Horse & Rider Weekly #14: Dealing with horse changes

Today’s post is actually going to start off as a message to all instructors out there before we get on to the rider’s point of view.
In the horse world, you’re going to come across a lot of instructors. And I’m saying this because it’s a fact of life: you will come across AT-LEAST 2 instructors. And like anything, each instructor has his/her own opinions and own styles of teaching. Now this also goes in conjunction with the student’s style of learning. So today’s topic will be about changing horses.
Many instructors believe that changing horses every lesson, or every other lesson, helps you to learn quicker and to gain more experience. Now again, this goes in conjunction with the student: sometimes the student really does learn better! Some instructors believe that sticking to one horse helps you learn quicker, and only once you reach a certain level of confidence should you be transferred to another horse, to broaden your experience. And many students feel that way too, me for example. It would be perfect if the two types of instructors and the two types of riders corresponded with each other, but the world is a broad place. I’ve been through both of the above types of instructors, and I prefer being with the latter, the one who believes in sticking to one horse. However, it was only recently that I got to stick to one horse: so I’m going to provide some tips below on how to cope with a horse change if you’re a rider like me, but before that, I’m going to put a message out there for all instructors first from a student’s perspective.

TALK. Talk to your students. Discuss what learning styles suit them, and also discuss what teaching style you prefer. Remember, in the teaching industry, it’s impossible to go by the book. You need to adapt as per the student’s style, what helps him/she learn faster and better. So talk and adapt yourself as per the student’s requirements.

Okay, now that we have addressed the instructors out there, time to get back to students with tips on how to cope with a horse change, if you’re a rider like me. These tips do seem to work for me, so I’m not sure if they’ll work for you or no.

  1. Relax!!
    As with anything in the horsey world, relaxation is key. Remember, the horse knows when you’re nervous and then he gets nervous. And when the horse gets nervous, all I can say is things won’t go well. Just relax, and watch the magic happen.
  2. Think to yourself: “what if this was the horse I am used to?”
    Just ask yourself the question and think it over. Start imagining that this is the horse you’re used to riding (in my case, that would be Jonty.) It doesn’t make a dramatic difference, but it does help. You know, something is better than nothing.
  3. Stop thinking!
    After relaxation, the most important thing is to stop thinking. Talking from experience, the more you think, the more you make things bad for yourself. Simply put, if you get thrown on a new horse which you haven’t seen in your life then STOP THINKING about it being a new horse, just go ahead and DO IT. Believe me, it works. However, one important thing to remember is that this goes in conjunction with relaxation. The two just have to work together: you can’t not relax but stop thinking then expect it to work, or vice versa.
  4. Ask others about the horse you’re given.
    If you’re taking lessons, then ask your instructor about the horse. Unfortunately, though, many people are shy to ask questions. And the reason for this? Simply put,  many instructors out there hate it when their students ask them so-called stupid questions. And I’ve also encountered instructors like that in the past: so here I am, putting yet another message out there for instructors:

    Teaching is all about questions. And simply put, if you cannot tolerate questions then simply give up on teaching. Put yourself in the student’s shoes and think.

    If you’re not taking lessons, then ask other riders at your yard. Whoever you ask, though, don’t be shy. And the reason you should ask is because each horse has his own perks. For example, in my case, Jonty doesn’t mind – sometimes he’s immune to the riding crop on his shoulder, but when you go behind your leg he bucks. Bibi, on the other hand, hates the riding crop altogether, irrespective of where. If I wouldn’t have asked my instructor where to use the crop on Bibi, things would’ve turned out much worse because I’d have hit him hard as I’m used to on Jonty, only to find myself running around and around because Bibi thought I hit him too hard: he took it as a cue for a canter or a gallop. So please, in the best interest of you and your horse, don’t be shy to ask!

So I think that’s all that I can say: writer’s block as always :/
If you have any other tips please leave them in the comments below!
With that, see you next time 🙂

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