Communication

Today’s Tip: I’m not really sure…actually I’m hoping YOU can give ME advice.

My professional life is in communications. I don’t always practice what I preach, but I at least have an understanding of what I’m doing. The last couple of days, however, have been making me think harder about how I communicate…at least how I communicate with people.

Last night was the first night of RideAbility lessons for 2010. I helped teach two classes. The first was with students that had both physical and mental conditions that I can’t personally identify with. I know they’re having a blast just by being there, but I’d like to make the class as productive as possible, so I’m trying to figure out how to make that happen (any therapists who want to offer advice – next Monday, just let me know!). The second class had riders who are more able-bodied, but still take some special considerations in communicating with them. This is especially true because they don’t ride enough to have a real good awareness of their body on a horse, so there are very simple balance issues that I can’t even see but are causing other issues that I can see. The barrier is getting and giving feedback on what they feel and what they should be doing.

Tonight I had a lesson with a woman and her very pacey, stiff-backed foxtrotter. This horse is never going to have a great gait, but I can’t help but think that it has to improve with some work. I can get a little more out of her, but the woman herself is going to have to put the hours in to make a long-term difference. This woman is a strong intermediate rider – experienced but maybe not fine-tuned-trained. Working with someone not accustomed to gaited horses makes me remember just how different a feel it can be. After riding it for 20+ years, you just get the feel for what’s going on underneath you and can try to fix it. I’ve never known any different!

I’ve always known that I’m not the best teacher because I’m more of a kinesthetic (feeling) learning than an auditory (listening) learner. For that reason, a verbal description just doesn’t come easily to me. I can take the reins and “show” the rider what their contact should feel like and push on their legs to “show” leg contact, but how do I “show” seat cues, balance, or other things?

So my question for you is if you have any images that you have used in teaching others or that others have passed on to you that have really helped you understand something in your riding? Even if it’s not riding – another horse activity or some other concept all together – I’d love to hear it!

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