ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 
ESI Q and A Forums > ESI Q and A Forum > Questions and discussions for the ESI Q and A Forum > Advice for helping a teenager who is asking about horsemanship

Quote Post
Username: *


Bold Italic Underline Align Left Center Align Right Ordered List Unordered List Quote Insert Image Insert Link Insert Code Tags  
Allowed extensions: bmp gif jpg jpeg png txt pdf zip

The file size should not exceed 500000 bytes

 Preview   Send 

Topic Review

Joined: Mon Nov 24th, 2014
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 38
Status:  Offline
Posted: Fri Mar 15th, 2019 02:57 am
I have a question regarding one of my music students, who is also a budding horsewoman (teenager).
I am well aware that my role for her is as a music teacher, but she often asks me about my horse and talks about her horse lessons after our music lesson. She rides at a local « show barn » and her « trainers » often refer to the horses as « stubborn, having a bad attitude » et al.
My own teacher has many times told me that if someone isn’t asking, they’re not going to take it in anyway, so it is useless to give information that isn’t asked for.
However, this girl has been asking-and I’m not qualified to teach. I can’t send her to my teacher as of yet, as she’s pretty well ingrained at this barn and she boards her horse there. As well, I understand this barn has rules about outside teachers coming in-they do not allow it. Her parents know nothing about horses.
The latest thing she told me about was horses refusing to go over jumps, and canter departures. She told me her trainer said they were being stubborn and the girl asked me what I thought.
I said, well, I wonder if your trainer talked about balance, footfalls, asking at the right time, and so forth.
I then related that sometimes when I ask my horse to do movements I haven’t prepared him for, I put him out of balance and it’s very uncomfortable if not impossible for him to really execute the movement. It then feels really yucky and I might interpret it as « resistant » but it’s really that we weren’t prepared for it. So maybe there’s a different way to go about it. Or even a physical problem to address.
I spoke to her parents to obtain permission to give her information; this website address, and loaned her the Buck 7 clinics DVD’s, particularly Disc 5, where he coaches the teenaged girl on jumping.
I told them she’d been interested in the deeper aspects of horsemanship, so if it was okay I was loaning her DVD’s. They said that was great.
Much farther than that, I can’t go. However there’s part of me that really wishes someone had told me about the deeper aspects that I intuited but abandoned at youth when the focus was on shows, forcing, and I was not willing, nor was my family well monied enough, to do at that age.
I ended up blocking off my world with horses to a large extent because of that tutelage until I was much older. I don’t know if that’s what is involved with my wanting to help this girl-hopefully it is not projection-but I would like to know if anyone else has any ideas.
It is uncanny how horse people keep showing up in my music lessons. I have several now. I usually just share that I have been to clinics with Buck, Joe Wolter, and learned a whole lot from them.
This girl said she thought I knew a whole lot more about horses than what she’s learning at this barn, and I said, well I have really good teachers. So from a music teacher standpoint, and knowing how awful some music teachers have been to kids they’ve instructed, and my intuition for when someone might be open to learning, I’m sort of confused as to where to go from here.
Super Moderator

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2019 06:26 am
Cap -- you've done all the right stuff so far with this "budding young horsewoman." Or what we wish she was -- would be a budding young horsewoman. What her instructors at the stable she's at are trying to turn her into instead is a budding young competitor.

This is what you have to make clear to her: that there is more than one world out there. Lots of different worlds. And they overlap, they are "laid over" each other like acetate sheets on an overhead projector.

So, I agree with you, this kid IS in fact asking. She's old enough to begin to be able to see the flaws in adults. One of the hallmarks of the tweener or young teenager is that they are able to see adult bullshit. However, they don't always know what to do with it. Do they have to obey it? How are they to structure their own lives? Where do they get a sense of values?

So you know the parents. Do they have any values? Do they have any spine as to where acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior lie? Or do they just always go with the flow? How materialistic and shallow are they, actually? Their kid might be superior to them in this way -- often happens that way, when the parents are social climbers.

This involves two questions which you can answer: why is this kid in music lessons? And why is this kid getting riding lessons, both paid for by the parents? Is it because "people of a certain class" just ought to have those bells & whistles, according to their beliefs? Or rather because the kid actually has some talent in music or a real feel for animals in general? If you fail to get through to the child, it won't be because she "wasn't asking"; it will be because her parents are pushing her to be in activities for their social oneupsmanship value rather than because either they or the child have any real love for music or horsemanship.

On the other hand, if the parents are open to being educated, you can educate them if you care to. Don't give me this BS though, please Cap, about your not being qualified. You are plenty qualified and the child is choosing you. So step up to the plate, OK? And take her out to YOUR stable and invite the parents too. If necessary take them all out to lunch, your treat. And let them observe the differences in the atmosphere at your stable vs. theirs, and then at lunch you direct the parents to this Forum and by the way, have a copy of "Kinship With All Life" handy to give to them too at lunch.

What you will be educating them with regards to has nothing to do with technical maneuvers or the teaching of "riding". Rather, you will be dismembering the part of them that can ever possibly react positively or with acceptance to any statement whatsoever about a horse being "stubborn" or "resistant". The analogy, as you and I have said to each other before in this Forum, between music and horsemanship is absolutely an excellent one: is your daughter being "stubborn" or "resistant" when she flubs up a scale exercise? Likewise, what is your role with regards to her music -- is it not that you are the teacher, and therefore you approach each step in learning to play the piano or the violin one step at a time, and you get closure on Step One before you go on to Step Two? Is that not also how we teach a horse to help us open a gate or stand still at the mounting block? Is it not also how we teach them to perform a circle (four 90-degree arcs = one 360-degree circle)? And your bottom line point to the parents would be, yes, in all probability that's how the instructor at the competition barn approaches the KIDS. But does she use the same approach with respect to the horses? Obviously not.

Then you follow up by clubbing them over the head with this: since when is their daughter going to actually get over a course of jumps, given that she does NOT have the horse's 100% full willing cooperation? And here is where we depart from the music analogy, because the violin is not alive; it is a patient, not an agent; it has no will, thoughts, ideas, or desires of its own. So what they MUST see, which the instructor does not see, is that the horse does, and that treating a horse as if it were a violin is not only cruel but also stupid, insofar as it will prevent the accomplishment of the very goals which the instructor has in mind.

When this has sunk in -- and I imagine it will take longer than one afternoon for the parents to get this thought through -- then we take this a step further, to realize that the instructor is demonstrating that she completely lacks imagination: and what she is not imagining is that horse training is easy. The whole key is to know what to do in order to get the animal to want to do what you want him to do. Once this occurs, and our school is the one place where that kind of knowledge is emphasized and overtly taught, then the horse will do anything for the rider. But "conventional" competition-oriented coaching not only lacks imagination, it is also a shocking misuse of human intelligence. If the parents have enough philosophy about them, they will be able to apprehend this. But if they are merely "churchgoers" who don't realize that Jesus whipped the moneychangers in the temple for a very good reason -- then you probably won't be able to get through to the parents. And if you don't get through to them, then you won't get through to the daughter either, because she is and will be too much under their influence until she is fully individuated, if indeed that ever does occur. If they are under some financial constraints, so that she has to work a string of menial jobs to pay for her college education, then there is some hope that she will be able to get free.

"One reason birds and horses are happy is that they are not trying to impress other birds and horses." -- Dale Carnegie

Cheers -- Dr. Deb


Joined: Mon Nov 24th, 2014
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 38
Status:  Offline
Posted: Sun Mar 17th, 2019 02:03 pm
Thanks much Dr Deb! Great advice for how to move forward and attempt to educate the parents.
I will get on it, and if I don't succeed, at least I will have planted a seed with the girl.

Joined: Fri Sep 28th, 2007
Location: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posts: 57
Status:  Offline
Posted: Sun Mar 17th, 2019 04:12 pm
Oh this resonates so much to me. As a child of about 8 years old is when I went to my first horse camp. The young gal was teaching us how to brush our horses, or why we brush our horses, and it wasn't about getting them clean. I remember going home to my parents in confusion and asking them why did she say it like that? I don't really remember my parents response, but I was so confused non the less. My first riding lesson when I was 9 yrs old, was with a jumper trainer. She was more concerned about me just getting my horse over the small jump, and how to fall off the horse. and of course I did end up falling off, but not before I was instructed to exhale before hitting the ground. So here I am sideways hanging on for dear life to just the horses mane, as the horse was plunking along at a slow trot(horse being nice to me), and the instructor yelling,(really laughing), all you have to do Linda is exhale and let go. Well I finally did. The lesson learned,
"See Linda, you could have knocked the wind out of you, and that would have been really bad" HHHMMM.
My parents were those social climbers. We got involved with the Arabian Horses back in the 70's. My parents had me taking lessons and would tote me around to all the Arabian Horse Shows. I remember riding a push button horse in a western pleasure class, and winning the class. My parents were so proud, saying you won! I said to them but I didn't do anything. They said give your self some due credit. All those lessons paid off. I said again, but I didn't do anything! I was beginning to realize something did not feel right. Over the years I myself was beginning to see this BS! it wasn't until I started going on my on own and making my own decisions and making my own mistakes that I realized who were the ones that I wanted to carry their words of wisdom with me to this day. The old man Johnson my parents took me to when I was a kid, teaching me how to feel of a horse and his mouth, when to be big and when to be small with your horse. The old man blacksmith, Homer, who always had a cigarette burning right down to his lips in his mouth, working under a horse. The young lady teaching that touch and feel are more important to a horse than being clean. All of these folks had a lasting impression on me as a child. I just didn't know this until I got older and wiser myself.

Joined: Mon Nov 24th, 2014
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 38
Status:  Offline
Posted: Sun Apr 14th, 2019 03:03 am
I’m posting again in case anyone is interested in the outcome.

I very much appreciated the ideas for going about things. The parents were surprisingly open, though they are very much « the horse thing is her thing » and they aren’t much involved in the decisions she makes regarding her participation with horses.

They are very kind people, and though well monied, I don’t think they give a twit about her winning ribbons or anything. Sounds like they just drive her to her 4-H meetings and the show barn, and none of them knew anybody did anything else with horses other than race them or show them, and they just foot the bill. The dad however said, right in front of the gal, « well, you see her every week, so maybe you can convince her. » That set me to thinking I had jumped the gun and misinterpreted her. I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything!

This is where things took a turn, as the girl said she’s taking a job at the show barn this summer as an assistant « trainer » AT 13! They get to start TEACHING at 18! That is, if they’re good with the kids she says. I’m thinking, good with the kids??!! What about the horses!!! Holy cow. Though she looked at the whole Buck 7 clinics DVD set I loaned her, and was excited about it, I think horsemanship went right out the window in her mind once she was offered a job as assistant trainer.

So I’ll be danged, I am a naive old gal. I just didn’t know this sort of thing went on! Sure speaks to the ability of horses to fill in. I guess I’ve just been in my own little secluded world.

A good lesson for me to learn was to be happy about my own experience though. When I worked at farms to be around horses I was mucking stalls, building fencing, and driving the tractor to load hay. I was envious of those decades younger who had wealthy families and horses and could ride all they wished. I learned a lot more than I thought.

I lucked into finding a teacher that hooked me up with what I wanted to know. So maybe it’s just in the wanting to REALLY know. I remember asking my teacher in the beginning, after watching a person be entirely ineffective working with their horse with some stick and string apparatus groundwork equipment why she didn’t talk to the gal about what she was doing and maybe how to do it better without all that hoopla. My teacher said « she isn’t asking. » I said, « well I wasn’t asking. » And she said, « yes, you were. »

I felt from the suggestions a deeper meaning from one of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis-« the task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. » Perhaps showing her something else is available it will stick in her head, maybe later when she has trouble with a horse. Hopefully not too much, and just enough to make her question. Then maybe she’ll come here or to some good horse person and ask.

Things have been left with the offer if she wants to come to any clinics with me and audit, I’ll pay her fee and take her there. If she decides to take me up on it, her parents are all for it. I have books and DVD’s she’s welcome to borrow as well. It’s up to her, really.

Thanks much for the good ideas and I will gladly go about irrigating my own desert and keep the door open.

Joined: Thu Aug 11th, 2011
Posts: 84
Status:  Offline
Posted: Tue Apr 16th, 2019 09:04 am
Really good thread Cap, it really made me think about my horsemanship journey. The people you meet along the way and for me it was a devoted Dad who would sit for hours at some riding school while I taught myself to ride on a trail/riding school horse. :-) Those lovely horses were my best teachers.

Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez