Sunday, 20 January 2008

Patience, give me patience please...

If you think that after a full day of teaching (when you somehow managed to stop all the ponies from biting each others heads, all the children are in one piece, no one ended up on the ground, no one ended up in tears because "but he is looking around", some of your groups are improving immensely and some at least try, you still have a voice etc) you will be able to relax and congratulate yourself, think twice...
...for what you might get is a bunch of mothers who think that their children, those that you have just recently taken over from another instructor, do not get enough fun...why? because they are not allowed to canter.
You may mention that the reason why XYZ isn't cantering is because they barely manage to stay on in a jog (trot not yet established) and because they somewhat lack the coordination and strength to even ask for a canter. But don't be fooled; this will not be heard. All you will be told is that XYZ goes to U and there they ride out on treks and canter for AGES. Yes, not just a minute round.
Some mothers will understand but there will be one or two who won't.
And you will have to bite your tongue before you say two things: that your colleague who used to take the XY and Z out on hacks now refuses to do so as they can't control the horses and that maybe they could just go back to U instead of going through the boring inconvenience of a lesson with you.

It may be that you will step on some one's ego telling them their child is currently the weakest rider in a group. You will say that since they are so painfully honest about how disappointed they are with their kids' riding lessons (and they think they have to repeat the same thing over and over again, possibly in case you have impaired hearing) you have no reasons to hide anything either.

No matter how many times you and your office staff explain that the surface is waterlogged and unsuitable for certain kinds of lessons you will still be given The Face. No matter how many times you say the ponies are not push-button (i.e. they are on the verge of being down right dangerous but you decide against being 100% honest about this;) you will be given a broken record of complaints regarding lack of canter.

And breathe...

To be fair, I would happily let those kids whizz around the arena if only the health & safety rules didn't breathe into my neck. I would be more than pleased to actually see them falling off and make nothing of it; to see them laugh as they slide off in the corners instead of looking at their terrified faces every time they loose balance.
How much more fun would it be for me too!

Instead, myself and my colleagues have to train our patience and endure incompetent and unnecessary comments. The reward are the lessons with all the over 16s who can at least speak for themselves and who appreciate the effort being put into their riding education.

Today made me think about something:

The most important thing in learning to ride isn't fun. The most important thing is to understand you are riding a living creature who deserves to be treated according to its character and nature. The most important thing is to learn how not to harm this creature in the process of acquiring the riding skills. The fun comes second to all that.
This is what I teach and this is what I will continue teaching no matter what. Those who do otherwise will most likely do so at the expense of the horses.
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On the riding front I am pleased to say Hamlet's schooling is going very well and I am having a great time with him. My lesson with Anna R-D is in just a few days - can't believe how quickly the time has past!
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