Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Horse Organizations

I have been contemplating joining a trail riding club. What's my hesitation? Well, first off, they have meetings once a month half an hour from my home in the evenings. I'm usually in bed by 8:00 PM and don't like to schedule anything in the evening. I'm an old fart.

Secondly, they probably require some level of service or volunteer work, which means taking assignments and losing what little free time I have. If I only worked 40 hours a week, maybe I could handle it, but I usually put in 60 hours a week plus my household responsibilities, such as marketing, laundry, cleaning house, running errands, getting everyone to and from their appointments, cleaning stalls, feeding, grooming, exercising, and training my horses, etc. That leaves next to nothing for me to give to the community time-wise.

Thirdly, the last horse club I joined ended up being a total waste of my time and money. The members were more interested in socializing than in riding horses. I absolutely hate having to cook for potlucks and buy gifts for secret gift exchanges. I'm not a cook and I don't live near stores. My goal is to find knowledgeable people who can assist me on my first serious year of trail riding. I want to be educated and feel safe. I want to be able to meet with people for anywhere from a 1-hour to a 6-hour trail ride. I don't want to have to deal with 3-day endurance events or camping trips or pack trips. I just want a simple trail ride that won't suck up my entire weekend.

I'm a bit scared to just show up to a meeting, because newbies always get roped into all the responsibilities that no one else wants. I literally had the doors closed on me, so that I could not leave one meeting in which people were trying to get me to raise money for a horse show. Fortunately, my friend was there and she explained on my behalf that I have a full time job and kids, so I can't help out in that capacity.

I stuck it out for a year in that club, but they didn't have any one-day trail rides during the entire year, despite promising that as one of their club events. All the horse people were advanced riders with dead broke horses, and they planned such complicated events that I had no chance of participating as a beginner with green horses.

I'd be interested in hearing from those of you who are members of horse clubs. How much time is involved? How much fund-raising is involved? What is the ratio of time actually spent riding horses vs. time spent doing non-horse activities? How much pressure is there for you to participate? Do you like it? Is there any particular organization you would recommend?

Thanks in advance.


Katharine Swan said...

You sound like me (well, in everything except going to bed early). Beginner with green horses -- check. Short trail rides -- check. Not a cook and hate all that potluck B.S. -- check check check!

At my old barn I used to have 2 or 3 riding buddies. We'd plan short trail rides together, and there was a few of us so usually at least two of us could match schedules for a ride. It was such fun, not to mention a great experience for Panama.

Maybe you could do something similar, even though you don't board. Surely there are others like you. Why don't you try advertising on Craigslist saying that you're looking for a few riding buddies? You could start a very casual riding group that does things YOUR way. :o)

fernvalley01 said...

The horse club thing can be a great experience ,or a flop . Like any association they have people who are keeners and slackers and theos in between . I was on the board of directors fo the Alberta trail riders association for about 10 years. During tha time we held the original Alberta trail riders against Cancer rides (that continue to this day ) and helped to raise 1 million $. There was a definite ebb and flow to the rest of the years events some years great some not .It does depend a little on the membership. Ask these guys if they sponsor clinics, often a good way to work with a variety of skills and training levels. Trail rides are a challenge to organise ,finding a central point and also dealing with the ability and agian training levels but with good teamwork it can be done. My suggestion is treat your first visit like an interview, ask for pictures of events that they have organised and or sponsored in the past 12 months . Good luck!

photogchic said...

Haven't joined a horse club...I wish I could give you some insight. I have thought about seeking out a Parelli study group, or joining Back Country Horseman, or the Horse Council...but still haven't done it. Keep us posted on how it goes...it could be just what you are looking for...worth taking a chance and checking it out.

Jenn said...

I have never been a member of a trail riding club. I tend to surround myself with horse people so I always have someone to ride with if I want. We do trail rides as a small group (usually 2-5 of us) and we are all pretty much the same riding level. Some have green horses, some have seasoned horses, some ride western, some English.

I've wanted to join a trail riding club, but there are none close to me and I, like you, really don't have the time to put in for a lot of "community service" work. I'd be happy to help with trail maintenance/clean up (which I already do with my riding buddies), but I really don't want to do potlucks or gift exchanges.

It won't hurt to give the club a try. You might meet a couple of people who would be thrilled to trail ride with you outside club activities.

Andrea said...

We have so many clubs down here it isn't funny. You can join a trail rider's club, a horse show club, a rodeo club, and many more. It's really neat because you could do somehting every weekend if you wanted to.

The trail riders club here has two weekends a year where they have a trail ride by my house. They have meetings like onece a month. The fund raiser they do is you have to pay four dollars to ride one day of the trail ride. When they stop for lunch they sell food. It's really quite fun. I am not a member of the club. I just go on the trail rides.

I am in two rodeo clubs. But they dont' require us to do much. We just have to have a sponsor sponer us, 50 dollars, and then we are good for the year end awards, as long as we make 7 out of the 10 rodeos.

Both rodeo clubs have us do a family member ship of 45 dollars, and a sponsor fee, then we have the usual fees for classes, which are 5 dollars a class. So, it's not too bad. And all the money goes toward year end awards.

We have about 5 rodeo clubs down here, with in 30 minutes of eachother. Then there are three horse show clubs that run about the same way as the rodeo ones do.

I don't see why you couldn't just go on the trail rides and not be in the club.

I do know that in one rodeo club we do a fund raiser, where we sell candles or cookies but it's not a big deal.

I like our clubs here. YOu only have to be really involved if you are on the commitee. I am just a member. So, not a lot of stress. Just show up and ride and pay my dues.

I like the clubs we are in.

dazey said...

My experience with the club I joined was much like yours also. The suggestion already made about meeting people within the club who would like to ride with you outside of the club activities is a good one. I ended up meeting a then member (neither of us are members now) who changed my horse life completely. She had a lifetime of experience with horses that started when her father put her on the farm horse at age two and told her to stay there. She had no bridle, only a bit of harness to hold on with, but as she grew older she learned how to relate to that horse to get it to do what she wanted. During her teaching years she worked with 4H kids and took her horses to all kinds of venues from showing to endurance and found rescue horses that had to be retrained.
The club members are still socializing and that's fine, but I'm riding like I never thought I would. I learned from my friend all the things I didn't know that I didn't know. Getting older means wanting a safe horse is a priority, especially being a trail rider and participating in judged pleasure rides. Now as a result of all I've learned and experienced I have written a small paperback book just published and available on Amazon.com. It is especially suitable for recreational riders who keep horses at home and want to learn how to teach a horse to be as safe as possible. It is called Basic Training for a Safe Trail Horse with subtitle Eliminating the Fear Factors. Maybe it can't help with finding a club but it sure can help you and your horse!! Happy Trails!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks, everyone. That's all good advice.

Dazey - I ordered a copy of your book. It looks good and is very affordable. Once it arrives and I have a chance to read it, I'll consider giving it a review here.

Reddunappy said...

I have been thinking about joining a natural horsemanship club, it includes all NH like Parelli, Anderson, McNabb, Rother etc. I have a hard time joining a club I am not a follower, and I would prefer to not do the potluck and gift thing either. This club is $20 a year to join and they get together and do NH obstcles and trail rides and now are getting together for video nights, but the first one in C. Anderson and I dont care for him sooooo, I realy need to get into an adult group to keep active with my horse, for the last 13 years I have been doing
4-H with my daughters and not much time for me. I just worry about joining and then not getting along with people of I dont know what I am afraid of but, you know....excuses. When we are done with high school Eq team I just think I will.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I have considered joining a riding club but I haven't actually pursued it.

I am a member of the IAHA frequent rider program. You log all the hours you ride on an individual basis and get rewards. You should do that considering you have all Arabian horses. Check it out at their website: http://www.arabianhorses.org/activities/incentiveprograms/frp.asp

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hmmmm...I like the concept of a horse organization, but only for the planned rides and possibly clinics.
I'm also very interested in Trail Challenge training and courses and think it would be fun to join forces with a group that enjoys doing the same thing, so as to help plan and build courses and work and train our horses.

The only concerns I'd have with an organization are the ones you mentioned, but also the politics and possible dangers that can happen when too many riders get together with many horses that are familiar with each other.
How many green or inexperienced horses and riders are there, compared to the more experienced?
And what types of trails do they typically choose?

Another something I've thought might be fun is Drill Team. Have you ever considered that?