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Guest Blog post # 70: "If It Occurs To Us" by Bill Woods
If It Occurs to Us
Most teachers have nefarious designs on your mind—ones that they may not admit to. You just may want nuts and bolts explanations of the "which leg goes where" variety. Most times that's not all you're going to get.
Some riders already know they need more. "Give me a plan" is an oft heard request. Less often do we hear "Teach me perspective. Help me understand my horse better. Help me translate the goals I see written on the test sheets into a language that my horse can relate to and adopt without duress." Whether or not the rider is able to articulate these needs to her instructor, they should be part of the whole package that comes with dressage lessons. Addressing them is among the duties of each of us who teaches.
A new student arrives on our doorstep—almost never with a blank slate. She brings her riding history, her baggage. She usually comes (whether she shares them or not) with tales a mile long of her previous lessons. Aside from what she recounts she was told, I have to wonder sometimes Is that really what they said?
Was there a context?
Did "they" explain why they were going wherever they were pointing her?
Did they believe it?
Did they mean it?
Was the prescription a short term fix—admittedly not a permanent one?
Was the past instructor recognizing a specific problem and addressing it without explaining to the rider exactly what they were trying to accomplish and why?
Did the rider understand why the exercise or combinations of way of going were chosen?
If I'm thinking these things as "the teacher," so should you as "the rider."