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  1. #1
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    Jan. 18, 2007
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    Default Spinoff of all the discussions about Europeans vs Americans, team competitions, YR

    OK, so bear with me a bit, as I'm two days out from my C-Section, hopped up on meds for some complications, and largely bed ridden, so I'll admit I may not be at my clearest. But,

    I have a student whose family are British Nationals, and they kindly just sent me a british horse magazine for entertainment. It's one I've not seen before and it's called "your horse". Quite a good magazine and fun to read, can't really say what it'd be comparable to here, as it's mutli-discipline, and educational, with lots of training techniques and info from BNR/BNT, but no show reports or the like.

    What struck me in reading this issue, was the total lack of ego to be found within it's pages from all of the people who either participated in articles, or who were "famous" and answering questions.

    There are pictures of people riding poorly, that are captioned as such, BY THE RIDERS THEMSELVES! The purpose being to point out what's wrong and how to fix it. There are pictures of people falling off. There's a story about a girl who won a contest that gives her a "dream year" with her horse (all kinds of training opportunities, vet care, travel, etc.) and it's about how miserable she is and how hard it is to bring along a greenie, and how she's now being given sessions with a sport psychologist to help her with her envy over her friends with made horses. There's a picture of her getting dropped over a tiny fence!

    The final page of content in the magazine is a hilarious story by Lucy Wiegersma, detailing how she fell off in front of the entire planet at the show jumper/eventer challenge thingy last year (at the slide thingy where in she apparently rolled all the way to the bottom), and how it was her fault and how embaressing it was.

    As I was reading all of these it struck me that I wonder if we Americans are capable of such humility? And how that influences our culture as riders? Think about all the endless threads here about "dangerous riding" where there is clearly a group of people who believe that you shouldn't be going to shows unless everything is perfect. Meanwhile I'm reading this magazine where someone is writing about the fact that their three year old bolted out of the dressage ring with them to get to a lovely grassy patch and start gorging. (And yes, it was an Irish horse, LOL) I can't imagine one of our BNR (except maybe Ralph or Buck) writing a story about "here's my most humiliating moment, let's laugh" for a national magazine. And I can't imagine a YR owning up to their own lack of skill, or admitting they need help to the degree I read in here.

    Now of course I'm generalizing, and yes I'm sure everybody can put up great stories of American humility. But I dunno, it just seems like our riding culture isn't about that. We always have to be putting our best foot forward, "talking like a winner" etc. etc. And I'm wondering if that lack of humility is why we are falling behind as horseman, as well as riders.

    I just see our riding culture becoming so regimented--no bareback games for kids, no riding outside except when absolutely necessary, no turnout for horses, don't go to the event if your baby might behave like a silly baby, etc. etc. I just wonder if this is affecting our larger psyche and causing some of the problems we are seeing and discussing here.

    Or maybe it's the hormones, drugs, and confinement talking . . .
    Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
    Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
    www.phoenixsporthorses.com
    Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 9, 2007
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    Carthage, NC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    I just see our riding culture becoming so regimented--no bareback games for kids, no riding outside except when absolutely necessary, no turnout for horses, don't go to the event if your baby might behave like a silly baby, etc. etc. I just wonder if this is affecting our larger psyche and causing some of the problems we are seeing and discussing here.
    You've hit the nail on the head. American society in general, but particularly within the equine world, is harshly afflicted by individuals' overbearing egos and the role of each person's "self." All I will say is that I highly, highly, highly recommend that each person picks up a copy of this book: http://www.curseoftheself.com/

    The author is a complete genius (and also a bit of a rider... ), and this book provides such insight, particularly in relation to performance and ego. Perhaps a social psychologist could cure the problems and ills that are regularly discussed on this board...



  3. #3
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    Oct. 7, 2006
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    If it's the "hormones, drugs, and confinement talking," I'd say it's not your hormones, drugs, and confinement, but those of Americans in general. Which I think relates to what Glenbaer said about our egos in general. We seem so proud to be hormone-driven, and to get as high on success as anyone could get on drugs. And we tend to confine ourselves to such narrow fields of endeavor, and to confine ourselves in such tight little safety boxes, that we aren't free to get out and let go our egos and just be. It's just a whole different mindset here than it is in Britain, and not just in riding, I think!

    I am glad you posted as you did, and told about the magazine. I wish I could see a copy of it!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2000
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    What struck me in reading this issue, was the total lack of ego to be found within it's pages from all of the people who either participated in articles, or who were "famous" and answering questions.
    Ego does not go over so well with one's peers in the UK. Children do not grow up expecting to hear incessant praise from their doting parents. Your friends at school will take you down a peg (to put it mildly) if you start to crow about your accomplishments.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    There are pictures of people riding poorly, that are captioned as such, BY THE RIDERS THEMSELVES! The purpose being to point out what's wrong and how to fix it. There are pictures of people falling off. There's a story about a girl who won a contest that gives her a "dream year" with her horse (all kinds of training opportunities, vet care, travel, etc.) and it's about how miserable she is and how hard it is to bring along a greenie, and how she's now being given sessions with a sport psychologist to help her with her envy over her friends with made horses. There's a picture of her getting dropped over a tiny fence!
    Humor is more sarcastic and self-deprecating over there. It's more than ok to criticize yourself as well as to criticize others. Some parts of the US still have this tradition -- Boston, for example, where the level of discourse and type of humor is fairly similar.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    The final page of content in the magazine is a hilarious story by Lucy Wiegersma, detailing how she fell off in front of the entire planet at the show jumper/eventer challenge thingy last year (at the slide thingy where in she apparently rolled all the way to the bottom), and how it was her fault and how embaressing it was.
    Lucy W is a journalist as well as a rider. She's worked for IPC Media (publisher of Horse&Hound and other mags) at various times and is a thoughtful and entertaining writer.

    But that's true of a number of UK BNRs. Lucinda Green writes excellent columns for the Telegraph and Horse&Hound. Eventing magazine (another IPC publication) features a rider diary every year that is almost always great reading. Daisy Dick's series this year is terrific. A few years ago, Polly Jackson wrote a very moving chronicle of what turned out to be a thoroughly disastrous year. Other years' diarists have been amateurs -- people you've never heard of that event for fun -- and they also made for good reading.

    Why don't we have that over here? Where are our intelligent, articulate, insightful eventers? (Besides here, of course. ) Why do our riders tend to speak in sports cliches rather than offer good insights or thoughtful criticisms?

    We've all complained that the new version of our sport is evolving away from the smart, independent-thinking horse who knows how to look after himself. Is the same true of our riders?

    Don't laugh at that -- if you go back and watch that video that was posted here a few weeks ago, the one that showed the 3-day at KHP in the early 1980s, you'll find the riders to be candid and well-spoken. (And also, they're not thanking their sponsors. But that's another issue.)

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    As I was reading all of these it struck me that I wonder if we Americans are capable of such humility?
    This is a sport that has a hard time admitting there's a problem. Even when the evidence is a mass grave of humans and horses.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    Now of course I'm generalizing, and yes I'm sure everybody can put up great stories of American humility. But I dunno, it just seems like our riding culture isn't about that. We always have to be putting our best foot forward, "talking like a winner" etc. etc. And I'm wondering if that lack of humility is why we are falling behind as horseman, as well as riders.

    I just see our riding culture becoming so regimented--no bareback games for kids, no riding outside except when absolutely necessary, no turnout for horses, don't go to the event if your baby might behave like a silly baby, etc. etc. I just wonder if this is affecting our larger psyche and causing some of the problems we are seeing and discussing here.
    Yes. There's too much insistence on people having trainers and having their trainers with them at shows and having everything perfect before they do their first BN.

    And many kids don't get to have fun with their horses. We all make mistakes, we all have mishaps and 99.9% of them just end up being funny stories to tell later on.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
    Or maybe it's the hormones, drugs, and confinement talking . . .
    Oh -- for a moment there I thought you were taking about the h/j world.

    Good post, PhoenixFarm. Maybe late-stage pregnancy is good for you.



  5. #5
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    Oct. 24, 2003
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    PF, I have found this to be true of many of the Europeans I've met through the breeding world. These breeders are so frank about the qualities of their stallions, mares and foals that most Americans think they dislike their own horses! Nothing could be further from the truth, they often absolutely adore their horses. But all their adoration does not improve conformation nor temperament! I find them refreshingly candid and completely accepting of imperfection.

    I also appreciate the Europeans' willingness to admit errors in judgment. They almost delight in telling stories of what was considered a very poor crosses that ended up producing amazing performance and breeding legacies.

    I swear I am not trying to sound like a broken record, but these are countries with national standards - for riding, training, horsemanship, breeding, etc. I think people become much more secure when they know where they stand in the scheme of things and know what they must do to improve. No one in this country seems willing to set or enforce standards. We pay hugely for that unwillingness on so many levels. We have a chaos of those who want to do their own thing, their own way - no matter what their level of education.

    Funny, it seems that there are a fair number of Europeans who come over here with their home countries credentials and can almost write their own ticket. They have found the best of both worlds. Get your credentials over there and then come over here and do whatever you want. People flock to them, but they are beholden to no one..

    SCFarm
    The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

    www.southern-cross-farm.com



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 16, 2007
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    We are an American family living in Australia. We have been here 11 years.

    I have been thinking about how different things are between what I read on the COTH forums and what I experience here. I don't know about the ego aspect, but where I see the biggest differences is in the professional trainers and what services they provide and what the average rider expects from them.

    I love the threads that discuss stuff like what does the trainer do at the show? LOL I have NEVER seen a trainer do anything for a student at any competition here. They are usually riding themselves. Well, once I saw a dressage trainer who was warming up, stop and help one of her students, but the lady is amazing anyway and is just that sort of person.

    Never seen a trainer or instuctor walk a xc course with a kid or student. Or a showjump course with a student. A few weekends ago, we were at the Australian Youth Showjumping Festival and my daughter's trainer was actually in the ring walking the course with her own daughter and my daughter and another student were walking at the same time. There is no expectation that our own trainer would gather up her students and walk with them. I would have fainted dead away if she had. I only know that trainers do these things by reading on the forums.

    Pay someone to braid the horse? In my dreams.

    Expect the instructor to find a horse for my child? Not gonna happen. They might tell you if they know of a horse on the market, but go with you to try it out? Nope.

    So, the kids here learn to think for themselves. They make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. They take care of their own horses and do all the schooling. Even the kids at the top of the heap. Same with the senior riders, which is why they aren't providing all these nice services for the rest of us. No time!

    Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to have our trainer come to a few shows and help my daughter warm up, discuss how to ride the course, and then de-brief after. Of course, I would pay IF that service was offered.

    But, on the whole, I think the systems works. Maybe something in between the "full service" trainer stuff you can find in the US and the DIY system here would be ideal.

    I think it's really interesting how different the equestrian cultures can be and yet there is so much that is the same!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 11, 2001
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    Tennessee
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    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    And many kids don't get to have fun with their horses. We all make mistakes, we all have mishaps and 99.9% of them just end up being funny stories to tell later on.
    Quote Originally Posted by ozjb View Post
    So, the kids here learn to think for themselves. They make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.
    I think about all the things I have learned about riding, and nothing compares to the mass of information I learned in about 5 seconds when my young horse who later took me to the ULs had his one and only XC refusal.

    I do think that maybe there is something in the American mindset that does not recognize the importance of making mistakes. My favorite child rearing author is John Rosemond who is adamant that "allowing your child to fail" is a very important parental strategy. As a parent though you're a pretty strange duck when you look around at other parents. I mean what do you say when some other mother asks you about the details of your daughter's book project and the only thing you can think is, "what book project?" They are mystified as to why your not in the middle of it and I'm mystified as to why a grown adult wants to be in the 6th grade again...



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