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  1. #1
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    Default Spinoff: eventing w/o an "event" instructor--rider and parent responsibility?

    Several recent posts--especially one from someone who wants to get started eventing without having an event instructor in her area, and the one from the teenager whose parents aren't supportive of her eventing--have got me thinking. I rode recently at a pony club fun day--I'm the mom of a D2, but I event training level, and I accompanied a few teens who were schooling xc. They're interested in doing BN, but possibly not higher than that. I spoke to their mothers afterward, and told them that while I thought going BN with the instruction they have now (mostly hunter/jumperish, competent but not eventing focussed) was fine, if they wanted to move higher than that, they had to get some instruction from event riders. I told the parents--emphatically--that I thought this was a real safety issue.

    It's difficult in our area; those few of us who take eventing seriously have tended to patch together instruction from eventers who will occaisionally travel to our area, eventers to whom we haul--sometimes several hours--and more local dressage and jumper instructors. But I think parents really need to be involved enough with their children's activities that they understand the nature of eventing--that they realize the risks and take steps to minimize those for their children.

    Opinions?



  2. #2
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    Absolutely. I'm in a similar situation, myself and my daughters are the only eventers in our area, and the closest instruction is three hours away, and if we put together a clinic, the instructor has to put up with clinic filler of people that rarely ride with inttructors, because they won't take lessons regularly. I gave up on trying to instruct years ago, because of the number of people that express interest and never follow up. My daughter got some students this year, she's a good rider and has gone to prelim, I've only done training level.
    If a person is serious about their riding, they will seek out qualified instruction, but it's hard for juniors, because they are dependent on their parents to make quality decisions for them, and those decisions are often grounded in cost, time and availability. As non-riders, a parent doesn't understand the risk involved in riding. People starting out don't understand the quality of instruction they are receiving, until they have enough skill/experience to know what to look for.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gully's pilot View Post
    But I think parents really need to be involved enough with their children's activities that they understand the nature of eventing--that they realize the risks and take steps to minimize those for their children.

    Opinions?
    I started riding seriously myself when I was about 14. My 13 year old daughter is also at the point she's ready to move on with a horse of her own and will probably consider eventing (she's the "type.") So I'm coming at this question as both a former kid whose parents knew absolutely nothing about horses as well as an "over informed" parent.

    My dad never saw me ride, and my mom occasionally did, but most weekends that I competed she would drive the trailer to the park, unhitch, go play 18 holes of golf and by the time she got back I was wrapping it up. (I was 14-17 years old.) In today's world that is a bit of a stunner. 25-30 years ago while it was on the not very involved side of things it certainly wasn't viewed as a big deal. Back then if I had been asked I probably would have said that I wished my parents were more involved. TODAY, looking back I can not tell you how much I appreciate the fact that riding and eventing were completely MY thing. I also recognize the sacrifices my parents make to allow me to ride. But in fact, I believe the independence I was afforded is accountable for why I still pursue the sport and that's an incredible gift from my parents.

    There is a big part of me that doesn't think that lower level (BN & N) eventing is any more dangerous than football. I know my 4 older brothers ended up a lot worse in the injury department from chasing one type or another of ball around than I ever did eventing or riding horses. BN & N *should* be a level that kids can do--and screw up doing--without it being a big deal. If it's not, then as a sport we're missing something.

    I think as a society we have a problem in general in coddling our children to the point of suffocation. So while in some ways I'll be very involved with my daughters riding I am going to make a point of riding in the back seat as much as possible as she pursues this. Let her take some of her own risks, and even let her fail. That could be really hard for me, but I keep reminding myself that that too is a gift.



  4. #4
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    Subk, I respect what you're saying--but what sort of instruction did you have? Were you learning what eventers need to know? I don't think parents need to be following children around cleaning their tack, but making sure they're ready for the challenges does seem important to me. But yet--if you don't know anything about eventing, how do you, as a parent, learn?



  5. #5
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    originally posted by subk:
    There is a big part of me that doesn't think that lower level (BN & N) eventing is any more dangerous than football. I know my 4 older brothers ended up a lot worse in the injury department from chasing one type or another of ball around than I ever did eventing or riding horses. BN & N *should* be a level that kids can do--and screw up doing--without it being a big deal. If it's not, then as a sport we're missing something.

    I think as a society we have a problem in general in coddling our children to the point of suffocation. So while in some ways I'll be very involved with my daughters riding I am going to make a point of riding in the back seat as much as possible as she pursues this. Let her take some of her own risks, and even let her fail. That could be really hard for me, but I keep reminding myself that that too is a gift.


    that is indeed the way to go...and it will work for you, and your lucky kids BECAUSE you are that "over informed parent"...gotta think about the countless kids who have money funding the eventing "babysitting" and will be jumping training fences while Mom does the mall and golf.

    I can't decide if Taco, Cookiepony, Carol, or YOU will be the carrot that gets me guts enough to travel north on I-75 to MIDDLE TENNESSEE!
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan



  6. #6
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    And, too, rereading subk's post--that's not the type of parent I mean, who events herself and knows the issues. Presumably on the ball enough to yank the pony out from under the kid who needs it.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gully's pilot View Post
    Subk, I respect what you're saying--but what sort of instruction did you have? Were you learning what eventers need to know? I don't think parents need to be following children around cleaning their tack, but making sure they're ready for the challenges does seem important to me. But yet--if you don't know anything about eventing, how do you, as a parent, learn?
    Actually, I had great instruction. But my point is that my parents were so uninvolved that there is no way they could have known one way or another whether my coach had a clue or not. And about the only thing my father learned in the years I did horses while living under his roof was that I didn't ride in a western saddle that had a horn because the horn would be a problem when I jumped--but not when I rode in traffic. Har, har, har.

    Quote Originally Posted by gully's pilot View Post
    And, too, rereading subk's post--that's not the type of parent I mean, who events herself and knows the issues. Presumably on the ball enough to yank the pony out from under the kid who needs it.
    But I think what I'm trying to saying is that "yanking a pony out from under my kid" is the absolute last resort I would ever want to take. In a perfect world I would rather let her set her own self up for failure, fail, then allow she herself to over come it than never to let her to have the experience in the first place because I pulled the plug. I just wonder what kind of adults we're raising them to be if we say that things are going badly so we are going to stop the process.

    Can we raise adults who can take risks, over come adversity or believe in themselves when the odds are against them if we never let them struggle? Do kids get hurt on horses? Yes. But is it really a higher risk than other things out there we let them do or should let them do. Is the risk worth the outcome? I say yes. And again if we've allowed BN and N to become that dangerous for kids then as a sport we have truly screwed up.

    Now keep in mind for me as a parent as far as horses are concerned it's still hypothetical, there's still the possibility that when the reality of it is in front of me I'll squirm and flip flop on the big ideas. I just hope I won't. I hope the difference between me and the clueless parent is that I'll have a lot more private angst.



  8. #8
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    subk, do hope you save some of your posts...the writing is great, the thinking is next-to-none.
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan



  9. #9
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    I don't think BN is inherently dangerous. I don't think so about Novice, either, though in my mind some of the skills you skip at Novice come back to bite you in the butt at Training. Above that, however, the game changes.

    I feel like I'm only half articulating what I'm trying to say--I'm floundering a bit, which is rare, since I'm rarely at a loss for words. Maybe an example would help--I was stabled a few events ago next to a teenager riding Prelim with one horse and something lower with a second horse. According to the girl's mother, the girl got run off with at Prelim and decided to try to regain control by running the horse at a table--horse flipped. Horse was uninjured; girl might have had a concussion, but wasn't knocked out. Show management refused to let the girl ride horse #2--possibly they knew she had a concussion, I wasn't privy to the details. Mother was PISSED that girl wasn't allowed to ride horse #2. Mother did not seem to be concerned about the flip. Of course, she may have been--I don't know these people, wouldn't remember their names if asked to chose from a short list. But, at some point, the bad decision making is partly the parent's barbeque. Yes? I don't want to teach my own children--I have a young daughter that rides but doesn't event yet--but I'd want to be very sure I trusted her coach, and I'd keep an eye from afar. And I'd yank the pony if I had to, until she learned proper technique.



  10. #10
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    GP I guess I'd look at your example and say for the most part the system worked up to that point didn't it? Even though the mom seems stupid her actions had no effect on the outcome. Even though the girl seems stupid she had not yet hurt herself. The difference in your thinking and mine is that for you is seems like a bad ending. For me I look at it and wonder what happened next because your story ended with what isn't an ending, but instead with a great big opportunity. We don't know if the kid took advantage of it.

    For example, did her trainer rip her a new one and tell her she wouldn't compete at prelim again until she got her act together and low and behold she's started getting her act together? Did the girl scare herself silly and is now spending the next six months dealing with her fear only to over come it? Did girl have a reality check and realize her mother was crazy and she needed to start paying better attention to details herself because you know, mom can't ride the XC course with her and it's probably a wise thing to start taking more responsibility for herself?

    If any of those ficticious endings happened your story could actually be a fabulously positive one and you just weren't aware of it. But of course, we don't know what the ending is. Maybe she'll go on and have a rotational next week. (Although looking at the data I'm not sure one can say she is anymore predisposed than anyone else...)

    I'm really not trying to be obtuse, GP, and I do see your point. And yes it's probably a good idea for parents to know a little bit more than mine did. (Although I find it hard to beleive in this day and age that there are ANY eventing parents THAT clueless...) I just think that, today's parents may have overdone the "mimimizing the risk" to our children part of parenting. And that mimimized risk doesn't come without a penalty. Besides, eventing is suppose to be hard and have risks, isn't that why we love it so?



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RunForIt View Post
    subk, do hope you save some of your posts...the writing is great, the thinking is next-to-none.
    You obviously are planning to ask me to do some volunteer job or you want something... I've heard that kind of talk before and it's always bad news!



  12. #12
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    Very interesting subject guys.
    This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately because of my circumstances.
    My girls event and are young. I started out completely clueless. First pony was a total nut case but very kind. And I had no idea there may be a problem with this!
    Thing is, it turned out awesome. My girls learned so much from the little guy as he spooked at his own shadow!
    Anyway, 5 years later I am starting to get a grip on things.
    We now have a friend with a fearless kid. The world keeps telling this kid she can ride because she is so fearless. Truth is, attitude does not you a good rider make!
    Anyway, mom lets kid get a green horse that is totally unsocialized. The guy does not respect people at all! Very dangerous fellow. The kid could very likely get hurt. The mom does not know enough to know that you have to be selective about your horse Kinda like me 5 years ago!
    Point is, there are a ton of factors that go into the psyche of a kid. Over parenting can potentially be one problem. But there is something to be said for correctly parenting as well!
    This would include knowing when to push, when to back off, when to help, when to let them fall. Knowing your kid and their needs vs their wants at any given moment.
    Sorry guys, you can't package all of that. There is no formula for making a responsible, well adjusted adult.
    We have all seen amazing adults come from adverse circumstances. And we have also seen awesome adults come from very structured homes.
    As a parent of a rider, and as a parent who now knows a lot more than I once did. I can't now turn back the clock on my knowledge. Nor would I want to.
    I have to know when to step up and nix things that I don't agree with. And I have to know when to let my girls make the decisions.
    Sorry for the rant.
    But I am getting tired on all of these threads with people bashing parents for doing the best they can. Believe me, I see some pretty stupid parenting going on out there. But its not one thing they do that makes it bad. Its not too much involvement or affording a nice horse, or spending time with your kid at the barn. Its way deeper than that.
    Its treating your kids to an attitude of entitlement that goes beyond money. Its protecting your kids from the hard knocks of life in general and the horse world specifically, knowing you are setting them up for ultimate failure.
    Its fostering a "better than everybody else" attitude in them.
    I'm sorry. But I can't answer your original question, as I believe it is specific to each kid, and even specific to each circumstance that day!



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by gully's pilot View Post
    I don't want to teach my own children--I have a young daughter that rides but doesn't event yet--but I'd want to be very sure I trusted her coach, and I'd keep an eye from afar. And I'd yank the pony if I had to, until she learned proper technique.
    I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean. If you yank the pony and make your kid stop riding, how on earth is her technique going to improve? I can understand no showing, or in some cases, needing more lessons on a more experienced horse in addition to working with the pony (or even putting pony in full training, selling and getting a different one, etc. if they clearly are mismatched). However, if the problem is *technique* rather than basic control of the pony, it seems like doing lower fences, more gymnastics, more work without stirrups, maybe switching instructors, getting *more* riding time if possible, etc. would be more effective than making them stop riding their horse. Each one is a bit different, so while having good technique on another horse or pony can be very helpful, you still have to translate it to the one you're struggling with. Particularly in jumping, a bigger, rounder jump is more challenging to have correct technique on than a flatter jumper. While you can get better and better on the flatter one, it's not going to instantly translate to the round one who jumps you out of the tack.
    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whisper View Post
    I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean. If you yank the pony and make your kid stop riding, how on earth is her technique going to improve? I can understand no showing, or in some cases, needing more lessons on a more experienced horse in addition to working with the pony (or even putting pony in full training, selling and getting a different one, etc. if they clearly are mismatched). However, if the problem is *technique* rather than basic control of the pony, it seems like doing lower fences, more gymnastics, more work without stirrups, maybe switching instructors, getting *more* riding time if possible, etc. would be more effective than making them stop riding their horse. Each one is a bit different, so while having good technique on another horse or pony can be very helpful, you still have to translate it to the one you're struggling with. Particularly in jumping, a bigger, rounder jump is more challenging to have correct technique on than a flatter jumper. While you can get better and better on the flatter one, it's not going to instantly translate to the round one who jumps you out of the tack.
    In the hunter forum I read this thought "yank a kid from a pony" a lot and it is usually refering to a kid throwing a tantrum, and taking it out on the pony. Not anything to do with the pony being bad, or a mis match. Could be wrong here, but that's what I assumed.



  15. #15
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    I absolutely didn't mean no riding--I meant no showing. I meant if they were clearly not ready to event at a certain level, not letting them try. If they're marginally ready, I'd let them try or not based on the individual circumstances--experience and temperament of both child and horse.

    I know that you can't blame people who honestly don't know better. I came to eventing clueless, even though I'd ridden for many years, and I've certainly made my share of mistakes.

    I disagree with subk (though, subk, I've been enjoying our discussion and appreciate your well-reasoned posts) on the presumed educational value of a rotational fall. It might be very educational--but I think rotational falls carry too much of a risk of serious injury to both horse and rider not to be avoided at all costs.

    I think that if we're trying to make eventing safer, we have to help educate parents as well as kids riding.



  16. #16
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    Thanks for clarifying, GP! I'm used to "pulling the pony" meaning that the child isn't allowed to ride it at all. I agree that if the child (or anyone, really) is clearly unprepared, they shouldn't show. I suspect that most non-horsey parents don't really know enough about what is required to make that determination, though - usually they depend on the trainer to let them know what the child is ready for.

    I agree that rotational falls need to be avoided/prevented, but I think that what subk was getting at is that it's possible that the parent and/or child did get a lesson the hard way, and won't make that poor judgement call again.

    While I certainly hope that parents will educate themselves about the safety issues involved, I don't think it's reasonable to expect it, especially if their kids are beginners/in their first year. Even if their kids have been riding a while, they may exaggerate or underestimate the risks. The trainer/s really need to step up and make sure that they educate both the parents and the kids on those issues, but nobody is going to become an expert in only a few months, and there are certainly differences of opinion even among experts as to when to let a horse or rider move up.

    Of course, I don't have kids, so I'm speaking more in general.

    We have a lot of parents of vaulters who drop their kids off and come back afterward. Since the kids are under supervision the whole time, I don't think it's a big deal, and the parents do seem to be generally involved/supportive. It just can be a relief for them to get an hour to themselves! A couple of times, I've watched a kid or two until their parents came back, if they were running a few minutes late and the instructor was busy, but they're almost always back in time for the last few minutes of class, or make arrangements ahead of time. Vaulting doesn't have the same safety issues as eventing, though.
    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.



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