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6909Re: New Riders

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  • tlwhyte17
    Dec 3, 2007
      --- In WestKingdomEQ@yahoogroups.com, "henrikofhavn" <henriksd5@...>
      <much snippage>
      But it seems to me that owners have
      > behaved in a rather conservative manner, here in The West, and have
      > not offered horses to others to get acquainted with, much less
      > as a whole. Even offers of the use of a horse to expereinced riders
      > seems rare.

      I disagree with your Grace that our West Kingdom horse owners are
      being too conservative with thier horses. I believe that each horse
      owner knows what is best for their horse, and I trust their decisions
      regarding letting others ride their horses. Surely your Grace does
      not mean to imply that you know better than the owner of the horse as
      to what is and is not appropriate.

      As presented in his Grace's post, there are two points which I
      fundamentally disagree with. First there is the issue of what a
      reasonable degree of effort is with regards to having a horse to ride
      at events. His Grace argues that it is not reasonable to expect a
      person (specifically, in his post, a fighter) to find his own horse
      to ride at events. I disagree, because I did it myself. My
      expectation of the level of effort required to ride in SCA activities
      is obvioulsy higher than his Grace's; I belive it requires riders to
      make learning to ride and care for horses a *personal priority*.

      I am the counter example to the one presented by His Grace. When Her
      Grace Elena of Beckingham re-started the whole EQ in the West Kingdom
      effort I had no previous experiance with horses. But I made learning
      about horses and riding a personal priority. I found group lessons at
      Stanford University and did that for a while. Then, through just
      basic social networking I found a trainer out at my current barn and
      started taking private lessons. When I needed to be careful with
      money, I was able to arrange lessons for work. That experiance taught
      me *a lot* about different horses-- how individual they were, coping
      strategies, what was safe, etc. I started leasing an old dressage
      schoolmaster. After a while I also started leasing Brandee. Of
      course, about 2 years ago my old trainer moved away, I got a new
      trainer and started riding Brandee exclusively. Brandee and I have
      made a lot of progress, and I'm pretty darn happy. :-)

      Now Marguerite and I have a super-well trained horse to play with at
      SCA events. But it took time, dedication, a lot of work, and money
      (this latter element I will elaborate on below). I believe that it is
      not unreasonable to expect people to learn to ride away from SCA
      events. By riding reguarly, somewhere, you make connections. Or, if
      you show that you are willing to learn and work you are far more
      likely to hook up with an owner who is in the SCA or is interested in
      playing in the SCA.

      Once a person shows some dedication (like a novice fighter who
      demonstrates real interest), then they have a better chance with
      hooking up with a private horse owner. But not all private horses are
      suitable for total novices. If someone has a horse it is entirely
      possible that that horse has been trained very specifically, and that
      a lot of money has been invested in that training. Even "expericance"
      riders can harm a horse's training if ridden in a way incompatiable
      with its training. Example: Last year when Marguerite got pregnant
      and decided not to ride for the duration, we thought it would be a
      good idea to get another rider for Brandee so I wouldn't have to go
      to the barn every day. We asked a nice woman from the barn who is a
      very experianced rider. But this woman refused to take lessons with
      our trainer. Well... because this woman was riding her against her
      training (I won't bore you with the technical details), the training
      rides that I paid for just "fixed" Brandee, but never allowed her to
      progress. So after a couple of weeks I had to say Thanks But This
      Isn't Working to the other woman. Having had that personal
      experiance, I'm not willing to pay for my trainer to "fix" Brandee
      any more than she has to be fixed from me. Marguerite and I have
      poured a lot of money into Brandee's training, and we have earned the
      right to enjoy our return on investment.

      Add to that the idea that we've made a deal with Brandee: we are fair
      to her by being consistant with cues and not being stupid (not
      pulling on her mouth or slamming down on her back, etc.) and she
      works for us and learns to carry herself. It is not fair to Brandee
      to put someone who doesn't know the rules on her. I know it is a
      matter of each person's conscience as to what sort of relationship
      one has with a horse. But to me, personally, my horse is not a tool
      or a means to an end, but a partner. I get to be the lead in this
      partnership, but it's still a partnership with another living
      creature. Brandee's built up trust in me and Marguerite and our
      trainer and I'm not going to betray that trust.

      This seguays (sp?) into my second fundemantal disagreement with His
      Grace, namely, the "experianced rider" designation. "Experianced
      rider" means very different things, depending on the discipline,
      person, horse, cultural expectation, etc. We all know that the Horse
      Community has the widest spectrum imaginable with regards to What's
      OK and What's Not OK, and then that is complicated by What Works For
      One Horse Doesn't Necessarily Work For Another. I've watched a lot of
      riding over the past 6 or 7 years and I've formed my own conclusion
      as to what good riding looks like. You might disagree with my
      criteria, but that's just how it is in the horse world. I've
      seen "experianced" riders ride in a way I don't care for, and I would
      never let them ride any horse of mine.

      All of which is to say that it has to be left up to the owner as to
      if or who gets to ride their horse. It is the owner's right, and I
      *never* want an owner to feel pressured to let someone else ride
      thier horse at an SCA event. I'm all for owners making special, one-
      on-one arrangements with non-owners, but I do not think owners should
      be expected to share their horses, even for "15 minutes".

      In closing, I'll say this about "new riders": If there is anyone in
      the SCA, fighter or no, who is interested in becoming involved with
      equestrian activites I will do all I can to get them started. That
      means pointing in the direction of regular lessons, having them learn
      about groundwork, whatever. But they need to take responsiblity and
      make getting involved with horses a personal priority, just like I
      did. And because of the level of effort I believe is required to be
      involved with horses I believe it is more a lifestyle choice than a
      hobby. I therefore think that our greatest area of growth for the SCA
      Western EQ is the recruitment of horse people into the SCA. And horse
      people will shy away from playing with the SCA if they think they
      will be expected to share their horses.

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