Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fighting a loosing or more likely already lost battle :/

I feel like a fish out of water or like I am in some weird equine version of the "Twighlight Zone".  When everyone around you is of the same mindset and everyone you speak to thinks you are speaking a foreign language it really starts to make you feel like "I" am the one who is crazy.  It is frustrating, discouraging, disheartening and I really need to sit down reevaluate and figure out why I am even trying and if it is worth it.  Why am I adding more stress to my life?  What do I hope to accomplish?  What is my purpose for fighting anyways?  It the cost of trying to educate a group of people who feel they need no education, worth the price of stress and fighting it is adding to my life?

Here is the story in the short version, sort of.  Pony Club, complete stressor, I am trying to make positive and right changes to better the club that was on it's last leg and I am met with resistance for every single step.  Sigh...frustrating.  Then I am also an assistant leader in a 4-H club.  A 4-H club that is %99.9999 western pleasure and the other %.000001 are back yard riders who pull their horses out once a year to run them off their legs for the week of fair.  I have steered clear of all of these folks for 4 years just taking my kids so they could have fun riding with other kids.  Well at the leader meeting it was brought up that they were considering adding a few dressage classes to the show bill next year.  That is awesome right!  That is what I thought too until I entered into the discussion over the topic and I quickly realized they do not want to really learn dressage they just want to "play" dressage.  They asked me what "dressage is" and I started out with what I believe dressage is, the connection between horse and rider, training to acquire correct movement from the horse by engaging the hind end with a round back and bending at the poll.  I thought it was a very  quick and basic run down of 'dressage'.  Once the blank stares started I quickly realized that is not the answer they were looking for.  Then another leader pipes up and proclaims, "it is a pattern with letters",  another says, "oh!  That's what those letters are for in arenas!"  Then the president says, "yeah they have to do things like lope a 20 meter circle!  Well I guess it is called canter??"  Then there was a collective "AH HA" moment that went across the room.  "So it is like an equitation class!!!"  "YES!".  I quitely slump back in my seat and realize I am sorely outnumbered and am new to this group and that speaking up at that point was going to do more harm than good so I sadly kept my mouth shut and they moved on.  All agreeing that those type of classes would be fun.  I have to say I am not surprised by the goings on within 4-H that is to be expected.  They are good people that are offering a good program but that is not their "sport" of choice so they just don't know.  I am happy that my kids will get to do some dressage test for free at the fair and so I am happy they made the change.  Who knows it may spark an interest in some of the kids along the way.

The most disheartening moment came when I was talking to a Pony Club Horsemasters member and was venting about what went on explaining to her the situation as I did here.  And when I said that someone said, "so it's like an equitation class".  Waiting for the Oh My they did not!  But instead I got, "well that is essentially what it is".  I audibly gasped and said, "you did not just say that, honey we really need to have a talk if that is what you think dressage is".  So not only are the expected 4-h leaders clueless about dressage but faithful pony club members who i had assumed had been properly educated.  It is so disheartening.  I know that as long as people are teachable that they can learn and that they quite possibly will some day but do I want to be that person to fight that battle?  I don't think I do.  My experience is not great to begin with then to not have even one person who can stand along side me in agreance.  It really does make you question your own thinking and positions when every single person around you looks at you like you have 3 heads.  That is where I am with that and I come here with it because a lot of you DO understand what I mean and it helps not feeling like the outcast.

Just writing this out has helped me get some clarity on the situation and I think I have an idea about what my next step needs to be.  I must first get my Pony Clubbers better educated.  We need to have some sort of winter unmounted dressage classes with an expert.  Someone who can break down the sport into it's most basic form and help the kids/members understand the importance and foundation of dressage.  Yes I think that will be a great place to start!!!  Now to find the sucker ahem...expert!  Thanks guys for putting up with my venting it really helps clear my head and think things through effectively!


  1. The ignorance I would expect from the 4-H community, but not from Pony Clubbers! WTF? But I think you are on the right track. Maybe some print outs, videos, etc to educate them. I hope they are willing to learn. Some people just aren't. *shrug*

  2. Oh my... 4h is sort of a lost cause, really and truly. It was the same way here in ID. I had fun as a kid and won a bunch of trophies, but I took lessons elsewhere. ;) You are one rocking mom, you know that?

  3. I can understand that comment from 4H, if that's the way they want to get people into it, that's fine, in fact I'm really for it. It gets people into the arena, it gets people kind of thinking about a sport that gives feedback and training. The scores mean absolutely nothing in this case, but it's at least a start.

    Pony club has definitely changed standards, I've come across kids now that aren't prepared or as educated about the aspects of riding and stable management as they were back in the 90s. So the commentary is a little worrisome.

    Don't fight other people's battles. You can only do so much, concentrate on what you can improve.

  4. Oh Amy - been thru the 4-H thing for 8 years...know exactly what you mean. The last 2 years Lex was involved they added dressage at our local club...it was...interesting.

    I think getting a good guest speaker is a great idea. Does your club offer workshops? Ours would always have a few leading up to fair, they were set up like a clinic (in our terms). Maybe that would give everyone a better understanding of dressage?

  5. I used to board at a barn like that... everyone was western then suddenly the "dressage fad" flew threw and everyone in their AP saddles were pretending to do dressage tests and even had the nerve to attempt to coach each other and the younger riders it made me crazy. But alas i just shook my head and continued with what i was doing because they will never learn they dont care enough about it to put that time and effort into it.
    I hope you can relight the fire in your pony club and break through the brick wall you are bashing your head against with the 4-H club :)

  6. "Don't fight other people's battles. You can only do so much, concentrate on what you can improve." Super advice!

    Also - setting up a demonstration / lecture is an excellent idea. If even just a few people "get it", that makes the effort worthwhile. Good luck!

    (ps - my arena fund is still empty too! Will post the ticker asap. ;D)

  7. Setting up the demonstration sounds like a great idea :) hopefully it will help some people understand more good luck :)

  8. wow, sounds like 4-H IS the same all over the country. Myt kids are in 4-H for cattle and rabbits but will NEVER be in it for horses. The ignorance in the clubs is just downright dangerous. All the leaders in other projects always say the horse project people are in their own world.
    I reluctantly took on a leadership role for something similiar to pony club. In the beginning I was excited because of the changes I saw that could be made to make it more educational for the kids, and I was willing to do all the work to update the educational material and I was met with a big "we are not changing at this time." I questioned as to why, didn't we want to encourage enrollment, make it better for the kids? and they wouldn't respond to me.
    I finally quit this year, probably not the best way to deal but with my own kids I was too busy for the frustration.
    And don't even get me started on what they are teaching "dressage" is. GRRRRR! But here's an idea, next time you see a "gamer" with a tie down on the horse and that ugly dip in front of it's withers with the corresponding croup bump, you could point out how proper dressage would get rid of that and the horse would learn to carry itself instead of fly around inverted. Almost every gaming horse at last year's fair had that lovely outline, pretty sad.

  9. aye... so frustrating! Sorry you are having to deal with this!

  10. Yay! I'm finally caught up! :D I'll have to try not to get so far behind again. I hope things improve with the club and I'm glad all is good with your family. :)

    1. I had the opposite experience in 4H when I was a kid. I don't know if times have changed or I just got lucky, but my region was both english AND western and my horse leader was also the local Pony Club leader, so we were encouraged to try and learn as much as we wanted.

      I've run into the same misconception about dressage, but, it's not your battle to fight as someone else eloquently stated. If viewing it as "equitation" gets someone interested in doing and learning more, mission accomplished.


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