Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Angry Student

Yesterday, after my lovely walk with Shorty, I taught lessons for my fellow instructor, A. I've talked about A before- she's the one that used a rusty bit for her horse and punished the mare for not holding still.

Anyways, her students are, for the most part, obnoxious and unaccustomed to greulling equitation work. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for playing games, going through obstacle courses, and having fun on horseback. However, I also believe in correct positioning and balance for maximum enjoyment. Are you having fun if your upper back hurts because you are stiff? Do you think the horse has fun when you hang on the reins? The answer is no.

So, I decided to introduce them to equitation class 101. Of course, they rolled their eyes when I asked them to drop down into their heels, bring their shoulders back, and look where they were going. One girl, whom I've mentioned before, whined when I asked her to soften her death grip on the reins. "But A TOLD me to do it THIS WAY."

"Do you think Jazzy looks happy right now?" I asked. "Earlier, you complained that Jazzy isn't listenining to you. She doesn't want to turn because there's too much pressure in her mouth. It hurts her to turn because there's nowhere for her head to go. When she leans on the reins, she is asking you to soften your hand. Your rein length is fine, but your hands are too rough."

The student continued to whine. "If I give Jazzy too much, she will buck me off."

"I seriously doubt that."

"You don't know Jazzy at all!"

"Ummm... excuse me? I've been teaching here for four years, and I've ridden Jazzy many times. She is a total sweetheart, and would never hurt one of her riders. If she bucked with you, its because she's telling you to be gentler with your hands."

After much whining, I got the student to loosen up... a little. I even got her to follow Jazzy's head with her hand a bit through an elastic elbow. Sadly, that all came to a halt when Jazzy, an old Arabian mare, stumbled a bit. Instead of absorbing the small stumble, the student ripped the reins, not once, but FOUR TIMES.

I can't remember exactly what I said, but I made her dismount. I will not have an abusive student in my class, and I'm more than happy to entertain phone calls from angry parents. I stick to my guns, and, strangely, my boss trusts my judgement.

I sent the student out of the arena and had her sit in one of the lawn chairs nearby to watch the rest of the lesson. Two minutes later, she asked to come back in.

"Not unless you promise to be nice to Jazzy. If I see you pulling too hard on the reins, I'll take you right back off again."

Instead, the student decided to make phone calls on her cell.

The rest of the lesson went well. One of the students, who is a bit older and more mature than her classmates, asked to switch to my lesson day to learn more. As for the angry student? For the sake of equine everywhere, I hope she learns to be more patient.


  1. I think you handled that very well! What do these girls think horses are - mechanical objects like motorcycles? Sheesh . . . I've seen a lot of that at other barns, and more at horse shows - it's despicable and it's hard to get people who think that way to change. If Jazzy bucks her off, it'll be for good reasons, for sure! I like that the one girl noticed what you were doing right and wanted to do more. Good for you for standing up for the horses and insisting on good behavior from your students!

  2. Great Job! It is simply amazing how spoiled children can be these days! I am sure Jazzy is thanking you right now. Even if you lose a client I think you have your priorities in the right order.

  3. Wow, I wonder why she wouldn't listen to you? If that we're me I'd be asking many questions to learn more lol. It's great that you teach students to respect/be fair to thier mounts.

  4. Ummmm Jazzy? Buck somebody off? That's about as likely to happen as it is Jazzy entering and winning the Tevis Cup. Mister Boss over there needs to get rid of this A person. Like... right now.