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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2009
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    Harrisonburg, VA
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    74

    Default Today's work ethic

    This is my first post and I am looking for some advice from the general community. My family and I run a very small, low key riding facility in Upstate New York. We work on a shoestring and try to maintain a safe, workmanlike environment. I was brought up in Pony Club and we try to teach our students along those lines, focusing on horsemanship, not just riding. I've recently been called back to active duty for the Army, so I'm not teaching right now, which gives me lots of time to ponder...

    Recently, I've noticed a trend with some of our students that I'm a bit troubled about. We have several kids (14-16) who just purchased their own horses after leasing ours for a few years. Our horses aren't perfect, but they're very good sorts. I try to encourage my first time horse owners to buy a horse that they can have "fun" with, rather than focusing on something young and inexperienced. In the price range of most of my kids, this means something a bit older. Of course, being teens, they don't listen Enter the four and five year old horses with little to no experience.

    Here's the part that troubles me. I come from a not-very-wealthy background. My horses have been what's available, rather than what was suitable. While I don't want my kids to suffer like I did, getting eliminated at show after show because of issues, they seem to expect perfection without work. Instead of working with their horses and being grateful for the gift they have been given (trusting, willing horses with good attitudes, but little experience), they are instead short tempered and quick to tear down their mounts. They are also VERY quick to put their horse on the market. I am not bashing teenagers. These are good kids and they work hard around the barn. They volunteer their time and are genuinely caring people. They just don't seem to have any desire to build a relationship with their horses.

    I'm not sure how much of this is teenage behavior and how much is the direction riding has taken when I wasn't looking. When I was small, my horse meant everything to me. He may not have been perfect, and I know I SURE wasn't, but he was my best friend. But watching my students, I am constantly puzzled by their lack of concern or connection to their horses. If this is just a matter of a bad match and no "click" between horse and rider, I have no problems with the horse being sold. Sometimes, it just doesn't work out. However, it seems like more and more of my students are thinking of horses as disposable. I guess I'm a bit sentimental, but when I was in Iraq, I would dream about riding. It was the longest time in my life to go without being around horses and it was almost painful. I just can't seem to understand why my students can't just enjoy riding. The desire for instant gratification is growing more apparent and is putting me off teaching.

    Is anyone else seeing this?
    Last edited by armyeventer; Mar. 9, 2009 at 02:03 AM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2006
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    96

    Default Work Ethic

    You are a horseman and not everyone is. In fact most people can't make the commitment it takes to be one.

    I was told when I first started galloping horses that I thought like a trainer. This was in response to the questions I asked. Most riders are never going to be trainers. Kids get green horses not realizing it's not a riding exercise as much as a training exercise. Time, patience and skill are all required in addition to being a fairly good rider.

    Many kids today lack a good work ethic, this is true, but it takes a lot more skills to train a horse to do anything. Especially when laying down the foundation. It's repetitive and there is little instant gratification.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 19, 2006
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    area II
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    1,623

    Default

    While I do suspect that the instant gratification generation is partially to blame, I also suspect that a true horseman is a fairly rare bird, and always was.
    The mentality that it is not just about YOU is very hard to come by. Partially born, partially fostered, but always rare, and to be treasured.
    I imagine it is what separates the men from the boys in this sport.
    The only thing you as a trainer can do is practice what you preach. Be an example of what a good horseman should be. Treat your horses like you want your students to treat theirs. Most won't get it, but there might just be one.....



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 13, 2002
    Location
    Southern Pines, NC
    Posts
    324

    Default Thank you for your service

    Keep the faith, there will be people who get it and people who don't that horses are not throwaway items. There may be only one "horseman" out of the group of teenagers that you sift through. Yet it will be worth the time. And, of those kids that didn't get it at first, some of them will remember your words later in life and become "horsemen." We all learn and develop at our own pace. Bless you for doing what you are doing!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 12, 2001
    Location
    Dry Ridge, KY USA
    Posts
    3,103

    Default

    I used to be an instructor. I ran into the same "work ethic" in the young adults and kids that I taught. Because I lived on the outskirts of an affluent area, most of the kids were "given" everything. This mentality affected my own children, too. My husband and I tried, by example, to teach a good "work ethic" in everything that we did, whether it be a job, taking care of their "stuff" and earning money to buy their "stuff". Most of their friends were given sports cars, when they turned 16. It is very hard to stand up for your convictions, when faced with that every day.

    What I found was that most young adults/kids do not want to take the time to learn to do things the correct way. (I taught from a Pony Club background, too.) When I was growing up, I spent every minute, that I was allowed to have, with my horse. On Saturday mornings, I would take a balony sandwich down to the barn, sit in the hay and watch my horse eat her hay. When we were finished, I would hop on bareback and ride around our pasture. Every two weeks, after Church, we would go to Pony Club for lessons. If I could have lived with my horse, I probably would have.

    Today, I do not see this kind of mentality in most young adults/kids. They are involved in so many more "experiences", so that they can get into college. They do not make the time to bond with their horses.

    One example of a family, who works together for a common goal of good horsemanship is Jackie F. Smith's. Her husband and she own Stonegate Farm in Hanoverton, OH. It is a working farm and an eventing facility. From the beginning, her sons helped around the farm and were in Pony Club. They developed a great "work ethic". Because of this, they have become very good young riders and good horsemen.

    JFS - Can you truly help to create a horseman or does the person just have to have the desire within himself?

    Do parents, who want their kids to go to college, have them involved in too many activities for them to make the time that it takes to become a good horseman?



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 24, 2007
    Location
    Lubbock, TX
    Posts
    1,607

    Default Sense of entitlement

    I used to run a Freshman Writing Program at a state university, and I've taught a LOT of undergraduates (and grads!). I DO think there is a sense of entitlement in today's young adults. I don't know--it could be that it was there BEFORE I started teaching, but I certainly have noticed it.

    In first year writing, students assume that I start with an "A" then find "niggly" things to cut them down. In fact, I tell them, they EARN the grade they receive, and I have clear criteria about what each grade requires.

    Many students come to me complaining that "I worked so hard--I should get some credit for that!". I AM a believer in "process pedagogy" and I require them to bring drafts and to respond to others' drafts--and they are graded on how well (critically/analytically) they do that. But when they turn in a "final" draft, I have to grade the PRODUCT. If they worked hard/not at all doesn't come into play.

    I also get a lot of "I ALWAYS got 'As' in high school". To them I say:

    Welcome to college!

    I guess what I'm saying is that I DO see a growing sense of entitlement in younger folks, and I'm sure it bleeds into the horse world. I think kids just grow up later than they used to.

    As others have said, thanks for your service--and good luck w/ your barn!
    --Becky in TX
    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
    She who throws dirt is losing ground.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2009
    Location
    Harrisonburg, VA
    Posts
    74

    Default

    Thanks so much for the replies! I truly didn't want this to be a rant against anything in particular, just voicing a concern. The kids that work at my farm are truly good kids. They work for what they have. Most of them cannot afford to take lessons or pay board, so we offer them the opportunity to work off what they can. They show up and do a pretty good job. I guess that's why I get so confused. They work so hard to be around horses, yet when they get their own, it doesn't seem to be anything special. I too used to take my sandwich over to the barn to watch my horse eat. I spent (probably excessive) amounts of time playing with my pony, both on horseback and off it. My students play too, but it doesn't seem to have the same effect. We encourage our students to go outside the ring. They go on trail rides and gallop through the fields. They do things that I would, as an instructor, scream at them for if I knew they did it, same as my parents or instructors would have if they'd known about my behavior when I was young. They take their horses swimming in our pond and ride them all over the place. Yet, when they're done, they'll "forget" to give them water or take the time to brush them down. They'll ignore the fact that this 1200lb animal just went against most of the instincts it had to perform what was asked and my kids will neglect to give them a simple pat on the neck in appreciation.

    Maybe it is the difference between riders and horsemen, like most of you said. My students clean tack after they ride, they know to clean out the trailer as soon as we get home from a show. They go through the motions of everything I was taught, starting on the ground, to make sure the horse understands what's being asked of it. And yet there still seems to be something missing that transforms a normal relationship into something that leaves you...hungry, I guess. Wanting more. Wanting to pour yourself into the sport on as many levels as possible so you can understand your partner better. I remember going to Rolex for the first time. I stood out on the cross country field early in the morning, when the mist was rising, and watched a horse and rider gallop to their next fence. Again, I'm a sap, but I literally got teary watching. Not (just) because I was watching such a high class event, but because the horse was doing just what it was asked. Not out of fear, not out of stupidity. It was in sync with its rider, heading towards the unknown out of faith in what it had been taught.

    That's all I want for my students. The understanding that we are so lucky to have that faith and it is so very rare. To have a creature give you complete power over their entire being is...well, if someone else can find the words, please let me know.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2007
    Posts
    1,191

    Default

    as a mom of a 17 y.o. i think there are alot of contributing factors the lack of attachment and work ethic in the generation of young people. primarily, imho is the passive learning experience taught in most public schools. kids wait to be spoon fed information. also i think technology is a factor. this is the first generation of totally connected kids. everything is instant and disposable. anything to do with horses is the polar opposite of what most teenagers are experiencing/practicing in their daily routine. to be a good rider, to be a horseman takes practice, perserverance and patience with a good dose of humility. not the qualities we really seem to be developing in our children as a whole.
    don't get me started about the media and its influence!!
    i do feel strongly that it is up to parents to insist their children developing the commitment and compassion necessary to be stewards of these anaimals.
    however, having said that, i also think that most teenagers do not have the capacity to understand what a gift is being given to them by these remarkable animals. it is an adult perspective and one that is heightened when it is no longer there. it is deprivation that leads to obsession!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May. 9, 2007
    Location
    Boerne, Texas
    Posts
    826

    Default

    I wish to inject a little optimism here. The young people I see around here have a lot of stick to it. At one barn the horses the children are able to buy are not top notch competitors but they seem to enjoy working with them and show at the schooling shows. They hardly ever seem to sell them unless it is a time such as beginning teenage years when some lose their desire to ride in favor of sports, boys or other distractions. It happens to a few of them. The other barn's students are better able to afford higher level horses and seem to keep and work with them through problems and injuries for a long time. Most of the time I see them sold only if the student has reached a degree of skill that shows they could use a more talented horse. Of course there are a few exceptions but that seems to be the trend in our world. We are eventers but I don't think that is the difference. As a public school teacher I have to say WOW, now we are being blamed for the tendency to poor horsemanship in young people. We struggle every day to inspire work ethic, character, knowledge, etc. in young people. In some it is an uphill battle with lazy students but in most it is gratifying. I find myself saying many times...students these days don't ...then I stop, it is really a small minority in our area that have that attitude, and we live in a prosperous area where the students are privileged . I am sorry to rant but it is discouraging to wake up every day and go to a job work hard, then on the way home turn on the radio and hear how sorry you are doing.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2002
    Location
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Posts
    5,652

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by armyeventer View Post
    Thanks so much for the replies! I truly didn't want this to be a rant against anything in particular, just voicing a concern. The kids that work at my farm are truly good kids. They work for what they have. Most of them cannot afford to take lessons or pay board, so we offer them the opportunity to work off what they can. They show up and do a pretty good job. I guess that's why I get so confused. They work so hard to be around horses, yet when they get their own, it doesn't seem to be anything special. I too used to take my sandwich over to the barn to watch my horse eat. I spent (probably excessive) amounts of time playing with my pony, both on horseback and off it. My students play too, but it doesn't seem to have the same effect. We encourage our students to go outside the ring. They go on trail rides and gallop through the fields. They do things that I would, as an instructor, scream at them for if I knew they did it, same as my parents or instructors would have if they'd known about my behavior when I was young. They take their horses swimming in our pond and ride them all over the place. Yet, when they're done, they'll "forget" to give them water or take the time to brush them down. They'll ignore the fact that this 1200lb animal just went against most of the instincts it had to perform what was asked and my kids will neglect to give them a simple pat on the neck in appreciation.

    Maybe it is the difference between riders and horsemen, like most of you said. My students clean tack after they ride, they know to clean out the trailer as soon as we get home from a show. They go through the motions of everything I was taught, starting on the ground, to make sure the horse understands what's being asked of it. And yet there still seems to be something missing that transforms a normal relationship into something that leaves you...hungry, I guess. Wanting more. Wanting to pour yourself into the sport on as many levels as possible so you can understand your partner better. I remember going to Rolex for the first time. I stood out on the cross country field early in the morning, when the mist was rising, and watched a horse and rider gallop to their next fence. Again, I'm a sap, but I literally got teary watching. Not (just) because I was watching such a high class event, but because the horse was doing just what it was asked. Not out of fear, not out of stupidity. It was in sync with its rider, heading towards the unknown out of faith in what it had been taught.

    That's all I want for my students. The understanding that we are so lucky to have that faith and it is so very rare. To have a creature give you complete power over their entire being is...well, if someone else can find the words, please let me know.
    Remarkable, touching, and humbling...

    (Would be words that I would use); but I think your post says it all--and eloquently!

    Great posts by everyone here, actually!

    I also see this sort of thing frequently, but I am lucky enough to have students who are a little more "tuned in and appreciative"...However, I do think that A) times have changed both in terms of core values, and what influences kids are getting (mostly negative in this modern "culture of celebrity" )--though child-centered parents are often to blame for allowing/creating the "sense of entitlement" that we so often see nowadays, and B) maturity has a lot to do with the ability to look at (and dearly, selflessly love) a horse in a certain way, and *real* maturity seems to elude many modern-day children...Or be a long time coming!

    Why is this? A question for the ages...
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May. 9, 2007
    Location
    Boerne, Texas
    Posts
    826

    Default

    Armyeventer, what a great post!!! I am saving that one, what eloquence and horsemanship. Thanks.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
    Posts
    6,823

    Default

    Spoiled brats are spoiled brats are spoiled brats.

    Attitudes of "I deserve it, I want it and YOU must make me feel good about myself" are sadly very common nowadays in most areas where the coddled and undeserving but demanding people inhabit.

    I've known some great teenagers and new riding adults with horses...a few are really great, care about the horses and don't expect to be instantly wondrous (no matter what the tapes or TV shows "suggest" will happen when you use their magikal bits/bridles/ropes/wands or saddles). One rider at my barn goes through horses like popcorn...they just don't seem a total fit...too tall, wrong color, just the wrong sort of trot etc. This is a beginner who hardly can canter and she's commenting "I need a horse to take me to 1st Level!" Gack!

    Sadly, I can sort've understand it. Horses have become so expensive to keep and show, people are paranoid about wasting time on the wrong horse. The $90/month field board is a thing of the past in most areas.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2009
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,363

    Default

    In some cases, I think horses have become "another" activity for kids -- just one of many things to do throughout the week, in between piano lessons and soccer practice and homework and school plays.

    If the students' parents are not really "horsey," they often don't understand that horses don't cooperate with our time schedules or that the hour-long lesson they're paying for also involves some prep-time and cooling-out time. Or, they believe that paying for full-care board means only showing up when you're going to ride; life is just too busy on the other days to bring their child out to the barn "just" to groom, or walk, or "play" with their horse.

    So, they pass that mentality along to their kids. It's up to the trainers or more experienced peers at the barn to teach kids about ALL aspects of horses, not just riding. That goes for even little things, like "did you remember to pick your horse's feet out when you were grooming?" to "is your horse cooled-out enough to go back in his stall?"

    If a kid (or, in some cases, an adult) is used to riding well-schooled, "been there-done that" lesson horses they might not understand or appreciate what it took to get the horse to that level. The horse makes them look good -- maybe like better riders than they actually are. So, when they end up buying a younger horse that throws in some challenges, sometimes they realize that maybe they aren't "all that." It's a blow to their pride. Some get over it and step up to figure out how to work with the horse. Others decide it's just too much hard work, or there must be something "wrong" with the horse (because it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the rider, right?).
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2009
    Location
    Harrisonburg, VA
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    74

    Default

    I agree with the last post. Some of our new parents drop their kids off at EXACTLY the prescribed lesson start time and are waiting in the van an hour later. However, we require our students to tack up their horses and to cool them out. The funny thing is that most of our students end up staying the whole day, once they start doing their own work. They don't want to leave! I've been fortunate to have really good, dedicated kids. Our barn is very low key and the kids seem to appreciate it. Throughout the week they do soccer and swimming and gymnastics and clubs. When the time comes to ride, they seem to take a deep breath and just enjoy their time at the barn.

    But it seems when the kids get their own horses, some of that goes away. Maybe it's because, like stated above, they grew accustomed to having it a little easier. Maybe because it was considered "extra" to stay at the barn as a student, rather than "expected" as a horse owner. It just seems kind of sad that instead of being happy that they finally have their own horse, they don't want to spend any time with it. They seem to keep thinking how much better every other horse is, rather than building on what they have. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence (or so my escape artist ponies think!)



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2008
    Posts
    203

    Default

    It's an uphill battle to teach follow through and attention to detail in this ADD culture, but very worth it. You are doing both the horses and the kids huge favors. Instilling a culture where the kids put pressure on one another to do it right is a huge plus - probably one of the reasons why Pony Club is so great, because the culture comes along with the program.

    Keep up the good work and know that there will be a lot of gratitude in its wake.

    I just wanted to add that I know exactly what you mean by that "hunger". I bet most of us on that board feel it -that yearning to do more, learn more, spend more time with the horses, be closer to them.
    Last edited by Lincoln; Mar. 9, 2009 at 12:37 PM. Reason: content



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2007
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    1,191

    Default

    i think jolly badger hit the nail on the head. most non-horsey parents do not get the idea that "barn time" is at best fluid. we drive 45 minutes each way to the barn. as i said dd is 17 and she makes that drive by herself most days but she has been riding since she was 11 and guess who was taking her to the barn? however, the barn is my favorite place to be so i was a happy camper most days. not so with the other moms who were missing their pilates class and having to reschedule hair appointments. or they had a job that demanded their presence.
    i do not think it is the quest to get your kid into college that has anything to do with this phenomenon. most good schools would rather see a student that demonstrates commitment, discipline and dedication to an activity.
    there is this very interesting book about this generations inability to focus and how that is going to impact their ability to relate in job situations and develop long-term personal relationships. as soon as i can think of the title i will post it. general idea is watch what happens to a generation that has had roo much unfiltered information, too much instant gratification and not enough deprivation to develop patience and perserverance. my own child is a shining example. she thinks she is deprived bc she does not have an i-phone. however, when i suggest she spend her own money she is shocked and reminds me that she is saving for new open fronts. so i guess she is not all bad!



  17. #17
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    Aug. 7, 2007
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    Default

    wanted to add that i think this thread brings up some very important questions. i find myself wondering where the next generation of riders(especially eventers) will come from?



  18. #18
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    Apr. 8, 2004
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    The person who said "passive learning" hit it on the head, and unfortunatly there are a lot of trainers who make it worse (NOT saying that it's the case here!). I have a youngster that has been frustrating to bring along partly because the trainer who was working with her wasn't interested in showing me what I needed to do to work with my mare myself. When I realized that it was the wrong trainer for the horse, I was temporarily up $hit creek because I had no clue what I needed to do to keep my mare going until she moved to the new trainer who would help me bring her along myself.

    Being teenagers, they may not know what they don't know... things that seem obvious to an adult may not be so much to a teenager!
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."



  19. #19
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    Mar. 30, 2007
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 3horsemom View Post
    wanted to add that i think this thread brings up some very important questions. i find myself wondering where the next generation of riders(especially eventers) will come from?
    The USEF is asking that very same question all the time. Their answer, such as it is right now with the movement towards the one-stop-shopping service-oriented business model that has driven the H/J world, is that the athletes (those who are considered to be the future of the sports) will likely come from those families who actively live the equestrian lifestyle and have the financial resources or commitment to support their children consistently in competitive efforts and the riders (everyone else) will be either adults who can pay the bills of the professionals on a regular basis or young riders supported by families who can do the same. As the struggling economy takes it's toll on those businesses that cater to the families who pay for their children to ride and the few adults who can afford to actively compete in equestrian sports, you are going to see a big shift towards finding ways to maximize profits of professionals who rely heavily on them to keep the lights on. That's why you have these new ideas for "professional friendly events" being put on the table and it very well may lead to the dumbing down of Eventing to the point where an atypical rider resembles the often lamented example of the H/J rider who pays and plays but can't do much of anything on their own with a horse.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have,
    at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  20. #20
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    Feb. 6, 2004
    Location
    VT
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    Default

    Kids have so many things going on these days that I don't think that they learn how to really focus on any one thing. Besides all the activities many of them are involved in, there isn't really any down-time, because, when they aren't directly involved with an activity, they are texting, surfing the net, playing video games, etc. I was showing a girl how to clip her horse the other day, and I look over to see that she is texting!!

    I teach swimming as well as riding and have seen first hand that there is now a very different attitude in both children and their parents then there was 20 years ago. Now, it is just one of many different activities, and some parents seem to treat it as a drop-in activity, making it difficult to teach progressive lessons. Children used to be very motivated to pass their levels, but now many seem happy just to get a certificate for attending (which I am required to provide!). Many seem content to just be able to do something, and do not have the intrinsic motivation to work on doing it better. Years ago, most kids would feel pride at trying something hard, now I encounter more kids who just say, "Nope, don't want to do it."



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