The youth are the future of the equine industry, so it’s vital that young equestrians have positive influences to help them set and reach personal and professional goals. Photo © Diamond Wing Photography

How to be a Positive Influence Toward Younger Riders

Do you have young equine loving friends with high aspirations in the show pen? Are the youth riders in your barn struggling with lack of patience or poise?

As many young riders today undergo challenges such as drama, rivalries and losses, both in and out of the show pen, it’s important they have someone to look up to for guidance.

The youth are the future of the equine industry, so it’s vital that young equestrians have positive influences to help them set and reach personal and professional goals.

Here are a few ways to be that positive role model for those young equine enthusiasts.

Help at the barn

Whether it is tossing up the saddle, sweeping the barn aisle, or helping groom or bathe, small things make a big difference, especially when it comes to helping young equestrians. At shows, youth may need more help than when at the barn. Pinning on numbers, memorizing patterns or assisting other people to unpack when first arriving at shows not only helps your peers, but shows generosity and a kind personality which can help in many future careers.

Support and acknowledgment

In and out of the show pen it’s always important to be there and show support, no matter the occasion. Even if the accomplishment isn’t as big as running a marathon or winning a world championship, youth achieving their goals needs to be supported and celebrated. Congratulating and high fiving when they come out of the show pen or telling them good luck before they go in, can help make the showing experience much more enjoyable.

Positive words of encouragement

Focusing on the positive and cheering on young peers can make a big difference, especially when they may not feel the best about their performance, ride or appearance. Winning a class is fantastic, but it doesn’t always happen. A lousy performance or placing can frustrate both youth and adults. Help them think about the good parts of their ride. A good joke is always a way that’s sure to bring a laugh and a smile from both you and your young teammates.

Lead by example

One thing that’s always important to remember is to respond, don’t react. People are still watching and observing, especially young people. Maybe things didn’t go so well in the show pen, or your lesson wasn’t as smooth as you had hoped. Keep a positive attitude and stay composed. Losing your temper is never the answer, and it shows poor judgment and lack of maturity. Lead the way you want to be led…with honesty, confidence, a right attitude, kindness and respect. These are valuable lessons for young riders.

Work hard

A hard-working attitude can take you far in life and present you with many opportunities. As well as showing a great deal about your personality, having a strong work ethic can transfer to those around you. “Eh, it’s good enough,” said no good leader ever. To be the best role model, you need the drive to work hard. Whether it’s working on school, work or with your equine companions, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Be accepting and don’t judge others

If your equestrian youngsters were to see you judging someone or making a negative comment about another peer, they might think it’s okay to tear others down. Always keep an open mind and know you may not get along with everyone. Always try to find at least one positive thing to say about each person.

Surround yourself with like-minded people

Keep friends who remind you of yourself or the image that you want to have. Good friends will try to build you up and make you a better person. If the people you’re hanging around with make poor choices, you could fall victim to “guilt by association,” which could hurt your reputation and chances for success. If you see your young friends with the wrong crowd, try to politely inform them of how bad friends can hurt their image.

Being a positive influence isn’t pushing your views and opinions on other people, and it’s not harmful or attention seeking. Being a good role model is doing the right thing in everyday scenarios. Whether you realize it or not, the youth look up to you and are always observing your actions. Take these tips and use them with the youth around you. The people you are inspiring will be the next ones leading.

About the Author: Lauren Pursley is a devoted youth equestrian showing in the all-around events with her horse Lovin Some Lazy Lola. Lauren is the current Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association Reporter. In addition to competing in AQHA shows, Lauren competes in Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) horse shows, 4H Horse Judging and is a member of the 4H Veterinary Science Club. Lauren enjoys working with horses, writing about horses, and equine photography.