Honesty is The Best Policy

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.


6 thoughts on “Honesty is The Best Policy

  1. Becky May 8, 2014 / 1:27 pm

    This sort of thing makes me think very carefully whenever I have a moment of considering a career in the tourism side of the equestrian industry: imagine someone lying about their ability and being stuck on a progressive trail ride, where you have to make time and distance each day and can’t change their horse!

    I can understand why people are reluctant to mention things: they don’t want to bring attention to the issue, don’t want to face additional judgment or they just don’t want it to get in the way of their progress or enjoyment… but as you say, it’s really important.

    • therubbercurrycomb May 8, 2014 / 6:57 pm

      Exactly! Or even saying they can ride and ruining everyone else’s lesson or hack!
      I don’t want to judge but if someone comes across as Odd then you do kinda judge them without meaning to due to a lack of understanding. If you know they are wired differently you just kinda shrug and say “yeah, whatever” and take the oddities 🙂

  2. Susan Friedland-Smith May 8, 2014 / 10:10 pm

    You bring up a great point! I often think about the future of my autistic middle school students and get a little worried. When I started teaching 15 years ago (at the age of 10, mind you), I didn’t have any autistic kids. Flash forward and I have usually 2 or 3 a year in my mainstream classroom (out of a total of about 150 kids I see per day). If parents are up-front with teachers about the abilities, it’s soooo much better. Rather than wondering why a kid is so quirky and won’t follow instructions and adapt, it’s easier on everyone (classmates, teacher, student himself or herself) to know what is going on so that we can help, have extra patience, strategically seat a child next to compassionate, helpful kids, etc. I wonder what kinds of accommodations will be made in the work world for my special needs kids when they are at that stage. And certain subcultures where I live are extremely reluctant to be straightforward if a child has learning differences or special needs. I agree. Honestly is the best policy. With oneself and everyone else.

    • therubbercurrycomb May 10, 2014 / 7:01 pm

      Yes I’m not in schools so don’t see kids develop as much as you do, but I often wonder what happened to the different kids I went to school with and what they’re doing now. It would be nice to think they are all doing their perfect job, no matter how menial!

  3. firnhyde May 9, 2014 / 8:00 am

    I think this applies to even your level of experience, even if you don’t have a disorder or disability. I went on a fifteen-mile trail ride once with a group of people from the local riding school, as well as a few newcomers who tagged along for the fun of it. These assured our leader that they could ride just fine, but it was soon apparent that they had no idea of how to control a horse. When one of them fell off for the second time, they both bailed out, leaving the rest of us about five miles from home with a pair of thoroughly irritated ponies. None of the horses had been trained to ride and lead, but we had no choice but to make them figure it out along the way and ponied them all the way home, not without some kicking, bucking and misbehaviour necessitating some very careful riding. It just shows that a rider’s overconfidence can place themselves and everybody around them in danger.

    • therubbercurrycomb May 10, 2014 / 7:02 pm

      So true! How often do I have to adjust my lessons for the kid who’s parents have said they can ride independently and they try to get on backwards!

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