August 20, 2009

Howz skool goeing?

Fine, but they've forgotten everything, perhaps less in a 2 month summer than we did in the '50's, (didn't we used to have a 3 month summer?) but plenty just the same.

My goal, a yearly undertaking, is to be slow, calm, quiet and to BREATHE, to let them be. A funny way to teach you say? Well, what else can you do with the little squigglers? It's such a balancing act. Push them to learn, push them to sit still and let go promptly at compliance. Rest from working is the reward. Miss the cues and you've got a stressed kid. And these guys are especially sensitive to sights, sounds, touch, smell. Even thinking is tough stuff.

So here I go, as I do in riding:
pressure ~ release, pressure ~ release.

The horse needs to be collected (chin in, head up) or he can buck. (bucking broncos have their noses nearly to the ground, have you noticed?) Collection ensures he has engaged his back legs because that's where the power is; the front legs pull lightly along, but the back legs give the propulsion to go forward. i.e. not to stand in one place, nose to the ground and hop, hop, hop, trying to throw you the heck off their back!

So I pull back on the reins gently, ever so gently and release immediately when I feel a softening in my hands. (fingertips, really) And I do this constantly while riding. So far my timing is rough. My trainer calls out, "He pulled his head in and you kept yanking! That's like punishing him for doing the right thing, so why should he try?" and "Don't let him slow to a walk! If you cue him to trot make him trot! He'll become confused or stubborn." She'd noticed the walk 3 or 4 steps before I did and I'm the one ON THE HORSE. It takes so much concentration.

Same with teaching. My timing is coming along. I'm more in sync with the boys' limits than years past (all boys!); their line in the sand. Push a little too long and there you go with a meltdown. I hope I see their trot beginning to slow before they go to the walk. And definitely before they buck.


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