Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Peppermints Could Be Horsey Valium

Hey, I've got a question for any that have given lessons to adults and children. Have you noticed with a kid you can tell them to do something, that may be a small series of movements to accomplish one goal...and they can just do it all as one. But with adults it has to broken down into itty bitty pieces?

I've ridden pretty much since before I can remember. So a great deal of what I do I don't even think about. It seems innate. I've really had to stop and think about what I do with my body to explain how to accomplish something to people.

I had one student ask me how I could put one leg on and not the other...and not slide off the side of the horse? I was baffled. It was like, you just do it. I actually had to get on the horse and do it...and break down all the pieces of putting on your right or left leg, and what you do with your seat to maintain your position. I had no idea it could be so complicated.

Okay so my questions are (Oh I'll have more another time. lol). How do we get adult beginners to learn like kids? How do we make it less difficult? How do we make it seem less like some arcane secret knowledge to them and more innate?

In my book there are no secrets. If I know it, and you want to know it...I'll give it to you. I just have to figure out how to explain it in more varied ways. Simplify and take the apprehension and fear out of it. They are going to make mistakes. It's okay...everybody makes mistakes. Quit worrying so much about 'doing it wrong'. If you're beginning, you're probably doing it wrong, or not well. No big deal. Keep doing it. It will get right. (Okay, you need a ground person, but it will get right). You can't learn to ride from a book, or a DVD or tape. You can't learn riding in 45min to 1hr lessons once a week. (Okay, you can. But it is going to take a hella long time). It will take two years to build muscle memory alone. (If you were going to learn to play the piano and you took one hour lesson a week, didn't have a piano to practice on at long is it going to take you to learn to play the piano?)

OH...and who came up with the term half-halt? How confusing is that? Re-balance your horse makes more sense to me. Stronger or steadier contact, legs on (sometimes? Hey there are 50,000 reasons to apply a half halt, and 50,000 different ways to apply it...yeah explain that to the woman that has read every dressage book ever written, and hasn't ridden a single forward stride in her life) feel the give, or the softening and go on. Oh...and it really is in the release, not in the take. (I'll rant about the lack of independent seats another time.)

Okay, can you tell I rode and gave lessons today and feeling like I'm pounding my head into a wall?

OH and get this...I think I need to pack a whip on Top. WTF? A tad to relaxed...I was kicking him to keep him forward (forward hell, going) in the trot. HOLYCRAP...peppermints are very powerful things.

I told Norma about it this evening. She laughed at me. She doesn't think it's the peppermints...she thinks he just turned the corner. (I think it is the peppermints, and they helped him turn the corner).


blueheron said...

In response to one of your questions, I think you answered it--it's the fear of failure and not wanting to do it wrong that interferes with many adults. In learning any task. Youngsters, and the young at heart, are able to just leap in and try things. The ones you have to say, "Wait, hang on, don't do that!" are probably also the ones who can do the multi-step movement in one fluid act. lol.

Computer technology is much the same way. Put a new gadget in front of most kids, and they'll start messing with it to figure it out. Put the same new gadget in front of most adults, and they'll wait for the workshop, look for the manual, or find an expert. Rarely will they mess with it.

Where does that freedom to just mess around go? Why do some adults retain it? Why do some kids lose it by the age of 5? Hmmm. I leave with more questions than I came with...

fernvalley01 said...

I think kids have lessfear, they don't over think things .whereas adults tend to tear it apart it thier head ( and put it together wrong)
Pepermints a powerful drug huh?

nccatnip said...

I must be a kid, then. And I truly hope I can find an instructor that can and will talk to me as such. In anything I learn, I break it down and ask why, why, why. Release my inner child, so to speak. Don't care if they talk down to me, just let me learn from the ground up. Intimidating to most.
Are those peppermints manufactored in your county? Could that explain the groove on Top has?

GoLightly said...

Great Post, HP!!
I got more to say, no time to say it.

Keep 'em laughing, is how I did it. No relax, no ride.

Wonder what inspired this?
or who?
What brand of peppermints?
Maybe you should give some to your mature students;)

Vectormom said...

One way to get beginner adults to relax is every so often put them all in a big group lesson even if you only have one lesson horse. Plan to take a couple hours (more like a clinic) if have limited mounts. They ride together or take turns, doesn't matter but after the initial shock of possibly embarassing themselves, they get it. They get that it's okay to laugh at each other's mistakes and start to relax and even help one another. They get that they aren't the only newbie making the same mistakes over and over. When they relax, their ears open wider. Just a suggestion. I've done this a few times with beginner adults. Not all the time but every couple of weeks maybe. You could also bring in an apprentice instructor for the group lesson. Someone young who is just starting out with teaching. They wouldn't charge much, they'd get invaluable experience and could have a fresh way of approaching certain topics to benefit your students and you! Great post! It is much more complicated to teach beginner adults than beginner children!

autumnblaze said...

I agree with VM's - I think it's fear of failure and especially of getting laughed at.

Learning as an adult I can be so self concience though once I'm comfortable I'm still young enough that if the right descriptors are used I get it pretty fast. I think adults spend their life building up a wall and it's hard to let it down but you HAVE to.

Also, I think adults are more worried about hurting/screwing up the horse than any kid would be. A kid wouldn't even think like that - just DO it. An adult is going to worry about how hard or how soft the movement should be etc. etc. I like VM's idea of getting people to laugh at themselves. :)

Pssssttt... hey, Top, I've got the good stuff, yeah, REAL pepperminty! You got the money? I got the goods buddy... ;)

Glad to hear you're getting through to him!!!

kestrel said...

It's going to be so interesting to find out who Top REALLY is, now that you've shoveled away the layer of human induced trauma and fear. What an exciting stage of retraining! He is a glorious brave boy to finally let you into his heart.

horspoor said...

Sorry I was missing in action yesterday. Had the flu. On a positive note, I think I'm thinner.

VM I agree with you. I try to make it fun, and not so focused on what you're doing incorrectly, but the positive points. There are times I watch these women (90% women, have had a few men) struggle, and can feel their fear and anxiety it just makes me feel so bad for them.

Often other students will be riding when I'm giving a lesson. I'll use them to demonstrate the good and the bad. The bad is always good to get people to lighten up and laugh.

One of the funniest was discussing different body types, and how they relate to riding. There were four of us there. One student and I are built with longer thigh, shorter calf, and longer upper arm bones, and shorter forearms. The other two...shorter thigh, longer calf, and shorter upper arm, longer forearm.

The one student and I can ride with our hands really low, and still keep a nice bend to the elbow and a supple connection. Those with the shorter upper arm bone will need to ride with their hands a tad higher. If they stuff their hands down, it locks the elbow, and creates an unforgiving connection.

So, the other adult (she shall remain nameless unless she chooses to speak up) collapses her torso, shoves her chin out and says, "See, I can ride with my elbows at my hips problem." Cracked me up, cracked the girls was hilarious. But it truly showed the difference body types make, and how you have to adjust to make things work right.

blueheron said...

Oh, that was so funny. Not quite sure why I had to push out my chin, too. Just seemed like a good idea. lol. I wish I had a picture, because I couldn't see it. But it sure felt funny.

Glad you're on the mend! Flu is not fun. Hmm, I can see someone marketing this new weight-loss solution. "Lose 10 pounds this weekend!" ugh, I'd rather start walking regularly. lol.

horspoor said...

Yeah, not a diet I would recommend to anyone. My abs, and lower back are sore. UGH, I was sick.

Jen Marie said...

Children are completely fearless! I have taught Hunter/Jumpers for a little while now (recently took a break for school) and i had a whole mix from beginner walk trotters to advanced jumpers and the adults always gave me the most challenge. My best way to teach them was always to show them, whether that meant hopping up onto there horse and showing them that yes it can be done or this is how you can get him to do it, to pulling out one of the old faithful horses who would teach them how to do it or that it really wasn't all that scary.