I have shown my ponies in-hand twice. I was fascinated both times at how horsemanship – the relationship between handler and equine – didn’t count for as much as other things. Proper position of the handler relative to the judge and proper position of the ponies’ feet seemed to have much higher value. I understand why those two things are important, and I also feel that horsemanship isn’t valued as much as it should be.
In the shows I’ve been to, I was also surprised at how hard it was to get feedback from the judges. If you can’t get feedback, how do you know what you need to do to improve? When I have had the opportunity to speak to judges, I have learned a lot and it has proven beneficial down the road.
I just received notice that I passed my Level 2 On-Line audition for Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I had to submit a short video demonstrating my relationship with my equine – in this case my Fell Pony mare Turkey Trot Sand Lily. The video was assessed by a professional in the Parelli organization and came with not only a congratulatory passing grade but also feedback on how to improve and be more successful down the road. (Fortunately the quality of my video presentation wasn’t judged, as it was pretty amateur!) I was pleased that I over-achieved in most categories.
The best part about the notice I received today about my audition was the final sentence: “While this is a wonderful award for you, the one who really benefits is your horse.” I guess that’s why I think horsemanship should be valued. We are asking our equine friends to live unnatural lives. We owe it to them to make life as pleasant as we can. I appreciate the recognition for my progress on that journey.