Just because I've been absent from the horse world for large chunks of time doesn't mean that I have forgotten all I once learned.
I recognize that a good stable is not going to take a rider's word for the fact that they have previous experience. They'd be crazy if they did. I didn't even approach that route; I signed myself up to tag along in a pure beginners' class. I need the physical conditioning and can work as hard at the walk as in other paces.
The school horses are quite decent. They work in both English and Western mode; in the indoor arena and on trail rides. I've twice ridden a big flea-bitten grey who has some ability to bend; go on the bit and even lengthen and shorten his walk and trot. As the other "beginners" clump up with one another and cut corners, I use the extra few feet of track to get in some lateral work or I circle away to create a space; dying to serpentine and change direction but complying with the group.
Our instructor is a sweet young thing who seems to have some correct knowledge of riding but gives way too few nuggets of information to her class.
In my past English life our riding instructors rarely stopped talking; critiqueing a position of leg or hand and asking questions to make sure we had learned why we were doing certain things in certain ways. "How do you go about preparing to ride a circle?" "What's a diagonal?" or even "What are the aids to increase or decrease speed?"
I went on to take my British Horse Society Assistant Instructor's Certificate at 17 and well remember learning to teach. We had a lesson plan; we researched it; we had all kinds of explanations and demonstrations to support what we were to impart to our class. Teaching a beginner was like painting on a blank canvas, adding layer upon layer of different colors.
Another frustration is that we are not allowed to groom or saddle our own horses. I understand the theory; This is California, liability insurance is sky high so only trained employees are permitted.
In practice, today, my horse was being readied and the young woman who was to bridle him had a problem. Someone had undone the cheek straps to bit and noseband, as well as the throat-latch. She recognized the head-piece and brow-band that she held in her hand but could obviously not understand why the bit dangled vertically instead of horizontally. I couldn't prevent myself from sorting it out.
The big impact on me was the sure knowledge that these people have never dismantled every buckle when cleaning tack. It was drummed into our heads that it was necessary for both suppleness of leather and a review of wear for safety reasons. So much for liability issues.
The end and the best ice cream of all
6 hours ago