I’ve had an experience this week which made me think about the riders duty to their horse and instructor. This means when you sign up for lessons you tell the truth about your ability; there is nothing to be gained from being over confident.
Additionally, if you have any problems you should be honest and tell the instructor. Then they can be aware and not ask you to canter ten laps of the school when you have a heart defect. They can also adapt their communication and lesson plan to take into account a learning disability or a physical disability.
This week I taught a new client. Who could walk trot and canter. She said.
Within five minutes it was apparent something was not quite right.
The girl lead out her horse, adjusted stirrups and girth competently but when she got on one stirrup was significantly longer than the other. I asked if they were comfortable and even – humouring her as I was going to adjust them regardless. She thought they were level. So I popped one stirrup up four holes, and it was still 2 holes longer, and she said they were still level!
Once I’d manually levelled her out I took her to the school to assess her to find she sat fairly centrally. However, she was like a spider. One leg hooked out and one hand by her ear, the other way out to the side. That is a slight exaggeration. But she had no spatial awareness. Which might’ve explained why she fell out of the office door.
After a quick trot on both reins I had built up the courage to ask her if she had a problem. Oh yes, she’s dyspraxic.
Well thank god I found out then. I wouldn’t have been prejudiced but I would understand the way she sat and rode, which would have meant giving her the most stable horse, and least spooky, we had and doing exercises that would improve her balance and coordination. As it was we worked on coordinating aids, riding straight lines and circles and her position. She spent a lot of time without stirrups and I think she benefitted, but it highlighted how important it is to tell a teacher about your individual needs.
Another time this has happened has been when we’ve had a boy on work experience who was autistic. His parents didn’t tell me so we didn’t adapt and couldn’t understand why he behaved as he did, or struggled to put a headcollar on after the fifth demonstration. He had a different learning style. Once we were aware of this and adapted our directions and explanations he got a lot more out of his time with us. Another example of how being honest gets the best for you.