advising newbies to look for a trainer who at least has a solid record competing Prelim a season or two minimum. Still not a guarantee, but we know then at least they should have a handle on the rules and on what riders are getting into.

A local barn is excited about their new young trainer who claims to have competed Training level eventing. A few things I heard raised my eyebrows (schooling a clearly lame horse over jumps, teaching a weak legged rider to sit into jumps and bury her hands in the pommel, hitting the horse over every jump) prompted me to look her up.

No record of competing at all, recognized. Asked my friend if she perhaps competed under a maiden name? No one has gotten back to me on that, but I think I know they answer. They had no idea this stuff was now public. They are still in doubt though, wowed by her brave cowboy antics on their crazy horses so far. But these poor students will find out the truth if they actually try to compete in an event, beyond unrecognized "Elementary" (they all just did that, and not well, but blamed the horses and the weather, sigh).

So anyway, for anyone who cares, I think that my baseline is a sanity check - if you want to event, ride with someone who has a proven record they can get around a Prelim course at least, safely & competitively!

Good point Arcadien, and :eek: :rolleyes: re: this story...*sigh*

The fact that that irresponsible folks like this are making money "preying on the ignorant" is truly disheartening...

Brandy76
Oct. 19, 2009, 10:20 AM
I agree, growing up, I was allowed to show if I was able to get it all done, entry, braid, etc. It never even was an issue. My father was by no means militant, but entry, prep, homework, BEHAVIOUR, it was all part of the package. Yikes, my Dad even taguht me to say "good morning" to the dressage judge when I walked around the outside before the test!
I can't fathom having the trainer fill out the entries - but that's just me

lcw579
Oct. 19, 2009, 10:38 AM
Yeah, I've heard a lot of people talk about instituting a system. USEA has it. Other places have it. In my case, the "trainer" had "gone to college" for horses... and she was still crappy. ;)

This reminds me of the man I rode for as a kid. His favorite hobby was to put such "graduates" on the worst horse in the barn when they showed up looking for work. Watch them crash and burn and then gleefully call over one of us kids so we could show the poor hapless soul how it "was really done" - such fun. ;)

As for trainers filling out the entries - I think the reasoning was that if they went in as a group then the times would be assigned closer together making it easier to get everyone schooled. I usually sent ours in myself, but I think I was one of the few.

tle
Oct. 19, 2009, 10:40 AM
The fact that that irresponsible folks like this are making money "preying on the ignorant" is truly disheartening...

So here's a question.... If we are worried about people preying on the ignorant, yet are concerned with personal responsibility... is it better to put a system in place to protect the innocent or is it better to have education out there for the ignorant? I'm on the fence to be honest as I can see the benefits and drawbacks to both.

For the trainer system -- obvious benefits are that anyone can simply look up a record like a grade card and decide. It becomes more or less idiot proof. But it also mandates expenses on the trainer (I know some GREAT trainers who don't have the $$ to put into "additional" training - note this is not to say that they don't keep up their information and techniques in other ways). It also puts into place a governance system and sorry but I've about had it with over the top governing. Plus who would maintain it (the records and the training offerings?) BTW, no system is ever 100% idiot proof (god WILL always make a better idiot).

For education -- it "wakes up" the ignorant which is never a bad thing IMHO. It employs a system of personal responsibility, which I am ALL FOR!! Of course in this day and age, true personal responsibility is SO HARD to come by.

I get that there's a desire to help people and not endanger them needlessly... but where is the line between personal responsibility and protecting them from themselves whether they want it or not?

Beam Me Up
Oct. 19, 2009, 11:57 AM
A long time ago I used to have a really bad trainer, and it pains me to think how far down the wrong path I got before realizing this. Precisely because I didn't know better.

That said, I think the issue is many more shades of grey than greedy trainers taking advantage of the ignorant. In most cases said bad trainers ARE the ignorant too--they truly believe they are qualified and providing a good foundation.

There are probably a lot of decent trainers out there who do not have extensive/recent high level competition experience that are helping people new to the sport be safe and develop their riding. But it's hard to distinguish those from the less good trainers that are also not out competing.

I have also worked with people that had numerous successful students and were very well regarded event trainers that for whatever reason didn't really work well with my horse or whose business model wasn't right for my needs. They weren't bad trainers, just not for me.

I do hate to see people being steered wrong, especially those who don't know they are, precisely because they need better training, but I don't know if there really is a black and white system to identifying said trainers.

VCT
Oct. 19, 2009, 12:06 PM
The situation with the trainer/student relationship is so complicated.... there are so many dynamics involved. I was pretty successful in my younger days in MA but I guess I just don't have the fortitude to smile in the face of idiocy anymore. I'm tired.

I used to teach beginners up through getting people out to local shows at 2'6" hunter or baby jumpers and can teach basic dressage. Then I'm more than happy to tell people it's time to move on if you want to keep moving up. I have a focus on horsemanship and solid basics. Getting a good leg, good hands, good eyes, becoming a good horseperson. Getting out on the trail, doing Hunter Paces, etc. Get a bit well-rounded and then decide what direction you want to go. I'll be more than happy for you to go there. In fact there are more advanced instructors in the area who WILL come out to my barn to teach!

I folded up the lesson program this summer. People who have never been on or around a horse upset because I have NOT competed a lot or at high levels. People who don't like the lazy but extremely safe large pony their kid is on because "it's too much work"... people who testily inform me that they aren't coming back because I didn't let them jump in their first lesson with me which was the first time they were on a horse in 3 years. Yes, yes, go ahead to the local barn whose riders make everyone cringe at shows, I'm so glad they let you jump 2'6" your second time on a horse in 3 years. Good for you. Wear a helmet. People who leave because I won't take them out on a trail when they can't ride their own horse reliably in the arena at a trot, without having a emotional meltdown and crying that they feel like their going to fall off. Oh, how horrible of me to think you need to spend more time in the ring first. :rolleyes:

Point is, there are good people out there for beginners and novices. But it seems people either have the means to start off as a beginner with a (rightly-so) more expensive instructor who has higher qualifications OR they aren't looking to do things the "right way" and want someone who is going to supply them with what seems, in the short term, like instant gratification. The good beginner instructors and I'm betting the good LL eventing instructors get burned and burned out by this.

I know I'm happier since I refocused our farm on boarding retirees. Anyways, I think it's better to put a system of qualification out there. You'll be protecting the ignorant beginners and also by requiring qualifications to teach you'll be protecting the resource of good instructors by eliminating or reducing the "quick-n-easy-instant-gratification" types who take business by promising things that can't be fulfilled, and who also harm the industry as a whole by being bad examples.

lstevenson
Oct. 19, 2009, 12:11 PM
So here's a question.... If we are worried about people preying on the ignorant, yet are concerned with personal responsibility... is it better to put a system in place to protect the innocent or is it better to have education out there for the ignorant? I'm on the fence to be honest as I can see the benefits and drawbacks to both.


Definitely education for the ignorant. For a long time I have thought that the USEA should have a pamphlet or something in publication readily available, that described exactly what to look for (and what to run away from!) with regards to potential instructors.

They have instead gone the route of certification, which IMO is not nearly as effective as they think it is. As many uncertified instructors are fabulous, and many certified instructors are not good, and are doing things that the hypothetical pamphlet would warn potential students away from.

smokescreen
Oct. 19, 2009, 03:30 PM
Several years ago (about 10) I was a pro. There was another trainer at a barn I had moved my clients to. She was terrible, and down right dangerous. After about a year of teaching at the same barn one of my parents asked me "why can't her clients see the difference?" My students got better, moved up the levels, and were consistently in the ribbons. Her students never got better, even when they bought experienced horses, and never got a ribbon. I moved my students to better trainers when they got to training level, she held on to her students for dear life. I was showing my horse and some clients horses. She never even got on a clients horse, yet talked all the time about past shows she won. I have become an amateur and moved to another state but I still see crappy trainers at the shows.


It boils down to... if you aren't having fun and winning ribbons it is time to find a new trainer.

SevenDogs
Oct. 19, 2009, 03:38 PM
I think it is a mistake to equate "winning ribbons" with whether or not you have a good trainer. Yes, sometimes doing well at shows signifies good training but not always. Eventing is not an instantaneous sport -- it is a development sport. Yes, you should be making progress but ribbons are not a perfect indicator of that progress.

I see lower level riders winning all the time with scary techniques learned from scary trainers.

rabicon
Oct. 19, 2009, 03:40 PM
I have another one I've seen. A child that went in and did the wrong test. Trainer didn't even know what test the kid was suppose to ride and left it up to non horsie mom to look the test up on line. Kid should have been doing beg. novice b test but trainer told her intro b and I even offered to call the test for her and told trainer that she'd suppose to do beg nov B test and she just looked at me and ignored me and kid got eliminated :no: Bad thing is this trainer rides also and competes in training and 1 level dressage at schooling and rated shows.

ss3777
Oct. 19, 2009, 03:48 PM
I am surprised no one has mentioned ICP. Such a great resource!!!!

http://useventing.com/education.php?section=instructors

mellsmom
Oct. 19, 2009, 03:57 PM
that some LL coaches have a good foundation but have never had the horse or money to compete at the upper levels. Some of us work with terrified adult riders... so look at the variety of our students. Also see that we don't try to teach above our ability level. Our students are mounted on what they can afford.... they work hard and try to improve. Some of the students will be on nicer horses or will do really well and others will plug at the bottom of the pack for a long time before they show true mastery of the level.
I too am appalled at the number of coaches and trainers that don't bother to know the rules. I alwasy have a copy of the rule book with me at the schooling shows to look up and show people. We also came up with a flier to post at the shows last winter with a basic synopsis of the can and can do's for our show hunter and 4-H crossovers.

Arcadien
Oct. 19, 2009, 06:54 PM
that some LL coaches have a good foundation but have never had the horse or money to compete at the upper levels. Some of us work with terrified adult riders... so look at the variety of our students. Also see that we don't try to teach above our ability level. Our students are mounted on what they can afford.... they work hard and try to improve.

Back to say, my recommendation that a trainer should have a proven record at Prelim or higher was only meant to apply to those students who clearly want to event. Assuming (perhaps dumbly) that these are students who have a basic walk trot canter, control of steering down.

The folks who teach that (the latter) correctly and safely are invaluable and should be paid so & worshipped & will definitely go to heaven (GRIN). To be clear, not saying everyone who "teaches" should have the experience & record of Prelim and above.

My point is that a coach who says, "yes I will teach you to event and coach you at events" should have that experience & record.

Heck I teach myself and I don't qualify under my own standards (I did compete Prelim but not by any means successfully!) I teach lower level H/J riders some basic dressage & safe jumping techniques. Nothing wrong with that IMHO.

But before I took on someone who aspires to event and wants me to take them there, I expect myself to fulfill my own standards before I'd agree.

I don't know what the answer in general is, either. It seems there is always one bad story about the certification process, or long revered trainers who just can't afford it or be bothered with it. I think it's a great thing and should be persevered with, but for now - I feel safer telling wannabe eventers to look up their supposed new trainer on useventing.com The information is there, it seems irrational not to take advantage of it. For example, if you were planning to be coached be someone then found out they got eliminated every other event they entered at Beg. Novice, wouldn't you decide to look elsewhere?

Best defense in the states at least is to be aware, do your research, and ask questions - don't just drink the kool aid, not if you want to participate in a high risk (ask my insurance company, groan) sport like eventing.

lstevenson
Oct. 19, 2009, 09:47 PM
Several years ago (about 10) I was a pro. There was another trainer at a barn I had moved my clients to. She was terrible, and down right dangerous. After about a year of teaching at the same barn one of my parents asked me "why can't her clients see the difference?" My students got better, moved up the levels, and were consistently in the ribbons. Her students never got better, even when they bought experienced horses, and never got a ribbon.


I am always amazed at the many riders who don't seem to realize that they are with the wrong trainer if they are not constantly improving and learning. I have come to the conclusion that they blame themselves. Thinking "I'm not getting better because I have no talent", instead of "maybe this trainer doesn't have the experience to help me".

tle
Oct. 19, 2009, 10:05 PM
In my case, I was getting better... just in REALLY small doses. Or at least what I was told was better. We'd do ok at the local shows, we were doing more at home (not correctly in hindsight but still). I honestly didn't know any better and my "trainer" talked a good game. Honestly, I think if it hadn't been for my nature (always wanting to know more -- hell *I* was the one who read the rulebook not her), I probably still wouldn't know any better (and/or I would have gotten seriously hurt).

lstevenson
Oct. 19, 2009, 10:15 PM
In my case, I was getting better... just in REALLY small doses. Or at least what I was told was better.



Ah yes......this is the other part of the problem. The instructors who are always telling riders that they are improving and doing GREAT! When they are not.

Blugal
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:42 AM
Ah yes......this is the other part of the problem. The instructors who are always telling riders that they are improving and doing GREAT! When they are not.

And then... those instructors becoming the "faculty" of certification programs. They don't know how to teach and they are judging others and certifying them as teachers. :o

Ltc4h
Oct. 20, 2009, 10:21 AM
There are as many "Trainers" as there are barns in my area.
A few things I've seen;
The Trainer can't ride past 3' so will never teach or encourage a student to go higher than 2'6, that person becomes a Trainer students taught to 2'3, and so on.
There are alot of riders who are EXTREMELY happy to be told how wonderful they are, and will leave a very good Instructor to ride with someone who doesn't/can't teach just for an ego boost.
There are numerous barns, that provide these lower level localized shows, just for these not so good riders, who do win ribbons, thus validating that they are in fact good.
These barns rely on all the extra amenties, heated rooms, free this and that, pretty flower beds, to distract from the simple fact that they are unqualified.
They keep their students in the dark, as posted here before, they don't encourage and most of the time discourage outside clinicians, trainers or multiple other outside influences.
Unfortunately it is a downward spiral.
Years ago if you wanted to Event you needed to be capable of Novice or stay home and train.
Now, not only do we have multiple opportunities to ride unrecognized at whatever cute name they decide to call it, the recognized was also forced to dumb it down, creating BN to accomidate the shear #'s that were not capable of even starting at the bottom.
Before I get jumped on, I do think that having the very low levels are needed in certain situations, whether for horse or rider or both, to be able to get out there and be safe. And fully understand that alot of Adult amatuers do compete for the sheer enjoyment and social interaction of it. So, I'm not looking to bo ho any of those.
But, It is the responsibility of the Trainers to step up.
How this is going to happen, wish I had a clue.
Just my 2 cents.

asterix
Oct. 20, 2009, 10:28 AM
But what the OP is specifically talking about, as far as I can tell, is not so much trainers who sort of "svengali" their students into thinking they are better than they are (either the trainers OR the students, heh), but trainers who arrive at unrec. shows completely unprepared.

We have experience with this as we run unrec events as well as the rec events at the barn I board at.

I can tell you that we have at least one big eventing-focussed lesson barn that comes to these shows with impeccably prepared kids, involved parents, appropriate coaching and horses, and, yep, always comes away with lots of happy kids and a good assortment of ribbons.

It's completely possible to do this right.

What we also see, however, are trainers who do not seem to be very familiar with eventing. I have my thoughts about what they do in "real" life but it's speculation, so I will leave it at that. I see them most often in SJ warmup as this is where I usually work. No idea about red on right, left to left, the idea that the schedule and the event volunteers (to whom, by the way, one should be polite, imagine that!) determine the order of go, not the trainers.
The kids often have no idea what they are in for. Sometimes it turns out they have not walked the xc course. Not sure what the plan was supposed to be there.

It's depressing to see, but the bottom line is that these trainers are NOT eventer trainers. I wish they had taken the time to learn the ropes before dragging their kids over (half of whom get eliminated on xc since many have not schooled xc before, or ever ridden their pony alone in a big field...), but they don't.

lstevenson
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:10 PM
There are alot of riders who are EXTREMELY happy to be told how wonderful they are, and will leave a very good Instructor to ride with someone who doesn't/can't teach just for an ego boost.



This is SO true, and it boggles my mind. Do these people really want to learn to ride properly or not??

tle
Oct. 20, 2009, 12:45 PM
This is SO true, and it boggles my mind. Do these people really want to learn to ride properly or not??

But I think there's the point. How do they KNOW they aren't riding "properly" if they have a trainer they trust who is telling them they're doing well and they aren't falling on their heads? How does one know what is right without someone there to tell them? How do they know that what they are doing is wrong if no one tells them?

lionstigersbears
Oct. 20, 2009, 01:06 PM
But I think there's the point. How do they KNOW they aren't riding "properly" if they have a trainer they trust who is telling them they're doing well and they aren't falling on their heads? How does one know what is right without someone there to tell them? How do they know that what they are doing is wrong if no one tells them?

This ^^ ... I spent the first 3 years of my riding career (I started at 8, am from a non horsey family so no one around me had any idea) at a barn that was horrible instruction wise. Every month there was some new technique we were trying (Alexander Technique, natural horsemanship, hooking on, joining up, clicker training, scratch your horse's neck instead of patting it because it reminds them of being groomed by their mum and they appreciate that more - which, is fine, it's fine to try new methods of training, but we never stuck with anything and it was just a bunch of different pieces that never added up to make a picture of training)... I 'learned' how to jump 3 ft courses there, but no one ever taught me how to sit the trot. I didn't even do too poorly at shows. I finally left because EVERY TIME I got on a horse there I was either bolted with, bucked with, reared with or fell off and I was terrified to ride. It never occurred to me that this was a bad environment to be in (I thought it was my fault)... until I took a month off and started riding at a new place that was amazing. I just didn't know. I mean, looking back, I learned how to stick on through almost anything, but at the cost of my nerve and confidence, so... I don't know. I don't know what the solution is, and I also know that there were (are?) loads of kids at the first barn I rode at that LOVED it... the barn owner/trainer's daughter ended up being a huge junior competitor and I think competes in Grand Prix jumper shows now. To me (now), the lesson program was a joke, but I think a lot of it is finding someone that works well for you... and knowing when they stop working for you or you stop progressing and not being afraid to move on, matter how much you *like* your current trainer.

As far as the original post, ie, seeing correlations between sending incomplete entries/bad warm up schooling/not good at prep trainers and riders doing poorly at shows... I think that is pretty clear cut. If you can't organize yourself enough to send in complete show entries, how organized must your life/barn/teaching be? If you don't care enough to check what class your student is in/what test they are riding, how much could you possibly care about teaching that student to do as well as possible? It is frustrating that people don't *get it*, but maybe, like 8-11 year old me, they just don't know any better

lstevenson
Oct. 20, 2009, 01:11 PM
But I think there's the point. How do they KNOW they aren't riding "properly" if they have a trainer they trust who is telling them they're doing well and they aren't falling on their heads? How does one know what is right without someone there to tell them? How do they know that what they are doing is wrong if no one tells them?


I would think on some level they must know. When you are just starting something and you are "great!" right away, that's your first clue. Learning to ride correctly is hard work! They should also be able to correlate what they are hearing from their instructor with what they read in books or what they see when watching top riders ride.

Nearly 30 years ago, my first dressage/eventing trainer was a fraud. She was very good at spewing the BS, but had no real knowledge of either discipline. She was also one of those cheerleader type instructors, where everyone was in a great mood after their lessons, but they never improved even after many years of regular lessons. I had no knowledge at the time either, but I was an avid reader and would watch top riders every chance I got. It didn't take long for me to realize that almost everything she was saying was wrong. And I really wanted to do it right! So I was proactive, and found someone who really knew what they were doing to teach me.


And this is where a publication of some sort from the USEA would come in handy. If students had a list of skills that they should be working on, a list of correct philosophies, and a list of red flags available to them, that might help immensely. Simply directing them to the ICP is NOT that helpful.

VCT
Oct. 20, 2009, 01:40 PM
I would think on some level they must know. When you are just starting something and you are "great!" right away, that's your first clue. Learning to ride correctly is hard work! They should also be able to correlate what they are hearing from their instructor with what they read in books or what they see when watching top riders ride.



Unbelievably though, many people do not think riding is that hard before the start to learn to ride. Some people still don't get it and think they are good if they stay on and can WTC no matter how horrendously. They DONT GET IT. They have no clue that there are finer nuances to be learned or for example, that it's not really great to catch a foot of air time between their behinds and the saddle with every canter stride. They are clueless.

And, I know from experience, no matter how much I encourage students to read and observe more advanced riders, nevermind top riders... there are few who are driven enough to actually do so. I've recommended books, given examples of students/boarders who are advanced (in general terms) and worth watching. Invited them to come to shows and/or volunteer, etc. Some people will just never take that extra step, even some people who OWN horses. They will just rely on their instructor/barn manager, etc.

tle
Oct. 20, 2009, 02:20 PM
I will admit. I didn't get it. Not that I didn't want to progress (I read plenty of books, watched a lot of riders)... but I honestly didn't see how bad the instruction I was getting was until the end. I was with this particular "trainer" for almost 4 years... went from more or less being able to stay on for trail rides and such, to learning to jump and moved up to Training level under her. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but she talked a good game. Hell, I was even doing clinics and somehow when I came back she would spin everything I heard into how it would work and we "worked" on those things... and I was still clueless. I do think it partly had to do with us being good friends... I WANTED to believe her. Guess I'm a trusting fool. It was only towards the end of our relationship that I really started to see. When I came back froma clinic and told her that I had never used my legs that much and her reply was "oh yes you have". When she finished the lesson before mine talking about how she didn't teach for a show season but for a lifetime and then we worked on flying lead changes (trust me it was a BAD thing to do at that point)... and when I asked her about it a couple months later she told me that she "had to keep me interested somehow!" when I walked through other barns and and shows and saw how others kept their horses... and themselves.... vs how she was. I could go on but I'll spare you my walk down that horrid memory lane.

Anyway... sometimes maybe it really is that even as awful as they may be, they still provide a link to the horse world that people crave, especially horse crazy ones like I was. Maybe they are a type of predator in that they feed on that.

Then again, maybe they're just as clueless and just want to keep the lessons going.

ACMEeventing
Oct. 20, 2009, 07:35 PM
I have to say that some responsibility has to fall back onto the parents. Even if they aren't "horsey" people, the use of good judgement must come in at some point.

I went and watched a friend compete at a local schooling hunter show (I am an event rider by nature) and I was appalled! The kids were coming off like popcorn in a hot-air popper! The parents were just so determined to see little Jimmy or Princess Ashley-Victoria come home with a ribbon that they lost all common sense!

I have daughters that I'm helping to start and until they learn basic safe riding they won't be anywhere near a show. If a trainer gives a parent that "this doesn't feel right in the gut" sensation, THAN IT'S NOT.

OK. I'm done.

woodrwo
Oct. 20, 2009, 07:38 PM
Bet none of those kids or trainers are Pony Clubbers!

oldenmare
Oct. 20, 2009, 08:57 PM
Woodrwo - you shouldn't bet anything you can't afford to lose (cause in this instance, you would lose!!!)

Asterix - thank you - that was the point I was making.

I do think that the parents are a large part of the equation - and my original post is about listing things that should be red flags for them (among others).

It is not unusual IME for a trainer to handle the entries. When I was showing recognized with a well known trainer, we all completed our entries individually but gave them to the trainer to submit. It was her practice to review the entries for completeness prior to submitting (if you were showing in her group and listing her as your trainer - then she was going to make certain her students gave a proper showing). I am a veteran competitor and have no issue with a trainer requiring this (I was new to her barn at the time - now she knows me well enough that I submit my entries direct).

My point was not just about the entries - it was about the other signs as well that a parent should keep in mind when working with a trainer.

And it has little to do with the quality of the horses being shown - I have seen a little "weiner" hony win everything - and it certainly had nothing to do with his gaits or jumping talent!!! It had EVERYTHING to do with the kid learning how to ride him - I watched her take this hony from basic walk/trot to regional (rated) championships and finish in the Top 10 in their division. Admittedly over a two-three year period - but that is the nature of training progressing properly (as in - it isn't an overnight success but a gradual success over time).

And yes - I am ALL too familiar with parents who are in it for the reflected glory from their children rather than the sport itself. But THAT is a different topic. Deep sigh here.

OverandOnward
Oct. 20, 2009, 09:32 PM
The op referred to the discretion of the parents ... including non-horsey ones. One does not have to be horsey to be a 'horse-show-parent.' My question is why parents don't do the basics: BE THERE. At the warm-up ring - hide if the kid complains it makes her/him nervous. Watch. Listen. Observe the reactions of others. In any sport.

If the trainer is getting warnings from steward and officials about jumping and coaching unsafely ... if the trainer's students are being eliminated and others aren't ... one doesn't have to be able to ride to read those signs.

Non-horsey parents can connect with a veteran horse-show-parent whose kids are clearly riding well (ribbons or no) and have a confidential talk. Get the inside scoop on the local trainers. The parent that is at the ring during lessons, and the parent that rides themselves ... plenty of sources of information.

I think more to the point is why some parents seem to be ready to hand over their kids while paying little attention to what is going on. Especially in a sport that is a significantly higher risk than almost any other the kid could sign up for. If it were football or soccer would they pay more attention?

Toadie's mom
Oct. 20, 2009, 09:39 PM
There is a farm in our area who hosts unrated events and schooling days. A few years ago they put on their entry/release form that "your instructor/trainer/coach must have competed at least one level above what you are schooling". I know this was directly due to one particular trainer who had barely made it through a beg. nov. course, quit riding to "focus on teaching", and since has professed to have several "training moving up to prelim" students. Yes they are dangerous and at the least, sad to watch. Unfortunately, I'm guessing there was no possible way to enforce this "rule" and they have since revised the release form and omitted that statement. This particular instructor is definitely practising what she was taught, because she took lessons for many yrs. from one just like her. That one has moved on to the H/J world (and her students aren't doing any better there). Honestly they are like a cult. Neither will let their students clinic, or lesson, with anyone else (lest they discover how little said coach really knows).

Both of these women put on their "resumes" that they trained under George Morris. I know for a fact that what that really means is that they've audited a couple of his clinics :( Because he never comes to this area they thought that couldn't be verified.

To the original poster: they were (and I assume still are) sticklers for correct/complete entries however :lol:

I was a demo rider in the ICP clinic here and neither aforementioned instructor was there.

sch1star
Oct. 21, 2009, 06:52 PM
Really interesting topic.

I do not make my living as a trainer, have competed at P but would not presume to coach anyone at or near that level, but have done some work teaching. I also spent 11 years in a good old corporate career.

What I have noticed is that what makes a good rider does not necessarily make a good teacher, and what makes a good teacher does not necessarily make a smart businessperson.

Assuming that the coaches at the unrecs the OP described are trying to make a living and a business of it, I think my $0.02 would be to approach the problem in a businesslike way.

As an organizer you may not want to ban the offenders because that would hit your event enrollment. But I think I would tighten the screws on these folks - done carefully, it could not only save you from a lifetime of high blood pressure meds, but also give a heads-up vis a vis accountability and education to the non horsey parents footing the bill for kids who are getting lousy advice.

You could publish that safety and a positive experience for all are the top priority at your events, and in keeping with that goal you will set the following rules for the protection of all participants:

- include in your rules that such and such (jumping the wrong way over flagged fences, other sundry rule violations, dangerous riding, harassment of officials) will not be tolerated, because they undermine the safety of participants in the sport.

- make clear whom you consider responsible for knowing the rules of this discipline. A Mastercard type blurb on eventing as the most courageous of all horse sports might be called for :D

- mention that because you are running these events to provide a learning venue for less experienced horses, riders, and riding professionals, you understand and expect that some education may be needed and helpful, and as a result you are willing to answer questions at any time, as well as issue one warning to any violators without penalty.

- say that unfortunately, in order to keep the event safe and fun for all attending, repeat offenders will be fined $XX and/or banned from future events. Consider advertising that you will publish this list on your website and following through with that should it become necessary.

- conclude by reiterating how absolutely thrilled you are to be able to provide your virtually nonprofit, volunteer-dependent, property-chewing events as a service to the sport in the name of the introduction of future champions. Okay, maybe not in those words exactly :winkgrin:

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 21, 2009, 09:41 PM
Really interesting topic.

I do not make my living as a trainer, have competed at P but would not presume to coach anyone at or near that level, but have done some work teaching. I also spent 11 years in a good old corporate career.

What I have noticed is that what makes a good rider does not necessarily make a good teacher, and what makes a good teacher does not necessarily make a smart businessperson.

Assuming that the coaches at the unrecs the OP described are trying to make a living and a business of it, I think my $0.02 would be to approach the problem in a businesslike way.

As an organizer you may not want to ban the offenders because that would hit your event enrollment. But I think I would tighten the screws on these folks - done carefully, it could not only save you from a lifetime of high blood pressure meds, but also give a heads-up vis a vis accountability and education to the non horsey parents footing the bill for kids who are getting lousy advice.

You could publish that safety and a positive experience for all are the top priority at your events, and in keeping with that goal you will set the following rules for the protection of all participants:

- include in your rules that such and such (jumping the wrong way over flagged fences, other sundry rule violations, dangerous riding, harassment of officials) will not be tolerated, because they undermine the safety of participants in the sport.

- make clear whom you consider responsible for knowing the rules of this discipline. A Mastercard type blurb on eventing as the most courageous of all horse sports might be called for :D

- mention that because you are running these events to provide a learning venue for less experienced horses, riders, and riding professionals, you understand and expect that some education may be needed and helpful, and as a result you are willing to answer questions at any time, as well as issue one warning to any violators without penalty.

- say that unfortunately, in order to keep the event safe and fun for all attending, repeat offenders will be fined $XX and/or banned from future events. Consider advertising that you will publish this list on your website and following through with that should it become necessary.


- conclude by reiterating how absolutely thrilled you are to be able to provide your virtually nonprofit, volunteer-dependent, property-chewing events as a service to the sport in the name of the introduction of future champions. Okay, maybe not in those words exactly :winkgrin:

A BIG touche' to all of these (*great*) suggestions--you have very good insights, BTW (the "good rider not necessarily=good instructor being one of them; these are separate skill sets entirely, and GOOD, effective instruction is an art; not only is it partly intuitive, but also *earned* through years of not only horse but LIFE experience, including observation, developing an eye, learning how to communicate with a variety of people, understanding a bit of psychology (animal and human, and child ;)), and being flexible and humble--which includes continuing to educate oneself, etc. From this, among other things, riding competitively included--is derived an ability--MAYBE--to pass on this wisdom to others.)

How do we get organizers to address this in a positive (and palatable) way to these "so called trainers" (who feel that the rules for eventing are "unimportant", and take a back seat to their ego, their business, their apparent need to "be successful" in the eye of the clients, or parents of the clients--and blech--shame on them! Disgusting! :rolleyes:) But I am getting off topic, here...

So, how do we get organizers (particularly of these starter trial type things) to get on board with this very sensible idea, without making them feeling defensive (and worried), since we would possibly be taking away their main income source, as a result of losing entries??

AlterStrength
Oct. 22, 2009, 08:39 AM
I also think there should be a rule about how much "coaching" is allowed and it should be ENFORCED!

I watched a poor person at LochMoy get called out time and time again by her trainer in the warm up ring. It broke my heart... :( We all stopped our warm up so that she could finish in hopes the pain would end soon. And the saddest part is her horse started stopping. I mean you are at a show - this is where you shine and show what you got ;) not try to teach your horse and educate him, you do that at home.

Ltc4h
Oct. 22, 2009, 08:47 AM
We can't put it all on the organizers, they already have so much on their plates.
But yes, something needs to be done.
I myself have a few events that I no longer go to because of the influx of the unknowledgble.
At these lower levels, along with the incomplete entries and very unqualified trainers,riders and horses.
You also find the unqualified or lets be nice at all costs TD's.
Many times I've seen rule violations, Kimberwicks/Boots/Martingales in Dressage. No armband Jumping. Jumping the wrong way in warm up, coaching from outside the ring, Dangerous riding-which I called attention to, etc...
Only to be met with a meeting of the minds followed by a " At a real event that would be illegal and you would be eliminated, but this is for learning, so we will let you continue today, but you should try and change that in the future"
Who, exactly are they helping ?
You see alot of rules being broken, as there is no need to abide by them.
Unfortunately we live in a I want what I want when I want it = NOW society.
Most of the ones who are are demonstrating these behaviours are those people. I'd like to event-Send in an entry, that simple.
We then see them completely unprepared as there has been no prep work.
They sent in their entry[albeit half a**] = I'm prepared.
Usually it is a short lived endevour and they go back to what they were doing previous, the trainer just sort of blindly follows, collecting the money.
If you think its bad now, just wait until 2010 after WEG, when everyone and there brother will want to try.

oldenmare
Oct. 23, 2009, 10:38 PM
Okay - the purpose of my OP was to hopefully raise the awareness of parents/students who might not be as informed as they'd like to be as to what should concern them or what they should look for in a trainer.

But I just have to respond to the "management should do more to advise of rules, etc."

EVERY show I run is in accordance with USEF/USEA/USDF rules - EVERY show flyer and entry has this information printed on it. Any competitor is responsible for knowing the rules - too many chose to not bother with knowing the rules.

Coaches carry the onus of education here - one does not go to a Little League game as a coach and plead "I didn't know the rules". That person would be LAUGHED off the field. And rightfully so.

To be blunt - a competitor's entry fees go to offset show costs. I do NOT clear any profit on these shows - by the time you break it down, I end up well in the red re: time, expenses and energy. I believe in the shows as an educational device AND to promote the sport.

As for banning people or trainers from shows - great in theory. Not so great in reality. I have asked one or two people over past many years to not come back due to unacceptable behaviours - and you can only imagine the fallout from that! Not too mention - I prefer to educate than punish - again, the point of my original post.

And while I have overlooked some things as it is "only a schooling show", those have been trivial matters and none involving misconduct, dangerous conduct/horse/riding, etc. I have an excellent reputation for managing solid, well-run, smoothly-run, on-time shows that have good judges, good turnout (I have double or better # entries as compared to other local shows of same genre) and AWESOME volunteers. I also do not permit anyone to use/abuse my volunteers.

I do find it interesting to note how many here have posted observations of the same behaviours that I have commented on. Hopefully the message will at least help someone move on to a better investement of his/her time / energy / money.