March 23, 2001, Newsletter Issue #30: How To Determine Willingness To Work!

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Determining the willingness of both the Horse & Rider will help you to decide the requirements for conditioning that both the horse and the rider will require in order to be considered competitive for each level, and the time necessary to achieve the results.

With regards to the horse, does the horse look forward to his times of focused arena work, and muscle development; or is he one to prefer the comforts of pre and post riding, and the TLC often found in grooming and feeding "cookies" and the attention associated with the wash and grooming stall?

If the horse is a shrinking violet from hard and serious work, then you need to keep the workout plan and the competition level at the basic ground floor of whatever pursuits you choose. OR investigate another option of competition for the horse. Such as: I had owned the Hardman for a few years, and he excelled as a Competitive Trail Horse, and as far as I knew, loved it. I sent him off for a week on a "Cattle Drive Ride" with friends, and for 6 months thereafter his return, I could not get his attention, heart or focus with anything. He had become broken hearted in realizing that another world out there existed, and he wanted to pursue it. I had no interest in learning Penning or Roping or Reining, so I began to teach him to jump. Within a year he was competing at the local shows in the Jumper Divisions, the following year, he won the local award for High Point Power & Speed Jumper; the following year, he won the High Point for Green Eventing. So lack of interest may only be that the horse is letting you know he would rather be somewhere else pursuing something else, but maybe even he does not know what that might be!

Does your horse have other "barn buddies" to travel and to compete with? This will often affect the resistance given by a horse to go to an event, or even to practice or to workout in the arena with; if he has no friends in which to go or to participate along with him. Fellowship from within the same barn is very important to the horse. Or on the other end of that principle, is the horse intimidated by his fellow barn buddies in their exceptional performance, and your horses` low level of attainment?

Now in regards to the Rider. Often a students desire to achieve is affected by the comraderie of their friends, the fellow barn attendees, and the support of their immediate family as well as the financial pressures expressed in quiet at home.

Does all the family attend? Do their non horsey friends attend? and if they do, do they "try to fit into the particular competition scene for the sake of the one competing....or do they ridicule and mock the entire idea of competing?" Often if a barn goes and supports one another as a "barn team" rather than individual competitors, that will keep youth involved alot longer than the attitude of each man for him or herself! Is your Rider affected by any financial restrictions. In years of competition, it might be wiser to board at a barn of participants of the same financial bracket in order to level out the peer pressure of when, and how many and what area the competions are participated at by the fellow barn boarders.

Is the Rider a diligent person, or complacent, or a follower, or a leader, or independent, or simply there to spend time with the horse in ways that are primarily fun?

Then ask the Rider/Horse availability; interest in working & how much; comraderie in competition; comraderie at barn with other riders; availability to barn daily, weekly; competitions proximatey in distance from barn; support of other friends/family; number of competitions available at each level; is the number of competitions attended or the level of competition the most important factor to the Rider.


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