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I must admit, I wasn’t very keen on taking this online class. First of all, I have never been a good easy writer. I have taken a lot of language exams in my life and I haven’t had any problem with the oral speaking but I always did poorly on the writing part. Essay writing in English is so strict and formal; you have to follow so many rules. Secondly, I’m not very enthusiastic about expressing myself to people who don’t know me.  I’m so fear being judged by others so I’m only confident talking among my friends.      

But I was pleasantly surprised how well people in my reading group received my blog posts. They were all nice and supportive. So short after some very nice comments from Amy, Zhou, Charlotte and Paul, I got more confident at writing about myself. I still don’t want to reveal my real name on my blog to let the whole world to get an access to my thoughts but I don’t mind if these people got to know me a little bit better.

I liked the fact this class made me do a Twitter account. I have wanted to try Twitter for a long time. I felt guilty having advertising major and not even try out Twitter, but I was just too lazy to get started.  This class gave me the push. Now I tried, but it didn’t really get me hooked up, but at least I know what this whole Twitter mania is all about.  

I also liked Professor Torgerson who seemed very accessible and replied to my emails right away, which surprised me because I am six hours ahead of New York. It made me wonder how much Professor Torgerson sleeps a day.  And I also liked the material on YouTube, it was very helpful.

So overall, this class was much better than I expected to be. But next time, I will probably try to avoid taking online classes. I am glad I tried it but I feel like I am that kind of person who actually likes to go to classes and having a personal relationship with the professors and with the class. 

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Horseback riding wasn’t my choice of sport. This is something that happens to children of people who are crazy about horses and choose horseback riding as their professional career. Me and my sister grew up in an environment where everything was about horses. If you enter to my parent’s flat you can experience yourself. Pictures and sculptures of horses are everywhere; shelves are packed with books and videos on horse riding and probably you will find my parents watching a big show jumping tournament on EuroSport. There is not much in common between my parents, but the only thing that connects them is their passion for horses. Actually, I’m convinced my Mum married to my Dad because she was so impressed by his horse riding.

After that, it is not surprising I started to ride on horses at a very early age. I was doing equestrian vaulting which is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback, before I went to school.  I got my license to compete on show jumping tournaments when I was fourteen and after finishing high school I was already a paid horse rider. I worked under my parents in the family business. We trained horses and teach horse riders together. My Dad worked with the most difficult horses and gave jumping lessons to advance riders.  My Mum gave lessons to intermediate people and I gave horse riding lessons to children and beginners and trained the easiest horses, usually mares and geldings. Young horses need to be taught to understand the riders’ signals and how to perform under riders. Young mares and gelding are more manageable and less dangerous than stallions. The rider has to prove his superiority over the horse in order to play the controlling role. It can be more difficult on stallions because they are naturally wishing to be the alpha male in the herd. Once a horse acknowledges you as his leader, you can start train him.

Once I found a book, The Horse and Horsemanship, among my parents’ books, the author, Tamas Flandorffer, wrote “ The primary goal of training is that the rider should be able to reach the predetermined goal on his mount  should be amenable to control. The horse has an excellent memory and powers of orientation. In order for the rider to handle his horse properly he must know its nature. It is an inherently timid animal, its only defence being escape. It retains to this day a strong sense of the ancient herd instinct. If treated well, the horse is affectionate, loyal, obedient and mild, therefore it should always be rewarded after performing its tasks. The basis of the teamwork is the rider’s trust in his horse, and the horse’s trust in its rider. One should never demand performances that exceed the strength of one’s horse.” (152-153) Horse riding is a very gentle sport, where there is a purpose of every movement on the horse. These little movements are all signals to the horse what you expect him to do. These motions are so gently and often invisible for not riders. I experienced during my one year when I taught horse-riding, people assume horse-riding is an easy sport to learn. “Horse does everything and you just have to sit on the back” – they think. And when I put them on a horse and start teaching them how to do it properly they realize it is much more complicated than it looks like.  Blokhuis and Aronsson state in their article Assessing the Rider’s Seat and Horse’s Behavior” Difficulties and Perspectives. “The correct seat of the rider is difficult to learn and also difficult to teach and to improve.”  They continue on: “An effective seat is upright, balanced, elastic, solid, and interactive – it follows the horse movements. A vertical line between the rider’s shoulder-hip-heel and straight line between the elbow-forearm reins and horse’s mouth are essential for a correct seat.” (192) Every inexperienced rider should start acquiring a good and stable seat and learning how to trot during the lunging exercise. This exercise is based on the teacher keeps the horse on a big circle around him or her with a long lunge. In that way the teacher controls the horse and the rider can focus his undivided attention on his balance and movements. When the rider doesn’t seem gawky any longer, and seems more confident on the horse, the teacher can let him to grab the reins and try to control the horse without keeping him on the long leash. It can be very difficult at the first to do the well-practiced motions and plus take attention to the horse but after time, motions on the horse will be natural. When the rider acquires how to trot, canter (short gallop) and gallop he can start learning how to jump with the horse. Tamas Flandorffer says on jumping “Only riders who have mastered the ability to sit loosely at a gallop should attempt jumping. The rider in order to reach his goal in the field despite possible obstacles has to learn how to make the horse jump and the horse must learn to jump. For the horse’s part, a jump is really an extended gallop during which its body “floats” over the obstacle. Approaching an obstacle is one of the most important maneuvers. Calf and body weight aids should be used when approaching, and there should be constant flexible contact with the horse’s mouth. During the jump the horse should have complete freedom. The stretch of its neck should be followed with hands, to make sure that there is a straight line between the elbow and the knees. On reaching the ground the rider should take the jolt with his own knees and ankles, this avoiding the horse’s back having to take all his weight.” (The horse and horsemanship, 166-171)  Tamas Flandorffer uses the expression: “… learn how to make the horse jump”. This opposes with Shalley Campf who is the writer of the article, “Get in The Zone For Better Jumping”. She says “The reality is, your horse doesn’t jump because you make him. He jumps because there’s a stationary object in front of him. If he is concentrating on jumping and not what you are telling him to do when he is preparing for his takeoff, he’ll jump much better. So remember that you are just a passenger, and the less you interfere with his balance and rhythm, the better he can do his job, which is to jump.” (46) – I, personally strongly disagree with this statement and hate she uses the word “passenger”. We, riders do not travel on horses, we ride on horses.

After one year of teaching horse-riding and train horses, I quite from the family business and decided to go back to school. Even though I’m not a professional horse rider any longer, I am a fencer now, fencing for St. John’s University, I will never forget this one year that I spent around horses. Horse riding is a part of me, it is my family heritage. It is so nice to be back to Hungary and go on horse riding trips with my family. I never feel closer to the nature when I am on a horse, galloping in the middle of a forest or the bank of the Danube. That is what I miss the most when I am in New York.

 

 

 

Work cited

Campf, Shelley. “GET “IN THE ZONE” FOR BETTER JUMPING..” Practical Horseman. 40.2 (2012): 42. Print.

Zetterqvist Blokhuis,, Mari, and Agneta Aronsson. “Assessing the Rider’s Seat and Horse’s Behavior: Difficulties and Perspectives.” JOURNAL OF APPLIED ANIMAL WELFARE SCIENCE,. 1088-8705 print/1532-7604 online (2008): 191-203. Print.

Flandorffer, Tamas. The Horse and Horsemanship. 1st. 1. Budapest: Corvin Kiado, 1979. 152-171. Print.

 

They constantly work on the horses. Controlling and estimating the distance and keeping the horses back until the right moment when they let them go and jump.

Reading this article on jumping was very strange for me, because it disagrees with my beliefs on show jumping. This article holds you are only a “passenger” on the horse and you shouldn’t interfere what the horse does.

“The reality is, your horse doesn’t jump because you make him. He jumps because there’s a stationary object in front of him. If he is concentrating on jumping and not what you are telling him to do when he is preparing for his takeoff, he’ll jump much better. So remember that you are just a passenger, and the less you interfere with his balance and rhythm, the better he can do his job, which is to jump.” ( Shelley Campf, page 46)

I hate she uses the word “passenger”.  You should be a rider, not a passenger. By reading this article by Shelley Campf , two things got clear: She doesn’t train difficult or young horses, secondly clearly she has never been smashed to a bar by a mean horse because of trusting in him too much.

I am not saying you cannot trust in your own horse which you ride every day but you do have to do work on the horse not just “traveling”.  You have to show to the horses, you are the leader or the “boss” who they should listen to. And if your horse accepts you as his superior, you have a bright future to work together.

She is right in the case: you can buy horses with great ability and desire to jump, but not all horses like that. Those horses are rare and expensive and yes, they would do all the work instead of you. This is the amateur riding style, this is not the professional level.

Campf, Shelley. “GET “IN THE ZONE” FOR BETTER JUMPING..” Practical Horseman. 40.2 (2012): 42. Print.

I found this article very interesting, because I have been wondering in my life how interesting how the role of horses have changed. I think it changed in a good way. Now, people take much more care of their horses. And that is the way it should be. Horses are very sensitive animals, not so much viable as other animals.

I think I could start my essay on horseback riding first introducing horses, their behavior and abilities.

“The horse evolved into an animal with the ability to travel great distances, which, combined with inherent strength, has been exploited and developed by man.”  (Clutton-Brock, Natural History of Domesticated Animals)

Horses were valued by many parts of society, including the agricultural, military and transport sectors over centuries.

“In the Western Europe, since the Second World War, the horse has become a recreational animal rather than a beast of burden, offering farmers the potential to develop a recreational enterprise and enhance their income.”  (Crossman & Walsh, page 99)

“Horses are viewed as an inherent part of the fabric of the countryside.” (Crossman & Walsh, page 101) 

Horses are also viewed as a status symbol, with its quality being an overt display of owner’s wealth. Horseback riding is considered to be an upper class sport. Not many people can afford to own a horse. Buying a horse is not that expensive but keeping and taking care of it is the expensive part of it.  

Nowadays horses are mainly used for sporting or recreational pursuits involving horse racing and Equestrian Sport (Non-racing).  Equestrian sport includes Olympic disciplines of dressage, show jumping and eventing.

“While horses have always possessed the natural ability to jump, there was no official sport of “show jumping” in existence at the end of the nineteenth century.” (Crossman & Walsh, page 103) 

 

                This article was on a study which aimed to investigate whether horse behavior was affected by the rider’s seat.  – I didn’t need it to read the article to know the answer. Of course, it is affected!! It is like making a study of “do I need to move my legs to run”.  

The base for a good performance in horseback riding is that the rider uses a correct seat and position. You have to feel, follow and giving signs to the horse with your seat.

“An effective seat is upright, balanced, elastic, solid, interactive – it follows the horse movements. A vertical line between the rider’s shoulder-hip-heel and straight line between the elbow-forearm reins and horse’s mouth are essential for a correct seat.”  (Blokhuis & Aronsson, 192)

I strongly agree with this statement. That is why it is so difficult to have the perfect seat on the horse because it has to be elastic and solid at the same time plus you have to follow the horse’ movements with your seat.  You give signs to the horse with your body movies. This is how you communicate with the horse.  

In horse riding every body part has the right position and right place. The whole body has to be under control from your tip of your toes to your chin. Body parts that have to be elastic:  fingers, elbows, hips, pelvis other parts such as back, shoulders, head, knees, heels, calf have to be solid. 

“The correct seat of the rider is difficult to learn and also difficult to teach and to improve.”  (Blokhuis & Aronsson, 192)

“… it is hard for the riders to understand and follow instructors’ directions.” ( Blokhuis & Aronsson, 192)

“However, the riders in the experimental group described the dismounted exercises as very useful to improve their positions… Because these were especially aimed to improve the flexibility and the position of the rider’s pelvis, there is a possibility that these exercises could have influenced the seat.”  (Blokhuis & Aronsson, 201)

Riding on the horse without a saddle improves your ability of flexibility and balance. This is a very good way to improve your seat, but not very comfortable. If the horse is bony, it can hurt your bottom. Or if you don’t have the right balance, you can slip from the horse. But it a great exercise to learn how to follow the horse’s moves with your hips!

 

I read over the sample topics, and I think I got the general idea what Professor Torgerson expects us to do. In the sample essays students wrote stories based on their own experiences and plus they made it more significant by quoting from experts. Am I right, or am I not? 

Clearly I know a lot of about Olympic sports, especially about fencing, horseback riding and pentathlon. I am not interested in any kind of sport which is not an Olympic sport. So I don’t care much about the Super Bowl for instance. So the biggest sport event for me is the Olympic Games which is sacred and who participants are national heroes.

Even thought, this year is the Olympic year and the whole world is excited, I’m not as excited as I was twelve years ago before Sidney. Hungary used to won a lot of gold medals in the past and we were very proud of our athletes. But nowadays, sport is declining in Hungary. It is all because of the capitalism regime, which does not support athletes. I am NOT saying socialism was a better system, what I am saying is: in the Socialism, athletes were supported because the state cared about national proud which was represented by athletes on the Olympic Games.

I’m thinking about to do researches on and write about how sport system changed since the Socialism and how Hungary got to this point when Hungarians won only one gold medal on the Olympic Games in Beijing. It was a shame for us, because Hungary was always famous for its great athletes. 

               I made an appointment last week with the Writing Center and my tutor, Tasnima Nabi was a great help. She gave me a lot of advice how I could improve my writing abilities.

                For example she says if I talk about a sport which readers don’t have a general idea, I should define the sport because it provides depth to my paper. She said that, because I mentioned “modern pentathlon” in my introductory essay, but did not describe it.

                When I mentioned: “I cannot imagine my life without fencing” – she suggested I should expend my essay on this topic to show my admiration of the sport.

                My biggest mistake was I didn’t get to a conclusion to wrap up my story.  She said I should focus on my future plan of fencing.  So I corrected my mistake and wrote a conclusion:

                “After school I would like to keep both obsessions and become a professional fencer and travel around the world going to World Cups.”

She said, it was a good ending because shows I’m optimistic and I have plans for the future.

                I liked working with Tasnima, she was very nice and helpful. Very likely I’m going to “see” her in the future. 

I listed horseback riding in my writing territories because I know a lot about horses. It is not just because my parents are professional riders but also, I worked as a horse trainer for a year after high school.  I helped my parents by giving horse riding lessons, train horses and lead trips to the wild.

My Dad worked with the most difficult horses and gave jumping lessons to advance riders.  My Mum gave lessons to intermediate people and I gave horse riding lessons to children and beginners and worked with the easiest horses, usually mares and geldings. My parents specialized to show jumping; they don’t do dressage or Western style riding, only the English style. English horse riding features a flat English saddle without the deep seat. It is not that comfortable as the Western saddle, but it allows you to do more things with the horse.

The life of the horse riders is not easy. My parents work six days a week and never go on vacation. When I say never, I literately mean never. They cannot leave the horses for days, they need to be taken out every day. Last time when they had a chance to go on holiday was when I worked for them and I was taking care of the horses for three days. But it was four years ago. Working with horses is also dangerous, especially if your job is to break in horses. My Dad’s leg was broken once by got kicked by a horse, but we all got some injuries from horse riding.

I enjoyed very much working on a farm during the summer, but the winter was dreadful. The weather in Hungary is very similar to the weather in New York: hot summer, cold winter. Being out six days a week at winter time is not so ideal.

I was aware of that I had a job which riders in my age would kill for. I was paid for doing something which others have to pay a fortune. Horse riding is a luxury sport. Not many people can afford to own a horse. So I am lucky, my family owns two horses. However after a year of being a professional horse rider, I realized, it is not what I want to do in the rest of my life. I went back to school and started to study communication and media. I upset my Dad when I quitted from the family business, but we all have to choose our own paths and not letting people to tell you  what you have to do with your life.

Today I was taking my online consultation at the writing center according to our assignment and the lovely tutor girl asked me “is pentathlon a sport?” after reading my “Introductory essay”.  I completely forgot how unpopular this sport is in the U.S. and how little Americans know about this sport which has great traditions in Europe. She advised me I should have explained what modern pentathlon was in my essay. So here it is my introduction to this sport.

The modern pentathlon is a sport contest that includes five events: pistol shooting, epee fencing, 200 meter freestyle swimming, show jumping (horse-riding) and a three kilometer cross-country run. The modern pentathlon was invented by the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, by the same person who founded the modern Olympic Games.  The name derives from the Greek penta- “five” and –athlon “contest”. The addition of  “modern” to the name distinguishes it from the original pentathlon of the ancient Olympic Games. As the events of the ancient pentathlon was modeled after the skills of the idea soldier of the time as modern pentathlon models to the ideal soldier of the 19th century. These soldiers needed to be good at fencing and shooting to fight against enemies and needed to have skills in running, riding on unfamiliar horses and swimming when they founded themselves behind the enemy’s lines.  Originally only soldiers played this sport.  Women started to play only twenty-five years ago, and my Mum was one of the first women who did pentathlon.

My whole family did pentathlon, my Dad, my Mum, me and my little sister. My Dad was the most successful, who was a professional pentathlete for fifteen years and he won a European Championship.  My both parents studied at college to be pentathlon coaches and my Dad ended up being  fencing and horse-riding coach and my Mum is a swimming and horse-riding coach. They work in the same sport club called UTE.

Unfortunately, my career is sadly ended as a pentathlete after ten years without any serious results. Nevertheless, I will be always thankful for my parents they made me do it when I was eight years old. I learnt so much out of this sport. Those twenty-five hours practices a week taught me how to overcome my deadlock, how to work hard for achievements and do not except impossible as an option. After doing pentathlon the “real world” is not a challenge any longer.

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