Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On learning to teach humans

For the longest time I didn't really care for teaching students, I only really cared about teaching the horses. To me they were the more honest of the two, and honestly, also the more willing. I've done a fair amount of growing up in the past six years. That's to be expected though, because if we aren't growing and changing then what is the point? 

There have been major life milestones and minor ones. There are people that come and go from our lives, some that we wish would stay, and some we can't wait to forget about. One of the great indicators of growth and maturity though, is to look back at experiences, both good and bad, and realize that we can't change the way things were, only the way things can be in the future. 

When I was twelve years old, traveling the country playing club soccer for PDA, my coach told the team, "Life is 10% about what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it." He meant it in terms of soccer, and yeah, that's how I thought about it at the time. Little did he know, that quote would stay with me and continue to affect my worldview.

I was probably 13 years old when I taught my first riding lesson. I probably knew just enough to be dangerous, but all I cared about was finding anyway I could to spend more time in the saddle. I was working off my riding lessons at that point, and if the barn owner considered teaching work, I was happy to do it with a smile on my face. 

Since moving to Florida I've found a wonderful little farm where I can teach lessons a few days a week. The horses are nice, the people are nice, the trainers are nice. It's a major change for me to be working with quality horses that are already broke. I'm so used to starting the young ones that I find a fascinating correlation in my approach to teaching young horses and inexperienced kids. 

I'm still learning and developing my teaching style, and some days I wonder if the things I say make any sense to the students. As a kinesthetic learner, I spend a lot of time coaching on feel. I think this is why training the horses was always more appealing - I could feel the feedback the horse was giving me and feel my correction. In teaching you have to use your words!

Looking back I realize I spent so many years working in exchange for the chance to ride that often I sacrificed the opportunity to take lessons in exchange for consistency in the saddle. I spent the same amount boarding a horse that I would have on two lessons a week in college when I had Aston. I worked at the big jumper barn so that I could sit on made horses rather than working somewhere else for the money to afford lessons there. While I sometimes wish that I had the chance to train on a nice horse with a great trainer on a consistent basis, I know that I'm the rider and horse person I am because of how I've had to work for it.

I'm grateful that I had people willing to sit and watch my constant videos to give me feedback when I didn't have someone near me that I could afford to work with. Now it is my turn to pay it forward. 

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