My younger students show strong tendencies to believe (as others have taught them) that the horse that doesn't do as told is being willfully resistant in some way. It's difficult to wean them away from this viewpoint. And makes teaching them how to use "ask," cues instead of force demands.
I bet what makes it so difficult is that everyone else (parents, peers, etc.) has very different definitions of success. I had many frustrating experiences with my daughter in 4-H, at kid's riding clinics etc., not with the instructors, but with the extremely ignorant parents who bought their kids horses and learned almost NOTHING about a horse's needs themselves.
It makes me angry just thinking about it.
Hey, I get adult horse owners that want me to train, say a really yummie young quarter horse that would be killer as a cutter or reining horse, to be a quiet plodding "trail horse," because that is what they like to do. How many times have I had to bite my tongue not to give them a catalogue of bicycles and offer to buy their horses.
Of course in most cases the horses were very inappropriate mounts for these kids, either too old and used up to be ridden humanely at all, or young and green, requiring a patient experienced rider. When the horses were a good match often the tack was horrible, even for my, at the time, beginner eyes, leading to lots of pain for these horses.
The saddle one of my students was using was borrowed, and too small for her though it fit the tall anglo-arab she was also borrowing. I lent her my Pariani, with a tree that fits very narrow horses.
Luckily she had not ridden but once since I lent her the jumping saddle. She said the horse wasn't behaving well. This week, yesterday the lesson was going terribly with the horse throwing his head and being terribly difficult, and the child complaining the horse seemed to be trying to bite her knee - which I could see he wasn't.
I ordered a dismount and checked the saddle. This horse has huge high withers that run well back and my saddle was down on them really hurting him. His winter coat and dark color and a very dark riding hall we work in - and possibly my fading old eyes - fooled me.
I not only had her bring out the other saddle to make sure it fit him properly, which it did, but called off the lesson entirely because of course we had been torturing this horse. There was another student, a child-preteen, waiting for her turn on this same horse and I had to disappoint her. He had to be groomed and coddled and made over and put out,retired for the day, to grass with his buddies to make up for the pain he had endured rather stoically considering.
Did I feel stupid? Yup!
We had joined these groups hoping for Rachel to find good role models to learn from. Well, that really didn't work. Some of the teachers tried everything they could and did a very good job. I hope some of the kids will remember what they were told when they get older.
I am now trying the best I can to teach my daughter myself. She's already a better rider than I am in some ways. When it comes to being patient with Blue I have the authority as a parent to just tell her to get off if necessary, something that's not been necessary very often. Especially teaching adolescents, emotions go all over the place, they are developmentally not in a place where they can easily learn to be patient.
One analogy I have used successfully with my dog training students, incl. young kids, is the comparison of learning a language. When I teach a dog to sit I'm not "really" teaching the dog to sit, it could do that since about 3 weeks old, I'm just teaching it the English word for sit. If necessary I then put the person in the situation where I tell them to do simple things in German (which they don't understand) and then let them compare several ways of trying to figure out what I tried to get them to do: raising my voice as I repeat the commands several times, gesturing wildly with some annoyed facial expressions thrown in, gently leading them and pointing, pulling out some chocolate and placing it in strategic places where I want them to go etc. This is very powerful, esp. with people who don't "get it" with just explaining, but I usually offer it as an additional 20 minute freebie and tell people ahead of time, so they don't feel they are wasting the lesson they pay for on stuff that is not what they wanted to do. Having been an impatient student myself many times, and doubtless driven some riding instructors crazy as recently as two years ago I guess I remember so well what motivated me at the time.
I wanted to get my money's worth from a lesson and get my questions answered, not go along with the riding instructor's agenda. I think I was a more difficult student, and probably still am, because I'm also a teacher and tempted to second guess my teacher's decisions. I guess I'm starting to ramble, this is a very important topic for me, it goes to the heart of why I'm homeschooling my daughter.
I'm glad to hear you are teaching, I know how rewarding it can be.
I'm always fascinated at how many school teachers, when they have their own children, turn to homeschooling. And I know it's not because they believe they have better teaching skills
but because they can teach better in a freer environment. How do I know this?
My wife was a teacher, she not only home schooled but has written about it ... or did I tell you this already.
My children? (we have two sets, two each) Home and alternative schooling.
I take your point. And I shall brag about who I stole the wonderful tactic from that you outline above when I use it.
What could be more enlightening than connecting up the truth about what one, how really, is teaching the horse and that it isn't an action but in fact interpretation of a new symbol.
Having to experience it should get through. And gave the foundation, the real support, for being patient.
And of course you have reminded me of some of my own work in the dim past and some ideas I want to work on now as well.
And the answer to the problem of a student on a green horse has been answered. I will refuse to do it, and offer some alternatives.