|Posted on May 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM|
A teenager came out a couple of weeks ago to the Friday afternoon program, but she didn't want to get out of the car. I had a nice chat with her counselor and showed the adult around the property. The counselor explained that there had been a possibility that the girl could have riding lessons with an instructor at a local English riding/Hunter/Jumper lesson barn and that she was disappointed? upset? that she might be coming to our place instead. One big difference is that our program is non-profit and free to the participants while the English barn gives riding lessons and is a business.
Our program is in Natural Horsemanship. We are not a "riding lesson" program. The children and adults learn to train and ride horses and care for them in a humane, safe and effective manner. The kids, adults and horses have a lot of fun and play with each other. People come here because horsemanship is their dream. Riding is a very important part of horsemanship but riding does not come first. Relationships with horses and other people come first. Once a child or adult becomes skilled in horsemanship, they can ride for many hours and even ride several different horses each time they come out. They do ride (if they want to) the first time they come out and each time they come out, but they do not ride until chores are done and other horsemanship goals accomplished.
Responsibility to the facility, the horses and the other participants is more important than the individual student getting to do what they want. We expect our participants to participate fully in all aspects of horse care. From the moment they arrive here to the moment they leave they are caring for the horses and the facility as if they were their own. If the farrier is here, they are holding horses for the farrier. If we are deworming or vaccinating, they are assisting with that. If a smaller child is visiting us, the older children help the small child catch the pony and groom him. Then they lead the pony and assist the child to have a positive experience.
Each person contributes according to their ability and participates at the skill level they have. No one is asked to do more than they can, or to do anything unsafe, but each person needs to want to give back to the program to keep it going. People who ride here get dirty. Sometimes really dirty. Don't want to get dirty? this is not the program for you.
The other program has a nice barn and a beautifully maintained facility. The horses are kept in stall. The facility, tack and horses are kept very clean and tidy by the employees. I would think that their students are not expected to clean stalls, tack up other student's horses, untack etc. Also I believe that their program goal is showing and that the trainer's barn barn is a show barn. The methods used to communicate with horses and the style of riding at that barn are as different from what we do as the difference between figure skating and skateboarding.
Some of our people do show, but Natural Horsemanship is not about showing. Our non-profit program will not prepare someone for showing in English Hunter/Jumper or Western Pleasure but it won't prevent someone from going to a show barn and being able to learn any style of riding they choose in the future.
No one should ever be persuaded to enter into a horsemanship experience. Horsemanship is hard work and involves risk. All participants should be encouraged and supported but never persuaded or coerced.
You can learn more about Natural Horsemanship at www.shareparelli.com .