Sunday, 13 September 2009

When a below average horse plus an average rider perform above average what makes me want to do it again and again and again.
My regular riders rode so well today I just sat there and thought: those people and those below average horses are what makes me want to get better. To be able to transform something ordinary into extraordinary is what inspires me the most.

It's no secret to anybody who rides with me that I don't really do recreational type of lessons. Even if you are a recreational rider you get to be taught as if you were actually 'in training', whether you want it or not ;) Ok, I do make exceptions for a couple of my regular riders who I know just like to 'have a go' but other than that you just got to learn to ride correctly and well. This is so a) I stay interested in what I do and b) the horse is comfortable and happy. I admit, it might be a bit selfish of me to make sure I have a job satisfaction but just think what a nice workout you are having and how well your horse will feel afterwards ;)
On a more serious day I would love to mostly focus on teaching/coaching higher levels committed horse owners on talented horses but right now 80% of my work is trying to get the best out of riding school horses who have 10 -15 different riders on them a week. They often have various soundness issues. Attitude issues. They are bored and fed up many a time. And yet, they keep trying. They are often "green" and have no idea how to carry themselves well/correctly.
I teach people for whom riding is just an hour in a busy weekly schedule that gets forgotten the moment they leave the stables. What keeps me going, however, are people who genuinely love it, whether they ride 30 minutes a week or 3 horses a day. It's the sport you have to have a passion for or you shouldn't do it. Might sound harsh but that's my opinion. The reason being - you cooperate with a living, feeling animal. You have to understand it, get to know it and be committed to ride the best you can to keep that animal happy.

Below videos show my two Sunday riders and friends. Both of them rode superbly today with Suzanne doing her personal best on that mare.
The second video is an example of a visual feedback tool that I've been testing since the beginning of this year with some of my regular riders. I film their lessons at random intervals and comment as they ride. They can then re-watch it and learn from what they see & remember. All I can say is they've made fantastic improvement in those last 6 months.
You will need to have the sound on but bear in mind I do it for their private use so I didn't really think about sounding mega legitimate ;) I am putting it up on here as I thought, if you are a recreational rider desperately wanting to improve you might want to ask your instructor to do a similar thing. Visual feedback is a powerful tool and it's amazing how much more the brain & muscles can learn through just watching.

Video Feedback Example (wonder if A. kills me for using this...;)). It's about 30 minutes into the lesson. The pony has a tendency to fall in/fall out in corners and circles through her shoulders, lean and loose balance, go against hand and balance with the neck up, go behind the leg and/or ignore the bending aids...the list goes on. She only learned to work round and on the bit not so long ago. She used to spend her lessons in a giraffe mode and was a bit unpredictable.

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