Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- In Praise of the Horse Leaders

The Great Geoff Teall Book Bonus Event is officially under way!

We've worked hard to make it happen. We're grateful to the newsletter editors, riding club leaders, riding instructors, and 4-H leaders who let their members and students in on the news.

As I've been in contact with horse-leaders across the country, I'm continually impressed with the amount of time, energy, care, and attention people are pleased to donate to work with horses -- especially horses and kids. These are often thankless positions that involve staying current in a rapidly changing industry, educating parents, instructing children, and playing the inevitable political games that arise whenever children, egos, animals, and money are mixed together.

Yet, the same names continue to show up as leaders and instructors.

* These are the people who have explained the difference between a "diagonal" and a "lead" a hundred times to patently disinterested parents.

* They routinely stand for hours in wind, rain, sun, and snow in the hopes that their students will master keeping their heels down.

* They can pace off 3 feet more accurately than a yardstick. They can accurately gauge the height of an obstacle to within a millimeter simply by seeing it or standing near it. (That fence is too high. It's above the freckle on my left thigh -- take it down to 2' 6".)

* They can get a dozen pre-teen girls up at the crack of dawn AND have the girls and their horses ready to enter the ring for the first class of the day.

* They can memorize new tests, new rules, new regulations, new courses, and new patterns at the drop of a hat, while remembering with laser-like clarity the finer points of the "old" requirements.

My riding instructor was one of my favorite people while I was growing up. I practically lived at her farm (and would have, if given half the chance). I can't tell you how gratifying it is to know that other kids out there are having some of the same experiences I did -- learning from professionals in the equine industry who realize that the future of any endeavor is in the hands of its students.

Special Apologies to China

We encountered a little glitch in the middle of the day on Tuesday -- hours before the Event's 12:01 a.m. EST starting time. We had included an automatic countdown / timer on the page that was, evidently, TOO effective. When someone in China learned of the Event, she tried to take advantage of it. Here, it was too early. But there the webpage's automatic timer determined that she was, in fact, too late!

When we learned of the situation, we quickly disconnected the page timers. (Nothing like telling people something is over before it has begun!) I sent the newsletter list manager a note explaining that the Event would begin on October 25 (today) at 12:01 a.m. EST. It will officially end at 12:01 a.m. PST on October 26, so those on the West Coast don't feel slighted.

That, we felt, would allow plenty of time for everyone across the country to get in on the Event. We thought we'd covered the time-zone issue fairly well. We're sorry, China!