I board at a big barn. we have a very large and healthy lesson program and we have quiet a few very accomplished young riders who call my barn home. these are girls who compete at the 4ft level and above in the jumper circuit, girls who regularly score 70's and higher in dressage, girls who place top 10 at starred events. these are good riders who spend many hours honing their skills and are dedicated to their chosen sport. these are girls i would be shocked to not see continue to compete and participate in the horse world.
i mention these girls because my trainer often uses me to run clinics in the barn on basic horse care and health subjects as i do fairly well covering the material and being 23 i am closer to their age and the girls have an easier time relating to me i guess. either way i am running one of those clinic this week at my barn with a group of newer students. they are between the ages of 14 and 17 and all have been riding and competing for atleast 5 years or more. they are also girls we recently aquired from another lesson program that shut down in our area so they have not been at our barn for more than a month (we assumed the bulk of the previous programs lesson kids) and so this is their first clinic with us. we hold monthly clinics that are mandatory for all students, lesson kids at our barn must attend atleast 5 clinics a year as they are free and focus on non riding essentials like nutrition, first aid, traveling basics, clipping basics, or anything horse related that you dont do in a saddle. my trainier feels that as a rider you are responsible for all aspects of your horses care even if you board, lease or are just riding a horse for a day. no one gets out of stable chores and no one is allowed to shirk their responsibilites to their horses. some complain and more than a few have quit our barn because they feel that riding begins and ends with your leg over the horses back and nothing else matters but our barn has developed a reputation for well rounded responsible and knowledgable young equestrians and that i am very proud of.
so back to my point i am running the clinic this week and my group is the 12 new kids to our barn. since all of them have been riding and competing for many years i believed, as did my trainer that we could incorporate them into a normal clinic without altering the lesson plan. so monday after work i took them to the lounge and began covering my information on the basic horse nutrition such as grain to hay ratio's, vitamens and minerals horses need for basic functions, benefits of beet pulps, rice brans, flax seed ect. and all i got back where blank stares. so i took a step back and started questioning the girls on their knowledge trying to find where it was that i was leaving them behind. i was shocked to find that not a single one of those 12 girls from age 14 - 17 could tell me the basic differences in appearce from alfalfa and grass hay. so i took them to the feed room thinking that maybe it was the descriptions that were missing for them. once there i found they had no idea that there were even different types of hay (alfalfa, timothy, orchard, ect.)
no one had even fed their own horses, not one of those girls even knew the difference between a grain and a supplement or that we even supplement horses at all. i have since found that not one of them knew how to clip their horses, bath their horses, wrap legs, or even how often their own personal horses where shod, that they were wormed and given regular shots.... nothing. these girls can ride beautifully but have less than zero horse knowledge. they dont even know why it is they do what they do in the saddle!! only that that is the way they are supposed to ride and thats its.
this scares me as a rider and current member of the horse society! what are we teaching our kids!!! what is acceptable for a rider to know and not know about their horses? i have always been under trainers who demanded that i know EVERYTHING about my horse that i could and know it without question at the drop of a hat. at 14 i could tell you the date of my mare's last shoeing, shots, wormer, heat cycle, her weight height and vital signs at rest and while working. i knew everything that we fed her, the caloric content and every supplement we gave her and why. i knew why she was shod the way she was and when her teeth next needed to be floated and the exact amount of water she drank every day both summer and winter, while she was in work and when we took breaks. i understand this is extreme but shouldn't we be holding our younger riders accountable for what they do or dont know about their horses? and more importantly are these girls normal in horses now? or was this one barn to blame?
is my trainers dedication to the growth and developement of both her student's bodies and minds part of a dying tradition?
i dont know and honestly after a week with these girls i am disheartened. what do you guys think?
It is a dying tradition, for sure. I can't get my own daughter to care about feed, hay, etc. All she wants to do is ride. Grooming is even a chore she would rather do without.
I try to teach all of my students things above and beyond just riding, but some show very little interest. I like the idea of monthly clinics. I may have to steal that one ;-).
I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything there is to know about horses. I do keep the dates of Abby's worming and farrier visits in my school planner so I know when it needs to be done. I know what she's fed and I know exactly why she'll be on the supplements I'm starting her on.
If a health issue comes up that I don't know a whole lot about, then you bet you butt I'll be researching on the internet and at the bookstore reading about it so I know what to do. I know about ulcers now because my mare had them. She had almost no symptoms, but since I knew her personality, I knew something was up when she tried to kick off my hand for touching her belly.
I've gotten better at knowing the difference between mixed hay and grass hay because I work at the barn on the weekends mucking stalls and feeding and the like. The bales are different sizes and that's how I was told to tell them apart at first, so I still use that method, but if I saw them in the same shape, I could tell them apart now.
The idea of riding and being a good rider, but knowing nothing about your horse seems very odd to me.
I work as a wrangler at a summer camp and I would love if we had more time with the kids to teach them to care for the horses more. Last year we started waking the advanced kids up at 7am on the last day to go help us feed the horses. They loved it. They got to go have a breakfast picnic in the pasture when the feeding was done.
I have always loved HORSES, not just riding.
I love grooming and even mucking and cleaning. Anything that has to do with horses, I'm there. I love researching feeds, supplements, health, etc. Honestly if something happened where I couldn't ride (I pray that it doesn't though..) I think I would still have horses under my care.
I feel like riding is just the icing on the cake :)
I guess if I had boarded all my life and had everything done for me, I would not know as much. However, I HAD to learn about that sort of thing and I HAD to do everything for myself. I suppose there is a disadvantage to being spoiled ;)
Care should be the first thing a kid learns when getting into the horse world. As a child, I knew nothing more than how to ride. I was handed a tacked up horse and told to go into the arena. 12 years later, I have found a more personal trainer who is willing to answer my questions and actually teach me how to be successful in the horse business. I don't know everything, yet. ;)
lona i agree with you. Care is the first things anyone should learn. thats why im so bewhildered that these girls have no clue.......
no one will EVER know everything - the minute you think you know everything in the horse industry, you may as well pack up your stuff and find something else, you will learn every day for the rest of your life in this industry! my grandfather 90 years old this year asks me questions on some new methods and how different things are from then to now.
i grew up in this world that i love and i wouldn't be able to call myself a 'good groom' without the knowledge the hundreds of people around me have taught me and i've learnt my own ways of doing things. without basic skills on the ground, i don't believe a person no matter how good deserves to be on the back of a horse.
Well I don't think it's so very dying.
When I was young, a million years ago, we either cared about that stuff or we didn't ride.
And I think a lot of young people really are interested in learning those things and are very good about it.
I commend you and your barn/trainer for taking the time to educate your lesson students about things other than riding the horse. The woman that I learned to ride from did a yearly horse camp where she would spend one day on first aid, one day on health care, have the vet and the farrier come out to talk to the students about each profession, even schedule her horses to have their feet done, teeth floated, etc during horse camp week so they could see all that stuff and have the importance of it explained to them. She also had them clean stalls and paddocks every morning when they came out. I think it is very important for any rider to be knowledgeable in riding, but also in horse care. It just makes you a well rounded horse person, and it is very important for the kids to know that there is more to keeping and caring for a horse than just riding it.
I also find that disappointing, and I actually know quite a few girls like that in my area. My cousin being one of them. And most of these girls have their own barn and keep their horses in their backyard. Something that I want more than anything.
Ever since I was little I loved horses. My parents couldn't afford to buy me one at the time, so I read every horse book I could get my hands on multiple times. When I eventually got my first horse, I was excited to clean stalls. I could stay at the barn for hours, and 90% of the time I wouldn't be riding.
Actually, Friday afternoon was the first time I have ridden in about 3 months. I went on a 2 hour trail ride with my friend, and I enjoyed it but I would've been perfectly content with grooming my mare for 2 hours as well. The barn I keep my mare at has only a few boarders, and they're all seniors who only trail ride. Two other workers and I board our horses there, and we also only trail ride. Even though we don't show, there are plenty of nights where we'd all have our horses on the cross-ties grooming them while we all talked and ate pizza. We'd stay out until 2 in the morning on some nights.
I care about what my horse eats, and I research about her feed/supplements. I'm EXTREMELY picky about her stall. I always keep it super clean, and it's probably 6 inches deep with shavings.
I must say working at the stable I keep her at has taught me sooooo much, and I'm sure a lot of it is stuff you can't read in books, you just gotta go out and learn hands on.
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