Friday, May 8, 2015

Let's Discuss: Horse Shows and Correct Basics

 I recently read an article by George Morris on Chronicle of the Horse called Where Did We Come From? Where Are We Going. It is a really great article that I would recommend you reading.

  Jack le Goff said, "The young trainers are teaching their students to compete. They are not, necessarily, teaching them to ride. Therefore, when the student reaches a certain level, he or she fails or falls short. The student doesn't really know how to ride.

 There are a lot of trainers who focus on preparing their students for shows, saying that going to as much shows as possible is important. Sometimes they go to shows almost every other week. I know because I used to ride at at such a barn. Let me make it clear that I am not against showing and I am not against anyone who goes to a lot of shows. In fact, I wish to show in the future, eventually at the top level of eventing, though I am in no rush. What I have learned the past months is that solid basics come first. 

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 In the article, George Morris said, "These are just some of the many things that come way before competing with a horse. These are the basics, the platform from which you might successfully and correctly reach the top of your particular discipline."

 He says that shows are tests, and the lessons and riding on your own are meant to prepare horse and rider for the "test," just like homework and lectures prepare students for tests. According to George Morris, training should take up the majority of the time and shows should not happen nearly as often. A while ago I read a Practical Horseman article about the care of several top horses, including Boyd Martin's Shamwari and Laura Grave's Verdades. What these horses have in common, despite their varying disciplines, is that they don't compete in very many competitions a year. Obviously these horse will go to less competitions than the typical horse for many reasons, but the still take time between shows.
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 George Morris also makes a point about that many riders have poor positions. It is a work in progress for many people(myself included), but many riders become negligent about it. I've even shocked noticed some  Grand Prix and CCI**** riders jump ahead or have legs that swing back when going over a jump. 

 I wholehearted agree with the article, considering the fact that I am dedicated to learning correct basics, horsemanship, and riding. What is your opinion about the article? What thoughts do you have? I am curious to read what other riders think, especially since many of my readers have the showing experience that I don't. 

8 comments:

  1. Great article! Almost every clinic of his I've audited he's stated pretty much the same things. For the riding aspect he gets on and demonstrates, which you have to admire! I don't see how anyone could fault emphasizing correct riding and horsemanship over show ring time. For the horse, I also don't see how a more relaxed show schedule and some miles outside the arena could ever be a bad thing.

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    1. Yes! I bet any horse would appreciate showing less often and being outside the arena.

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  2. I am working now on filling in holes in my training and having to unlearn bad habits that I picked up from being "show ready" rather than really riding. And let me tell you: it would have been a whole lot easier to have just learned to do it right the first time rather than having to go back and fix old habits...

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    1. I'm happy you are able to learn it now.

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  3. First, I definitely agree that there are programs which emphasize showing more than anything else and I personally prefer a program whose focus is more well-rounded. However, I also believe that learning correct basics can take a very long time, and I see horsemanship as a lifelong pursuit where I'm constantly learning. For me, I think the most effective program is one that balances horsemanship with showing -- so clients can learn the correct basics, but still pursue their show ring dreams.

    I don't think that showing and learning the basics are mutually exclusive, or that they necessarily have to be done in a specific order.

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    1. I agree that horsemanship is something that takes a lifetime of learning. A program balancing both horsemanship and showing sounds great; I just don't agree with the overemphasis of showing, when showing happens more than anything else. Thanks for sharing thoughts!

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  4. i would say his sentiment is bang on... and it translates very aptly into many other areas of life itself. i am a firm believer in his philosophy per the article and would love to have the opportunity as someone like yourself who is working with a professional on a very regular basis! the sad truth is though, that most people (especially those who live in the city and adult students) don't have the time or the resources easily available to them. it isn't impossible, just a wee bit tougher... if anything, it teaches one to be even more efficient at using their time and opportunities ;)

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    1. I hope you can get the opportunity to work with a professional someday!

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Thank you for reading this post! I love to hear from and interact with my readers; it's what makes blogging worth it, so please comment and let me know what you think.