A student’s view: The One who was Scared of Failing

Candidates for the Stage 2 assessment
Candidates on the Monty Roberts Preliminary Certificate Assessment – not nervous at all!

It was a chance conversation with Kelly during a break in the horse psychology course held at her home in 2017 that got me in to doing the Stage 2. I had done all my courses in 2012 and had been on the leading and loading course every year since helping with moving round pen panels and general manual handling for the teachers. I’d asked Kelly if I could resit the horse psychology course which was being run the day after the loading course. 

Kelly had agreed and as she had talked about Stage 2 – the assessment for the Monty Roberts Preliminary Certificate – during the course she then asked me “Well, Stuart, when are you going to do Stage 2 “?

I replied “Oh, I don’t know Kelly to be honest I’m petrified of failing it!!”

“Well, fail it then.” she replied.

Probably wasn’t quite the answer most people would be hoping to hear but Kelly then went on to explain her reasons behind it.   No one ever fails Stage 2. If you fall short of the pass grades you’re invited back to resit the parts you need.  Technically, I can say I didn’t really decide to do Stage 2 but was told to consider myself on the list for 2018 so I had time to prepare and sort out everything I needed to do for it .

This probably worked out best for me because who am I to decline Kelly and I was letting nerves and inner voices get to me and stop me progressing in my Intelligent Horsemanship life .  Kelly also told me that it’s good to get certified in something and see it through to the end.  Looking back, I’m glad she forced my hand really because it did boost my own confidence , if she was eager for me to do it then maybe she had the confidence in me that I was lacking in myself

Preparing for it.

I found preparing for Stage 2 taxing at times.  Not having my own horses, I had to hunt out horses that I could use to film the join ups at a yard with a school that I could build a round pen in. I was very lucky in that I found a local stables called Chantry stables and the owner Gemma let me use their d harris fencing ( the type they use around building sites)  that they used for a make shift round pen. 

This worked out really well for me, despite me having to build the pen every time I wanted to practise and film my sessions on my days off from my normal job.  The yard had a few horses that I could use but as I practised my join ups, I had other liveries show interest in me using their horses to film or practice on.

  • Read the Stage 2 information on filming your join ups before you start.   I worked with a lovely horse and thought the join up went well but when I discussed the video I sent to Sandra I’d put the camera in the wrong place!   I’d jumped too far ahead and made a very basic mistake! I’d not filmed me bringing the horse through the gateway to the round pen.  Lesson learnt. Read all instructions and then reread them and then probably read them again to just make sure.
  • Volunteer to be a helper on one of the 5 day courses.   I found this was the best thing I did because I got to watch new students be taught the principles of join up. This refreshed my memory and showed me new ways to deal with situations I’d found in my practise sessions
  • If you can resit the theory courses, then do, because I found this a great help. I had just come off the back off the foal handling and stud practise course just before my stage 2 so the information was very fresh in my mind.

I did really enjoy the last few weeks build up to stage 2 as I was busy creating and putting the final touches to my horse psychology project. I was also doing the homework that was set by Ian Vanderbergh which is based around the theory courses he teaches.  I found this great as I got to research subjects more in depth than I would have normally.

The Stage 2 Week

The week itself was really good. It comprises of classroom based and practical exams on the different subjects taught.  Despite being the only male of the 5 students, we all seemed to settle in well and the camaraderie was very strong as we worked together a lot, testing each other before exams and discussing things we didn’t understand. It was nice to work in such a supportive group and I feel lucky to have had the stage 2 students that I had… 

During the practical join up exams you get assigned a partner that brings tack in, can give you assistance if you feel 2 pairs of hands are better than one. This worked well in my first practical with a horse that was unsure about the tack going on so I brought in my partner to assist me whilst I kept control of the horse.

I did learn a few things about myself during the stage 2 week like I’m rubbish at retaining information that I had just read 5 minutes before.   We were told what the exams were during the week so I would sit in my hotel room and write flash cards with information on the subject and then have them spread out all over my table at breakfast.  I’m sure the hotel staff found it very strange that in my posh hotel restaurant I had cards scattered everywhere with names of bones and breeding cycles of horses scribbled all over them . 

I came away from stage 2 week with the plan that whenever I wanted to learn new information I would drip feed it in my brain slowly over several weeks as cramming really wasn’t working. Saying this though, I found the atmosphere relaxed whilst at Hartsop farm with every member of the Intelligent Horsemanship team offering as much support and guidance as was possible.

Where to now?

I came away from my Stage 2 week with a very big sense of achievement and I’m so glad that I had done it.  Kelly was so right when she told me it’s good to see something through to the certification part.  Since doing my stage 2, I’ve attended the 5 day Masterson Equine Bodywork courses that were talked about in a previous IH magazine. I found this has really fitted in well with my own horsemanship and IH concepts as well. 

I will be also be looking to get my case studies completed and hopefully being accepted as a Recommended Trainer.   It was nice during the last Monty demo tour to be congratulated by so many people that I held in such deep regards on my completion of stage 2 exams.

The one part I love the most about Intelligent Horsemanship is the feel of being part of something that brings people together. Having had the pleasure of  working alongside quite a few IH students and RTs during demos and courses, it’s the relaxed feeling and the encouragement you get from Kelly and the team to always be the best you can be .

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