Thursday, October 8, 2009

International Horsemanship Camps

Cassidy recently returned from a three-week trip to Sweden and Germany conducting horsemanship camps with Texas A&M University. The annual camps are sponsored by the AQHA. On this particular trip the camps were hosted in Sweden and Germany by the SQHA and the DQHA respectively and presented by Cassidy’s student group from Texas A&M. The teaching group included Cassidy, three select undergraduate students, and Texas A&M faculty member, Dr. Clay Cavinder. The AQHA also sponsored additional student groups from numerous American universities that presented at other European locations.

Cassidy’s group flew to Stockholm, Sweden and traveled to Sala, Sweden for their first camp which was held at a riding school. Each horsemanship camp was four to five days long and consisted of teaching the fundamentals of horsemanship, reining, trail, and pleasure riding. Their students ranged in age from youth to adult and from beginner to intermediate.

After their camp in Sala, the Texas A&M team presented camps outside Malmo, Sweden at an arena as large and beautiful as Cassidy had ever seen. After a few days in Copehagen, Denmark and London, England, they presented a final camp outside Hannover, Germany at a private riding facility in Wenden. She says, “The horse world is different (over there). It’s a real privilege to own a horse and only those who can afford the horse, the trailer, and a special licensing for the trailer can afford to participate.” Another often added expense is the importing of performance quarter horses from America. The quality breeding is highly valued and preferred. So, the world of horses, at least in Sweden and Germany, is understandably suited to those who can truly afford it.

Sharing her teaching experience, Cassidy said the most difficult obstacle was communication. If the translator understood both the language and the fundamentals of riding, the communication between teacher and student succeeded. If not, as a teacher you were apt to lose the “teaching moment” to confusing communications. While she was quick to say she learned it was important to keep it simple, she more importantly learned not be afraid to challenge people—“they are capable of more than they think they are.”

As Cassidy looked back on her experience, she found traveling to be one of most valuable experiences: to be immersed in a new environment—the sights, sounds, and differing cultural and social mores that make each country unique. She wishes to return to Stockholm and Sala where she felt a fondness for the land and the people. Cassidy also hopes to continue teaching. She felt the excitement of that teaching moment: the instant the learner, when focused on the task, is able to master the challenge and in this case, experience success in partnership with his or her horse.

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