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VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 1, 2002, 06:42 PM
I debated as to whether or not to post this on this forum, since I recently sent it to an unnamed equestrian publication. But I'm interested to see what kind of responses I get, and, after all, it's MY letter /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif.

Please feel free to post replies or email me.

Jason Laumbach

***TEXT FOLLOWS***

An open letter to professionals

As a full-time professional Hunter/Jumper instructor and trainer for over 15 years now, I think I’ve proved my love of and devotion to the sport in many ways to many people. As someone interested in the development of the sport in the US, I have to write this letter.

Something is wrong. Very wrong. There are too many trends that concern me a great deal for me cover in the scope of this letter, but I want to talk about a few that I find the most disturbing.

It seems, in many ways, that the attitude any more is all about the business, and by that I mean making money. Now don’t get me wrong, we all have to deal with the financial end of the business (believe me, I’ve been there in those tight months and years!!! Many times!), but the industry is focusing entirely too much on competition anymore. It seems that everyone is in a big hurry to move their kids up to the higher divisions as quickly as possible, and that success is measured solely (by some) by the number of ribbons on the wall. As a junior, I was taught and continue to teach my students that shows should be treated as a test of the mastery of the art of riding, not as an end unto themselves. It seems that more and more people do nothing but hop from competition to competition.

I love to see my kids do well, just like you like to see yours do well. But I have to say that, honestly, nothing every makes me prouder than when one of my students comes out of the ring after a stellar trip, doesn’t pin, and is still satisfied with the ride, or when one of my kids is unsatisfied with the blue-ribbon trip because she knew she could do better. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

I dislike hearing and talking to big-name trainers who dismissively say that they “don’t teach beginners”. Where in the name of all that’s holy do these people think the intermediate and advanced riders they work with come from? Is there a “rider tree” growing in their yard that I’m just not aware of? What disturbs me most about this attitude is this: all too often, beginning riders are relegated to the least experienced instructor available, which I find often does them almost irreparable harm. Any competent trainer knows that the most critical time in making a young rider (at least in my experience) is the first 1.5-2 years. If you start them properly under an experienced, educated eye, they’ll move up much more smoothly and quickly later. New instructors (yes, I was one too, after all…) should be started teaching with advanced beginner and low intermediate classes, after the basic foundation is established.

Personally, I like working with beginners. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to bring along a rider from the “ground up” and have them turn into a class horseman. My riders are my “product”, and I love my work deeply.

I am very disturbed by trends I see in competition today, most notably the lowering of standards in all divisions in the US, from fence heights to course difficulty. The reason usually given is “we want to make the division more inviting”. Hogwash. Lowering standards and simplifying courses until they match the level of the riders who want to compete is like lowering literacy standards at school until sub-par students get a passing grade, not through their own work and achievements, but because the standards have been lowered to accommodate them. I’ve seen this go on for many years, and the result is plain for all to see.

Wild children on scrappy ponies in ridiculously low classes run under jumper rules racing madly around the ring trying to “beat the clock”. In my opinion, time should NEVER be introduced as a factor any earlier than the Am-Owner/Junior phase. Kids need to spend time in the hunters and equitation to develop form, style and smoothness. All too often anymore, I see riders moved up into “Very Low Jumper” and “Special Jumper” classes well before they should be riding under those rules, which are designed for a much more experienced competitor.

The kids and adults today just don’t ride like they used to. Watch some video and look at some pictures from the late 60’s through the late 70’s (in my opinion, our strongest decade as a nation). There is a clear, unmistakable difference in effectiveness and form from our current crop. I don’t say this to disparage our young riders and amateurs, many of whom try very, very hard and are excellent riders. I say it because these few are becoming more and more the exception rather than the rule.

“Just get it done” has become the mantra of the day. What happened to style, grace, and fluidity? These things seem to have fallen prey to the almighty dollar.

I can hear the answers now: “But our customers want it this way, and we have to give them what they want!” My answer is quite simple. No. We have an obligation to give them what they need, which is definitely not always synonymous with what they want. It is our obligation to educate and inform our students and parents, so that they have a deeper understanding of the sport, not to simply blindly cater to their wishes. Riders are a product of the program they’re created in. Period.

More and more trainers seem to have allowed themselves to be turned into babysitters, and their facilities into dressed up day-care-centers with horses. I find this deeply saddening (and honestly, liken it to a form of prostitution). No, I’m not wealthy, but I honestly love my work every single day. How many of you can say that?

Ok, so here’s my challenge to you: Prove me wrong. Write me and tell me how I’m wrong. I promise to read and reply to all politely worded letters and emails. I’d also like to hear from you if you think I’m right, or any mixture of the two. It seems to me that the more professionals that at least talk about these issues, the closer we all are to actually doing something constructive (which I personally would love to be a part of).

Jason Laumbach
VI Riding Academy
PMB 123, 133 Tutu Park Mall
Saint Thomas, VI 00802
laumbach@islands.vi

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 1, 2002, 06:42 PM
I debated as to whether or not to post this on this forum, since I recently sent it to an unnamed equestrian publication. But I'm interested to see what kind of responses I get, and, after all, it's MY letter /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif.

Please feel free to post replies or email me.

Jason Laumbach

***TEXT FOLLOWS***

An open letter to professionals

As a full-time professional Hunter/Jumper instructor and trainer for over 15 years now, I think I’ve proved my love of and devotion to the sport in many ways to many people. As someone interested in the development of the sport in the US, I have to write this letter.

Something is wrong. Very wrong. There are too many trends that concern me a great deal for me cover in the scope of this letter, but I want to talk about a few that I find the most disturbing.

It seems, in many ways, that the attitude any more is all about the business, and by that I mean making money. Now don’t get me wrong, we all have to deal with the financial end of the business (believe me, I’ve been there in those tight months and years!!! Many times!), but the industry is focusing entirely too much on competition anymore. It seems that everyone is in a big hurry to move their kids up to the higher divisions as quickly as possible, and that success is measured solely (by some) by the number of ribbons on the wall. As a junior, I was taught and continue to teach my students that shows should be treated as a test of the mastery of the art of riding, not as an end unto themselves. It seems that more and more people do nothing but hop from competition to competition.

I love to see my kids do well, just like you like to see yours do well. But I have to say that, honestly, nothing every makes me prouder than when one of my students comes out of the ring after a stellar trip, doesn’t pin, and is still satisfied with the ride, or when one of my kids is unsatisfied with the blue-ribbon trip because she knew she could do better. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

I dislike hearing and talking to big-name trainers who dismissively say that they “don’t teach beginners”. Where in the name of all that’s holy do these people think the intermediate and advanced riders they work with come from? Is there a “rider tree” growing in their yard that I’m just not aware of? What disturbs me most about this attitude is this: all too often, beginning riders are relegated to the least experienced instructor available, which I find often does them almost irreparable harm. Any competent trainer knows that the most critical time in making a young rider (at least in my experience) is the first 1.5-2 years. If you start them properly under an experienced, educated eye, they’ll move up much more smoothly and quickly later. New instructors (yes, I was one too, after all…) should be started teaching with advanced beginner and low intermediate classes, after the basic foundation is established.

Personally, I like working with beginners. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to bring along a rider from the “ground up” and have them turn into a class horseman. My riders are my “product”, and I love my work deeply.

I am very disturbed by trends I see in competition today, most notably the lowering of standards in all divisions in the US, from fence heights to course difficulty. The reason usually given is “we want to make the division more inviting”. Hogwash. Lowering standards and simplifying courses until they match the level of the riders who want to compete is like lowering literacy standards at school until sub-par students get a passing grade, not through their own work and achievements, but because the standards have been lowered to accommodate them. I’ve seen this go on for many years, and the result is plain for all to see.

Wild children on scrappy ponies in ridiculously low classes run under jumper rules racing madly around the ring trying to “beat the clock”. In my opinion, time should NEVER be introduced as a factor any earlier than the Am-Owner/Junior phase. Kids need to spend time in the hunters and equitation to develop form, style and smoothness. All too often anymore, I see riders moved up into “Very Low Jumper” and “Special Jumper” classes well before they should be riding under those rules, which are designed for a much more experienced competitor.

The kids and adults today just don’t ride like they used to. Watch some video and look at some pictures from the late 60’s through the late 70’s (in my opinion, our strongest decade as a nation). There is a clear, unmistakable difference in effectiveness and form from our current crop. I don’t say this to disparage our young riders and amateurs, many of whom try very, very hard and are excellent riders. I say it because these few are becoming more and more the exception rather than the rule.

“Just get it done” has become the mantra of the day. What happened to style, grace, and fluidity? These things seem to have fallen prey to the almighty dollar.

I can hear the answers now: “But our customers want it this way, and we have to give them what they want!” My answer is quite simple. No. We have an obligation to give them what they need, which is definitely not always synonymous with what they want. It is our obligation to educate and inform our students and parents, so that they have a deeper understanding of the sport, not to simply blindly cater to their wishes. Riders are a product of the program they’re created in. Period.

More and more trainers seem to have allowed themselves to be turned into babysitters, and their facilities into dressed up day-care-centers with horses. I find this deeply saddening (and honestly, liken it to a form of prostitution). No, I’m not wealthy, but I honestly love my work every single day. How many of you can say that?

Ok, so here’s my challenge to you: Prove me wrong. Write me and tell me how I’m wrong. I promise to read and reply to all politely worded letters and emails. I’d also like to hear from you if you think I’m right, or any mixture of the two. It seems to me that the more professionals that at least talk about these issues, the closer we all are to actually doing something constructive (which I personally would love to be a part of).

Jason Laumbach
VI Riding Academy
PMB 123, 133 Tutu Park Mall
Saint Thomas, VI 00802
laumbach@islands.vi

SBT
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:05 PM
...I have just one question. You are from the Virgin Islands. Do you come to the States to show? Do you attend a lot of the "A" shows and others that you're preaching about? If the answer is "yes," then perhaps you should say so in your letter. Upon reading your address, my gut reaction was, "Has he actually experienced what he's talking about?"

If you haven't shown in the Continental US, you should mention that, too. Either way, you need to clarify which of your opinions are based on personal experience, and which ones are general observations. IMO, doing this will give more merit to your letter.

Otherwise, it is a well-written letter with a lot of good points. I especially like the "rider tree" comment! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

~Sara
*Charter member of the GM Fan Club*
*Member of the Dirt Divers 78th Airborne Unit, ATH Squadron*

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:25 PM
As to my own experience. I have run several major H/J facilities in eastern MD, and the PA area.

Yes, I am very familiar with the show scene, both as it was and as it now is. I am speaking from personal experience teaching and training in the US I'm still in the US, incidentally, the VI is a territory, not another country, and yes, I run a small teaching operation here, only one of it's kind.(I would never presume to write about something I know nothing about, you won't see my writeup in "law review". /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

To be quite honest, I doubt it gets published. Definately not the current trend. But I'll be interested to see what kinds of replies I get.

/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Jason

Dakotawyatt
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:27 PM
I think you have many solid points. Being an instructor myself, I have dealt with many parents that questioned my teaching ability because their child wasn't jumping 3 foot courses 6 months after learning to walk. I feel that many of my students ride because their parents want the 'elitism' of a child winning ribbons at shows, yet the kid could care less. Because of this trend, I have left the large show barn I taught at and moved to a VERY small (6 horses) barn to teach. Now, I teach to people who WANT to ride...there is NO show atmosphere, so the feeling is one of relaxation and an eagerness to learn.

When I was learning to ride, I could only show once I had demonstrated a strong knowledge of what I was doing. Ie: if I was riding 2'6 courses at home, once I could consistently lay down solid trips, I was allowed to show the 2'3 hunters and equitation. Now the same barn I learned at is pushing any and all students to show, show, show. I think this trainer is more concerned with having the riders in all the top end of the year points placings than with working on maintaing a solid foundation.

As far as the jumpers go, I feel they are classes for those with a strong background in the hunters and the equitation classes. Jumpers are so technical, just like an equitation class. It's no accident that past Medal/Maclay winners seem to win often in the GP ring. I feel that the LOWEST jumper classes should be 3'0. That would help keep the 7 year old pony hunters in the hunter ring. I agree that shows are important, but riders can easily test themselves against other riders once a month instead of once a week. In the end, what does it come down to? That's for you to decide. JMHO.

"The daughter who won't lift a finger in the house is the same child who cycles madly off in the pouring rain to spend all morning mucking out a stable." (Samantha Armstrong)

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:34 PM
to talk to someone who actually seems to agree with me, at least occasionally!

I've never been happier than running my small facility, even though my kids only get to show a few times a year because of our location.

So whaddya think, think It'll get published? Better yet, think I'll get hate mail? I fully expect some of the "who do you think you are" variety.

My kids get a strong equitations and classical horsemanship background, and look at shows as a means to an end, not an end unto themselves (an attitude I've been VERY careful to foster over the years).

I've coached kids to the finals, Juniors, High Ammies, etc. But you know what, the ones who always seem to win my heart in the end are the ones who don't have much of anything but the DESIRE.

Guess I'm just old fashioned (I've certainly been called such more times than I'd care to count).

Thanks for your reply.

Jason


/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Dakotawyatt
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:45 PM
sure you'll probably get opposition about your opinion. I just feel that shows are important in the small scheme of things. They're fun...once they stop being fun, it's time to just ride. There are many riders out there that feel shows are what we work for. Do we? Do we work so hard, day in and day out for a show circuit that only other horse people even care about? It's interesting to me that on Big eq website, in the e-interviews, many of the juniors interviewed cite '"regular" jobs as their long term goals. Attorneys, marketing professionals, doctors, vets, etc. Professional riders are another topic entirely...they show for the money. They show to get exposure for their farms or to attract potential clients.

Anyway, don't want to be in the middle of a big debate! I prefer to keep a low profile, just felt like giving a little support to ya. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

"The daughter who won't lift a finger in the house is the same child who cycles madly off in the pouring rain to spend all morning mucking out a stable." (Samantha Armstrong)

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:50 PM
Somehow, I think that'll probably be few and far between. (ah well, I've never been popular, why would I start now!)

Jason

Nikki^
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:51 PM
How is it there in the VI? My brother lives there! So cool!

But I agree with you 100%. I've seen what you are talking about in the barn I board at. My trainer, who live in Auburn and runs her own barn, doesn't go by those trends of just winning. She always teaches the basics and guess what? Her studnets win every year end award in the AHJA.

She always taught us to learn how to deal with your horse instead of getting gagets or selling the horse to buy another one. She never had money and she had to train her QH ( devil QH) becuase she couldn't affford the fancy horses. She worked her rear off for a Show barn in Birmingham and learned the ropes. Well Her QH beat out those 100k horses and she is a fabolous rider becuase she learn how to ride her diffucult QH.

That is how I learned how to ride greeneis and my now TB. She still puts me on spooky greenies cause it helps with my confidence and I have a ton more fun learning how to train and ride then just sitting on a made horse looking pretty. And she teaches beginners too.

She is also 25 years old and her showing/boarding business has taken off!!! I am so happy for her cause she earned everything!! She worked very hard to where she is now and I deeply respect her. I was there when she started out her teaching business so I know how far she has come.

Enough babbling..BTW, she is tons of fun also! Notice how nice the teachers are when they are not in it for the money???

[This message was edited by Nikkibaby27 on Dec. 01, 2002 at 11:04 PM.]

[This message was edited by Nikkibaby27 on Dec. 03, 2002 at 05:46 PM.]

[This message was edited by Nikkibaby27 on Dec. 03, 2002 at 05:47 PM.]

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 1, 2002, 07:55 PM
warm. Always warm.

You have no idea how monotonous that gets after a few years. What I wouldn't give for a little snow...

/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Thanks for the reply.

Jason

TexHunter
Dec. 1, 2002, 08:25 PM
I agree with you, but a small question to everyone out there.

There are jumpers under 3', besides pony jumpers? Why? What is the purpose?

Sorry for the ignorance /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

..Its fun, thats why I do it..

Luisa
Dec. 1, 2002, 08:42 PM
I really agree with the message you are trying to send. IT is the story that keeps repeating itself, I am sure not only in the US, Mexico (where I live), Europe and the rest of the world. They care about the pinning, and it doesn't matter if they almost killed themselves during the ride. You can imagine how this is even worse in Mexico, since there are no ponies or hunters.
The trainers need to change their mindset, because now it's all about he money: especially the comission for buying a big money horse. I was telling my own trainer: Don't be stupid, I know what you care about is the money, but better to sell 4 horses to this person over the years, increasing in value, than sell one now of bigger bucks, have it not work out, and lose the client.
Don't ever think the kids riding expensive horses and winning thing will ever stop though. Some even go to the Olympics! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Life isn't always fair. But then again, sometimes they fall off. Hehe.
-Luisa

"As the Europeans say - No Scope, No Hope!"

Snowbird
Dec. 1, 2002, 08:56 PM
Yes! there are some of everything you talk about but like flotsum in the river they catch on some branches but not all.

If you are looking for vindication of your opinions it's probably out here, and if you're looking for debate that's out here too.

The fact is that this industry is loaded with individualists who all want different things for different reasons. There is no right way because it's like being a mother we all have our own ideas of what is our right thing.

I can understand those who seek the status and the acclaim for what they believe is excellence, and it might be winning is everything and at any cost. I am also one of the old school who puts the horse first and our mission is to learn to ride and then train the horses to respect us and do what they do from pure joy in the pasture when they are with us.

There are the people who internalize and get their joy from their relationship with the horse and don't need applause and there are those who use the horse to get applause.

Yes! it is sad that too many horses are treated as a means to the end of winning rather than for their own ability. Yes! it is sad when there are too many who are passengers instead of riders. They are the ones who are the losers and it may not even be their own fault. We as horsemen have been pleased with ourselves in our own private world we haven't noticed what others were doing.

I think the flaw is a lack if identity and purpose. Who are we as horsemen? If we are are like the racing people looking for a flash of fame and the big bucks then perhaps those seeking their kind of excellence are right. If we are just horsemen then we have our own way of doing things and our own personal goals. That doesn't make anyoine right or anyone wrong just that everyone is different.

The middle ground is where the majority live and breathe. Why the little fences? So that those horses and ponies considered worthless by the seekers of excellence have a place to live.

It is a fact that we have a society that wants a thrill a minute, no patience for long tedious practice. So we compromise.

Marcella
Dec. 1, 2002, 09:44 PM
I agree very strongly with your letter. Glad to see a professional out there willing to say something. I thought it was just us ammys that thought it was screwed up!

Did you see that letter to the editor in the COTH? It was written by an ammy about getting run around by her trainer so badly. I guarantee there are many horseman and trainers that agree with you. Unfortunately, with the whole economics of the thing, I found that more of the "back yard barns," those that don't show on the A circuit year round are the ones that truly know what they are doing. They are the ones that respect horses and don't treat them as commoditities, for the most part.

I could go on and on, but you have my support! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

TS Clique*Chestnut TB Jumper Clique*GPA Clique*Do It Yourself Clique

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 2, 2002, 04:56 AM
Now, to address a specific reply: I don't have anything inherently against the 3' divisions per se. I think that in theory they're a great idea, and have brought many riders along through the lower divisions over the years. It's certainly a much more incremental step than in the "old days", when it was the ponies or working hunter classes!

I DO, however, have a problem with classes being run under jumper rules lower than 3'6. More and more, especially at the smaller shows, management is offering these "baby jumper" classes, which encourage riders who have NO business competing under those rules to "just have fun with it". Any rider that can't pull off a 3'6 equitation course reasonably well has no business in the jumpers.

Honestly, I tend to blame it on the Equitation ring, which used to fill the role of a level playing field. Used to be, you could take a nice "horsemanship horse" and expect to have a fair shot at pinning. Anymore, the equitation has become it's own little world rather than a means to an end. Judges reward mechanical, stiff children who mindlessly count strides after their trainer has warmed the horse up so thoroughly they're a machine.

The Eq. has become such a beauty contest anymore that a lot of juniors are getting discouraged if they don't have the look or the horse, even if they're a beautiful, functional rider. Many of them are turning to the jumpers MUCH too soon as a means of getting around the judges opinion.

Obviously, I could go on and on. (trust me, my students are... errr...used to it)

Jason Laumbach

pwynnnorman
Dec. 2, 2002, 05:08 AM
...as I said on the GM thread.

You don't like how it is? Well, you have no one to blame but yourself. Have you ever served on a committee or pestered someone who did or rounded up associates to sign a petition or whatever? Have you done anything to put a stop to negative trends? Have you ever put a thought to solutions instead of just complaints?

I repeat: the shows (and the judges) set the standards, not the trainers. Trainers must make money to stay in business and you can't blame them for having to make decisions that are not for the greater good, but rather for the individual good.

IT'S YOUR NATIONAL GOVERNING BODY WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR THE GREATER GOOD!!!!!!

So.......?

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
http://www.sportponiesunlimited.com

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 2, 2002, 05:25 AM
Let me put my thoughts in perspective.

Here's an example: I was an intercollegiate coach for many years, and coached a regional president team for about 5. That kind of position tends to be thankless (an "honor" that means hours of administrative work for free).

During my time in the IHSA, I pushed for standards consistently, again and again. I called board members, wrote letters, pushed my own region toward higher standards so much that I was loved by some and hated by many. One of the most controversial things I finally pushed through on a national level(with a LOT of assistance, don't get me wrong!) was finally setting some minimal standards for local competition.

Many regions were running ridiculously low fences and simplistic courses on a regular basis, right up to the regional and sometimes zone level. Why is this a problem, you ask? Because patently unready riders were being passed along by the system and making it to nationals. I started my "crusade" after watching my first IHSA nationals as a new coach. About 10 REALLY scary trips later, I was convinced that something needed changing in the organization as a whole. So I did something.

I've done the same thing on a local level in several areas, from pushing for more humane treatment and shorter show days to raising standards wherever I could. Unfortunately, this seems to be very difficult to do anymore, mostly because those that are in it for the money outnumber those that are in it for the sport. You tend to get voted down when raising standards means lowering their pocketbook's weight. It's just how it is.

This letter is my attempt at actually addressing these things, which I find many trainers reluctant to discuss. I WANT to make an actual difference, although this letter is more of a "test the waters" kind of deal.

Oh, incidentally, I find it interesting that you seem to have assumed that I had never actually done anything to back up my preaching. You never asked if I had, just assumed that I'm smugly standing on a soapbox somewhere. Not the case.

Jason

Moo
Dec. 2, 2002, 07:49 AM
I was just in St. Thomas, got back yesterday. Wish I had read your post earlier, I would have dropped by! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

"We came, we rode, we conquered."
*Member of the TB Clique, Young Trainers clique and the Disgruntled College Student Clique.*

caffeinated
Dec. 2, 2002, 07:58 AM
Jason- I think you're pretty much spot on. The last two IHSA shows I've been to were kind of frightening. ONe of them used the highest fence heights in the rulebook, which threw off a bunch of riders (including myself), and then the next show had two very difficult courses (compared to most) which threw nearly everyone off (again including myself, as anyone who saw my graceless round can attest).

IHSA is a bit different from regular competition though- being on strange horses, and the horses having to go all day is a big determinant in fence heights. Our school typically runs a hole lower than the rule book heights to save the horses some wear and tear.

As for real showing I really can't say much, having been out of that scene for so long. But your letter does make sense to me based on what gets said on here and what GM and the like say all the time.

I am not a big time rider, and doubt I ever will be. I'm comfortable showing at 3' and less. I don't expect the A circuit to make room for me or people like me- that's why there are local show associations. I do think the A circuit should be more accessible to less moneyed riders (there are plenty out there but it seems that a lot of true talents can't get there because of money, from my perspective), but I don't think they should be dumbed down.

**and people say gov't employees are useless... HA!**

Flash44
Dec. 2, 2002, 08:29 AM
I totally agree with many of your points, especially about the lower height jumpers. The speeds some people cruise around at are dangerous.

But there is a time and place for these lower level classes. Some people may never have the desire or pocketbook to do the A's. However, they still would like to show and do their thing, whether it be the 3' - 3'6 jumpers or 2'6 hunters. Maybe they never will progress to a higher level, but that doesn't mean they don't want to have fun. A stong local circuit fills this need while bringing order and safety to the shows.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 2, 2002, 11:21 AM
Of course there is a time and a place for the lower level divisions. What I object to is simply lowering standards and simplifying courses in EXISTING divisions rather than calling these classes what they are.

No one will EVER be able to convince me, however, that all these tiny "jumper" divisions that are springing up are a good idea for the sport. They encourage poor riding in young riders. Take a young intermediate rider, put them into a "baby jumper" class, and tell them they're being timed. How do most of them ride it? Look around. Scary.

Look back at our strongest decade in international competition (70's) and you'll see that nearly all of our top competitors (Bill Steinkraus, Anne Kursinski,, ...) came out of the equitation ranks as they were being run at the time. These people were great all-around horsemen and riders of a caliber that seems to be disappearing from the US.

There's a reason we're getting our tails kicked at international events, and a reason why the europeans no longer come over here to show. 20 years ago, they all came HERE to attend the big competitions with tough, technical courses. Now our riders are all going over there. Yes, they have certain advatages in that there is a much larger public following available (translates to more $ available), but when the sport was in it's heyday here in the US, we didn't have more expensive horses. We had a better system.

Oh, and a clarification. I wasn't looking to raise the MAXIMUM heights in ihsa competition. I always thought the open height (which used to be 3'6 and is now 3'3) was a good upper limit for a kid getting on someone else's horse.

I was trying to introduce MINIMUMS. Some regions were literally running courses at, I kid you not, 18", with open being about 2'. Over short-stirrup level courses. And these riders were supposed to be prepared for Nationals (where the fences would actually BE at the maximums?). Please.

Jason Laumbach

ccoronios
Dec. 2, 2002, 12:33 PM
I so agree with you. My h/j career (not even sure it rated 'LNT' /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif was in late '60s/early '70s - and I loved showing. But I'd had - and tried to instill in my students - a solid foundation of horsemanship. These days, spent behind a camera, many competitors scare me - and I want to weep for their horses, who have more than earned their wings. And your comparison with schools is very appropriate.
Best of luck with trying to improve our world.

www.ayliprod.com (http://www.ayliprod.com)
Equine Video and Still Photography in the Northeast

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 2, 2002, 12:38 PM
(What an odd name, by the way, you'd think you were posting on a bovine rather than an equine board /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ).

Sorry to have missed you on your trip to St. Thomas. I'm pretty much the only professional down here, so it's always nice to talk to horse people when the opportunity presents itself. My facility is pretty small and I don't really do any advertising per se (pretty much a waste of money in such a small place), so it's unsurprising you never even knew my place existed.

Rarely get a chance to do so, unless I meet some old friends when I take my kids on one of our few away outings. Living on an island is like that.

On the upside, no pressure to run my facility any way other than the way I choose to, and a small clientele made up only of those serious about learning.

Jason

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 2, 2002, 02:18 PM
leave this up for a week or so. Just interested to hear what everyone has to say (yes, even those who don't agree with me!).

Thanks again to all those who have contributed their views or insights. Much appreciated!

Jason

Drummerboy
Dec. 2, 2002, 04:59 PM
JASON

I agree. As a coach and a judge it continually frustrates me to see the lack of respect with which trainers and students deal with thier horses. All in the name of the almighty ribbon. My students WILL wait till they areready to move up, regardless of how long it may take. And no one goes to a show on any type of meds. None. Is it worth the expense to your horse to do that? Not in my barn.

I blame the trainers. We aren't doing our jobs to bring these kids up to see the big picture. Pieces of satin on a wall are not the big picture. Learning how to take the good and the bad with grace and dignity. Being happy with your own performance and that of your horse. Working toward a goal with diligence and patience, knowing you have a good support system helping...

Why do parents pay trainers money to ridicule and harass there kids? And please don't anyone say that only the "wanna be" trainers do this because we all know that some big names either locally or otherwise do this.

This has become a verymoney related sport. Yes, it takes alot to show at the A's, but that doesn't mean we have to lose sight of things. And change begins with the instructors and trainers.

SBT
Dec. 2, 2002, 05:11 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by VIRidingAcademy:
As to my own experience. I have run several major H/J facilities in eastern MD, and the PA area.

Yes, I am very familiar with the show scene, both as it was and as it now is. I am speaking from personal experience teaching and training in the US I'm still in the US, incidentally, the VI is a territory, not another country, and yes, I run a small teaching operation here, only one of it's kind.(I would never presume to write about something I know nothing about, you won't see my writeup in "law review". /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

...fire away! /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Perhaps you should mention some of your credentials in the letter, because they will most certainly lend some weight to your viewpoint. (Aaack, I'm starting to sound like an English teacher! Never mind, It's a great letter. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif )

Thank you for sharing with us, and BTW, welcome to the COTH BB! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

~Sara
*Charter member of the GM Fan Club*
*Member of the Dirt Divers 78th Airborne Unit, ATH Squadron*

jenarby
Dec. 2, 2002, 07:26 PM
Completely with your letter. I am a small time trainer and instructor on a lower level. I have several horses I train and only show them locally as a test to see where they are at. I don't feel that classes should be changed on a higher level. No way. My students start from the ground and work their way up. I could care less if their parents buy them expensive horses and expect them to be in the A's. It's not worth my time and their safety to throw them into these classes when they are not properly prepared.
There is a "riding academy" located not too far from me. I wince and close my eyes when I watch these children show. We are talking 8-15 years olds on ponies, apps, arabs....anything running around doing 3'6" jumpers. I've never been more frightened in my life watching these kids. Basically, hang onto some mare, whip the tar outta that pony andgallop at the fences. Whatever happened to basics? They completely skipped the hunter ring, can't figure that one out.
As a kid I developed my skills in the hunter/dressage ring. There was no way I would be aloowed to step foot into a jumper ring until I could prove myself capable. I think my stars I had a trainer who did that to me.
As for ISHA....
Well, I rode in it too. I found it to be incredibly political. Maybe it was just the school I attended. The coach had her favorites. She overlooked some really talented riders. It was a real shame. I definitely agree with you that keeping your standard a bit higher will give a big wake up call to some of these people. It certainly isn't the easiest thing to hop on an unknown horse and try to push all the right buttons as well as win in eq. But for cryin' out loud....I ended up quitting the team after my freshman year. It wasn't worth it.
I really hope your letter is published, this opinion needs to be heard. Please do list your credentials. Apparently some people who have replied need to have proof that you know what you are talking about. Maybe this will help encourage people to be more prepared as well as open the eyes of some of these ribbon needing parents. Good luck and thank you!

Good, Better, Best.....the best don't rest until their good is better and their better is the very best!

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 2, 2002, 07:39 PM
didn't come across as indicating an indictment of the IHSA.

Actually, some of my personal favorite teaching "victories" (and I"m not necessarily talking about competition victories) have been while coaching in the IHSA.

I absolutely loved the idea of the "tough catch riders" having a place to show that's all their own. I generally had more luck turning the "kid who never had any money but would ride anything she could" into a successful competitor than with many of the kids that had done the A's.

I've always felt the the IHSA experience should not be missed if at all possible while a young rider is in college. What's needed is the right coach. Teams that are run by the kids or advisor are almost never organized, for many reasons that I don't really want to go into here (maybe another thread after this one has run it's course).

Unfortunately, I know many pro's that stay away from the IHSA work, which could very much use an infusion of experienced, knowledgeable professionals at the regional level. There are a lot of talented kids out there that end up frustrated or wasted because of insufficient organization. But there ARE teams that are run well. You just have to be willing to "shop around" a bit.

Again, thanks for the replies. I'm still waiting to dodge the hail of stones I'm sure is yet to come.

Jason

caffeinated
Dec. 3, 2002, 04:36 AM
Jason,

I didn't take anything you said as an indictment of IHSA... My personal experience with it was that I've come out a much better rider than I ever would have thought (though by recent performances that's not terribly obvious, LOL), at least in terms of my confidence.

And though I am not the world's best rider, or trainer, or anything of the sort, I definitely agree with you.

I wish there was an education program for parents. A lot of what I see now is the result of parents who don't understand what riding is all about. They send a kid off for lessons for two years and think that means they are good riders and should be riding big tough horses. An eight year old just went to the hospital because her grandfather put her on a 16.3 hand Cleveland Bay, with the exact thought that "well, she's been riding for 2 years, she should be able to control him just fine!"

Part of the problem is trainers, yes, who rush for ribbons and push too fast. But why do they do that? IN many cases I think it's parents who have unrealistic expectations and ZERO understanding of what riding is about. Perhaps it should be common practice for parents to take a "what to expect" class any time they enroll their kids in a lesson program. Because if they expect "after a year of lessons, my child should be a riding god!" then what are trainers going to end up doing besides pushing the kids too fast or not taking the time to teach properly?

Another thing I've noticed, and this bows away a bit from the topic of showing too early or lowering expectations, is that the kids who start riding now and are showing seem to, for the most part, start in a lesson program with the intent of showing eventually. When I was a kid (not very long ago at all! LOL), it seemed like everyone started riding in a 'horse camp' sort of situation. Many that I know did horse camps for a few years before doing any regular lessons at all. And in horse camps, you learn anatomy, grooming, horse care, barn management, feeding, and in some cases watch videos of great riders to analyze them (at least that's what we did in our horse camp). I think that kind of experience makes for better riders- people learn to understand and appreciate the mechanics of the animals they ride instead of just worrying about how to get to the next fence or look pretty. I may be totally imagining this, but I haven't seen as many kids starting out this way and wonder if it means anything. Am I off my rocker a lot or just a little?

**and people say gov't employees are useless... HA!**

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 09:06 AM
The education, or lack thereof, of the parents is a responsibility that lies clearly with the trainers. I have a pamphlet that I give out to my new parents, adult students, and older kids that clearly states what my program is all about in understandable terms. I also have a question and answer session with them after they have a chance to read it.

Want to see just how long-winded I can be? Email me, and I'll gladly send you a copy to check out. (well, it's not That long winded ... /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif )


Actually, here, I'll try to post it as an attachment. Let's see if this works...

Jason

caffeinated
Dec. 3, 2002, 09:11 AM
If you can't post it I would love you to email it to me. I'd like to give it to the guy I ride for (the one who put the 8 yr old on the green really huge horse and couldn't understand why she couldn't stop the horse). goldtoes@iwon.com

**and people say gov't employees are useless... HA!**

Weatherford
Dec. 3, 2002, 09:16 AM
Nah, you gotta get Erin's OK to post it as an attachment, so email it to people (myself, included).

I agree and disagree. Agree completely that there should be no speed jumpoffs til the 4' division or so, but certainly there can be "ideal time" jumper classes - I think they work very well, as well as clear round classes.

I am concerned that the proliferation of low level classes means that people don't learn to ride forward and actually RIDE to a jump. Or in general. They don't learn to GALLOP. They certainly don't learn to have fun!

I grew up in the 2'6" small ponies (but if they could jump, you could do whichever height you liked), 3' large ponies, and 3'6" horses. Period. We had to ride forward and be brave. That, to me, is what is missing in all this pre-occupation with perfection, tailored clothing, custom boots, grooms, new tack, etc etc. People simply do not RIDE (as well as are not horsemen). Perhaps, because there were fewer shows, and fewer lower level classes, people didn't SHOW too soon, and that makes a big difference.

Ireland is more fun, because people DO ride, and what I can help them with is the sophistication and polish that is otherwise lacking.

It's OUT! Linda Allen's 101 Exercises for Jumping co-authored by MOI!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 09:28 AM
Email is on it's way (slowly)..I almost stripped out the pictures to make it faster. Let me know if your account chokes on it, and I'll send it as straight text. As an aside, it's in order to be put in a booklet, so the pages don't read correctly unless you print them out and put them back to back. But I'm sure you'll get the gist page by page, anyway.

Weatherbeeta,

If you want a copy also, just drop me a line. laumbach@islands.vi and I'll be happy to oblige.
I honestly don't think that kids who aren't up for at least consistent 3'6 work have any business even knowing a clock EXISTS. Unfortunately, many of them are being driven out of the equitation because of the way it's being judged. Sad.

Jason Laumbach

Arcadien
Dec. 3, 2002, 10:20 AM
I've gone through phases of wondering if it was just me, so it is cathartic to see my thoughts expressed so well by a seasoned professional. I renounced my amateur status 3 years ago as there were a handful of kids in my area with no quality teaching available to them. Although having ridden since childhood, I had waited until well into my thirties to even consider teaching, as I felt a horror at passing along wrong information. I wanted to feel more than qualified and experienced enough before I presumed to call myself a riding teacher. But finally, with two decades of high quality teachers, riding, competing, & training behind me, and studying all the equestrian magazines, internet sites, and literature I could get my hands on during that time, I felt qualified and dove passionately into the task.

I carefully evaluated where each student and mount was in terms of skill and experience, the time and resources available to them, and kept notes and records and laid plans for all the skils and experiences they needed to acquire, step by step. I was excited at the thought that they would learn how to do it right, from the start, instead of bumbling around with those who knew just enough to be dangerous, as I had in early childhood. I was in heaven, finally loving my work.

But now, 3 years later, here I am returned to my corporate desk job. Not that I couldn't have continued teaching, there was plenty of demand. But it was demand for a task that made me sick. It was demand for getting to a show by ## date, riding in ## division, and winning ## pieces of satin. It was demand for baby sitting time on a photogenic horse, in pretty riding clothes. Demand for finding that push button ribbon winning pony, the one that could do the job itself without much help.

And a very short while after finding myself, against my will, taking riders to shows they weren't prepared for, on horses not ready for the task at hand, I lost all appetite for that "job". Even when they won, it was a very empty victory for me. And after finding pony after pony for little ribbon hungry 'Leslie' to perch on, only to have the parents decide it wasn't "good enough" and commission me to look for a new pony, year after year, I had more than enough.

I quietly sold my school horses, and gently directed the remaining clients to other trainers. A few would not leave me. So we found them mounts and set up plans. They continue and they keep me believing in the future. But the income from those few wasn't enough, so it's back to my desk job. But at least I feel better about myself now.

I still feel a little bewildered though, and worried about the future of horsemanship. Letters like yours, Jason, help me understand and give me hope. I've decided it was partly my own fault - I needed to be more clear and up front about what kind of riding school I was going to run. I needed to sit down and make parents and kids understand from the beginning, and be uncompromising, that I had a system of learning and progression in mind and wouldn't be straying from it. Then those that weren't buying in would have left before they started - this would have saved me some disillusionment!

In closing I wanted to comment that this "situation" is not limited to the H/J world. I began in that world but shifted over to eventing, hoping I'd left it behind. Alas, there is currently unbelievable pressure to "dumb down" our sport. You speak of children on scrappy ponies scambling around 18" jumper courses - well, the same thing is now happening only out in big fields! Think of the scariest ride you saw in pony jumpers, and triple the "hairy factor" turning these kids loose in a field. The "Elementary" division, I think, is one of the saddest things that happened to Eventing in the last decade. Just as you say no one should do jumpers until they can manage 3', and I agree, I believe it is also true that no one should event until they can manage a 3' course in a ring - which in my mind makes them safe enough to handle a 2'9" BN cross country course, which I think is the smallest division eventing should offer. I would be crucified, however, for posting this opinion on an eventing list! Just as you write that riders should earn the "right" to show in jumpers, I believe they should also earn the right to event by gaining skills and saddle time in Hunters and Dressage tests.

Well, I didn't mean to disclose myself as an eventer on this H/J thread, but it's too late. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif However I feel all equestrian sport needs to stick together on certain issues; and maintaining that the art, the horse, and learning to ride well are more important than showing or ribbons seems to be one of those crucial universal issues.

Thanks for writing Jason, and I truly hope your letter get's published where you sent it.

Cheers,
Arcadien

Whistlejacket
Dec. 3, 2002, 10:32 AM
Jason -

I very much agree with your opinions and ideas. I come, however, from the "otherside" of the equation - i.e. the "student". And believe me, even as a very committed and devoted student of horses and horsemanship, I have found it hard to find a trainer who shares these priorities and accepts that I hold them as well.

After a few "misses" in this regard, I have come to be able to identify the qualities that I look for in a trainer/horseman - both in how they treat the horses and how they treat me. I have found a few and really appreciate how lucky I am to be able to work with and learn from them. They have my upmost respect.

When I say to that I am happy to be riding at their barn, I really mean it - on all levels! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

And to all you hardworking trainers out there who share these priorities and are willing to share them with us devoted and committed amateurs - Thanks!

Athena
Dec. 3, 2002, 11:07 AM
I agree with your letter. Its nice to see that there are people who appreciate and respect this sport. I am a small time trainer. From time to time I lose clients to the big name trainers. What upsets me is that these riders come to me barley knowing their posting diagonals and within six months, the parent wants this kid showing in the Jumper divisions. One particular case, an advanced beginner with confidence problems came to me for lessons and was progressing nicely. Got her jumping small courses 2'3 - 2'6 with some confidence, then her parents decide she's ready for a big name trainer to get her showing children's Jumpers - AAAAAHHHHHH. She might do well here and there, but her not spending more time on the basics to strengthen the foundation, is going to catch up to her. The training process takes TIME for horse and rider. Whether or not I lose horses or riders because I don't push them fast enough, so be it, I am not going to comprimise good training basics. I am tired of seeing riders "posing" on horses and not knowing how to steer correctly, how to use their seat or legs, how to do basic lateral work - leg yeild, shoulder-fore, shoulder-in properly get their horse on the bit. Yes, it takes time, but it creates a much more polished picture in the end. To me, it's worth the wait. That's what this sport is about to me at least. I hate seeing people using the horse as a meer pawn and "throwing" it away when it goes lame or is burnt out because it was pushed too hard too fast. This sport is about the love of the horse, taking care of the horse and working as a team with the horse. Happy, well cared for, well trained horse = happy rider(If they put the time in)
Ok - stepping off the soapbox now..... /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 02:37 PM
encouraging. Although I doubt that I'll see any big names agreeing with me publicly. I don't think that the problem is so much that many, many pro's in the industry don't see the current trends.

I think that many are just hoping that this will "blow over". I've been waiting for 15 years or so now, and I don't see it happening. Yes, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, by inviting debate or comment, by giving my name and address openly, by being willing to do whatever it takes.

I love the sport. I Don't Love where it's going.

Yes, I continue to run my little facility according to all my "outdated" standards. But I'd like to see a little public, even national debate on these issues, and be part of a solution in the big picture, rather than just a "trainer on a soapbox".

Jason Laumbach
laumbach@islands.vi

Snowbird
Dec. 3, 2002, 03:38 PM
I have always felt the great divide was best defined as:

Those work to support their horses and
Those who expect their horses to support them.

I think you will find the latter in the ranks of the ribbon chasers and the ones who are seduced by big prize money.

The first section are the teachers and the horsemen who consider this sport to be what it is an art form. Ever hear about the starving artists?

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 03:43 PM
Very succinctly and practically put. What bothers me is that the artists used to outnumber the $ chasers, and now it seems to be the reverse.

I make my living doing what I love, but I don't do it because it's a living. I truly love to see a functional, happy horseman, and be able to point and say "she/he's mine". It's about pride, I suppose.

At least for me.

Snowbird
Dec. 3, 2002, 04:20 PM
I really feels as if I should offer Snowbird Ribbons on my website for sale. Save everyone a lot of time and money.

You think that's bad how about kids stealing ribbons and trophies at the annual dinner? Where do you hang a ribbon you have stolen?

Last year we thought it was our fault and we had just misplaced them ourselves and this year we actually caught two girls trying to pocket ribbons that belonged to someone else.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 06:00 PM
callow and inappropriate.

I suppose they thought it was cute. Find it hard to get worked up about ribbons these days, though. I've just got other things on my mind.

/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

thebrat
Dec. 3, 2002, 07:31 PM
I agree whole heatedly with your sentiments. I am currently a free lance instructor at a large hunter jumper barn. I will not be there long as each day my frustration level increases. I am beside myself watching kids (8-11 yrs old) who can not turn without yanking the reins, kicking, post correctly in balance with the horse or who's idea of a canter is faster that 4 beats per stride jumping couses.

I am the newest instructor on the block and was hired as I now know to handle the kids no one else wanted. I have kids as young as six who have already been taught to lock thier ankles to achieve the heels down position in half seats. They can not do a sitting trot yet they are told to canter. At six years old!!!

I am constantly at odds with the owner and the other instructor at my level. I have had many students in the other instructor's program asking to take lessons from me. They are eager to learn at a slower, safer pace but they have not been allowed to switch. It seems that a student in tears or a rider being thrown is a "good thing" as it will instill a toughness for jumping. I could go on but I think you see my point. I have been told that I can hold a student back if necessary "BUT" I can not hold them back "too long."
For when these students reach a certain age, ready or not, they are moved into the show program. For in this program there are fancier horses to purchase and more money to earn for the farm.

Unfortunaltely I have been allowed very little contact with the parents. The ones I have spoken to in depth want their child to learn correctly and safely. However they do not have any knowledge of what good instruction is. After all, if all of the other kids are doing it it has to be right. Then there are some who just drop the child off and return after the lesson is over. The ones that really frustrate me are the ones who admit that things are dangerous and still allow their child to participate.

I have already posted on this subject on another board and recieved many possitive responses. I am delighted to see that there still are individuals who have a sense of responsibilty to the sport. Please keep speaking out. Your voice needs to be heard. For thoses of you wondering, yes I am currently lookng for anothe palce to teach. Unfortunately where I live, most of the stables teach the same way.

I would be interested in seeing one of your parent pamphlets. l;et me know how I can get one. Thanks.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 07:59 PM
"I see it all around me" is getting rather depressing. Not unexpected, mind, but depressing...

/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

At any rate, you can get one of my pamphlets quite easily. Just drop me a line at laumbach@islands.vi and I'll be happy to email you one. No problem. Always happy to share.

Jason

BenRidin
Dec. 3, 2002, 09:12 PM
That is exactly how I feel. I am really sick of seeing the competition in my junior classes and knowing half of them don't belong there..
I agree so much with your letter
Exactly what you are talking about is the reason my family has decided to team up with my trainer and build a barn, a 'training facility' that will try to help in bringing up the standards to what they used to be. Wow, you would really get along with my trainer.

~BenRidin

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 3, 2002, 09:16 PM
wish you and your trainer all the luck and success in the world. That's certainly a laudable and exciting goal.

Let me know if I can help in any way.

Jason

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 08:59 AM
to those of you that have emailed me requesting a copy of my brochure and policy booklet. The brochure is a pretty big file (700k) because of the pictures. The policy booklet/rules is much smaller. So let me know if your account chokes on the brochure, and I'll resend just the booklet.

Jason

Gold Dust
Dec. 4, 2002, 09:18 AM
After 3 pages of responses I truly agree with most said! In my opinion, somewhere along the lines, this stopped becoming a sport and turned more buisness as for many sports today.
As far as the 'lower divisions'. For the equitation, it was a sad day when the 'maiden','novice' and 'limit' days of moving up the ladder faded away. You had to win that blue to move ahead and that is what really and truly developed riders back then. Childrens eq. high and low are divisions that should never have appeared in my opinion.
For the jumper division, my husband and I are both instructors and our oldest son decided he would like to try the jumpers after a good couple of years doing his basics in the hunters. We started him in a low jumper division which locally is 2'6". He was able to learn about the timers, class specs, tight turns when to go and when not to go. Speed was not an issue and we were able to teach him this on one of our older 'saints' who has years of experience but not to do anything in the 3'6" or higher anymore. This is what the lower fence heights should be used for I feel. Riding that course like it is a 3'6" course and not teaching kids to 'run like rats'.
Just some random thoughts and once again VI- my hats off to you and your letter!!

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 10:14 AM
as much of a problem with the divisions if everyone had your attitude. Again, this is a niche that the eq used to fill, and isn't doing any longer.

Unfortunately, the "rats in a maze" look is turning into the norm, and people are using these divisions to "skip ahead to the exciting stuff" without any true understanding of just how much they're damaging themselves and their animals by doing so. In a nutshell, that's what makes me shake my head (and my finger, occasionally!).

I think that if maiden, novice, and the eq were redesigned with more of an emphasis on Horsemanship and traditional, classical values, what you're talking about could just as easily be taught elsewhere, rather than in "scaled down" jumper classes, which are (and rightly so) supposed to be the epitome of our style, and where you end up after years of hard work, not "try for fun".

Thanks for the reply.

Jason

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 10:34 AM
I remember this whole discussion being held. The drip splash world of art had just started. It was the very same dilemma, "I would have Suzie take lessons if I knew she was talented". And, why bother with the basics if you can become a prolific saleable artist without bothering to learn how to do it or why.

The differences the same, art is being able to plan and organize for an "effect" and if you are rewarded without the skills why bother to learn?

Take a look at "mini-short stirrup!" Her we have children not even 10 years old and who haven't yet learned to ride going to annual banquets receiving all the acclaim of being a good rider. What was supposed to be an incentive has become an end unto itself.

What's ahead for the mini s/s rider if they can go to two or three dinners win maybe 3 coolers, trophies and ribbons. They have already received the rewards without the learning.

We need to re-think the whole awards thing. Clients are chasing any one of a dozen awards based on wins at any cost.

Gold Dust
Dec. 4, 2002, 11:09 AM
I organize our local dinner dance here and I have a joke I've been saying lately. 'If we keep going the way we are heading sooner or later you will just get a cooler as you walk in the door'!!!

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 11:19 AM
I think as a show, it would be just as profitable to sell the ribbons on my web site and let them buy Coolers.

The associations have to start thinking of themselves as "motivators" building an incentive to learn to ride instead of just rewarding everybody for something. I do think we as Members need to stop being victims of the system and start taking charge.

Release First
Dec. 4, 2002, 11:37 AM
DISAGREE:

You challenged us to prove you wrong. I doubt that I can do that but I will say why I disagree with you in several situations.

First, on the lowering of standards. Yes, they have put silly low classes in the big "AA" shows. Yea, you might have been champion at Indio but you were only jumping 18"! While I think this is a ridiculous waste of money, I don't think that it hurts the horse or rider. It doesn't encourage them to move up or improve themselves but many people are complaining that people are moving up too fast anyway. At least in California, I see the standards raising each year. The medal courses are big and technical and constantly asking new questions of the riders. In fact, I don't think that you can really compete on an average horse anymore as the courses and the judges are requiring you to have a horse with a very long and adjustable stride.

"Special Jumpers" in this area is 4'3" to 4'6" so I don't believe that it is dumbing down. As far as the low level jumping classes I love them and encourage my students to ride in them. One typical example was a student I have who does very well in the medals and hunters but is not naturally very brave and wants to ride backwards in an effort to be perfect. So, I put her in some 3' jumper classes out on the grass at LAEC and talked about how to angle some jumps and plan her course so she could have a good time without running. Her riding in the other divisions improved dramatically as she rode the jumper classes nice and forward because she knew she didn't have to be perfect. She discovered herself that it was better for her and her horse to ride like this. The low level jumper classes are a time to have fun and ride by the seat of your pants. Again, I don't see anything wrong with timing these classes. Yes, I have seen the scary rides and that are just plain dangerous but that is the trainer's responsibility to discourage that type of riding. It is not the fault of the class.

AGREE:

Yes, too much emphasis is put on the big buck horse and the wins over learning to ride. I do run a program where the horse is King. Most of my students are always on top when there is a written test. All of my students groom their own horses and know about basic first aide etc. My students get to get out of ring and jump cross country on a regular basis. We play games on a regular basis in the lessons. All of this is very important to me as my goal is to develop life long riders capable of making their own decisions and always respecting their horse first.

When you are on your horse you can see forever. - Victor Hugo Vidal

AllWeatherGal
Dec. 4, 2002, 11:51 AM
"In my opinion, time should NEVER be introduced as a factor any earlier than the Am-Owner/Junior phase. Kids need to spend time in the hunters and equitation to develop form, style and smoothness. "

My perspective: an adult just starting to take jumping seriously.

Happened to hear this exact opinion voiced by a professional jumper competitor this morning as she walked out some horses while I was doing my post-schooling hack. I'd been avoiding thinking about hunters because I misguidedly thought it was all about the brand of breeches and color of tack (I'm a dressage rider).

Btw, where in the VI? I'm going to St. Thomas next month and am dying at the thought of NO RIDING for two weeks.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 11:51 AM
I am very encouraged to hear that the standards are going up Somewhere! I have to say, though, that I don't feel that that's at all representative of the nation as a whole anymore. From my own experience in a variety of geographic areas, the trend is definately the other way.

I absolutely see your point about having a somewhat timid, ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED rider doing the jumper classes at a lower height as part of her overall education. The problem I see is that these classes are becoming an end unto themselves, and kids are being put in them WITHOUT medal level experience and very little to no theoretical background. I can see an obviously careful trainer such as yourself using these divisions to good effect in that way. The problem is that the majority, as they see it, aren't using them that way. I really don't see the point of jumper classes running any lower than 3'6, but I understand your reasons (and might very well have done the same myself).

I think you're seeing me as condemning divisions, rather than the mindset and attitude that created them. I think it might be a good idea for me to post a little quick blurb on my own program, so that everyone reading this will know where I personally stand, and "practice what I preach", as it were. Tonight, hopefully. Busy lesson evening, probably be late, but I'll try to get to it this evening. Might help to clarify.

Thanks for your opinion. I appreciate and respect your viewpoint.

Jason

[This message was edited by VIRidingAcademy on Dec. 04, 2002 at 03:02 PM.]

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 11:54 AM
since my kids ride in anything except electrical activity. Rain, wind, etc. We're pretty tough, by nature. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I'm located on St. Thomas, and would be happy to set something up. Just drop me a line at laumbach@islands.vi and I'll give you my contact #, if you want to talk.

I'm pretty much the only pro down here, but St. John and St. Croix are a short ferry hop away.

Jason

ccoronios
Dec. 4, 2002, 12:20 PM
reading this thread makes me want to hug each and every one of you! Thank you, all, for helping today's students become riders. PLEASE, if any of you is at a show where my company videos, come introduce yourself to me! And know that if there's anything I can do to further the cause, just let me know and I'll do anything I can.

www.ayliprod.com (http://www.ayliprod.com)
Equine Video and Still Photography in the Northeast

Gold Dust
Dec. 4, 2002, 12:38 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by ReleaseFirst:
Again, I don't see anything wrong with timing these classes. Yes, I have seen the scary rides and that are just plain dangerous but that is the trainer's responsibility to discourage that type of riding. It is not the fault of the class.

I personally feel going gainst the clock at the lower levels sometimes proves to all the riders out there a smooth precise turn will easily win over the running flat out scary rounds that tend to scare most of us. We all know the flat out gallop is a rail-guarnteed!! lol Lower levels are a class of learning balance and technique. As they learn the jumper flow and rules and are ready to move up the ladder.

snowbird- agreed again but here comes another thread. Not only do we as local associations need to encourage the learning aspect and not just go for the cooler-how can we when it seems to be split the division whenever we can!? I just read my zone rule changes and divisions can be split with 6 entries!!!
:flame suit on:

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 01:43 PM
It's "feel good" times for people. These are people awards and most of the time the horse doesn't even get an extra carrot or a rub-down to say thank-you.

Huge classes that take all day are self defeating because out of 75 entries 65 go home losers so these should be split into manageable sections awarded separately and the money doubled or tripled if necessary for each section needed.

But on the opposite end having classes so small that no one is ever going to lose is absolutely silly. First of all the original premise of this sport was more learning how to lose than learning how to win.

Fact: We sent our riders into a class until they won regularly and then they moved up so they could lose again. And, when winning was easy at the next level then they moved up again so they lose again. This was healthy for the rider and the horse. i.e. where have the maiden, novice, limit and intermediate classes gone? Now it seems the kids go from short stirrup to Medals and Maclays.

AND it's no one's fault but ours! We are not the victims of the system, we have by our silent non-confrontation to the changes as they appear given our consent.

Question then:
Are these associations for the benefit of the sport to improve the level of riding ability OR are they for the benefit of the members so they can feel good whether or not they have improved?

If the latter then why not identify them as "feel good" confidence clubs for people?

~caitlin~
Dec. 4, 2002, 01:50 PM
jason

your letter inspired me to post it on the canadian board (basically the A cicuit board in Canada)
on (<A HREF="http://www.equiman.com (http://www.equiman.com)" TARGET=_blank>www.equiman.com[/URL]</A> in msg boards
please check out the replies that it got, its lead to quite an intresting discussion, and although you spoke about the US, the points you bring up are also very relevant to the Canadian circuit as well.
I am sure they would also be very happy to see you reply, as I for one found your letter great and refreshing to see.
its labelled controversial article.

from the cold land of canada

Ghazzu
Dec. 4, 2002, 02:14 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jenarby:
There is a "riding academy" located not too far from me. I wince and close my eyes when I watch these children show. We are talking 8-15 years olds on ponies, apps, arabs....anything running around doing 3'6" jumpers. ... They completely skipped the hunter ring, can't figure that one out.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


While I'm not going to excuse bad riding, I think that maybe the fact that the kids are riding Apps and Arabs may have some bearing on why they "skipped the hunter ring".

Unashamed member of the Arab clique...just settin' on the Group W bench.

Gold Dust
Dec. 4, 2002, 02:30 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Snowbird:
Question then:
Are these associations for the benefit of the sport to improve the level of riding ability OR are they for the benefit of the members so they can feel good whether or not they have improved?

If the latter then why not identify them as "feel good" confidence clubs for people?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


To answer your question with another question. When I recieved my new zone rules I was really shocked to see they were allowing the split at 6. As this year progressed I had seen the trend of the 'split' and truly hoped the rules for 2003 would put a stop to this. This to me has just given carte-blanche to the smaller local shows to split away. God forbid at a 'c' rated show you might have to compete against 10 horses!!! This to me will make todays hunter classes a chase for the extra champion points. Why would this be encouraged?

I do understand the split as you put it at 75 horses. That is well needed but to put it in the rules you can split at 6? Is our future a sea of riders that compete against 2 other people ?? Insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

jenarby
Dec. 4, 2002, 03:15 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
While I'm not going to excuse bad riding, I think that maybe the fact that the kids are riding Apps and Arabs may have some bearing on why they "skipped the hunter ring".

Unashamed member of the Arab clique...just settin' on the Group W bench.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I apologize for sounding like I was "knocking" other breeds, that wasn't my intention. What I was after was basically that these kids were riding hell bent for leather on horses and ponies that were dangerous and not prepared for this type of class. In addition, the riding was scarey. When you see this going on at a "B" show and watch the spectators' expressions....it's obvious that these kids do not belong in these classes. I can't imagine a trainer allowing a student to ride in a 3'6" open class when they are so unprepared. If it were my kid, I'd be appalled that they had been instructed to ride in that class. Back to basics, learn how to ride first, then start in the hunter ring on a local level. That's what local shows are for. Noone cares what type of horse or pony you are on. Once the student has proven that he/she is capable to move up, then we move up. I personally would not want my named associate with turning out riders as I had mentioed earlier in this post.

Good, Better, Best.....the best don't rest until their good is better and their better is the very best!

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 03:20 PM
I just got a wonderful full blood registered Arab for pony hunters for my grandaughter. Breed is no excuse for bad behavior. We happen to be a no discrimination barns even have welcomed a mule.

We have a Percheron-cross, Quarter Horses, Welsh, Welsh/Arab crosses, Appaloosa, Thoroughbreds of course but almost any breed can get the job done. Not all of them! But not all of any breed can always do everything. Our new project is a Haflinger medium pony.

As to the numbers, yes! split the splits will be next. The Junior Hunters which hardly exist at all are now trying to make it mandatory that shows offer them split four ways, by size of the horse and by age of the rider. Insanity has no limits. I will oppose the Rule Change but I will be in the minority.

Meanwhile for years I have suggested that the Junior Hunters be split small, medium and large because of the changing times. Horses that are 14.2.25 to 15.2 are wasted thrown away literally because they don't have a division where they can be competitive. There are of course rare exceptions to any generalization but looking at our entry forms it is clear that there should be small Junior Hunters, 14.2+ to 15.2 that jump 3'3"; mediums 15.2+ to 16.2 that jump at 3'6" and all over 16.2 should jump at 3'9" as larges. I mean really if a horse is 17.2 which is not uncommon any more a 3'0" course is like cavelletti gymnastics aand to see them used for their size they could do 3'9" which is a better stepping stone to Regular Hunters.

Personally I don't think in the horse part of a show the age of the rider should even be considered, it is after all a "HORSE" show. In Amateur Owners for example they can have another totally separate Division for the mature rider, just like you make the move from Junior to Adult, you can make the move to a mature adult.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 03:22 PM
Oh, and incidentally. I've tried to reply to the Canadian board, but it seems that I don't have permission to post. Need to wait on the admin's ok. Just wanted to let you know I tried.

Might help if you gave them a link to this board. Save me a lot of typing!

/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Jason

Drifter
Dec. 4, 2002, 03:25 PM
Jason-
I haven't finished reading the whole thread yet, but I have to respond. Good for you!!! I agree with a lot of what you are saying and the others. I myself am a part-time rider and been around horses and shows for 30 years now, and have watched my daughter go from leadline to jrs/eq. I have one of those "tough catch riders" you speak of. She has worked her tail off, loves the horses, worked at the shows and ridden anything and 10 horses a day.
She made it to Devon on an ex-foxhunting horse from VA- laid down a perfect trip, however, he was not considered fancy enough and not enough $$ to earn a ribbon. She was thrilled! They deserved to be there and were as good if not better than those bigger named kids on those bigger named horses with mistakes. She has won high ribbons in the big eq in FL out of 30+! She is very capable, but it is about the $$ and the business. I too fault the industry and trainers for what has happened. I've watched the eq/jrs. Many can ride and many are just perched on their lovely horses! I am happy that others recognize this trend and are talking about it. I thought GM's perspective on the eq and Harrisburg
was very thought provoking. I watched eq finals and jr. finals and was disappointed in the quality of our young riders. Watching this play out over the years has been very frustrating at times. Perhaps
all this talk lately will enlighten the industry, and maybe some necessary change will take place.
Thank You for your thoughts!!

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 03:31 PM
I appreciate the sentiment. I hope to eventually gear up to actually DO something. To be honest, I'm more of a doer than a talker. Just trying to get a "feel for the field", so to speak.

I've got a few ideas, but I won't know how practical until when (and if) this gets published in a national magazine. Guess we'll see. At least I feel better ethically for having SAID something. Always did have trouble keeping my mouth shut. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Jason

jenarby
Dec. 4, 2002, 03:52 PM
As I had said before, I didn't intend to single out any certain breed or state that one was better than the other for any particular discipline. I count each horse as an individual. But you do have to admit that there are trends....

Good, Better, Best.....the best don't rest until their good is better and their better is the very best!

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 04:03 PM
I've never been one to keep my mouth shut either. My kids would bribe me not to go to "Back to School Night".

I think putting ideas together and making proposals is the key. It worked for us two years ago when we proposed revisions to the By-Laws of the NHJC. While they never accepted them I think you will all be pleased by the general acceptance now for our "Right to Know" and representation on various committees.

I am always pleased when at a meeting those things we all wrote to everyone about have become accepted principles.

It's that time again and I hope you will copy me by email any proposals you have that would make things work better. This year is the year for a reformation of the system and if we all put our heads together I know we can solve the problems.

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 04:21 PM
As Members we let it happen. So now we have to fix it.

I have no objection to a fancy expensive horse with a kid having everything custom made winning if they deserve to win. Rather I feel sorry that kid will never know the joy of really getting it done by themselves. That's what horses do, they build self confidence and the practice of making quick decisions. Those skills last a lot longer than the show ring.

I do object if the performance was flawed. I do object when the official was not unbiased and when he pins by who the trainer is rather than which rode well. In this case it's our job to go to management.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>What I was after was basically that these kids were riding hell bent for leather on horses and ponies that were dangerous and not prepared for this type of class. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No disagreement there, and no offense was taken for the other breeds. I just wanted to point out how easy it is for us all to use generalizations instead of facts. We are all, not just the judges, liable to have personal choices and opinions. Judging is afterall only the opinion of one person of 1.5 minutes of your performances.

Appearance is only part of equitation, and a judge should be able to sort out the trips based on soundness AND performance.

Now, if you want my choice between a horse drugged into passivity or one going hell bent for leather, I'd pick the horse that's not drugged hasn't been manipulated into a good performance and does it with joy that well maybe is fast but that's not always unsafe. I always found it painful that in Eventing they do not penalize excess speed. Perhaps, we could all agree that the course designer when they set the time allowed knows how fast a course can be safely ridden. So then perhaps we should consider time faults if it's too slow and time faults if it's too fast. The one who comes closest to the time allowed would be the winner. If that requires another jump-off so be it.

Gold Dust
Dec. 4, 2002, 04:57 PM
Can we really change these trends? Yes, come on, we see it all the time-the judge looking at the in-gate to see which trainer is standing there. Going to management will help? Yeah, right-no one would even go there!
The money aspect-how can we ever bring this back to a sport and not a buisness deal? So many hands in the till on sales, who you know, who you ride with, what curcuit you compete in, how much money you have etc.......How can this ever be a fair playing field again? No matter how hard the little guy works at it with that budget they must stick to, I cann't see them getting a fair shake no matter how good they may be in the tack.
I'd love to rally and make that number higher then 6 to split, love to get rid of these high and low childrens eq. classes, love to have more drug testers present, but will my opinion mean anything? We all know that answer.........

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 05:02 PM
Some of them can be corrected, and that others will probably tend to change as a result of the current economy. I'll talk more about this later.

Jason

Snowbird
Dec. 4, 2002, 06:04 PM
We can find solutions for the problems, we can recommend better procedures, we can invent new rules to make it offensive for the trainer and the judge high five to each other, rules that are enforceable can be written if we really care enough.

I hate being a victim and I think we can fix it. Not 100% but better each year. There was a time when judges slept at the homes of show managers, and it was easy to let the judge know which numbers were supposed to win. We changed that with a new rule. There is a rule against Trainers shouting from the siderail to let the judge know which is which, and that's made it a little better. I remember when they pounded the sideboards to let the judge know what place to pin and that doesn't happen any more.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 4, 2002, 06:58 PM
I ran large facilities for years. Sometimes I worked with other pros or for them, other times it was just me. I finally, through a long string of happenstances, ended up owning a small facility in the VI.

My program is deliberately small. Being a somewhat closed system, an island has a rather limited economy, so a big barn down here just doesn't make financial or practical sense. Additionally, I've found that after all the years of 20 boarders, 10 school horse facilities and up to 50 stalls or so, I like to have a much smaller operation and take my time a bit more in many ways. It suits me.

My students (yes, I take all levels) all learn from the ground up horsemanship, grooming, tacking, physiology and psychology of the horse, etc. I take my time and do it methodically. My program is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy, and anyone unhappy with my methods is promptly shown the door. Those who are casual or in a hurry generally don't last too long.

I have a VERY loyal group of about 35 students, adults and juniors. They all are motivated to learn as much as they can about every aspect I teach them. Yes, my kids show, although the "local circuit" is limited pretty much to Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo. We were so competitive on their local circuits that they've stopped asking us /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif. Shows down here are often run a bit like IHSA meets, with the kids getting to ride borrowed horses to save on shipping costs and headaches. My kids have a blast with it.

I pride myself on taking my time and insisting on discipline, respect, and conscientiousness in all my students, adults and juniors. My kids do all their own grooming/tacking/care. They also ride everything they can, whenever the opportunity presents itself. I strongly believe in diversity, in creating a rider by putting them on the horses they DON'T get along with, until they do. Only the tough ones last with me, usually, and I honestly prefer it that way.

I like my little facility, and the program I've created here. I don't claim to be anything original or special, just a trainer doing his part. No, I'm not wealthy, but there are other kinds of wealth.

And I'm happy. So for the Canadian board members who seemed to think that I'm "envious" of others, I have to say ... I'm as happy as I've ever been. I don't know who I'd envy.

Jason

Beezer
Dec. 4, 2002, 09:10 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Gold Dust:
As far as the 'lower divisions'. For the equitation, it was a sad day when the 'maiden','novice' and 'limit' days of moving up the ladder faded away. You had to win that blue to move ahead and that is what really and truly developed riders back then. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I learned to ride (and let's just ignore how long ago that was, shall we??) from a trainer who embodied pretty much everything this thread is talking about. We worked our butts off under her, and while she had many "personality issues," she drilled into us that the horses came first and we didn't eat or sleep until they were fed and in bed (among many, many other things).

We had to *earn* our way up the ladder. We worked dang hard to "win out" of the maiden, novice and limit categories; it was a real badge and celebration to get that blue. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Nowadays, I find it really, really sad that those classes either aren't offered or don't fill; why, when kids (and adults!) are just learning aren't they in those classes as well as being one of the bazillions in hunters? (Heck, I'd love to be able to ride in them again! /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ) Even "back in the day," we couldn't afford the fancy hunters that would win; but we sure could turn the tables in the eqs and the medals because our trainer made sure that we rode the part.

Even now, I look for a coach who can challenge me, teach me new things and improve my riding. And fortunately, I found one. They are out there, and there are people who appreciate them. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif


Dearest Santa: All I really want for Christmas is LEAD CHANGES!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 05:08 AM
Beez.

I really enjoy people talking about that kind of environment, because I personally find it the healthiest for the riders, and indirectly, for the sport at large. Work ethic and attention to detail seem to be slipping more and more behind, and anyone that speaks up is labeled "grouchy" or "old fashioned".

Your kind of experience as a young rider used to be common. Now it's becoming a precious commodity. It saddens me.

Jason

Gold Dust
Dec. 5, 2002, 05:16 AM
Sounds similar to yours VI. I have a small facility here at my home. No grooms to be found here. We do it all ourselves and I teach all my students to be self sufficient. We do well here at the local shows, take the occasional trip as we call it 'over the bridge' and hold our own there too. To quote snowbird from another thread 'I like to sleep in my own bed at night'!! lol I am proud of each and every one of them. By staying local I have still had NAL and Marshall Sterling qualifiers, Zone ribbon winners and so on. We may not be part of the 'elite' club' but they have fun and learn all aspects.
The point I am trying to make is because we show actively locally and do leave the island at times we all see how political it can be. You learn to be happy with your trips and not dwell on what ribbon you recieved. This works most of the time but you cann't help but feel the frustration at times. I hope you are right snowbird and that is why I am actively involved with our local PHA and LIHSAAA awards association. I figure I will start here and then maybe move on to the big guns someday!! lol

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 06:10 AM
Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a quality environment.

Jason

Snowbird
Dec. 5, 2002, 09:37 AM
Two years ago we started with two rebels and then were 10 and then 2 dozen. I went to the convention to prove my point and one person did make a difference.

When we started we were told by the powers that be, they were hard working volunteers and we should just be quiet and be grateful. Well, proudly two years later many of our proposed revisions are accepted philosophy. We now have more information that we have time to read. It used to be privy only to those chosen few.

Now, two years later we have an association that is member aware and that wants inclusion and not exclusion so take advantage of that change and be heard. It would be really nice if there were more of you at the upcoming convention because I am the lone token C/B person.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I hope you are right snowbird and that is why I am actively involved with our local PHA and LIHSAAA awards association. I figure I will start here and then maybe move on to the big guns someday!! lol<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think you will be pleased with the new plans which all take some decision making back to the associations and your work will be considered and have an impact on the future. Go to the USA web site and check out the new outline for the reforming of the hunter section. Let me know what you think.

caffeinated
Dec. 5, 2002, 10:27 AM
OK. That's it. I'm moving to St. Thomas. heehee /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

**and people say gov't employees are useless... HA!**

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 11:15 AM
might have something to do with Goldie's sudden desires. She will of course be welcome /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif.

Jason

Liverpool
Dec. 5, 2002, 11:47 AM
I'm with Goldie, and it isn't even snowing here /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

From the student/client side I promise you that there is a market for facilities and trainers that offer what you have described, VI. In my experience, barns like that are now few and far between.

I grew up learning to ride in an academy setting. Parents paid for a lesson a week for YEARS (thanks, Mom & Dad!) and I worked off others, did odd jobs etc to get more riding time. I envied the kids who had their own horses but took some satisfaction in being able (eventually) to ride *anything* in the barn. That opportunity was earned by thousands of hours of barn work and by riding anything that I was offered.

I learned from watching and doing, later from joining a pony club. Without a horse of my own I rarely got to participate in the lessons or other mounted events, but I was lent a horse to do my tests on. Got to the B level before getting too old.

Now I am an amateur rider with one nice finished horse that I reschooled after he finished his career on the track. It has been essentially impossible to find a trainer that would give me the time of DAY unless I commit to a minimum number of shows, pro rides etc, never mind the mandatory daycare/ grooming charges for their staff.

Never mind teaching horsemanship... most pros seem to actively discourage it.

I am so encouraged to hear that there really ARE pros out there who run their programs differently.

BRAVO!

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 12:35 PM
that everyone describing this kind of setting seems to be of an older generation. I actually blame a great deal of it on the exponential growth of the business. New instructors and trainers can only be created just so fast, and I shudder at some of the people that have "filled in the niches" in many areas.

/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Jason

Gold Dust
Dec. 5, 2002, 01:37 PM
snowbird-point me exactly where on the site please. It has me downloading new files that seem to be forms and not the new proposals. That site confusses me sometimes!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

up and coming trainers- the new breeds [some of them] can put a chill right up your spine. Once I heard one call on a walkie-talkie and drag a groom all the way over from the van area to put hoof grease on a horses feet. The horror of doing it yourself for your rider. And-how many I see today that will show, and not know how to wrap or load and wonder aimlessly until someone will do it for them. The future is scary!

snow count here- about 6". yes VI-we are about to invade!!! lol

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 03:15 PM
treat their grooms and staff... would take another thread to finish talking about! But I've seen ugly things all too often. Some trainers seem to practically grovel before their customers, then take out their supressed frustrations on their own staff. Sad.

Of course, I've also seen customers treated so badly it made my teeth hurt, but that, as they say, is another story.

Jason

Weatherford
Dec. 5, 2002, 03:38 PM
I think we have several problems in the US, and actually, I think they need to be separated - though they are intrinsicly intertwined -

1 - moving up too soon OR not moving up at all - I've seen BOTH

2 - (and someone commented to me recently that this is GM's observation, too) the AMERICAN FEAR FACTOR

The latter, I believe (and, I would not have two years ago), is a FAR more incestuous and difficult problem and I believe TOTALLY tied to people simply not getting on their horses and RIDING.

We are SO worried about DOING IT CORRECTLY, that we NEVER learn (and trainers NEVER TEACH) FEEL - perhaps because the new generation of coaches DOESN'T HAVE FEEL ??? But without feel YOU CAN'T MOVE up - the fear overtakes you. But if you can FEEL it - who cares if you look like a sack of potatoes and ride like crap - you will be safer and have more fun than someone who lookd perfect, but is tense and frightened.

HOW do we solve this dilemma?? I do not know. I am going to work on it, however. (What happened to spending HOURS on a longe line with no reins and no stirrups - I mean Bert deNemethy made Neil Shapiro do that one whole winter while the rest of the Jumping team was off in Europe or someplace (Neil talks about it in the book about the USET published in the 70's). The only riders I have seen on the longe line in the past 25 years have been beginners.... /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif (heck, I couldn't even GET anyone to longe me when I knew I needed it!!)

So, yes, it is about horsemanship and riding; it is about developing a feel, and improving; it is mostly about being at "one" with your horse.

I think that is a rare commodity in the States these days.

/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

It's OUT! Linda Allen's 101 Exercises for Jumping co-authored by MOI!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

poltroon
Dec. 5, 2002, 03:54 PM
One teeny tiny step that I'd like to see USA Eq sponsor is an optional /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif short course of ethics/business training for equine professionals. People who completed it would get a certificate/award that they could use in their advertising.

Why do I think this would help?

So many kids turn pro right out of high school, never exposed to The Real World, never exposed to normal business practices. Most of them have a horseman as a mentor, who may or may not have been good at dealing with clients. It is easy to think that "everyone does business that way" if that is all you've ever been exposed to.

Of course, most established professionals wouldn't want to bother with it. Fine. But it could be a nice feather for a young trainer, and it could help the next generation.

BTW, VI, I love your idea of a pamphlet for new parents.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 04:32 PM
I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. I also think that "moving up" becomes essentially worthless when the standards go down as fast as you rise.

Riding in general in the US has become too mechanical and formalized. I see trip after trip of stiff, uptight, rigid children mechanically counting strides and posing. The obviously have never been pushed out of their "comfort zone" and probably never will (but the might be scared...they might leave and deprive me of my income...poor dears...). My personal philosophy is that if they rattle that easily, they'd better do us all a favor and take up tennis. I've actually said as much, when necessary.

At it's heart, this all comes from making the "good time" factor more important than "learning". People in the US are always in a big hurry, so standards have to be lowered to keep people alive as they move on blazingly fast.

On the other hand, the enormous popularity of the 3' divisions concerns me greatly. I've always explained it to my students like this: at 3' and under, most horses of reasonable athletic talent can and will save their rider from a significant error. Once you get much above 3'3 and start to look at the juniors and am owners, mistakes tend to be a bit less forgiving. So people buy more athletic horses to save them from themselves, which any competent trainer knows only works to a certain point.

More so than anything else, this to me, has led to the following attitude: Train the horses, not the rider. People seem to be inclined to put in hours turning the animal into a machine, so that their little darlings won't actually have to do much of anything. Of course, this sort of riding puts a great deal of physical and mental stress on the horse, I've seen it many times. Nice horses purchased and then ruined by monumentally bad rides. Rather than actually educate their rider, many seem to feel that the answer is to make the animal more "push button". I couldn't disagree more.

I don't generally work my animals myself unless there's something specific I want to address or demonstrate. My kids do. Yes, including the difficult ones and problem horses. And they get the job done, because they see it as their responsibility, not mine. And they're right.

I've seen a rider take away more actual, working knowledge from one poor ride to see how NOT to do it than from hundreds on old Mr. dependable. No, I don't overface my kids, and of course the horses are level appropriate (I'm a real safety nazi, just ask my students). But I don't believe in coddling riders, or shielding them from their mistakes. And the result: they can ride.

They have their faults, and foibles, just like any group of students, but they always accept responsibility for the ride and for improving it. They don't look around for someone to blame when things don't work out, and that means that they fully own their successes. In a nutshell, that's what I'm all about.

Nobody ever called me politically correct, I'm afraid.

Jason

[This message was edited by VIRidingAcademy on Dec. 05, 2002 at 07:58 PM.]

jr
Dec. 5, 2002, 05:10 PM
VI Riding Academy, While I don't disagree with your points -- I see the same things you do some of the time. I think you're being overly negative though. I also see lots of good riding, and not all who ride tentatively or stiffly because of impatience and poor training -- perhaps some are still learning and enjoy showing as part of the learning process.

I think the 3' ft division are a great thing. Not all are impatient, but simply lack the luxury of time and dollars to pursue the sport with all the vigor they would like. You see a posed rider who is impatient. I think you might really have an intermediate rider working with the time and tools available to them, and progressing slowly.

The sport is supported today largely because of the 3' divisions. Those riders pay trainers, buy horses, buy supplements, riding apparel etc. etc. Guess what, some of those riders don't have dreams of the Olympics, just of a fun weekend away from work, school, or the kids. They are not indicative of the failure of riding/training in this country. They are evidence of the growing popularity of the sport, and will provide the financial base that will support those who aspire to that highest levels.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 05:26 PM
I have extensively used the 3' divisions myself, to bring riders along. What bothers me is that the children's and Amateurs have become the final step for so many riders because of a lack in the fundamental education necessary to aspire to higher level competition, rather than simple lack of desire to go on.
There has been a veritable flood of new riders in the last 15 years or so, that's definately true. But where did the veritable flood of new trainers come from to teach them? To be blunt, I'm not sure that more numbers are always a good thing.


Competent instructors can only be created so fast, and the huge demand for instruction in this country has long and far outstripped trainers with the experience, theoretical background, and practical know-how to work with all these aspiring people.

I LOVE to see the intermediate riders work toward their goals, and I don't think they all need to be showing at high levels in order to be happy and successful. I personally have plenty of students who will probably never show regularly, and it doesn't bother me a bit.

What bothers me is this: the upper level riders that WILL go on to advanced competition are being drawn from a field that I think has become watered down. Most especially, the eq. divisions and vanishing horsemanship classes just aren't teaching the skills or rewarding the riders in the way they used to. And it shows on a national and international level. I'm talking about the sport as a whole.

I see a decline in general excellence. I see a tendency toward mediocrity. My beginners want to be the best riders they can be. So do the intermediates, and my advanced kids. Every one of their goals is valid, and different according to their level. The problem is that the system doesn't reward these riders visibly enough for most people to perceive. So on come the ribbon chasers.

I would NEVER denigrate a rider developing their skills. Just not in my constitution.

Jason

Gold Dust
Dec. 5, 2002, 06:05 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by poltroon:
One teeny tiny step that I'd like to see USA Eq sponsor is an _optional_ /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif short course of ethics/business training for equine professionals. People who completed it would get a certificate/award that they could use in their advertising.

Why do I think this would help?

So many kids turn pro right out of high school, never exposed to The Real World, never exposed to normal business practices. Most of them have a horseman as a mentor, who may or may not have been good at dealing with clients. It is easy to think that "everyone does business that way" if that is all you've ever been exposed to.

Of course, most established professionals wouldn't want to bother with it. Fine. But it could be a nice feather for a young trainer, and it could help the next generation.

BTW, VI, I love your idea of a pamphlet for new parents.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I have often spoke of this and can see nothing but plus factors that would come from this! These are the same people that allow us to claim professional status. Why not test us??

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 5, 2002, 06:55 PM
are critically important to the industry.

But to be honest, the only place I really believe reform is going to come from in the short term is the economy. The money-pit that people have been drawing on to buy that ungodly expensive packer is drying up.

Once it does, I think the industry will lose a lot of people we could do without. People more concerned with their own financial state than with how their kids ride (the link between these two is looking MIGHTY slim these days).

But I do think an ethics course, taught by someone who had been around the block enough to tell them what they're ACTUALLY going to be exposed to, is a good idea. It would need to be practical information and advice, not a dudley-do-right speech, or it'll have no effect other than to be good for a laugh.

Jason

Snowbird
Dec. 5, 2002, 08:29 PM
First there is a bulletin Board where you can ask questions and get answers. Not a dialog like this one, it's more formal but they do reply to all questions.

Next you look at the proposed rule changes so you can see how people are thinking and what ideas are on the table. Then you email to the committees involved with the issues to give them your opinions and or solutions.

This is the link to the new proposed Hunter/Jumper structure on the table as an idea that needs to be worked on of how we can all be best represented and best have our opinions expressed.

http://www.equestrian.org/EquestrianGovernance/hunterjumper/hunter-jumper-model.pdf

You can print it out and see how far away it is from you would like to see or how close it might be to what you think can works for us as hunter people.

It's not going to solve all the problems because it's a work in progress. But I know the committees are all interested in your ideas and constructive suggestions for how to fix what's broken and leave what's working alone. All the members of each committee that have email have their email addresses posted, same with every member of staff. If you have questions and you have ideas go straight to the horse's head, the other end is just hot air.

And, everyone is invited to email directly to Alan Balch, he wants to know what's happening that can be fixed.

I can tell you that this alone is a tremendous improvement over just three years ago. Every committee I've sat in with is very anxious to be honest, forthright and get the job done. We never had this kind of openess before. And, if you think it landed on deaf ears send me a copy and I'll forward it.

I can't tell you how important it is right now when USAE is reforming the whole Zone structure and seeking to include affiliated associations from every state.

FrenchFrytheEqHorse
Dec. 5, 2002, 09:37 PM
I agree with most of ur letter....I am a junior rider and this summer, as i am getting older, i have realized how much of riding has become just riding. At a few of the shows this summer, i noticed the lack of riders my age at the showgrounds at 6 feeding/schooling/longing their horses. Not that all of the BNT and BNBs are doing less and less work, i just wonder what kind of values in horsemanship are being enstilled in most of the junior riders these days. Sure, having grooms is great and a lot of barns really do need them, and most people really appreciate their work, but there are a lot of kids in this generation that dont. For example, i was catching up with a girl that used to ride with me back in the pony days and she has recently moved to a very large, very competitive barn in the area. I was apalled when she began bragging that a week after she began riding there, she purchased a $75,000 horse for her trainer to ride in the 1st years while she did the juniors when she was barely jumping a 2'3" course well 6 months ago. She then began boasting that she doesnt even know where her horse's stall is because her groom does "all that work". I am a firm believer that spending time with your horse in unmounted situations builds the bond required in difficult mounted tests and the trust required in challenging classes. Seeing the same friend at a show in september, i expected her "incredibly fancy, reliable mount" to excel in his division. Upon watching her courses, her horse was excused from all of the fences classes because of refusals. I was not suprised. What happened to HORSEMANSHIP???

Meet the Press "french fry"

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 6, 2002, 06:06 AM
I appreciate all the info. And to those who have emailed me personally...I promise I'll answer. I've been a bit flooded, but I'll get to it.

Jason Laumbach

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 6, 2002, 06:39 AM
To those of you who requested a copy of my customer literature:

Bear in mind that these are both paginated to be printed and given out to clients. As such, they don't read contiguously on the computer screen.

But I'm sure you get the idea. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Jason

victor
Dec. 6, 2002, 01:10 PM
Letter to Professionals. To directly comment on the professionals trying to make money in the show world I think that you have to look at the monster the associations have made of some,but not all. The assciations give us the vehicle in which we all compete. They also give it structure which we also need. Competition in a natural for us humans and some like it more than others. WE all have the bond with horses or we would not be in the business or have horses. I as a professional enjoy riding and and enjoy showing. Not for the money but for the same reasons I did a kid. But what is better yet I get to do what I love and make a living. I love to teach and I love to ride. I have a great clientile and and I have taken my riders to some of the top shows in east and they have won against some very fancy horses. They have put in the time. The skill of taking riders / their horses and teaching them what it takes to be a winner is far more important today is this competive world. Not all is wrong with the show world. The 'A ' shows have many classes for all levels of riders and horses. In today's economy they have to fit many needs so that they can meet their expenses and this way the trainers can bring a wider variety of riders and horses to the shows. It really helps everyone.
If your at a show and you see a rider running around a jumper course so fast that neither the horse or the rider can think straight then one must ask aound the instructors quilifcations. At that point I know that is not a trainer I will send a rider to.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 6, 2002, 02:41 PM
to disparage the many wonderful trainers I know are around. What I have a problem with is that the system seems to be accomodating more and more the people who, as you put it, have dangerous students and are simply looking for the easy buck. I think that pandering to these people will have dramatic and far reaching consequences to the sport, and ultimately, to pro's in the industry as a whole.

I've said again and again, and I'll apparently have to go on saying, that I have no problem with the low and intermediate divisions per se. What I dislike is that, with all the emphasis on simplicity and fun, we might be losing our collective soul for the sheer $ of it. The thought repels me, personally. I have no problem with people making money (I have a right to a reasonable income, just like you do), but I think that that's becoming the "point".

As to the "skill it takes to be a winner" that's part of my point. The way many divisions are being run anymore, it seems to be more "pocketbook it takes to be a winner.". I'm sorry, but I just generally find myself unimpressed by many riders lauded as wonderful because of their competitive achievements anymore. While I agree that it is in human nature to be competitive, I take exception to this being touted as an end unto itself, regardless of the motivation.

As an aside, I wanted to comment on how much I appreciated the civil tone of your response, and the lack of general defensiveness. I always enjoy talking to someone I can disagree with without hurling invective back and forth. Quite refreshing, I must say.

Jason Laumbach

[This message was edited by VIRidingAcademy on Dec. 06, 2002 at 07:25 PM.]

Hopeful Hunter
Dec. 6, 2002, 08:06 PM
As a student, and an adult one at that, I find the exchange of information here by real trainers to be very refreshing.

I have what I have come to understand is a fairly unusual and lucky situation. About 7 years ago I came back to riding -- as a young teen I had ridden VERY lightly, but had the great good fortune to do that riding with an old-school instructor who foxhunted in NJ and had sent her kids and their kids and more on to A shows. I had no money, or skill to be honest, but had decent balance and a burning desire to be around horses. Mrs. Fyfe, my wonderful instructor, let me ride when I could - which often meant only once a month due to money - and also after a half year when I had "proven" my interest, let me work at the farm to earn lessons. She didn't let me off a lunge line for months, and I never showed and only "jumped" a cavaletti, but she taught me horsemanship -- how to much a stall, how to groom and saddle, how to be centered on a horse.

When in my 30s I returned to riding I had the incredible luck to find a local stable that wasn't really pretty or fancy, but that offered true instruction in balanced hunt seat riding. And then I bought my first horse.

I had some bad horse luck so, although I wanted to show, I didn't get to for some time. But I DID get to improve my skills -- oh so slowly but steadily coming to a point where two years ago I took a horse off the track and he's becoming a reasonable show hunter.

I have had the luxury of learning "feel." I'm well known at the barn for being one of the more effective riders, and also one of the least "pretty." A lot of the riders look much nicer on their horses than I do. But...they can't get those horses to hold their weaker lead, or to round at the trot -- and some don't even know what any of that means.

Then there's showing. I'm no A circuit rider, although I've recently been told my horse is A circuit quality. But although HE has the talent, he's a sensitive guy and he needs a partner to hold his hoof to do well. And I'm not ready yet. I get show nerves.

So we've stayed on the local schooling circuit at 2'3" and the occassional 2'6". And this year, we've won some Championships at those little shows (well, not so little - several had over a dozen horses in the division).

Only NOW that I'm pinning regularly does my trainer talk about my "moving up." To where? Not rated -- just to the local association circuit in the low 2'6" levels. Yes, I can jump this horse 2'9" or even 3' at home, but she feels *gasp* that he and I need to be consistent and bored at the low levels and THEN we can probably quickly move on up.

And I think that's smart -- I don't think she's putting me down or saying I'm a bad rider. I think she's being honest in saying we need the miles to be able to be competitive.

However -- she's the exception. There are many more local trainers -- trainers who will never take clients to A shows -- who DO push for their riders to show, or to buy the fancier horse, whether or not they're ready in terms of skills or confidence. I know that it would have been easy to push me or my horse into much higher showing levels. I also know it would not have been the best thing for either of us long term.

And I think THAT is what is really missing anymore from the sport -- the long view. What happened to the idea of DEVELOPING a rider and a horse? To learning not just to keep your heels down and release the horse's mouth, but why? To how to ride a horse in balance and keep it sound not just for the weekend but for life?

It's very easy to make someone think they're a great rider when they win the blue every time -- over 18" fences with 5 competitors. At least at our local shows there are usually reasonable numbers - sometimes too many. But let me tell you -- the 2nd place I won a couple of weeks ago in a class of 22 felt better than the blue from a class of 8.

It's not easy to say "no" to someone who pays your salary. But I think that's what trainers need to do, and do more often. No, you're not ready to show yet. No, you're not ready to move up. No, that green horse is not a good match for your current skills. You can say no without saying "never." If you're afraid a client will leave, say a qualified no -- back it up with "but let's plan how to get you there together" and then DO it! And...harder still...stick to the plan.

Some American clients do need to get over the fear factor &lt;raising my hand&gt;, too. Heck, the show where I took 2nd out of 22? My trainer basically shamed me into going to the show since I was being a weenie. And I had a terrible round before I won that ribbon, too, but she made me go back in, refocus and ride - not be a passenger. And it worked.

What will it take to bring this kind of evolutionary view back to the sport? I don't know anymore. But it's encouraging to see more trainers begin to talk about the concerns openly -- that has to be a good start.

Snowbird
Dec. 6, 2002, 09:02 PM
I wonder if there aren't a lot more like us than them? It seems to me from what I've been reading that those who are working at this the right way just don't make a lot of noise, don't attract much attention and probably not conspicuous because of their constant presence at all shows.

The people who make the most noise and attract the most attention are usually the least knowledgeable. I remember my old painting mentor saying to me that just like empty barrels make the most noise, bad painters paint big paintings.

The reality is that only 1% of the people who ride horses show regularly on any circuit. In New Jersey we have probably 3000 USAE members and yet both state associations have rarely had much more than 300 members.

Perhaps, we should spend our time looking for the good riders instead of the obvious passengers. I wonder what this money chase has done to the children who will never be able to afford or even ride that "pricey" pony or horse? Wouldn't it be wondeful if as professionals we could figure out a way with scholarships maybe, to support some of the good young riders by lending them horses and paying the entry fees to see how good our horses are?

If we each found one young rider to be a mentor for, or a big sister we might be surprised how well they would respond and how much it would mean to the future.

Gold Dust
Dec. 7, 2002, 06:22 AM
can really spark an interest and get you to hit that 'add reply' button. This is one for me.

To comment on one statement. Trainers who can not say no. Totally understood and myself have lost a few clients because of that word! A little devils advocate here. I have heard MANY a trainer say that this is the living they make to support their families so even with the passion they have for this sport, it is a job. What makes it harder for these type trainers [and not the ones just in it for the money] is I have noticed the trend of the 'blame game'. Right here on COTH you can go from thread to thread with riders blaming their horse for whatever problem. I have read excuses that will make your hair curl. Granted, some are very ligit but others have shown me many up and coming riders have a problem blaming themselves. So, point is, for that trainer that is desperately trying to teach and make a living, it backs them in a bit of a corner possibly.?

The trend of the fancy horse verses the effective rider on a not so fancy horse. How many times have we stood at the ring, watched a hunter walk in and pick up a trot circle that is to die for. Same horse have a major miss. Then, the not so fancy horse with an effective rider get to a jump with a small miss. And voila- Mr. fancy beats the little guy. I'd love to know how we could change this senario??

snowbird- my computer will not let me download adobe so another bb friend is printing that out for me so then I can comment on my reading. I am going to Kentucky in January for the Pegasus medal awards dinner and hope to have time to listen in on some meetings. I'm sure it will be a culture shock for me in comparison to the local chapter meetings!!!

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 7, 2002, 06:59 AM
First of all, I agree that there are many great, legitimate trainers out there who end up backed into a corner for fear of losing a client. They have a right to financial security, and sometimes this ends up putting them between a rock and a hard place. My feeling about this one is this:

It's all about the environment you foster in your barn, in my opinion. The trainer sets the tone, makes the rules, and defines the character of the barn. I truly believe that if you're consistent, clear, and stick to your principles, you can still do well in the business (and be much happier, at least in my own case).

It seems to me that too many people anymore want to be their client's friend. This can lead to many problems, not the least of which is just a result of personality clash. It is very hard to give orders to and make rules for your friends. No, I'm not suggesting that people be nasty or aloof, but a certain amount of detachment is essential to a well run facility. Yes, I do know people who make the "let's be friends" thing work, but I think that it causes more problems than it solves in most cases.

Now, as to the blame game. I think this is also a question of fostering the right attitude in your riders. Kids who dump on their horse or their trainer generally do so because it is at least tacitly permitted or even encouraged that they do it. My kids look squarely in the mirror when assigning blame for their problems. I never, ever let them get away with dumping on the horse or on me. They look to me to help them correct their errors, not as somebody to dump on (I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't have that from anyone).

Yes, this approach will lose you clients, but it will also gain you clients, and the ones you gain, in my experience, tend to be of the "loyal unto death" variety. The Right clients will recognize what you're trying to do, and respect you for it. And I've always felt that it is more important to be respected than liked in this business (which is a good thing, because I've rarely been liked...)

Jason

victor
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:18 AM
To Liverpool

You are right in many ways that it is hard to find a barn that still feels that that teaching good
horsemanship skills is just as important to teaching good riding skills. Don't they go hand in hand anyway? I for one have a working student program and have had it for 22 years. The students pay for one lesson a week and work an entire day to earn another lesson. They learn team work and what it really means to run a barn. They have a much greater appreciation of the business and learn repect and responsiblity(something that is missing with a lot of kids today). They are my calling cards, when new customers come into the barn and find harmony and respect from the young students they are very impressed. However as a professional that goes to local and A shows I do find it necessay to to have grooms and help at the shows. IT is great for the kids to help and learn at the smaller shows but when you have a group and the pro is riding also you want things to run smoothly and you want to take some of the pressure off the riders so that they can concentrate.
All my customers both broading and lessons students are responsible for cleaning their tack after they ride and also cleaning up after the horse. IF they don't I always tell them the board can go up.
There are many of us out there.

pwynnnorman
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:21 AM
Jason, about this: "Oh, incidentally, I find it interesting that you seem to have assumed that I had never actually done anything to back up my preaching. You never asked if I had, just assumed that I'm smugly standing on a soapbox somewhere. Not the case."

Actually, I wasn't really addressing "you, Jason," at all. I was addressing all of you who are griping and whining here, which did INCLUDE you, Jason, but not exclusively. So, I apologize for not writing something like "you all" since that's the way it was intended.

But I STILL contend that it is indeed "you all's" fault--including Jason, again. Jason, you say you did something, but it sounds like you gave up, huh? Well, that's pretty defeatist, I'd say.

Look at how many years and years and years it took Snowbird to get some notice for the issues she's bravely argued, over and over again. She was treated rudely, she was ignored, she was manouevered out of meetings...but through incredible perseverence, she finally got her seat at the table. If enough of "you all" cared to keep arguing like Snowbird, and like you so willingly (and, IMO, cowardly--yeah, COWARDLY) do here on this BB, changes could be made. Do you DOUBT that? (Well, yeah, Jason, reading your post, I guess you do.)

Way back when, Snowbird led the charge to give members "the right to know" and "the right to vote." Imagine how voting rights would empower even you anonymous whiners to propose changes AND VOTE THEM INTO REALITY.

But do you expect those who profit from the power they have in the NGB to just reliquish to you because you gripe about it here? That's what I mean. You all talk like you believe so strongly, and yet few of you are actually willing to stand up and fight for YOUR right to control how YOUR sport evolves.

And yet it takes sooooo little these days, thanks to this fine medium, to pester the powerful until they can't ignore you any longer. If you guys spent just 10% of the time you spend posting here, sending out emails and having discussions that result in concrete proposals with documentable support from the large numbers you DO represent...just 10% of you online time here...what do you think would happen?

Two years ago, with Snowbird's leadership, WE SHOOK THINGS UP, truly. But we couldn't sustain it specifically and precisely because we couldn't sustain YOU and YOUR whiney, weak, wimp-out attitudes (well, that and the never-ending NGB fiasco, admittedly).

But imagine if you organized yourselves with the energy you've put into the Baby Aiden situation and had a solid proposal backed by significant numbers just waiting for the right moment to be presented. Imagine that...and then put some thought to just what that proposal would involve. Stop griping and whining and put forth some solutions. TAKE BACK YOUR SPORT, find ways to reward the good, encourage the new and punish the insufficient--on a national scale so that the entire sport is effected.

Come on, folks. Let's hear it. You care. You have brains. Come up with some SOLUTIONS and ACT on them!

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
http://www.sportponiesunlimited.com

pwynnnorman
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:29 AM
Good to see you here. Come back often.

Welcome!

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
http://www.sportponiesunlimited.com

Medievalist
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:36 AM
An aside...
VIRidingAcademy, did you/your students participate in the InterCaraïbe on Martinique at La Gourmette? I don't think you did, because I don't remember meeting any English speakers but for the Barbado girls, but I just thought I'd ask /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Would we know any mutual people?

Centre Equestre de la Houssaye (http://www.eii.fr/houssaye)

PaigeHortman
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:56 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by VIRidingAcademy:
(What an odd name, by the way, you'd think you were posting on a bovine rather than an equine board /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ).

Sorry to have missed you on your trip to St. Thomas. I'm pretty much the only professional down here, so it's always nice to talk to horse people when the opportunity presents itself. My facility is pretty small and I don't really do any advertising per se (pretty much a waste of money in such a small place), so it's unsurprising you never even knew my place existed.

Rarely get a chance to do so, unless I meet some old friends when I take my kids on one of our few away outings. Living on an island is like that.

On the upside, no pressure to run my facility any way other than the way I choose to, and a small clientele made up only of those serious about learning.

Jason<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jason where are you located? Just got back as well from a week of St Thomas @ the Marriotte.......Are you the only farm on the island? Do you hold shows there? I wish I would have known, I was just dying to see horses (I did see a donkey in town.....) My friend who lives there (by the resteraunt MIMS) was helping a friend with his horses last week...but I doubt its the same....he was telling me how difficult it is to have horses on st thomas bc of shoeing, grain, etc.....Anyways I'd love to chat, I LOVE st thomas, and have been before and to st johns, we became very close with a few young men from the states who live there now...........TTYL

Paige

Gold Dust
Dec. 7, 2002, 08:30 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by pwynnnorman:
Come on, folks. Let's hear it. You care. You have brains. Come up with some SOLUTIONS and ACT on them!

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, you are correct. Many of us have tons of cheese next to our computers with our wine!!! but.....
For some, who would like to make change and are learning 'proceedure' sometimes it helps to know other people feel the way you do to spark a move out of yourself.[that being me not a shot at you!! lol] I have been reading snowbirds posts for quite some time now and if this bb could produce future snowbirds from some whinning then whine away!!
Myself, I think it helps to start with your local chapters. The 'right to know' had been a local issue here and because of a few who have the guts to stand by their convictions I am seeing a change. I believe everyone here who has come out of the 'whinning closet' might just take a step and attend local meetings and what a great future for all if they continue up the ladder!!!

"Disaster is the only thing that I can depend on"-
Stevie Nicks

jenarby
Dec. 7, 2002, 09:21 AM
I am definitely interested in seeing Jason's response to Wynn's post. I felt it was nasty and uncalled for. Jason is asking for people feedback to see how this is going to fly. That's exactly what he's getting form your so called "whiners." Had you thought that maybe he might be looking for people to back him in his crusade? Jason seems to a a smart and well educated man who has the motivation and knowledge to get his word out and possibly make some changes.
I was under the impression that this board is meant for that very purpose. Gathering information.
Wynn, you really have a way of shooting people down.

Good, Better, Best.....the best don't rest until their good is better and their better is the very best!

Snowbird
Dec. 7, 2002, 09:27 AM
One of the proposals is to have the state associations affiliated and become sort of a sub-committee of the Zone Committee.

1. Would your state association be a good idea for that?
2. Would they be able to include all those independent riders who do not compete regularly?
3. Would your local association be a good spokesman for those independents that don't seem to belong to anything?
4. Would you association be able to get those who who compete in the unrecognized circuits join us?
5. Do you believe in the USAE as a Federation?
6. If not are you willing to put some time into making it better even if it makes you unpopular?

There is an idea on the table that we should be able to nominate ourselves for the Zone Committee and then campaign to let people know what we think? Those of us without name recognition are at a disadvantage so how do we balance that out against the famous and the powerful?

Would you be willing to put yourself on the line?
Do you have ideas that would be help?

Blaming the world for your predicament is not a solution. You will not get anywhere by telling people they're stupid, selfish or liars. That does not motivate them to improve.

We have succeeded in getting the proposal for better representation of the membership. Read the Hunter Proposal and see if you think it goes far enough and if it is really balanced.

Thanks, Wynn but I didn't do it alone, first there was just you and me and then there were a half dozen. Granted they didn't come to the convention and endure the patronizing and the rudeness but they were there giving me the guts to do it and not quit.

If you are coming for the awards dinner, it's really beautiful and very well done. But, please come early and stay late for the meetings. You will find out that this year it is not an enemy camp defending against attacks. They are you and me, I may be the token C-Show person but there's room for a lot more now.

Remember there are thousands of members in proportion to each show manager there, without you they are out of business.

Remember no matter how powerful they are only a tiny percent of this Federation are show managers. It is no longer a show managers association it is in reality a members federation. So don't let them be your enemy they are you.

[This message was edited by Snowbird on Dec. 07, 2002 at 12:46 PM.]

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 7, 2002, 10:26 AM
I'll write more later on (what, again, they all ask with a groan /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ).

Snowbird - I would be very interested in talking with you privately in email about my ideas, but I don't want to post them just yet.

Wynn - ??I'm not quite sure what kind of response you're looking for here? I certainly take full responsiblity for my lack of previous action in this particular area, although part of that regarded things that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I didn't just wake up with these opinions, you know. They've formed over quite some time. I fully intend to do as much as I'm able, when I think it will actually make a difference. As I've stated many times here, I was just looking for a bit more info and feedback (and I've gotten more than I could've ever hoped for...Thanks!).

It's been helpful to talk to those that think I'm wrong, too. It hasn't necessarily changed my opinions, but has certainly helped to clarify and solidify in my own mind my position regarding some of the questions I'll most certainly get later if I DO decide to do something besides post. That was always my intent.

Victor - Glad to hear about your great sounding program. I just wish there were more like you around. I've always believed very strongly that the kind of environment you describe produces the best horsemen, not simply "riders" in today's language. Also, I certainly have no problem with grooms at the big shows, as long as their presence doesn't replace the riders learning to do for themselves at some point, either at smaller shows or at home. I hope nothing I've said was taken to mean that I feel that way. Not true.

JenArby - Thanks for the support. Part of the reason I posted this here first was to see what kinds of issues would be brought up, and what kind of response I would get, so as to be prepared. Better to see it coming, if you take my meaning.

Medieval - Oh, and so as to not bore everyone with "Caribbean tales", why don't you just drop me a line at laumbach@islands.vi and we can compare notes. Nope, I wasn't at Martinique, for reasons I'll enumerate via email, if you're interested.

Paige - Sorry I missed you. Please let me know if you visit again!


Jason

Liverpool
Dec. 7, 2002, 04:06 PM
Posted by Victor:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> However as a professional that goes to local and A shows I do find it necessay to to have grooms and help at the shows. IT is great for the kids to help and learn at the smaller shows but when you have a group and the pro is riding also you want things to run smoothly and you want to take some of the pressure off the riders so that they can concentrate. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Victor, your points are well taken. I would assume any pro wants things to run smoothly when they are out there "on display" - but honestly there ARE some of us out there who can actually manage to *gasp* groom, tack and untack our own horses and still be able to ride around those eight jumps...! Really, I can!!!

If it comes to that, I can also feed, muck, bathe, bandage and braid /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif although since riding is now my recreation, I often pay someone to help me with some of those chores. It is nice not to have to get up at oh dark thirty to feed and braid if I am not showing til lunchtime.

And in those cases I am the first person to cheerfully write the check along with a nice tip and I will probably bring you back lunch, too.

I guess my objection is to level of services I had to commit to in order to even participate in many trainer's programs.

I am a working person with limited vacation time. There is NO way I can commit to showing at an A show (or 2) every month - I just don't get that kind of time off. And I am NOT interested in sending my horse off with a pro for weeks on end so that they can ride and show him, while I "fly in for the weekend." I like to have him at home with me so *I* can ride!

I guess the struggle I have encountered is that I want A circuit quality (facility, staff, instruction, care and turnout) from a trainer that doesn't insist that I live on the road to get it. Apparently that is considered an unreasonable expectation. No one wants to only "give lessons" anymore /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

For what it's worth, by the way, I don't think it is solely an issue of $$$. My horsey budget gets spent whether I show once a year or ten times ... if I can't get time off to show, the money is invested in more lessons, clinics, etc. It is not an inconsiderable amount. A trainer willing to help me at home will get the same revenue from me as they could expect on the road, on an annual basis.

What I object to is having to pay for things I DON'T need (like having someone tack my horse for me) or actively prefer to do myself (like grooming him, so I can get a read on how he's feeling, if he is at all sore, tired or happy and ready to go.)

So far it has proven impossible. I have a lovely boarding situation so the care issues are all dealt with. The downside of the barn is there is no H/J trainer to lesson with (or to show with, come to that.) Not a disaster with my present (made) horse, but when my new youngster arrives, it is going to be much tougher.

He's fancy and quiet with a proven record already in the hunter breeding division - and he is already broke to WTC. I'd love to have a good pro start his over fences career. The folks I've approached (good riders who have had success on youngsters) simply aren't interested unless I commit to sending him on the road. *sigh*

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 7, 2002, 06:25 PM
I'm going to post a general outline of what I'd like to see done about one (maybe two birds with one stone) of these problems.

I'm going to leave the thread up until Monday, to let me finish getting my thoughts in order.

What's that? Thought I was all talk? Well, maybe you'll all hate it, or maybe not, but these ideas have been knocking around in my head for years. I think it's about time I let them out, even if it doesn't work out.

As they say "better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all". I'm a realist, but I hope to make my own insignificant impact. I'll be asking for help from all those that have expressed interest, if you're willing and able.

Jason

Snowbird
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:11 PM
You're right on, it is better to have tried and lost than not to have tried at all. Trust me it will make you feel better in your old age.

plottwist
Dec. 7, 2002, 07:59 PM
Jason,

You presume that the Children's and Adult Hunters who don't move up, don't want to move up or are unable by skill to move up.

You do need to consider the many factors for these divisions being so popular. Money and time being the top contenders on the list. They have become the end-all divisions because the "higher" divisions are out of financial reach for "common" horse folk. Horse showing is a sport, like soccer, except obviously more expensive.

As far as local associations, the one I'm involed in has more than 5oo members. Our association was created to encourage showing and stimluate the whole horse industry by enticing people to spend their money competing. Point chasers are an unfortunate side effect. The competitive nature of some people borders on the insane. But there are the same types in any competitive sport. (Mini Stirrup btw, is the worst creation next to Itty Bitty Jumpers as far as a division which is award to year-end award)

Jason, what you've posted all points toward money and competition. Until people change their philosphies about both, I doubt you will see much change in anything else. But good luck trying.

B.I.G.
Dec. 8, 2002, 08:01 AM
This is a question to all of you...

Did the damage start with the point chasers? They go to show after show after show, not necessarily winning consistently (though it helps), but racking up the points. They don’t have to be skilled at what they’re doing (after all, they likely have a horse that is). They don’t have to be a good horseperson (chances are, they don’t tack up or groom their own horses, let alone KNOW their horses. *Yes, I said horseS*). They are only after points. They need points, points to be in first. Won’t their horse be worth even more then, and low and behold their name, and their trainer’s, is becoming known (gee, when you go to a million shows…). The point chasers probably caused the lowering of the standards. I have an idea…limit the number of shows you can go to for points in one season. Will that will bring out the talent? The true worker bees.

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."

Snowbird
Dec. 8, 2002, 10:35 AM
Yes! the associations were all started with the best intentions but let's take a look at why it has been skewed.

In the 1980's shows gave out twice the prize money for less entry fees and were all very successful and financially secure. Life was good!

What changed? That is the issue.

In my opinion the demise came with the 15 show limit to qualify for all the end of the year big 5 shows. In order to do that they changed the points system from one that was very simple...C show single points...B show double points....A Shows quadruple points.

Now we have an incremented system that makes it impossible for real folks to qualify for anything. So, those people have all opted not to move up at all.

It all started with the two day rule for A-Rated Divisions. Since most people would not stable their horses in tents in the winter it pretty well conceded all shows north of the Mason-Dixon line.

That however by itself did not knock off the northern A Shows. Today you can win as many points as a bad 3rd at a AA Show as you would get if you won a blue in a class of 30 at a C Rated Show.

Then came the 15 show rule which meant that you never qualify for Devon,Harrisburg, Pony Finals or anything else except at the AA shows.

What is a double AA show? There is no difference in any rating except for money offered. At a AA show you have an extra $10,000 in the hunter classes.

In the 80's there were enough competitive hunters that an A Show didn't have time in the schedule for all the extra classes that were not rated.

If you wanted to go to the A Show you either had a horse that could 3'6" or you didn't go at all. There were at the most three rings, and that's all the locical parking that was available.

I used to calculate my entry fees based on the fact that the prize money could be divided by 10, because for example in Junior Hunters there were at least 10 even in a blizzard. A division was run on one day so it wasn't too expensive. Today not only are expenses higher due to two days but even at the A Shows you have to calculate the costs based on the minimum of 4 entries. Voila...costs go up and prize money goes down, and what is the point when all the extra costs go to hotels, shippers, braiders etc. it is not in any way paid back into the industry. 2/3 of the expenses are to vendors of various kinds.

At the shows in the 80's the trainers came to the show with 5/10 or even more horses and ponies. Shipping was therefore cheaper, training costs were cheaper because the trainer divided his expected income by 10 instead of by 2 for two days.

Sally Wheeler at that point created what was called the Hunter Incentive Committee. I was on that committee and a lot of of work was done to show that we were pricing the Rated Hunters out of business. The statistics were clear and thats when the Childrens Hunters, and the AA Hunters were recognized and the zone concept with a finals horse show started under the direction and stimulation of the Hunter Incentive Committee. Sally Wheeler worked very hard and almost single handed inspired these divisions be recognized and she is why they have been held on one day and C Rated.

The idea was to show new exhibitors that they could be competitive. BUT...because of the rising costs instead of these two new divisions to be a step up, they became a step down for the other experienced competitors. The Childrens Hunters replaced the need for Pony Hunters and Junior Hunters, and the AA Hunters took the place of the A/O Hunters. They also became a place for the old horses too tired to do 3'6" anymore and they could still earn their keep at 3'0".

My point is simply that limiting the shows or reducing or deleting the mileage rule will not prevent point chasing. It simply raises costs and that reduces competition numbers. We know what worked! We know what built this industry! We know that all this tinkering with the rules has created one big mess in which no one is happy and where we do not train riders.

The pity is that it has made shows so that only the exhibitors have to pay the costs, no sponsors, vendors or other sources of revenue are available. Most of the money spent, is spent on traveling to and from and to 100 vendors who all have their hand in our pockets but the horse industry is gaining nothing.

So, let's think out of the box, let's think of new ideas and ways to deal with the existing problems.

1. Shows rated by level of difficulty.
2. Spectators and sponsors.
3. Volunteers helping to keep the wheels turning.
4. A different way to qualify and measure success
5. Inclusion of the needs of the farms breeding horses

You can't fix this with duct tape.

Ghazzu
Dec. 8, 2002, 01:17 PM
My point in my post regarding the detouring Arabs and Appys going directly to the jumper ring vs. doing the hunters first was simply that, whether anyone here wants to admit it or not, some breeds have to put in a more flawless performance than others to get a ribbon in the hunters.

Given that, why not show in the jumpers where color or tail carriage aren't an issue?

I specifically said I wasn't addressing the scary riding part of the post.

Unashamed member of the Arab clique...just settin' on the Group W bench.

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 8, 2002, 02:38 PM
Watch for my proposal on Monday evening or afternoon, depending on how much time I have /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif.

I'll post it in a new thread, but will post a link and brief description here.

Please check it out, and for those who have been patiently reading along and contributing, thanks!

Jason Laumbach

VIRidingAcademy
Dec. 9, 2002, 02:27 PM
here it is. Please drop by and let me know what you think. Good, bad, ugly? Before I carry this much further, I need to be assured that there are others willing to do more than type!

Thanks for all your kind words (and criticisms). They were ALL helpful.

Jason Laumbach

VIRidingAcademy
Jan. 9, 2003, 11:43 AM
Just a quick note to mention that this will be printed in the March Practical Horseman. I'll be interested to see the replies, and I'll keep the board informed, if you like.

Thanks to all that helped to define and add to this discussion. We'll see where it leads us.

Jason Laumbach
laumbach@islands.vi

ximmer
Feb. 18, 2003, 10:40 PM
Did y'all see this in the March Practical Horseman? I was pleased to see it and can't wait for the feedback!

ximmer

VIRidingAcademy
Feb. 19, 2003, 10:50 AM
Emails are arriving already, everybody http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif.

I'll keep you updated on our progress. Rest assured that I have no intention of letting the issue "die".

Just marshaling my resources (such as they are).

Hope you guys are as warm as I am (it's 75 here http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ).

Jason Laumbach

Robin10549
Feb. 24, 2003, 02:57 PM
Dear Jason,
After reading your letter in Practical Horseman, I felt compelled to take your concerns a step further by addressing a number of other disturbing issues prevalent in the industry today.
I bought my first horse a year and a half ago. Novice that I am, I went into this sport with high expectations. I mistakenly believed that my trainers and instructors would educate me honestly and effectively about horses, yet nothing could have been further from the truth. It has been my experience that money is the one and only motivating factor for many trainers and instructors. Shockingly, these so-called professionals, who I relied on for guidance suceeded in taking full advantage of my equine ignorance. Many of the equine professionals I came in contact with were out to make a buck, whether it was the trainer getting a kickback for selling me unnecessary tack to the barn owner who bad mouthed my horse in attempts to persuade me to dump my imperfect mount for an expensive show horse. As an adult beginner I found most instructors friendly and supportive, however they were not willing to work with my horse. Calling him "lazy, stubborn or dead," they made every attempt to run him into the ground, forcing him into submission with spurs, crop or whip. At no point were they willing to work with my horse or offer any positive feedback. These trainers had little patience and demanded immediate results. They would have preferred that I owned a push button horse that required little schooling. Even more alarming, many boarders frequently traded in their horses as if they were merely pieces of sports equipment. No one developed any long term attachment to their horses. Even young children were being convinced that swapping their pony for a better model was preferable to perservering and working hard to train their mount. No one seemed to appreciate that each individual horse was gifted in its own right.
I also saw adults, coming back into the sport after many years, leasing or buying horses unsuitable for their riding level. Some in fact, were downright dangerous but as long as the barn was making a buck it didn't seem to matter to the trainers. I also witnessed parents purchasing ponies for their kids that were either unpredictable or inappropriate. Clearly they didn't know any better and were, like me, relying on the professionals to make proper choices. Little did they know that the all mighty dollar was ultimately responsible for their childrens'safety. But what bothered me most was the pervasive attitude that everything is disposable, that nothing is worth working hard for and that taking the easy way out, by purchasing a new horse, was preferable to recognizing that every mount in it's own right is special and worthy of respect.
Luckily, I have found a superb trainer who has literally turned my horse around, recognized his gifts and is training him in dressage. Callie Kuntz Bauer's philosophy of Benevolent Horsemanship, empahasizing patience, respect and compassion for one's mount, has restored my faith in the industry. She recognized my horse's strengths, diligently schooled him and channeled his energy into something positive. I believe that there are a handful of honest horseman, excellent trainers and resourceful instructors, but they are clearly few and far between. Jason, it is my hope that your message spreads, that you foster change and provide new focus and direction for the horse industry.

Sincerely,

Robin Levine
Mt Kisco, New York