I only taught for a couple of hours today but what a strange experience it was. One of the centres I work at runs series of courses for schools, colleges and universities and today was a first day for one of the courses for school kids. They were meant to be working on a programme based loosely on the BHS Progressive Riding Tests but...
Almost every single one (there were 16 of them) were terrified of horses to a degree. Some more than others.
They were not toddlers by the way but teenagers which, if it wasn't such a hard work to deal with, would be even interesting on some clinical psychology level ;)
Whatever happened to a teenage "let's just have a go" attitude? Throughout the summer we had all sorts of international schools coming for riding holiday. Most of the participants didn't speak English. It wasn't easy but they loved being around horses and trying things out.
This lot had a certain unreasonable almost fear which they couldn't even recognise. They had no idea what they were afraid of, or they just didn't know how to articulate it. It's sad that young people should be so under informed about animals to be afraid to such extent.
Another thing that really hits me now and then is how incredibly unfit many teenagers are. I understand we are not all sports people but not being able to lift your leg up to put it in the stirrup when you are young and healthy...just sad.
On a good note, almost everybody improved in attitude to horses 100%. They will be coming once a week now so let's hope we can inject some horse loving vaccine into more young people.
Work done I spent a lovely afternoon playing with Kingsley. I decided against lunging him beforehand as he just runs and runs on this small circle which is just no good for his legs.
So I got on knowing it will be a rough going to start with and I was right ;) The little horse has so much energy in his system that he was just miles away in his head from any of my aids.
So off we went for a canter play round and round the arena until he actually wanted to trot (which took A WHILE).
I am loving it though. Most of my work years ago was with freshly backed youngsters which he reminds me of a lot. he moves as if he was still in the field (with all the natural way of going in its full) so he doesn't understand that I want him to carry his weight on the outside legs and bend to the inside in the corners and on circles.
He softens nicely for two three strides but then tries to balance with his neck again which contracts all his extensors muscles. All this equals lots of balance loses and wanting to run forward to get it back. Same applies to transitions which he wants to do like a horse without rider would do, i.e. by lifting his neck and breaking with front legs. I started some work on halt transitions which aren't great but getting there. Once we have those under better control I can introduce him to half-halts which will give me this very much needed re-balancing tool.
The great thing is when he does soften and bends he feels really good. I am hoping he will be little more rideable tomorrow and the mission is to slow the machine down ;)
Schooling over I took him for a relaxing cooling down walk in the woods and he was really good. Amazingly, while walking around I got a phone call from Horse & Hound (!!!) - as you do!!! (Not!). Someone said they came across my website and would like to chat about my work and how I like it etc. Unfortunately, Kingsley spotted a bunch of deers and started prancing about so I thought it wise to ask for a call back. They haven't actually phoned back but Kingsley calmed down very quickly and we just strolled back to the yard.
I actually managed to make him sweat this time so we played with some shampoo which he sniffed with curiosity.