Friday, September 30, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Meets the 21st Century

The world is getting smaller everyday, and the distances between us becoming shorter, thanks to the amazing technologies of mobile communications, satellites, and the world wide web. We are living in the future, folks, where we can remain in touch with anyone or anything we choose, with the touch of a finger or the click of a mouse. Information can be traded so easily that there is nothing in the world that you cannot access and learn through the Web, including horses. While the horse world has long used the internet to advertise and disseminate information, the opportunities to learn specific skills relating to horse training has been limited to more traditional, face to face instruction. Youtube overflows with videos demonstrating techniques, but in simply observing a video, the viewer is not able to ask questions, or have someone watch them perform the task on their own horse and give them feedback. Information only flows one way, limiting the learning opportunity.

A new online training system means to address this limitation – the Western Rider Development Programme. What if you could treat your desire to ride better the same as an online college course, but still get quality one-on-one instruction that was completely individualized to your needs? This is what the WDRP aims to do. They have organized a training syllabus into levels of ability that riders can ascend through at their own pace. Each individual lesson within the levels is fully explained in language that anyone can take out and use in their day to day riding. The rider may ask questions of a panel of experts, who are always available for support, and there are also articles that focus on the psychological aspects of riding. When the rider feels they are ready, they can submit a video of themselves performing the maneuvers required at that level, and can pass to the next level.

I am extremely pleased and proud to have been invited to contribute to the WDRP. I will serve on the panel of experts, taking questions and assisting in assessing individuals as they ascend the levels. I have already contributed an article, “Flexibility and Straightness,” to the website, so I invite you to check it out.

This innovative new way to learn about riding western will benefit many people; including those who live too far away from a qualified instructor to make lessons feasible, those who have a constantly changing schedule, or those who would like to learn new things and become a better rider on their own time. With internet/wireless technology, you can have the WDRP support and information with you anywhere! And for those riders who don't want to compete, they can earn recognition for the skills they master.

Judith Hubbard, one of the founders of the WDRP, says, “Here in the UK, and maybe in other countries around the world, it's not so easy to get access to regular western tuition. So we decided to find a 21st century solution - an internet-based training programme built around the website. The website, and the online tuition provided, enables western riders to become more educated and develop their skills, no matter where they live. It's a simple concept, but it works! Over the coming months we'll add more to the website - there'll be more training articles as well as input from our growing panel of experts. And we're sure we'll be reporting lots of good news as our riders progress through the Programme!”

It is very exciting to share something in the horse world that is truly new and different and positive. I hope you take a look at it and give it a try.