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  • - Joe Long

    [RC] Junior rider Welfare - Jim Holland

    I have been following this thread (reading over Jim's shoulder) and I
    feel very strongly that there should be some sort of requirements set by
    AERC for our young riders.  Although I'm not a "young" rider by age (by
    any means :>), I am a "young" rider in experience.  Jim first introduced
    me to horse back riding around 3 years ago (think five year old put in
    the saddle for the first time at age two!) (3 years experience) and I
    spent many, many days learning all the ground work before I was ever
    allowed on a horse's back.  I was fortunate that Sunny (Jim's endurance
    horse) was my beginner horse and that he is a very laid back horse.  One
    of the things that Jim has stressed to me, over and over, is that you
    MUST be able to read your horse, to know what he is thinking at ALL
    times. I spent the first year doing ground work, slow walks bareback
    around the paddock, walks with Jim leading Sunny and lots of time riding
    in the pasture before I ever took a real ride. Graduated gradually from
    2 to 3 hour rides to all day rides most every weekend and at least 2
    short rides during the week.  Despite all the training that I had
    received, I took a spill off Sunny last year that could have been deadly
    had it not been for my helmet.  Was not anything bad that Sunny did,
    (just did a little spook that I quickly lost control of because of sheer
    panic and inexperience).  Hit the ground really hard and had a slight
    concussion, multiple massive bruises, and a major case of road rash. 
    The point being, can we expect a 5 year old (or even 7 year old) to deal
    with this type of problem in a moment of sheer panic better than an
    "over 40" year old that had been carefully taught what to do in such a
    situation.  How can we expect a small body (and young brain) to react
    properly in situtions that arise at most endurance rides such as the
    "out of control" starts, the horse that kicks, or the inevitable spook
    at the "horse eating rock"?  Yes, you can argue that some of these kids
    can handle all of these situations, but most can't.  Yes, there are
    exceptionally bright children out there, but they are the exception, not
    the rule.  The normal 5 year old just can't be expected to react and
    think like an adult.  I raised two sons who are both very responsible
    adults and I would like to think it was because I took the responsibilty
    God gave me as a parent very seriously and I knew when it was wise not
    to let them do things that could harm them.  Unfortunately, because some
    parents think that "letting their child take the challenge and
    responsibility themselves", it will make them brighter, better,
    stronger, etc., and the consequences be damned...there has to be some
    guidelines and requirements made to protect them.  That's why we have a
    age limit on driving, drinking and even voting. It would be a heavy
    burden for all AERC members to bear if even one child loses his life or
    becomes permanently handicapped because we did not take our
    responsibility to our young rider seriously. The same can be said of
    adult, inexperienced riders: we need some sort of requirements made to
    protect them and their horse from "newbie" mistakes....more education
    please.......but wait....thats a different issue isn't it? :)
    Joan, Sun of Dimanche, and Mahada Magic
    AERC M22713
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