Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Day 21: One thing that can make or break a lesson

There is one simple thing that I discovered for myself throughout my teaching career - horses work best when they feel that your purpose is to help them understand.
I am sure many trainers before me and many riders have experienced that too but no matter how many times you are told something, it is not until it really speaks to you in a language of a light bulb moment, that you truly get it. 

At first, I thought it only really worked for me when I schooled horses myself but with time I noticed that horses feel this attitude very well when I am just standing on the ground. 

One of the fab horses I had a pleasure to work with today

Today, I read someone asking what makes a good instructor. So many things. So many. And yet, right now, from all the skills I acquired and from all the ones I am yet to learn, I would say the most crucial one is the simple, open-minded willingness to help improve understanding. 
You might be the king of exercises, the queen of tricks, the jack of all trades and all that but if you just enter the arena and with your first touch on the horse's neck as you chat with the rider, you think "hey, how can I help you understand your rider better today?", the horse knows things are going to be just fine. And good stuff happen when horses are in that frame of mind. 

When you teach you can't control the rider's emotions, mistakes, trials and their own battles. You can't control horse's responses to all the above. 
And yet, amazing things can happen if you bring the element of a quiet, positive confidence of that purpose of help. Some horses "go most relaxed they have ever been", "least spooky", "so attentive today", "really working with me today"...

I think a really great coach can make the rider feel like they truly can make mistakes and learn and become understood as well as make the horse feel like everything is going to be just fine. 

I don't know how to put just one name to that quality. Skill of Leadership? Knowledge? Confidence? I think about it as of being open to learning from the horse and wanting to help them understand the lesson at the same time. 
Polishing that skill is a great, ongoing challenge.  

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