03 September 2008

BHS Instructor - “Take up the contact!”

Some time ago I had the privilege of being invited to watch a friend of mine who was a ‘qualified’ Riding Instructor give a lesson to a beginner. The rider arrived suitably attired, carrying the obligatory crop and leading her precious little pony. The rider looked excited and eager to learn, that is until things started to go wrong.
The Instructor told the rider to “take up the contact and squeeze with your legs to get him to move off”. After a number of attempts to get the pony to move off the Instructor then said “take up some more contact and squeeze harder, if he doesn’t move off give him a smack with your crop”. At this point I was starting to feel very uncomfortable and thinking of making excuses to go, the pony however was obviously feeling even more uncomfortable.
He started to move backwards, sideways, spin around in fact everything he could think of except go forward. Needless to say the lesson was a disaster with all three participants feeling very frustrated.
When the rider was out of earshot I suggested to the Riding Instructor that maybe the pony was a tad confused and was trying to do his best with the contradictory signals being given to him, to which I received a blank but brooding glare. I pointed out that ‘maybe’ the pony thought . . . . . . . pulling back on the metal in my mouth means slow down or stop BUT squeezing legs means go forward or speed up so my human must want me to do something different, ok I’ll try backing up etc. At this point I was told “what do you know anyway, have you done all the exams I’ve done to become a QUALIFIED RIDING INSTRUCTOR, I DON’T THINK SO”. I was then left with an image of my friend’s back as she stomped off muttering something under her breath. Unfortunately she has chosen to have no further contact with me since.
Why is it that there are so many people in the horsey world who wear blinkers? Why are so many of them fixed and rigid in their beliefs and ideas? If the rider had been told to give the pony the reins and not use them as a balancing aid and then squeeze with legs surely the pony would have known that it was ok to move forward?
Until people learn to think about their actions, question what they have been taught and try to think things through from a horse’s point of view I’ll certainly never be out of a job!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Well said!