April 2020 - Blackjack Farm
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 March 2020 23:25

training

Hunter/jumper program caters to adults and their unique learning preferences.

Loving horses aside, adults are at the barn for very different reasons than their junior counterparts. At Blackjack Farm in San Diego County’s Vista, they specialize in catering to just those reasons.  

The most prominent characteristic for adult learners is that they are internally motivated. That means they are doing something because of their own values or interests. They simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn and actualize their own potential.  

 


When Blackjack Farm owner Robin Martinez came back to riding as an adult, she was about 30 years old, ready to buy a horse and start competing again. She was certainly internally motivated.

 

But right off the bat, her experience back in the horse world wasn’t very good. She didn’t feel like she fit in a group lesson with a bunch of teenagers and private lessons were few and far between. As an adult, working in a corporate structure for years at that point, the communication style she was accustomed to was a 180-degree change from what she experienced at the stable. Direction was given as an order rather than an explanation, with the most common direction being the phrase, “Do it again!” It seemed to her that the focus was much more on style than on substance and the communication methods left a lot to be desired.   

Robin knew from her own experience as a corporate trainer/facilitator that teaching adults is about a partnership between the student and the instructor. Adults learn much differently than their younger counterparts and therefore must be taught differently. Adults need to understand the why of things and how ideas fit together. This characteristic drives many trainers crazy, but this is who adults are and how they learn. “I know this is how I wanted to be taught when I was the client and it’s exactly how I teach now,” says Robin.

Robin and Dionicio Martinez.

“It has been my experience that the American method of teaching is focused mostly on replicating a style rather than on principles that lead to a consistently reproducible outcome of an effective rider and a rideable horse,” says Robin. “This lack of a system in teaching jumping riders is problematic in general but especially problematic for adult learners. I really believe it is the cause of so many adult amateur riders finding themselves frustrated and without any real progress to their riding. It’s what stood in my way as a horsewoman and a rider. It was the basis of my frustration that eventually inspired me to do things differently.”

Robin’s teaching style is one of well thought-out communication, with the goal always being that the rider understands the theory behind what they are learning. After 20 years of experience with adult learners, Robin knows that you can’t just say “do it again” and expect that the person is going to learn something that will affect lasting change or improvement.  

At Blackjack Farm, horsemanship comes first, and the principals of riding are an integral part of that. “To me, good riding is a part of good horsemanship. It’s not a separate thing. Learning the foundational flatwork that is the basis of how all horses are taught, mastering how to put the horse on the bit, understanding proper use of the horse’s body and the rider’s position, really understanding the aids and what you are actually saying to the horse with each thing you do, these are essential parts of good horsemanship.”

Blackjack Farm at sunset.

The focus at Blackjack is on teaching adult amateurs and young people who want to be in a more adult atmosphere. Full and half training programs are available as well as in-barn lease options. Robin teaches out of her beautiful North County facility that she owns and manages with her husband Dionicio Martinez. Together, they eat, sleep and breathe horses. Life is full and the future is bright.  

The vibe at the five-acre facility is “peaceful, productive and positive,” and the training emphasis is jumpers and adult amateur riders. Blackjack Farm has a 12-stall barn, nine oversized in-and-out stalls, premiere all-weather footing, show quality jumps, large turn-outs, a groomed track and a Eurociser.

For more information on Blackjack Farm please visit www.blackjackfarmsandiego.com.