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Always Andy

Student Who Lacks Dedication

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I have a Junior who has set a very large, but attainable goal for herself for the upcoming season. She plans to show at a level which last season could only have been considered a pipe dream. She and her horse are quite capable of performing well at this level (or I would have vetoed her plan). The horse is quite lovely, but not an easy ride. The kid has no problem knuckling down in lessons, but when left to her own devices, often chooses not to ride, or simply to hack along the trails on the buckle.

The horse in question needs to be ridden properly 6 days a week in order to maintain performance. This has been stressed on many occasions and the student is always left with a generalized outline of what she is to do between lessons. It has become appearant that she is not sticking to the outlines that she is being given. While the skills of both horse and rider are being maintained, the horse is coming out a bit fresh after not having been worked for a few days and minor disobediences are occurring because of it.

I find myself quite frustrated by the lack of initiative displayed by this rider. She is quite talented, as is her horse. She constantly expresses her desire to do well in her (upcoming) last Junior year. She has a lovely horse with which to make all of this come true. I'm just not sure what the rationale is that causes her to slack of during the week. I have an urge to beat her about the head. I know that this is not the answer, but I'm not quite sure what is. Other than wash my hands of the dituation, what else might I try/say?

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More frequent lessons? "Supervised" riding - more of a mini lesson, no real instruction, but a tip here or there, perhaps while you are also riding.

Does she have other people to ride with? Maybe the lack of motivation is stemming from being lonely and bored.

How are her parents with the situation? Who really wants to win, the girl or mom and dad wanting to see return on their investment?

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The issue being in that she trailers in for lessons, therefor is not "in" my program throughout the week. I cannot supervise her riding during the week, as the cost of travel for either of us would be cost prohibitive. There are several people with whom she can ride at her barn. There is even an amazing young Ammie who was a rather accomplished Junior (another of my students) who is there every afternoon who has offered to help her when/if issues arise. Her parents are amazing! They allow her to show as much as she wants, but do not pressure her for results. Mom grooms/braids for her at the shows in order to keep costs down, allowing for more showing opportunities. Mom also has horses with me and as a beginning Adult rider displays more dedication than any of my students. They go to the barn together every day and are there for several hours. What the kid does with her time is beyond me.

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Saying you are dedicated and actually putting in the WORK are two completely different things. Guess where I think this student falls in the spectrum...

The behavior shown is reflecting what she truly wants, and it's not to do well this season. If she thinks, for some reason, that she can get what she wants without putting her nose to the grindstone, then she's delusional and needs a wakeup call.

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Sit down with her and her parents, and tell them that if she wants to acheive this goal, she must make a commitment to ride a certain number of days per week, ride constructively, and show that she is dedicated, or else it will not work. If her parents are like many, they might not want to fund certain goals if their daughter isn't giving 100%. My dad sure as heck would not pay for ANY of my riding if it wasn't my passion. I realize this situation may be different, but perhaps the parents could encourage more productive riding. In any case, you need to be blunt. I can say personally that while I might have thought my methods were better than a trainer's earlier in my riding career, a no-nonsense talk often changed my ways. Let her know that it's not going to happen if she doesn't put in the work. Don't tear her down; definitely reassure the girl that she's capable of this and worthy, but she needs to know that slacking off is going to get her nowhere quick.

Edited by tb_jumper

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Saying you are dedicated and actually putting in the WORK are two completely different things. Guess where I think this student falls in the spectrum...

The behavior shown is reflecting what she truly wants, and it's not to do well this season. If she thinks, for some reason, that she can get what she wants without putting her nose to the grindstone, then she's delusional and needs a wakeup call.

I agree 100%. I also think talking to her and her parents is a good idea, but I would talk to them all together, so everyone is on the same page. Maybe she need to be told exactly what to do in order to get the goals she wants. I think maybe setting little goals for her will help to. It always made things easier for me.

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Could you give her homework? When I don't have a goal to work towards, I usually end up feeling sorry for the horse hauling my butt around and hack for 10 minutes or so and then wash legs and kiss them and feed carrots for half an hour. If I know I have to do XYZ before X date, then I have no problem doing it. So, usually when I have a lesson, I ask for homework, and I'll get an exercise to practice and some flatwork suggestions to focus on. I aim to please though, and I really want to get better, so there is no problem getting me to do the homework.

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I think I'd chat with her parents. You can do it in a concerned non judgey way (sounds like parents are good folks), and ask if daughter has mentioned not being as dedicated to the goals that are set as she saying she is for any reason. Just find out if they've noticed anything. Ask mom what she sees daughter doing/working on at the barn and mention what you've noticed and express concern that the homework that is essential to her goal isn't getting done.

What's your gut say? The first things that popped into my mind as possibilities are:

Daughter is saying she is gung ho about a goal she may not be, because parents/outside influences want it.

Daughter is giving herself an out. Afraid her best might not be good enough to pull off the large but do-able goal, she's half-arsing it so she will have an excuse to herself if she doesn't do as well as she'd like to.

Daughter is finding out the goal she set is way more work than she thought at the outset.

Daughter thinks she works best under pressure and thinks she has plenty of time to get down to the nitty gritty and is just fiddling around thinking she can work harder later and it will all work out.

I dunno, how close are you to her? Maybe asking her what's really going on is the right answer before going to the parents.

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I would set some more immediate, and specific goals.

A Schooling show.

A Clinic or Two.

And pretty darned soon, next season is upon us.

I also agree with Jilly's thoughts, She brought up several issues that could very well be it.

Also, perhaps the kid just can't mentally wrap herself around a horse needing 6 good workouts a week.

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I do believe that Jilly probably nailed it with the statement about the kid thinking that she can get it done with working harder later. As I said, she knuckles down in her lessons. Unbeknownst to her, I have decided that she will be showing on Sat and will inform her of such tomorrow. One great thing about this area is that there is always somewhere to go.

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As a rider and a parent of a rider-although she is only 12-I pulled my daughter from the last show of the season because she was not ready. Granted some of it was not her fault, we had a lot of rain which closes the rings and her regular trainer broke his leg, but she was just not moving in a strong direction for me to shell out the money necessary for the show. I hope next year when I tell her to focus and take an extra lesson or two before a show she will remember that I pulled her from this show. As a side note, she had a great report card-best ever.

It is hard, but what I as a parent want for my daughter is to learn to love horses, know how to take care of them and then sucessfully compete, if that is also her desire to compete.

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She has a lesson tomorrow, so we shall see. She is also going to lesson on Friday. Mom says that she has been "on program" since finding out that she would be showing this weekend. I honestly feel that we're going to have to hit the bigger shows/divisions a bit earlier than planned in order to keep her focus. She knows that both she and her horse can win at their current level with "her" current program and thus is satisfied.

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If her parents are okay with it then I would feed her to the big fish earlier (in the most cost effective way possible for her parents, no sense in throwing a huge amount of money to waste if you can avoid it) and let her sink a little. Maybe when she sees that she can't win at the upper levels with what she's currently doing she'll change her attitude.

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So, kid had a blipping Rock Star lesson today! Will see how things go tomorrow. For sure, she'll be at the top. It's really nothing of a challenge. Spoke with Mom about stepping it up a bit today and she's all for setting the princess in her place a bit. Thank God for people who are paying the bills who "get it".

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