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View Full Version : Since its been lost in the Cracks thread..repost on its own merit. LOWER level issues



Xctrygirl
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:53 AM
I posted this in the Cracks in the foundation thread but I see now that that thread has gone the way of what I was saying overall...We are VERY quick nowadays to make excuses and blame other people for our problems.

Soooo.... here's the original thoughts I had. Enjoy if you missed it before.

You know it’s all well and good to criticize what’s going on at the top, but I think we're missing the biggest elements to this debacle, what’s going on at the bottom...

Spend a weekend at a recognized bn-p event and then go to a bn-t unrecognized event. Over and over you'll see elements of the same "challenges" confronting the eventing world at the top but in grievous miniature at these levels.

Control: Not as wide spread of a concept as it should be. And I don't mean, "Hey my horse pulled me at home, let's throw a gag on him and then I can event!" No I mean is the horse and rider going through all 3 phases in a manner that suggests that over all of the questions the horse will be obedient to the rider? I'll ignore the one or two moments where the xc machine horses get excited for a fly fence. That's fine. But in dressage are you seeing yanking for transitions? Are they doing their tests accurately by showing transitions at or very close to where they are expected? Or are they a full 5 strides beyond when they change?

In stadium can they balance a horse on course without realigning its molars? Is it a round the spectators watch normally or are you seeing people turn away, look down and hear "peanut gallery noises"???

On xc can the pairs maintain a pace appropriate for the challenges before them? Can they adjust said pace as needed, again without the molars being aligned or worse, removed? Do you watch them and think, “Wow this person's doing a nice round.” Or are you checking to see that yes the ambulance is in fact nearby.

And over and over can they grasp that ascension to the next level should only come when they have successfully acquired and demonstrated that they have acquired the skill set of the level they're at now??? And are their trainers standing their ground enough to keep riders at levels where they belong and need to be until they hit their lightbulb moment and can safely move up a level????

Now in my time spent spectating, fence judging and watching fellow competitors from the warm up I'd have to say we're batting at or near 50%. The other 50% should be demoted back a level. Now this isn't the same proportion at all levels. But I mainly have been watching Bn-P.

The sport however rewrote the rules such that some of the bad 50% are in fact completing the requirements and bouncing up the levels. Not improving as they do so, just carrying forward a foundation built on sand. And this is clearly evident with some of the 2* and 3* riders. (Who I am saying have improved as their ascended but not as much as they could have) I heard over and over from Fair Hill CCI*** and CCI** last year how some of the 2* and 3* riders were sheer white at the thought of competing in mud. (Now let me say it was a lot of mud, I wouldn't enjoy it. But footing and weather are challenges of the sport. We all know that) But rather than say "Oh man I don't think I should ride out here, I think its best to scratch." the riders with all their baggage and fear went out, did horrible warm ups befitting of a D rated pony clubber and then at the first complex had their horses quit or sensing their anxiety. Where was the wise move there? What happened to learning how to send a horse through the deeper footing, supporting them knowing they’ll likely chip in more and need a lot more support and confidence from the rider?

And this demonstrates very clearly my last point:

RESPONSIBILITY

Its not a fence's fault, it's not a judge's fault, it's not your trainer's fault, and it's not the fault of the little kid who purchased the illegal in Md, but not in Pa firework and shot it off at you and your horse as you approached the bugaboo water jump at plantation ....(Ok maybe I'd give you that one )

Stop wasting time making excuses, suck it up that an outing found a weak spot you have and go spend the energy fixing the damn weak spot. I swear the walk through the barns at Plantation last fall after the CIC was like a whiner's convention. STOP! Own up that you or your horse made a mistake. We all do it. But if instead of blindly blaming something or someone else you take responsibility and work on it, then my God you may actually learn something and improve how the $300 plus of your entry fees gives you a return on your investment!!!

All of these issues exist at all levels in some way, shape or form.

And all of us need to look within ourselves and find where we aren’t making the grade and decide to work on ourselves. I am not suggesting walking up to another rider and telling them off about any of these issues. It’s a personal journey strapped into a team bus and that in and of itself makes for interesting dynamics. We all want the glory, we want the blue ribbon but we aren’t all prepared for the kind of inner dissection of your capacities (physical and mental) that it takes to get there. The (overall long term most consistent ) winners are the ones who don’t make excuses, who know “Crap! I knew I should have added a stride there and he felt weak and I didn’t give him enough gas. Ok I better work on it.” They’re frustrated and mad at a stop the same as everyone but instead of bitching they go home and fix it.

Ok I think I have rambled enough and made enough of the things I think are killing us a whole, public.

Feel free to debate. And of course for every rule there are exceptions. But I think the movie “He’s just not that into you” makes an EXTREMELY good point. People like to live thinking that the exceptions are the rules (Jane Doe trained herself and her ottb to the Olympics, so I can too!). And in fact they’re still the exceptions, if you could live by the rule thinking it’s the rule, (You’ll need a trainer at some point) then life would come and go a lot easier.


~Emily

SunkenMeadow
Jun. 21, 2010, 11:35 AM
It still boggles my mind, where I live, so many parents let their kids go to an event (or even jump at home) without a trainer. The parents are not "horsey" parents and have no clue. I feel like saying something but "Little Janie" can do no wrong, even though she has broken down three OTTBs in two years and cant complete a dressage test. But she sure goes fast cross country... "Look at her go!!!"

I agree with so much of what you say, but this one really gets me. Safety is such an issue, why not invest in a trainer???

retreadeventer
Jun. 21, 2010, 12:05 PM
If we're batting 50 percent, how do we get the other 50 percent into the fold? How do we encourage better riding, and better horsemanship? Should the USEA's "Style Award" program be ramped up? Should we send out the Equitation Police? Should we require "qualifying results" as far down as Novice and make the dressage score even lower? Require an ICP instructor sign the entry blank?
Last time I looked the flag was still flying and it was still America and not communist Russia. This stuff can't be dictated, and even the unrecognized event management puts these events on to make money and can't walk up to Dangerous Susie on Reluctant Horsie and say, "you ride like crap, go home."
An underground movement to encourage better riding is about the only way to go that I can think of. I don't think the debate is over what we see as a problem, just how to go about fixing it.
We were at a marvelous little playground last Sunday, a place at which I have been trying to get a multi-day summer vacation adult eventing camp going for three years. Can't fill it, and you KNOW who I can get there to instruct and provide education. They. Just. Aren't. Interested.
(Know how to ride, don't need no stinkin' instructor.)

HappyRiding
Jun. 21, 2010, 12:12 PM
Yes, I am a young rider, and yes I am very aware of the fast moving up riders. I know one girl who wants nothing to do with prelim but bought a seasoned packer and her PARENTS are forcing her to move up! I'm not really sure where the trainer is in all this but the major push is the parents. They were talking to her about where her big move up would be after the girl had a fall at the show that weekend, girl was so white you'd think she was a ghost, with out even having the qualifications to move up. From what I've heard the girl also falls off once and crashes through a jump twice every jump lessons at home. I know this isn't any of my business considering I don't ride with this girl or her trainer and only see her at shows, but what are the parents thinking? I want to move up the upper levels but whenever I come across a road block I think to myself, "Hmm I could probably move up next show but would it be beneficial for me?" I don't need my parents to do that for me nor do I need my trainer. I might ask her opinion but I'm not going to let anyone push me a level up if I'm having doubts. But this girl makes me fell bad because I know, as bad as it may sound, that I'm a more solid if not better rider and I plan on staying at the level I'm at for at least another season, well past any qualification requirements.

I don't think adding more qualifications would fix this issue though with the majority or young riders. Dumming down the courses for these type of people would only make it worse and the people really ridding at that level won't feel as accomplished. The only thing that will successfully stop this is if the trainer, parents, and even just spectators said something. I for one though have no desire of starting a conflict with the parents I mentioned by saying that I'm terrified watching their daughter jump around a novice course when shes going training already. Maybe the only way to stop this would be making a position for a judge at a show give at the end of the weekend-despite the outcome-and give a pass or fall rating of their ride of whether they can move up. Unfortunately I can not see anyone wanting to spend all weekend watching about 200 riders and determining whether or not they have the skills to be able to handle the next level because this should be dressage's, sj's, and xc's purpose. Yet their purpose has been undermined by riders going out and getting packers so that they can jump around clear.

So what is there that can be done if our first tests aren't doing the job to discourage these riders from moving up?

Bobthehorse
Jun. 21, 2010, 12:59 PM
It still boggles my mind, where I live, so many parents let their kids go to an event (or even jump at home) without a trainer. The parents are not "horsey" parents and have no clue. I feel like saying something but "Little Janie" can do no wrong, even though she has broken down three OTTBs in two years and cant complete a dressage test. But she sure goes fast cross country... "Look at her go!!!"

Oh god this. And worse, Little Janie starts taking in students at age 15 and becomes a coach! Because she figures she can stay on and make it around a course without dying, so she is awesome.

My biggest issue with riders at the lower levels is horsemanship. I notice some scary riding, yes. But what breaks my heart the most is those riders sitting on their horse all day long, jumping the warmup fences a zillion times and galloping hell bent for 45 minutes in warmup, not getting off to cool them out after xc, loading them hot and sweaty onto the trailer and going off to enjoy the shopping. Running skinny horses, lame horses, very unfit horses and then whining about how its all their fault in the end. And oh the bits, in hands not ready for them.

I realize Novice is not exactly the test of Rolex, but Novice horses are still only fit for Novice, its the top end of their current abilities, and they are still hot and breathing hard at the finish line. Riding back to the trailers is one thing, but not getting off at all while they stand around and chit chat with friends while the horse looks about to pass out really grinds my gears. And I cringe to think of the training schedules of these kids. Jumping and galloping 7 days a week! One was at my barn for a short time, she wouldnt ride for 2 months, come out and gallop the pony until it was soaked, jump around the ring through my Training/Prelim fences set on horse distances (her pony was 13.2). Chase to the corner I had set up and push long. She never once rode in a snaffle, her jumping bit was a 3 ring and her flat bit was a pelham. She took one lesson with my coach, who told her she had to change the way she rode to get good flatwork....girl refused to pay her for the lesson and then left while we were gone at a show.

lizajane09
Jun. 21, 2010, 01:40 PM
Riding back to the trailers is one thing, but not getting off at all while they stand around and chit chat with friends while the horse looks about to pass out really grinds my gears.

This is one of my pet peeves. I was volunteering at a schooling show several months ago, helping out on X-C start/finish. It was very hot, and about 1 in the afternoon. A rider came off the training level x-c and proceeded to sit on her horse, halted, in the sun. After about ten minutes I told her that if she was worried about being in the way of warm-up if she stood in the shade, she wouldn't be and she was more than welcome to move her horse under the trees. She said no, she wanted to watch her friend's ride (friend went in another 10 minutes or so), and she could see better from out there. I offered to walk the horse if she wanted to stand on the fence to get a better view of her friend's ride, and her mother intervened and haughtily refused, saying horse was FINE. I was trying to phrase things so that I could get the horse a break without offending the rider, but being polite didn't work, and with no position of authority at the event I was uncomfortable being more blunt. A few minutes later, one of the organizers came by; I explained the situation, and the organizer spoke to the rider (while still being polite, but a little more blunt). Rider and mother were offended, but the point seemed to get across.

My feet have always hit the ground about three seconds after we pass through the finish flags - it's just what I was taught growing up. The horse gave you a big effort out there, now it's your turn to take care of him (or her). Your horse is not a chair, a grandstand seat, or a motorcycle.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 21, 2010, 01:50 PM
My feet have always hit the ground about three seconds after we pass through the finish flags - it's just what I was taught growing up. The horse gave you a big effort out there, now it's your turn to take care of him (or her). Your horse is not a chair, a grandstand seat, or a motorcycle.

Me too. The girth and flash are undone before my gloves/helmet/vest come off too. And then I wash and scrape and walk and wash and scrape and walk until he is cool and breathing normal. No matter the level.

Festivity
Jun. 21, 2010, 03:24 PM
I also think that if there was some way to encourage better horsemanship that a lot of the other problems would go away as well. It is a lot harder to ride dangerously when you are thinking about your horse first and the ribbon second. I wish there was an easy way to do something like a best condition award like they do in endurance for each level. Also requiring instructors is not the way to go either, many are not worth the paper their checks are written on and are often the cause of the problems.

magnolia73
Jun. 21, 2010, 04:52 PM
I think absolutely riders need better trainers when they are making dangerous decisions and not caring properly for their horses. You have to learn somewhere- that is the role of your coach- to teach you.

There is a serious lack of good lower level trainers in the country that teach riding and have the time to teach horsemanship. Yet that is what the kids need- they just don't know- their parents don't know, and sadly, in some cases the instructors are ignorant as well. Don't get me started on the poor instruction in my area,but it is very hard to find someone competent who is not a top level trainer (which a beginner really does not need). I see kids do things today that my trainer would have KILLED me for (riding in FLIP FLOPS, cussing out bill paying mom, jumping a shoeless horse, handing off hot pony to mom to go play with friends)....

I think ultimately parents don't get that riding well is more than the skills of staying on or jumping high, so they don't value the slightly more expensive trainer who does... flat work.... or takes the time to talk about farrier work or explain worming schedules or demands kids to put the horses away correctly. My HJ trainer is just that- have noticed many of her students are the kids of parents who rode- who pay more knowing she is quality.

It's really hard to find event trainers that fall between scary local teen or clueless adult and BNT who lacks the time to be a mentor. I know of a few in my area, but there are not enough of them, and I see them lose clients to scary trainers for stupid reasons.

albigears
Jun. 21, 2010, 04:54 PM
Ooooooh, easy there on the people riding skinny horses... we're trying, we're trying. 5 year OTTB. Alfalfa, all he can eat grass, beet pulp, Equine Senior, flax, rice bran & oil. Teeth done. Blood work and urine normal. Doesn't care about eating, drops weight every time he gets in the trailer. We're trying...

PhoenixFarm
Jun. 21, 2010, 07:49 PM
I know of a few in my area, but there are not enough of them, and I see them lose clients to scary trainers for stupid reasons.

This. Wanna know how many junior students I've had walk with their parents' blessing because I refused to let them move up, or make the jumps bigger?

I did have one girl ask at one point, how come so and so gets to go training and I'm going BN? And I said, kindly, "because so and so has been here, six days a week, for a minimum of four hours a day, taking 2-3 lessons a week, for the last three years, and can completely care for her horse and herself. You barely make it three days a week, you are here for a hour tops, and you don't make any additional effort."

She moved to a different trainer.

This may not be the spot, but when it comes to junior riders at this juncture, I'm seeing a real change in culture, that often originates with the parents. I don't know why this is, but the day of the barn rat seems to be over. The best kids I have, who are dedicated, and love being at the barn, etc. are still not at the barn as much as I was at the time because their parents insist they do other things, be involved in their school, etc. There is always a play, a concert, another sport, you name it. And that then leads to a lot of pressure to perform at the show, because of what they are "giving up" to be there.

It's not good enough to be tenth, with a clean xc, because they had to skip band practice, and miss a soccer game, so they need a ribbon!:no::eek:

It's tough out here folks. The grass roots are sharp and pointy in places.

KateWooten
Jun. 21, 2010, 07:51 PM
I did notice, at a Pony-Club schooling event earlier this year, a young girl on a completely unprepared out-of-control OTTB, where the PC DC in charge did have words with her, and at one point made her get off, sort out her helmet (clinging vaguely to the back of her head with the throatlatch flapping ,....)

Incidentally, and I think this is OT ... but I watched a girl run XC at a recognised event a couple of weeks later, with the strap on her helmet so loose, it was hanging a good 3 inches BELOW her chin ! Is that not in some safety rule ? I didn't say anything, btw, to my shame, I should have done, even though I was only a bystander, but I didn't notice it til the starter had started the countdown.

Auburn
Jun. 21, 2010, 08:38 PM
Would someone please explain why an instructor must have two students going Novice before they can enroll in the ICP program?

If we want better instructors for the lower levels, should not the program be available before the students are going Novice? :confused:

Ghazzu
Jun. 21, 2010, 09:37 PM
Ooooooh, easy there on the people riding skinny horses... we're trying, we're trying. 5 year OTTB. Alfalfa, all he can eat grass, beet pulp, Equine Senior, flax, rice bran & oil. Teeth done. Blood work and urine normal. Doesn't care about eating, drops weight every time he gets in the trailer. We're trying...

Personally, I'd rather see a horse slightly lean than obese.

eventerwannabe
Jun. 21, 2010, 09:50 PM
Having a good instructor has made a night and day difference in how I perceive my riding. I started working with a couple of great instructors about 4 months ago after stumbling along on my own for a few years (only at BN mind you). It's amazing all the things I have learned in such a short period of time. Unfortunately I can't take as many lessons as I would like (1 or 2 a month if I'm lucky) due to time, family, money, work, etc., but having the guidance at shows and having a plan for at home between lessons has made all of the difference in the world for me.

I'm 36 years old and I plan to stay at BN until I'm confident and my trainers are confident that I can make the move to N safely.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:01 PM
Ooooooh, easy there on the people riding skinny horses... we're trying, we're trying. 5 year OTTB. Alfalfa, all he can eat grass, beet pulp, Equine Senior, flax, rice bran & oil. Teeth done. Blood work and urine normal. Doesn't care about eating, drops weight every time he gets in the trailer. We're trying...

I realize some horses are hard, but there is no excuse to take a horse with a full set of ribs showing, hips hanging out, croup sticking out - to an event and show it. For some reason it especially bugs me when they have obese riders on top.

VicariousRider
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:02 PM
THIS is the thread that needs attention. As a CONSUMER of trainer's "products" it seems to me that there is really a lack of emphasis on preparing for x-c.

Of course there is the requisite x-c schooling, but that, IMHO, does little to prepare a horse and rider for the actual task of going cross county alone on game day. Schooling days are PACKED with riders (making it impossible to put more than 2 fences in a row together without having a crash), and attended in groups (never forcing the horse and rider to leave the herd).

I was a H/J rider until my teens and started foxhunting at about 12. However, no one ever taught me to ride x-c. Foxhunting alone does not TEACH someone to ride x-c effectively and safely. I found that out the hard way by hunting for years without any guidance and getting QUITE hurt since I never was told how to ride defensively x-c. Perhaps this is intuitive for some. For me it was not.

In sum: I REALLY wish that someone had taught me to ride x-c safely and effectively before I got so hurt. Now I have fragile confidence and I am not sure that that is entirely repairable. I started eventing since my foxhunting accident and I STILL have not really been able to find a trainer that can break down x-c riding into teachable skills. I do not think that it is reasonable to require ammies to just "get the feel by doing it" as the casualties that will inevitably result do nothing to help our phenomenal sport.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:13 PM
I think absolutely riders need better trainers when they are making dangerous decisions and not caring properly for their horses. You have to learn somewhere- that is the role of your coach- to teach you.

My coach was more like a mentor for me, she had me since I was 10. But I dont see her being as proactive with her students now, maybe because they arent so young. But there are a few of her students that dont take her quite as seriously as I did/do and they just say "yeah yeah" and go off and do as they please. What can she really do? Not her horse, not her barn, but for some reason they keep coming back for lessons, and she keeps trying to change their attitudes. Now that I think about it, the worst students are the ones with the most arrogant, know it all parents....hmmm.

She taught me everything from bandaging to riding to taking temps to braiding to first aid to building a conditioning program. And maybe she knew I would listen, but she never tolerated any bad attitudes towards the horse. And even at 10 I knew I had to put in my flatwork and not overjump my horse. I took everything seriously because she told me everything was serious, and I still do. It may only be a 3' fence, but there is no excuse for bad riding. And its never ever my horses' fault!

Gestalt
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:13 PM
What I have learned about horses started with my 4-h leader. The hunter or dressage trainers never got involved with actual horse care. Owners were left to figure it out on their own. Without someone to guide you through stable/horse management, how do you learn?

It's more than just bad riding that's at stake, it's horse care.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:23 PM
We dont school xc often, but when we do its usually 1 or 2 people out on the course alone. We are lucky. Its not our course but most places in the area allow schooling apart from 2 weeks before an event, so we trailer in a have a lesson.

I think more than anything, hacking preps you for xc. Hills, woods, puddles, fallen trees, ditches, roads, rocks, wildlife, trotting, cantering, galloping. Going into a new place and dealing with it. That takes care of bold attitude towards the unknown, pace control, bond with the horse, stickability, change in terrain and forward thinking.

The xc questions, coffins, corners, skinnies, turning, bounces, half striding - you can build in the ring so the horse at least understands the questions being asked. Of course its not the same, but if they did a pole corner over and over and they see a real one, they at least have some experience to draw on. I think I find it more useful than xc schooling in a way, because we both feel more relaxed seeing something for the first time in a fall downable situation. Then on course, they are like oh yeah, and they seem to have an easier time understanding the question. Not just the horses, the riders too.

VicariousRider
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:25 PM
Without someone to guide you through stable/horse management, how do you learn?

It's more than just bad riding that's at stake, it's horse care.

I totally agree with the above and I want to add that I have also witnessed an unfortunate trend of trainers being unwilling to pass on this essential information because it is not something that they can bill for. While Pony club and 4-h are great keepers of this information, I did not have access to these organizations as a kid. I begged my instructors to teach me this stuff, but, despite my total adoration and hunger for knowledge, they gave me the brush off. I think that the business model does not reward trainers for investing in their students in this way (although you would think that it would be good for business if the trainer's students were always the best horsemen).

Wheel Whip
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:36 PM
As a Pony Club DC. really feel like I am fighting a losing battle. I am competing with soccer, lacrosse, glee club etc. Horses are just another activity, not a lifestyle. When my daughter was on an international foxhunting team in England, all the host families did was PC and foxhunt. We, in America must overexpose our kids to every imaginable "experience".This is a huge crack in the foundation of eventing. In a world of expected, instant success, very few understand that there are vital basics to learn and that takes considerable time in the saddle. Horses have become a ribbon delivery devices. Everyone has to do 10 things half assed instead of doing one thing well.
Maybe of I can get through to one or two kids. my eight years won't have been a waste of time.

PhoenixFarm
Jun. 21, 2010, 10:53 PM
WheelWhip I heart you. Your post times a thousand. I have kids who would love nothing more than to spend hours at the barn absorbing knowledge, and they can't because of their "commitments".

Now leaping off from vicariosrider's post--people will not pay money to learn to ride across country. They'll pay to go cross country schooling, but not to learn the nuts and bolts of riding out of the arena. We have a very unigue facility here in CA, with access to lots of hacking--but it's real cross country riding--not groomed trails, with gentle slopes, it's foxhunting-type land, with creek crossings, ravines, steep hills, etc. We make working on this ground a cornerstone of our development of our horses, and we generally get good reviews for our horses cattiness, boldness, and smarts on cross country as a result.

But trying to give that same base to riders is a whole'nuther story. They either won't go because they are afraid, or they do it once, and then complain about having to pay for a lesson on "trail riding". They only see monetary value on something which directly impacts their placing at an event--a dressage lesson which betters your score, a clean show jump round, etc.

To bring this then full circle to the other thread, part of the reason they only see this as the value, is because that's the message they get from the top echelons. If the team and Captain Mark value dressage and show jumping over cross country performance, then why wouldn't the parent of a novice kid?

I "make" my students ride across country. But I won't pretend there isn't a lot of grumbling about it.

Albion
Jun. 21, 2010, 11:13 PM
It still boggles my mind, where I live, so many parents let their kids go to an event (or even jump at home) without a trainer.

You know, you can't have it both ways. I realize you're talking about out of control youngsters who are perhaps hurting their horses, but there is SO much complaining on this board that kids these days don't ride out, trail ride, foxhunt, whatever, to learn how to really ride cross country - just show show show. But a lot of learning that innate 'feel' and learning how to ride safely over varied terrain (at varied speeds) was, at least for me, done well outside the purview of my instructors - particularly in the summer. We rode out year round, but summer is when we spent very little time in the ring & went out instead.

We rode uphill. We rode downhill. We trotted a lot. We galloped. We jumped in water. We jumped out of water. We jumped up hill, downhill, and all manner of obstacles that I look back on now and go :eek:. We had wonderful ponies & horses that were brave and willing but knew how to say 'NO!' if we asked for something ridiculous (and we were smart enough to listen to them). And no trainer or parent supervision (we saw our instructors once or twice a week)! But damn if we didn't (a) have a lot of fun (b) have equines that were enthusiastic about their work, sound & healthy and (c) really learn how to deal with terrain, speed, jumping, etc.

Now, obviously, that kind of riding alone isn't going to get you safely around a technical cross country course, and if my mother had thought I was irresponsible enough to break my pony down, she wouldn't have allowed me to ride out like that. But I never would've developed a feel for managing a horse outside a ring if I'd only jumped and galloped under the supervision of a trainer.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 21, 2010, 11:14 PM
And if Ollie Townend blames his horse for their fall on xc, why cant everyone else?

quietann
Jun. 21, 2010, 11:22 PM
PF, I'd love to take a "trail riding" lesson at your facility :) When I took lessons as a girl, about one out of three was a trail ride over fairly rough terrain in San Diego, and NO ONE complained that we were not learning anything out there, even if sometimes it was just how to recognize poison oak and keep our horses out of it :) My instructor also offered a Saturday or Sunday trail ride nearly every weekend. She was an old-school foxhunter who'd done some eventing and knew more than a bit about the value of learning to ride in the open. When I returned to riding after a 25 year break, I got a lot of feedback about my good balance and sense of fairness to the horse, and I will give credit to all those long-ago trail rides.

It relates to the situation at my current barn, too. Before the BO built her indoor arena, a lot of the winter lessons were done on the trails in the nearby state forest, because that was really the only option available. Even in summer, many jumping lessons were done in the sloping back field because that was where there was room for a full course of jumps. People who are now adults, who took lessons with the BO as kids, fondly recall those times on the trail, and to a one have excellent balance and nerves of steel. BO now keeps all lessons in one of the nice flat arenas, indoor or outdoor. This went along with her change from eventing to show jumping, for reasons unknown to me. (There are probably liability issues here, too.)

JER
Jun. 21, 2010, 11:41 PM
PhoenixFarm, thank you for waving the flag for lessons across country.

Sadly, there are few instructors who are capable of giving this sort of lesson any more.

snoopy
Jun. 22, 2010, 05:51 AM
I For some reason it especially bugs me when they have obese riders on top.



Stay quiet, stay quiet, stay quiet....


Last night I was in the grocery store...I live in a area with lots of horse activity. For some reason at this time of night there were MANY ladies in shopping in their breeches. I can tell you, they were ALL over weight.

Their main points of conversation:

Their horse's feeding programme
Their horse's fitness programme
Their horse's training programme

A gentleman behind me made a comment to his wife/girfriend that is was too bad these ladies did not follow the same programme with their own feeding, fitness, and training programmes.


Okay one could say that that comment was not ever so kind...but the fact is, it was the truth.

I know we all have different builds and healthy is not skinny, but these woman had serious "junk in the trunk".

If we expect our equine partners to be fit, healthy, and ready for the job, certainly we as riders should do the same.


And for the record, I did have a gander at what these ladies were putting in their trollies....not pretty.

We have become more obseesed with the latest fashion, equipment, "hats, gloves and scarves" that we are losing sight that we as riders need to be healhy, fit and strong.

I am braced and ready for "The Big Girls Unite Club" to come out of the woodwork (or the kitchen) to have go but before you attack ask yourself this....What are you pretending not to know?

LisaB
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:01 AM
I've always had a weight problem. And you know what? It does seriously affect my riding and being able to help my horse.
I do see other big girls out there and I do appreciate them getting out there. But what I don't like seeing is that they aren't appropriately mounted.
You see I passed on a quite a wonderful little horse that would definitely get me to my prelim goals. Why? Because he had too short of a neck and I knew that my big upper body was going to be a problem. Yup, I passed on the famous Teddy!
And I too learned the old cowboy ways. And San Diego does have some rough canyons! But I didn't ever have a 'lesson'. While I'm glad that your trainer got your ass out there, you should have done it yourself after awhile. I would take a lesson and just because, I would go out for a hack afterwards.
And I've been seeing quite a few kids lately and their programs. And honestly, if the kids want it enough, the parents do relent and horses become full time. I wouldn't necessarily blame the parents on that one. Sure, when they are getting started with riding and eventing and doing small stuff, a kid does need to do other things. But if that kid is truly going to be one of 'the ones', they will make it a full time activity.

Bogie
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:30 AM
I haven't evented in some time but even when I was involved I saw a lot of out of control riders and some scary riding.

As a foxhunter, I see that too. People who don't know how to ride xc, who are lucky to stay on top of the horse, or who fall off frequently in the field. These folks need lessons but they often don't seem to get the point. I guess they figure that if they fall off enough, it will knock some sense into them.

But what really bugs me are the people who push horses that are not fit enough. Someone I know borrowed a horse this spring to foxhunt. The horse is older, overweight and not very fit. She hunted that horse first flight and jumped all but one fence. I dropped my own horse back during the second cast because I could tell his brain was getting tired so I didn't see her jump the second part of the hunt. But I did trailer the horse home. Her horse collapsed in my trailer almost going all the way down and I had to take her off and leave her at a barn to recover. When I suggested that she'd over done her ride she got defensive and told me she had "permission to foxhunt" and that the horse felt fine to her out in the field. (i.e., I was over reacting). I know she was just having fun and wasn't thinking about the horse's fitness level.

Maybe the horse started to go down in my trailer for another reason other than exhaustion, we will never know. But she is a long time rider and I would have expected her to ride more emphathetically, especially on someone else's horse. I suspect I offended her by talking to her about it because she basically hasn't spoken to me since. I just felt sorry for the horse who is a good doobie and tries her heart out. Riders need to place the horse first, over their own enjoyment. It's their responsibility.

VicariousRider
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:56 AM
I am overweight and agree that that affects my riding, but short of being an unfair burden to my horse, I will not stop riding if I am fat because it is one of the few activities that motivates me to to get exercise. Overweight riders need to carefully consider the limitations that their weight places on their abilities and the effect that it has on their horses, but for some people weight is a life-long battle and waiting until they get thin to ride might mean no riding ever.

PF: I am sorry to hear that people will not pay for x-c lessons. I sure would.

LisaB: I have hacked forever, and while that is the best starting place, that did not teach me to ride at speed over a x-c course (especially since x-c courses no longer simulate actual "countryside") and there was no one out there with me at the fences saying "sit back" etc.

retreadeventer
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:11 AM
Stay quiet, stay quiet, stay quiet....I am braced and ready for "The Big Girls Unite Club" to come out of the woodwork (or the kitchen) to have go but before you attack ask yourself this....What are you pretending not to know?

It is very easy to be on the outside looking in. I have obese people in my family and have seen up close how difficult it can be. Some people are just very efficient in utilizing their food. A relative is overweight and eats FAR less than I do on a regular day to day basis. She struggles and has done so her whole life. She is a medical professional and is well aware of weight issues.

Being heavy and overweight yet still riding is a difficult path and for me I am very aware of how I feel in the saddle and how it is for my horses. There is nothing, I repeat, Snoops, NOTHING on earth I would rather be than thin and beautiful because I know if I were, riding would be BETTER. Being an effective rider, for me, means not only getting the skills going but getting thinner and having more core strength. It is ALL I think about - almost all. From the instant I wake up, to the last waking moment of the day. I am not pretending not to know about my problem -- I wish -- I can't get away from it.

Being fit and eating right TAKES TIME AND MONEY. Both of which I am REALLY challenged with. As are many, many, many of the people on this board.

I'm not flaming you, but just reminding -- it's easy to write, but hard to do, and for reasons that have nothing to do with "wanting to". Posts like yours hit very home and always make me cry, because if you only knew what a horrendous lifelong struggle being overweight can be -- it is truly my personal "Afghanistan". A horrible, difficult place you do your best to survive and get out of. Those of you without this problem really don't have any room to talk. And I mean that in a nice way.

snoopy
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:20 AM
It is very easy to be on the outside looking in. I have obese people in my family and have seen up close how difficult it can be. Some people are just very efficient in utilizing their food. A relative is overweight and eats FAR less than I do on a regular day to day basis. She struggles and has done so her whole life. She is a medical professional and is well aware of weight issues.

Being heavy and overweight yet still riding is a difficult path and for me I am very aware of how I feel in the saddle and how it is for my horses. There is nothing, I repeat, Snoops, NOTHING on earth I would rather be than thin and beautiful because I know if I were, riding would be BETTER. Being an effective rider, for me, means not only getting the skills going but getting thinner and having more core strength. It is ALL I think about - almost all. From the instant I wake up, to the last waking moment of the day. I am not pretending not to know about my problem -- I wish -- I can't get away from it.

Being fit and eating right TAKES TIME AND MONEY. Both of which I am REALLY challenged with. As are many, many, many of the people on this board.

I'm not flaming you, but just reminding -- it's easy to write, but hard to do, and for reasons that have nothing to do with "wanting to". Posts like yours hit very home and always make me cry, because if you only knew what a horrendous lifelong struggle being overweight can be -- it is truly my personal "Afghanistan". A horrible, difficult place you do your best to survive and get out of. Those of you without this problem really don't have any room to talk. And I mean that in a nice way.



I am sorry that I hit a nerve...but please go back and read my post again, this time with little or no emotion.

I am not referencing those riders who are AWARE of weight/fitness issues and do what they can to address those issues. I am speaking of those who simply turn a blind eye to that issue and do little or nothing about it.

I was referencing more those who simply to do not get the connection.

The ladies I used as an example were not filling their trollies with as healty a diet as they could afford. Quite the contrary.

Of course I am well aware of the sensitive nature of my post, but I was trying to point out that is we expect our horses to be athletes then we too owe it to them to be as athletic as possible with in our means.



And Retread: We are ALL beautiful regargless of weight!

riderboy
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:24 AM
Look, weight is one thing, fitness another. I would bet that at 175 pounds I weigh as much or more as someone who is much shorter than I am (6'2") To the horse, 175 # is 175 #. The key is how fit are you? I would also bet that Becky Holder, not to pick on her, or Buck Davidson,not to pick on him, could ride absolute circles around me probably for hours on end. They may appear heavier (Becky has lost a lot of weight so this really doesn't apply to her) but they are far more fit than I am. I am not advocating that people not take care of themselves, but really, aerobic fitness and core strength matter more than anything.

snoopy
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:28 AM
Look, weight is one thing, fitness another. I would bet that at 175 pounds I weigh as much or more as someone who is much shorter than I am (6'2") To the horse, 175 # is 175 #. The key is how fit are you? I would also bet that Becky Holder, not to pick on her, or Buck Davidson,not to pick on him, could ride absolute circles around me probably for hours on end. They may appear heavier (Becky has lost a lot of weight so this really doesn't apply to her) but they are far more fit than I am. I am not advocating that people not take care of themselves, but really, aerobic fitness and core strength matter more than anything.



This is why I said "fit, srtong, and healthy"

That can mean different shapes and sizes for all of us.

Thin is not always healthy.

This is not a Fat/Thin discussion from me.

We all should know the difference.

nomeolvides
Jun. 22, 2010, 09:06 AM
You know, you can't have it both ways. I realize you're talking about out of control youngsters who are perhaps hurting their horses, but there is SO much complaining on this board that kids these days don't ride out, trail ride, foxhunt, whatever, to learn how to really ride cross country - just show show show. But a lot of learning that innate 'feel' and learning how to ride safely over varied terrain (at varied speeds) was, at least for me, done well outside the purview of my instructors - particularly in the summer. We rode out year round, but summer is when we spent very little time in the ring & went out instead.
I totally agree with this. I think people can become too reliant on their trainers/instructors and can fall to pieces when they have to get out there on their own and just get on with it. If you're constantly being told what to do, you're going to be lost without that.

Jleegriffith
Jun. 22, 2010, 09:10 AM
Some of the lower level issues that I see:

-people only ride their own horse and I believe to truly become a feeling/thinking rider you need to sit on as many horses as you can.

-lack of land to ride on. When the housing boom was alive and well land was being developed like crazy. What used to be nice fields to ride in are now housing developments. There has also been a shift in those who didn't mind if you rode across their land because now I hear more and more people saying you can't ride on their property.

-instructors who don't encourage diversity in experiences or instruction. Growing up I rode dressage, hunters, eventing, jumpers and more. We took lessons from a variety of instructors across disciplines and it wasn't frowned upon. There was no "one" instructor who we went to. I learned to put a lot of tools in my tool bag as someone might say it differently or give you one tool that you didn't learn about elsewhere.

- only riding made horses. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I have encourage people to come out and ride my nice group of green ottb's but nobody wants to ride green anymore. It's not exciting enough, not jumping high enough, don't bend, not comfortable, don't go in a frame and so forth. Growing up I rode anything and everything I could swing my leg over from breaking babies to the QH giving lessons. Now nobody wants to learn the process or take the time to bring along a green horse. The skills of how to bring a horse along from ground up are being lost.

-Horsemanship- this is a big one for me and was drilled into me by my parents. Your horse comes first and you need to think like a horse. This might mean only jumping 5 jumps at a x-c school instead of 30. Knowing when they need to get out of the ring on the trails for a mental break. Knowing your horse so well you notice the little things before they become big things. Not jumping until they are fit. Knowing how to warm them up and cool them down properly. Caring enough to have a good vet and farrier. Never asking them to do anything they can't do. On and on and on but I do believe these skills come from having the experience of riding a lot of different horses and making horses a part of your life.

-being scared to get out of the ring. How in the heck can you have a confident horse out x-c if you don't branch outside of the ring? How many people truly trail ride and not just x-c school on perfect ground? Hunting..why does everyone think foxhunting is crazy? How much time do you spend outside of the ring truly becoming a more adaptive rider? I sure as heck learned more about sticking on and letting a horse figure it out outside the ring than in.

-perfection- it seems like people are so judgemental that everyone is scared to make a mistake. The only way you learn is by making mistakes and I don't know any of us who haven't learned that way. I know I ruined some horses before I ever got better. I rode in shorts, half chaps and sneakers and my mom was a riding instructor who let me do my thing:lol: I'm always trying to tell my students to just feel the horse and don't worry so much about being perfect. There is a lot of cranking and spanking going on trying to create that perfect outline. Why does everything have to be perfect? Everything comes in time and sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. I also think everyone is so worried about looking perfect they forget to try something different. I would rather be effective and able to adapt to different horses with different styles that sitting there looking perfect without being effective.

-ribbons- it's not about the ribbons. Parents drive me nuts when they push kids for ribbons. I have a mom who pushes her poor daughter so hard. It should be about meeting your goal whether it's getting your horse off the bank jump that day or making it around stadium without a rail. Hell, for me it was often staying on;) I grew up riding horses that were so tough you just cared about having a positive experience and not about the ribbon and it has carried over to the way I teach young riders. I give them a goal I believe they can reach and if they reach it then we succeeded. It will NEVER be about a ribbon.

eventingfan
Jun. 22, 2010, 09:50 AM
I totally agree with the above and I want to add that I have also witnessed an unfortunate trend of trainers being unwilling to pass on this essential information because it is not something that they can bill for. While Pony club and 4-h are great keepers of this information, I did not have access to these organizations as a kid. I begged my instructors to teach me this stuff, but, despite my total adoration and hunger for knowledge, they gave me the brush off. I think that the business model does not reward trainers for investing in their students in this way (although you would think that it would be good for business if the trainer's students were always the best horsemen).

but, to be honest, time is money. When my daughter was learning to ride, I paid for lesson hours that were spent teaching her skills like wrapping, braiding, etc instead of spending the hour riding. She wanted to learn and I didn't feel it was fair to take up the trainer's time without compensating her. On the flip side, after doing that, the trainer realized just how serious my daughter was and became more invested in her education and sent more opportunities her way because she knew it would be worthwhile to them both,

magnolia73
Jun. 22, 2010, 10:42 AM
I totally agree with this. I think people can become too reliant on their trainers/instructors and can fall to pieces when they have to get out there on their own and just get on with it. If you're constantly being told what to do, you're going to be lost without that.

There is definitely a balance. But if you are out there making bad decisions consistently, you need someone guiding you.

The old school good trainers had a good balance of keeping an eye on you, guiding you, and letting you learn lessons without holding your hand.

As for fat women riding- honestly, I have seen very few obese women thinking seriously about competing at anything but the easiest, most basic levels. While fitness is really important, I think the scary riding at the lower levels is generally rather fearless, ignorant younger riders who need guidance. I'd venture that most of the pudgy older set are acutely aware of their shortcomings, and if anything, undersell what they can do- which is fine.

nomeolvides
Jun. 22, 2010, 10:46 AM
The old school good trainers had a good balance of keeping an eye on you, guiding you, and letting you learn lessons without holding your hand.
Perfect!

centeur
Jun. 22, 2010, 10:54 AM
What a great thread!! Thanks for providing me thought provoking, interesting material while eating my breakfast! Now back out to the barn....

sch1star
Jun. 22, 2010, 11:12 AM
Can I get on the ribbon bashing bandwagon? The "what place did you get" culture is taking a lot of the joy out of competing for me.

I know people do compete for different reasons and I am not going to be sending back any ribbons that come my way, but I primarily compete for the pleasure of marking my own and my pony's progress. I am very goal oriented and tend to not work very hard if I'm not working toward something. Some people like to win or to beat others and I am honestly fine with a "to each her own" mentality but feel very discouraged when so many of the people around me - including the trainers - are only interested in that rosette.

I have actually had people offer me sympathy if I didn't finish in the top few, without asking if I was happy, if I'd had a good day, how my horse was coming along, etc. They don't even stop to think - it's an automatic judgment. I end up feeling I am supposed to justify and defend anything less than winning.

How are kids going to learn the value of - and get the pleasure they deserve from - getting that green horse through the water crossing before the big E !!! or over that ditch clean !!! when their trainer's summary of the day is a picture of all the ribbons the other kids won posted on the Internet?

nomeolvides
Jun. 22, 2010, 11:20 AM
What about watches? If people are so obsessed with winning even if they're going about it in a dangerous way, would banning stopwatches at the lower levels be a good idea? Perhaps it would encourage people to ride in a rhythm rather than for the time? I have no idea, just a thought to throw into the mix.

riderboy
Jun. 22, 2010, 11:47 AM
What about watches? If people are so obsessed with winning even if they're going about it in a dangerous way, would banning stopwatches at the lower levels be a good idea? Perhaps it would encourage people to ride in a rhythm rather than for the time? I have no idea, just a thought to throw into the mix.

I'm lower level and I don't wear a watch, something that my SO and coach try to discourage. I ride the course and go fast when I can and come back when I can. My boy has a luxuriously long stride so it's easy to cover ground, not so easy to package up. I have no problems making time and frankly, I find the watch a distraction. As I move up, my tune might change.

catmchorse
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:13 PM
What about watches? If people are so obsessed with winning even if they're going about it in a dangerous way, would banning stopwatches at the lower levels be a good idea? Perhaps it would encourage people to ride in a rhythm rather than for the time? I have no idea, just a thought to throw into the mix.

I had a discussion with my trainer a couple weeks ago about watches at the lower levels...I'll be doing my first HT this weekend at Novice. She recommended wheeling minutes and wearing a watch, just to get the practice.

I really don't think that aiming for OT means you're sacrificing rhythm and balance. I'm sure some people do, but I am going out there aiming to have the best, most rhythmical, loveliest ride I can, and I will use a watch to check in and make small adjustments during the course (won't be looking at my watch at the end and then galloping hell-bent for leather or slowing wayyyy down to make time). I think it's a useful tool.

Yes, I know you should have a perfect built-in clock in your mind and be able to tell the pace for the level. But what if competition nerves get in my way and I need a little reminder to pick up the pace or slow down just a bit?

Just my two cents. I'd be fine going without one, but I don't see the use in banning them.

snoopy
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:19 PM
Here is the thing about watches....We use them in training to teach us to recognize pace. I used to set out minute markers for the different speeds at different levels. All horses have a different feel going at the same pace, so this was done for all horses. I think watches are useful to help you maintain a somewhat consistant pace. What I do not like at the lower levels is when the watches ditcates the ride. This is when it can become dangerous when you start chasing the clock.

Festivity
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:19 PM
I don't watches are that much of a problem, again it comes back to good horse management skills. I do use a watch on XC, but it is to make sure that we don't go too fast. My boy has a very comfortable cruising speed that is well above BN speed, but neither of us is ready yet to move up. He is so effortless about it that watching or riding it is hard to realize that he is moving that fast. Especially as we were happily flying around our first competition course attacking fences much more boldly than I had expected from my barely 14.2 hd arab. He had so much fun that after crossing the finish line his ears were up, his step was still bouncy and he was asking "Ok mom, I am all warmed up now. What next?" I think part of the problem is that people don't do things from the ground up and are totally focused on competing. With my little guy, I picked out his parents, raised him, and did all of his training. Sure, he is 11 and just now starting competing, but we have both had a blast and survived undergrad and grad school together during that time. I am not saying that everyone should train their own horses, but it does worry me when I hear people say that they have only been riding and around horses for a year, but will be competing shortly. And their trainer thinks they are ready even though they probably couldn't pass the full D2 requirements in PC.

Big Spender
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:35 PM
Would someone please explain why an instructor must have two students going Novice before they can enroll in the ICP program?

If we want better instructors for the lower levels, should not the program be available before the students are going Novice? :confused:

THIS! Thank you! I was interested in this program when it was first introduced, but because of the restriction on number of students competing, I was never able to do it. I grew up in Pony Club (graduate A has to count for something), ran through Intermediate 3-day and have taught most of my life, but because most of my students are Pony Club kids who don't compete much, or adult amateurs who like to just learn how to ride, I don't have a chance getting into the program. I think there should be other considerations. Just because you have enough students competing, doesn't mean you can teach. Some of these "trainers" don't even ride themselves. Not a big fan of this program. :no:

PhoenixFarm
Jun. 22, 2010, 02:06 PM
Anyone who thinks the ICP program is going to solve ANY of these problems is delusional. Sorry.

wanderlust
Jun. 22, 2010, 02:27 PM
Anyone who thinks the ICP program is going to solve ANY of these problems is delusional. Sorry.
Amen. The absolute worst instructor I have seen in probably my lifetime is certified ICP level II. Doesn't stop him from having 11 year olds ride with draw reins daily and pony kids jump in side reins made out of bailing twine. No joke. Phoenix Farm probably knows who this is, too.

WNT
Jun. 22, 2010, 05:07 PM
Some of the problems outlined here are a chunk of why I've gotten disillusioned with the horse world in general. I was introduced to eventing through Pony Club, and was blessed with both supportive, involved parents and an instructor who is a through-and-through horsewoman. My parents' first question when I came home from a rally was never "what ribbon did you get" but "did you have fun". I'm sure there are still parents like that out there, but it seems like I never see or hear them. I know my mom enjoyed riding vicariously through me, but it was always the horse first (she even ran after him one time I fell off, upon seeing that other people were attending to me...)

It seems discouraging that I feel I have a lot of knowledge I would like to pass on to students, but I also feel that in a competitive venue, I would not be a "ride to win" teacher, but a "ride to have fun and learn/improve". Maybe I am just not in the right place to do that (big pond, itty-bitty-teeny-tiny fish, lol). I sincerely hope to change that some day.

I honestly don't know how we, as the eventing community, can change these trends. It is not only a trend in eventing, or the horse world in general, it seems like a whole cultural shift away from taking responsibility, away from putting the time into doing things well, and to now-now-now-cheap-cheap-cheap and 'it's not my fault'. I apologize for the over-cynical tone, but, well, cynicism seems to be the norm these days.

EiRide
Jun. 22, 2010, 05:52 PM
This may not be the spot, but when it comes to junior riders at this juncture, I'm seeing a real change in culture, that often originates with the parents. I don't know why this is, but the day of the barn rat seems to be over. The best kids I have, who are dedicated, and love being at the barn, etc. are still not at the barn as much as I was at the time because their parents insist they do other things, be involved in their school, etc. There is always a play, a concert, another sport, you name it. And that then leads to a lot of pressure to perform at the show, because of what they are "giving up" to be there.

I teach college. In the last five years I've had more angry parents call me up than I did in the 14 years before that put together. Actually, I never spoke to a parent until about seven years ago when one called me. I nearly fell off my chair. They don't want to let go and let the student make his or her own choices. They come in and want to get rid of a much needed remedial class because their mom said they don't need it! Sheesh. We've had more than one incoming freshman who showed up to advising and placement this week who didn't have a photo id, so could not get a schedule. To a man they blamed their parents for not reminding them, and mom and dad didn't whack them on the back of the head for this but stood there nodding.

I spent hours running wild in my local woods, at my stable, and with my horse. The school bus dropped me at the stable and my dad would scoop me on the way back from work. I guess not that many kids do that any more. :(

Also, my god daughter is in a Pony Club with VERY suspect instruction quality. They changed around her horse's tack so that it did not properly fit, lengthened her stirrup so she was pitching forward on the flat and over fences, and the jumps I see these kids being sent over with ill trained horses and weak positions and strength!! Dear gods!!!! My god daughter's mom is a very savvy horse person, but they get into their mom-daughter mode so she is not the right person to be the coach, if you know what I mean. I try to get down there for lessons for her but she's several hours away, so this is pretty inconsistent. When money is a significant issue, getting good instruction is a problem. I suspect she will quit her club when her membership time is up, due to concerns with their horsemanship and the quality of the instruction.

VicariousRider
Jun. 22, 2010, 06:56 PM
but, to be honest, time is money. When my daughter was learning to ride, I paid for lesson hours that were spent teaching her skills like wrapping, braiding, etc instead of spending the hour riding. She wanted to learn and I didn't feel it was fair to take up the trainer's time without compensating her. On the flip side, after doing that, the trainer realized just how serious my daughter was and became more invested in her education and sent more opportunities her way because she knew it would be worthwhile to them both,

I think that we are on the same page. I was just observing the fact that the fact of the matter is that most trainers must teach riding lessons to make money on a daily basis. I wish that I had had the lessons that your daughter did, but my parents were not horsey people and were naive about the importance of horsemanship skills. They tried to help be get a summer ws position with my trainer when I was in my early teens, but she was not interested. She was a great riding trainer so I just started reading books, etc.

kdow
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:38 PM
I teach college. In the last five years I've had more angry parents call me up than I did in the 14 years before that put together. Actually, I never spoke to a parent until about seven years ago when one called me. I nearly fell off my chair. They don't want to let go and let the student make his or her own choices.

I'm a college student and the one time my mom was SUPER upset about a grade I got and sent one of my professors a nasty email, I was so horribly embarrassed I probably apologized to the professor about seventeen times. (I also had a nice long talk with my mom.) It boggles my mind that other students treat that kind of thing as normal.

(Don't get me wrong, I think there are times when it's appropriate for the parents to be involved, such as when a relative died and my dad called up the head of the department just to confirm what had happened because I was going to miss some classes and he wanted to be sure they knew it wasn't just an excuse, or when a classmate ignored a health problem until he landed in the hospital and simply wasn't in a fit state to be making arrangements himself for the missed classes, but those events are clearly in the minority.)

melodiousaphony
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:48 PM
One was at my barn for a short time, she wouldnt ride for 2 months, come out and gallop the pony until it was soaked, jump around the ring through my Training/Prelim fences set on horse distances (her pony was 13.2). Chase to the corner I had set up and push long. She never once rode in a snaffle, her jumping bit was a 3 ring and her flat bit was a pelham. She took one lesson with my coach, who told her she had to change the way she rode to get good flatwork....girl refused to pay her for the lesson and then left while we were gone at a show.

Screw the rider... I kind of want the pony! (Or I would, if I weren't so dang tall). He sounds like a trooper.

I would freak if I saw someone riding like that, but holy cow... I just read this and thought that pony is totally wasted on a rider like that!

melodiousaphony
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:55 PM
Would someone please explain why an instructor must have two students going Novice before they can enroll in the ICP program?

If we want better instructors for the lower levels, should not the program be available before the students are going Novice? :confused:

You do not need to have two students going Novice to enroll in the ICP program.

I happen to know this because I do not, in fact, have two students at Novice. At this juncture, I am just starting to coach potential hunter-jumper converts (as in, this coming weekend at a derby). I have on friend I am going to start teaching who is taking her beautifully (self) reschooled OTTB BN and needs help remembering to work on herself, not just the horse she's done a great job with.
And...
I'm enrolled in the ICP Program. In fact, I just went to the back-to-back Level I/II Workshops at New Spring Farm as a candidate.

Check out the section on the Provisional Certification (http://www.useventing.com/education.php?section=instructors)

It was an intense experience, but now I feel safe starting to coach and teach. No, I'm not ready for an assessment, I do not quite have the confidence to teach in front of the BNTs in a high pressure situation (let me tell you, it's MUCH more intimidating than you might think), but I want to be. I got the okay to teach though, and that meant a lot. There really IS too much bad teaching (basics, what are those?), and bad coaching (as in letting people move up before they should).

The reason I decided to do this is because I am sick of seeing what I see at events. I want to be able to go out, teach, and coach. No, I'm not an upper level rider, but I am someone who wants to see a safer, more positive environment. I want to teach people to not move up until they are ready, to take care of their horse above all else, and to enjoy the learning process.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:46 PM
I have actually had people offer me sympathy if I didn't finish in the top few, without asking if I was happy, if I'd had a good day, how my horse was coming along, etc. They don't even stop to think - it's an automatic judgment. I end up feeling I am supposed to justify and defend anything less than winning.

Do you know how many times in the past 2 years I have finished last (in the tiny Open Novice divisions) with my young horse, but been totally pleased with my day? With my older guy, it used to be that if we had a good day, we got a ribbon, because our best was really top notch at Training and Prelim, and the only time we ever didnt get good ribbons was when we bombed (and once we bombed and still won, because nearly everyone else fell off, and my coach told me I didnt deserve it....and I agreed). With my little guy, I know he is capable of bigger things, and I dont care what ribbon we get because every good ride is one step closer in his journey to bigger things. I guess I just have more lofty goals for him so a ribbon at Novice just doesnt seem important.

Bobthehorse
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:48 PM
Amen. The absolute worst instructor I have seen in probably my lifetime is certified ICP level II. Doesn't stop him from having 11 year olds ride with draw reins daily and pony kids jump in side reins made out of bailing twine. No joke. Phoenix Farm probably knows who this is, too.

*bangs on heart to start beating again*

Dear god.

PhoenixFarm
Jun. 22, 2010, 09:00 PM
melodiuos, I agree completely on the dearth of good teaching. And I applaud and admire the ideas and concerns that came together to form the idea for the ICP. It's a great, noble, and correct idea--certify instructors to create a modicum of reliability in instruction.

But, out here in the trenches, that idea remains a lofty goal, the reality of which falls far, far short.

In my area, there has been a recent push (read political pressure) to get lots of certified instructors. The thing is, from my viewpoint, the scary ones are still scary, the excellent ones are still excellent, and no one has changed anything they are doing, post-certification. They tell jokes and laugh about using the right buzzwords, and teaching the test, and that it's more important to use the right terminology, than to have any understanding of what it really means. (For instance, someone whom I know for a fact couldn't define or demonstrate the difference between speed and implusion manages to parrot the right phrase and gets in).

One unintended consequence I also see, is that people are testing at higher levels than they really should, because the egalitarian view of ICP certification has also not come to pass. That is, the idea was in any given area you'd have certified instructors at all levels, and Joe Newbie would start with a level one, and as their career went up the levels, they'd move from one instructor to another, bringing business to all.

In reality, the Level IV or III, wants that newbie from day one, convinces/advertises that they are a better than a I or II (and it seems clear to Joe Newbie that must be so because IV is a bigger number than II, LOL). So, in order to compete business-wise the smart thing to do becomes to certify at the highest level you can get away with. It often means falsifying records of who your students are.

And this doesn't even touch on the issues of ICP instructors or faculty who are cringe-worthy.

As I said, I wholeheartedly support the IDEA that created the ICP. I just don't see it's current incarntion as helping at all with these grass roots/low level issues--mainly because those issues have everything to do with what kind of human being and horseman you, the trainer, are. And horsemanship and personal integrity are two items not covered in the ICP program.

quietann
Jun. 22, 2010, 09:55 PM
And I too learned the old cowboy ways. And San Diego does have some rough canyons! But I didn't ever have a 'lesson'. While I'm glad that your trainer got your ass out there, you should have done it yourself after awhile. I would take a lesson and just because, I would go out for a hack afterwards.

Way OT, but you can't do that when the horses you have to ride are someone else's school horses. There were also issues of transportation (no way to get to any barn from PB except by car) and health (I was a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic at the time, and not dealing with it well. In fact, the only reason I got to ride at all was because my endocrinologist insisted on it -- I needed physical activity in a form that would be psychologically beneficial as well.)

I didn't even know you could lease a horse back then and the lack of transport made being any more of a barn rat than I already was impossible.

I'm still not 100% comfortable riding by myself, though I've done it a lot since I took up riding again.

redlight
Jun. 23, 2010, 09:32 AM
Ask any professional how to improve your riding and they will tell you to ride as much as possible and on any kind of horse that you can in order to develop feel. Feel is something you cannot teach. It can only be learned through the hours, days, months and years one spends riding and working around horses. As Phoenix Farm so rightly points out in an earlier post, today's kids are not provided with the time to really learn to ride and work with horses. They are so over-scheduled with multiple sports and extra curricular activities that riding is relegated to one or two hours a week with the trainer keeping the horse schooled and fit between lessons.

The number of good trainers who specialize in working with new riders and instilling the basics is few and far between because the status is in getting students to competitions. The assumption is, if you are teaching beginners then you don't know anything. I've seen plenty of scary riding at the lower levels by people who do ride with trainers. The push to compete in order to justify the daily expenses of having a horse conflicts with what is needed in order to become a competent rider. This problem is not unique to eventing.

The basics aren't glamorous. I remember when I was a kid I just wanted to jump and jump higher but my instructor wouldn't let me as form+aids = function came first. If I had a stop or a run out, guess what? It was MY fault not the horses. I HATED hearing it but she was right and it has served me well to this day MANY years later.

lizajane09
Jun. 23, 2010, 10:18 AM
This thread is really making me appreciate my parents. When they let me start riding, it was just another of the many activities I participated in. But when I (at the advanced age of 9 or so :lol:), wanted to stop participating in some of these other activities to spend more time at the barn, they let me. They made sure I really wanted it by having me work off many of my lessons (and board, when a pony later entered the picture) mucking stalls, etc., but I think they knew that if I would rather be mucking than at a Girl Scouts' meeting or gymnastics, that that was probably a good indicator of how much I wanted to ride.

I spent the majority of weekends and summers as a kid doing barnwork in exchange for riding whatever I could, and looking back it was an invaluable experience. Sure, I got bucked off dead green ponies a lot, but I also spent a lot of time racing down creek beds with friends, galloping bareback around fields on naughty ponies, sitting on a huge variety of horses, and learning about every aspect of horse care. I can't imagine starting out without that.

I wanted to add, though, that the parents aren't the only ones to blame for pushing kids into a million activities. All through high school, I heard from my guidance counselor and many teachers, "If you don't stop spending so much time at the barn and join [insert school-related group extracurricular activity], you'll NEVER get into a good college!" They were wrong, of course, but that doesn't mean that both parents and kids aren't getting this kind of pressure from "experts".

As an aside, I know it's hard for those who have to teach to make a living to spend hours teaching extra horsemanship/horse care stuff, but when I was in Pony Club and teaching younger kids I used to LOVE doing that! I once made a bunch of D2s put rocks in their shoes and walk around for a minute as a lesson in why they really did have to pick their ponies' feet before they rode... If you are in an area with a good PC program (we all know there are some that are on the not-so-good end), it can be great for teaching kids about that aspect of working with horses, as individual responsibility for the care of your own horse is highly stressed. For example, no parental help at rallies! Can't get off your horse at x-c and hand the reins to mom if mom isn't allowed to be there...

KBG Eventer
Jun. 23, 2010, 11:27 AM
I wanted to add, though, that the parents aren't the only ones to blame for pushing kids into a million activities. All through high school, I heard from my guidance counselor and many teachers, "If you don't stop spending so much time at the barn and join [insert school-related group extracurricular activity], you'll NEVER get into a good college!" They were wrong, of course, but that doesn't mean that both parents and kids aren't getting this kind of pressure from "experts".



I think this is a good point. My college guidance counselor has actually been very supportive of my horseback riding, but I do feel the pressure to have diverse extracurriculars to please colleges. I know it's not that they want kids to do a million different activities. They want to see dedication to a couple of different things but even a couple of different things takes time away from horses. Then there is studying for school, the SAT, the ACT, etc.

Anyway, I had to add a little story to back up my point. I was visiting a well known, high ranked private university last fall during an open house/preview day. The head of admissions gave a talk about what they are looking for on applications. One of his examples of what not to do was a girl whose main activity was "hunter jumping". She had very little extracurriculars listed other than her horseback riding, and one of her essays spoke about how so much of her time was spent at the barn. The admissions guy said that applications like that one concerned them because A) They like to see students with more than one focus and B) He said if this girl was so focused on horses how could they expect her to have time to fully involve herself with the university's community and be an active member of it? I guess I can somewhat see his point, but it was very discouraging to me. I'm not applying there this fall (for other reasons as well)! Luckily other colleges I have visited were not like that at all, but I bet that one university isn't alone.

lcw579
Jun. 23, 2010, 01:44 PM
KGB - your story is disheartening and I wonder if the admissions officer would have said the same thing if the girl was only interested in basketball or some other sport played at school.

I am always surprised by the parents who insist that there children have another sport or hobby. Those who insist that the children need another focus. Of course, I always stare at them blankly and ask why? :lol: Funny thing is they never have an answer for me.

Only one of mine rides and she spends as much of her free time as possible at the barn. She enjoys riding different horses and gaining new experiences. I love it when the kids all head out for a hack and are lost for hours. Finally, she is getting to experience some of the freedom I had at her age. I do know of trainers, though, that don't let their students head out and just have fun sometimes. It is drill, drill, drill all the time and that makes me sad for the horses and the riders.

I'm happy that my daughter, who likes to be competitive, has realized that getting the green horse around the course is a reward in and of itself and that a ribbon on top is just icing on the cake. Otherwise, I'd have to beat her and the authorities frown on that! ;)

magnolia73
Jun. 23, 2010, 02:11 PM
I feel somewhat bad for today's teens who have to live their lives around what some admissions officer thinks is an appropriate indicator of their ability to be successful in college.

The sad thing is- an excellent student of riding is probably going to make someone an excellent employee- dedication, a willingness to work hard, the ability to put the needs of something else first, the ability to take direction, but yet also functioning independently. Problem solving. The ability to overcome adversity and try again when things go wrong. Respect for authority and rules. Teamwork. Focus.

Gotta believe a highschooler who is serious about riding and horsemanship is learning more about the above than the kid who does yearbook, soccer, track, prom court, volunteers 2 hours a month, goes to church, golfs, fishes, does karate and takes pottery- all of it half assed, with no dedication- because how can you develop passion when you are flying from activity to activity?

kdow
Jun. 23, 2010, 02:20 PM
I think where college applications come into play, a lot of people are let down by the idea that there's a set 'recipe' to follow - instead of thinking about meeting the recipe (X activities, Y of which have to be volunteer, etc.) you need to think in terms of SALES. You're selling yourself to the college.

If in the essay mentioned, rather than simply talking about how much time was spent at the barn, the girl had explicitly pointed out how the various skills she'd learned at the barn would help her be a "good citizen" of the college and how they also applied to lead to her interest in studying her subject of choice, the overall impression the admissions people formed of her probably would have been very different.

I mean, when you think about it, there's a LOT you learn from working with horses and being part of a barn community that's really highly applicable to all kinds of non-horse situations, but those skills and the connection to the world outside horses is not going to be immediately obvious to someone who knows very little about horses. Where they're assuming "lots of time at the barn" = "riding around looking pretty", it may well be that all that time at the barn is actually representative of more than one focus or interest, it's just that they're being hidden by the umbrella of 'horse'.