I was a mean instructor earlier this week. I felt so bad! But it needed to be done, and hopefully my little rider learnt from it.
I’ve only taught this self-assured five year old a couple of times with her pony. She has the basic rising trot and steering and is confident with her pony, so her Mum decided it was time for lessons.
I had noticed that she’s confident and quite independent. Which is good … but I knew I needed to keep an eye on this. For example, waiting until I tell her to trot, and her understanding that it’s because her pony has had enough time in walk, not because she’s bored of walking!
This week we were starting to use poles. Her position is much improved after last week’s lunge lesson so I wanted to use the poles to help her steering and balance. After we’d done some trot work to warm up, I showed her a little bit of jumping position. My main point was that she needed to hold the mane over poles. I said she was super confident didn’t I? Well I felt I needed to give her something to thing about, i.e. her jumping position, to hopefully slow her down so she learns to walk properly before she tries to run.
As she was trotting round practising her balancing, I laid out a single pole on the ground. Then I told her to walk, so I could explain the exercise. But she carried on kicking her pony, steering towards the pole, blatantly ignoring my shouts of “WALK!”
Once over the pole, she stopped and turned to face me, grinning. I didn’t smile back. I marched over to the pole and picked it up, whilst calmly explaining that “the pole was going away because she wasn’t listening to me, and I couldn’t trust her to do harder exercises if she didn’t listen to instructions.”
To be fair to her, she didn’t cry but looked suitably shamefaced. Once the pole was away I told her to walk on, which she did immediately. We then did some trotting and changing the rein, which she really tried hard with, and most importantly she listened to every word I said.
I relented, after all, I want her to continue having lessons and not to hate me, so I got the pole out at the end of the lesson and she managed to trot over the centre of it and hold her mane nicely.
At the end of the lesson, with her Mum within earshot I explained to the little girl how important it was that she listened to my instructions because she or her pony might get hurt, and we had to make sure I’d finished arranging the exercise and was watching them. And of course so she knew how to do it properly! Her Mum was on board with what I was saying, so hopefully will continue to emphasise my point when they practice during the week.
Hopefully we’ll soon strike the right balance between her thinking for herself yet following my directives, as I think this rider is going to be fun to teach and watch develop.