Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adventures in Amateur Academia: Part 1

I go to school, but I never learn what I want to know. - Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes.

Teaching is hard, especially when your students won't listen to you. But I'm getting ahead of myself. As with most stories, it makes the most sense to start at the beginning.

In August, a family moved their new horse to the farm. The horse owners of the family consisted of a mother and two of her daughters, none of which had ever owned a horse before or even ridden much. No horse-sense whatsoever. And they bought a flashy painted Arabian-mix, who turned out to be very neurotic and barely trained. Anyone who's been in the horse world for a while know this is a recipe for disaster, and disaster it became. When they actually tried to ride the horse, he bucked them off. Again, they had no real horse experience and no idea what to do.

So, my barn owner and I went into action. She offered to do groundwork with the horse (she does Clinton Anderson) and I offered to give them riding lessons on Royal. I figured it would be a good base for them since Royal is sensitive but no longer explosive. In a pinch, he'll listen to me. Plus, I thought their horse moved a lot like Royal so it would be good to learn on him.

The first lesson was a nasty shock to me. Not only had one of the girls decided not to show up, but the mother's husband was there. He was a real piece of work, being rude to me and the ladies. He didn't see the point of all this groundwork and lessons; just get on and hang on. I had to fight the urge to tell him what a terrible idea that was and instead tried to stress the important of a well-rounded horse and rider. I don't think I got through to him. I had all three of them get on Royal and do very basic things: one-rein stop and passenger lessons at the walk. None of them could sit well and all lost their balance quickly. Luckily, Royal was a very good boy and tried to help them out as best he could. Although the dude had to eat some humble pie when he accidentally cued Royal to trot and didn't know what to do, even though Royal gave him a slow trot. But, they all seemed happy enough and the ladies wanted more lessons.

I was cautiously optimistic, but had a bad feeling.

To be continued...

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