Blog .:. April 2007 4 Entries

Secret Instructor School

24 April 2007 Comments

I swear instructors go to some sort of secret school where they take courses like Psych!-ology 101: How to Keep Your Students Guessing. (Or look at it the other way: it’s Instructor-ology 101: Things Students Should Not Say To Their Instructors)

Student: Can we jump today?

Instructor: We were going to, but not anymore!

* * *

Instructor: Suzie, post without stirrups.

Annie: Ha ha! Suzie has to post without stirrups!

Instructor: Annie, two point without stirrups.

* * *

Suzie: I’d really like to ride Zippy today.

Instructor: That’s a shame, because you’re riding Molasses instead.

* * *

Student: I’m dying! I’m exhausted! I have no more leg left!

Instructor: Just one more time around. You can do it.

[Five times later]

Student: I’m dying!

Instructor: Hold it together for two more minutes.

* * *

Instructor: I promise we will not be doing X today.

[Twenty minutes later]

Instructor: Ok, now try X.

* * *

Instructor: We are doing to do [fun, rewarding lesson] today.

Students: Yay!

Instructor: ... After we ride without stirrups for twenty minutes.

* * *

Student: What are we doing today?

Instructor: [evil grin] Just wait! It’s going to be fun!

Tagged: Horses, Riding - Lessons

Hampster Brains

20 April 2007 Comments

We are watching a hamster for my brother, who is watching it for his girl friend. Who has moved, so I’m a little unsure why he says he is “watching” it when it appears that he is, you know, stuck with it. Indefinitely.

The hamster has a ball you can put her in, and she rolls around on the floor. It’s, oh, I don’t know—the size of a nerf ball.

The cats are fascinated. They keep following it, but it’s too big to grab. And every once in a while the hamster turns around and runs at them, but she’s a hamster, so she’s not so bright. She keeps running. Right into them. And bounces off them like they were a chair or other piece of furniture. Except, unlike furniture, they jump backwards.

I’m not entirely certain this is a nice thing to do to the hamster, mostly because she seems to have concluded that if the cats jump away, so will the couch. She keeps hitting the couch and pausing, like she can’t figure out why it’s still there.

On the other hand, she’s a hamster. She probably doesn’t think very much at all. But then, neither do the cats. They’ll get on very well, I bet.

Tagged: Cats

The Chaos Unveiled

11 April 2007 Comments

Not that my life is ever calm, but the last few weeks have been more chaotic than normal.

It all works out like this: I worked a temporary-that-could-be-permanent job for the last two weeks. It was supposed to be permanent, but the day after I signed the paperwork my dream job called. Seriously. 

I’ve never been in a position of giving two weeks’  notice the day I start my training, but fortunately the manager was very understanding about it. Two weeks gave her enough time to get one receptionist back from vacation and to hire another. Meanwhile, she knew I would learn quickly and could help out her over-worked staff, so she didn’t immediately kick me out of the door.

I’m not happy about the situation, but I do feel I was at least helpful for them for the last two weeks. I know the manager would have preferred NOT getting me trained and then having to train someone new, but I have agreed to stay on and work Saturdays with them (their most difficult staffing position) until the new receptionist is trained and ready to take that on. I like the company and the people I was working with, so I’m trying to help out as best I can and not leave them hanging.

Still: dream job. Really. It combines my English degree with all my self-taught computer knowledge, with lots of room to advance and learn new positions, some of which I never knew existed but now that I do, would love to have. I’m thrilled. I’m beyond thrilled.

I also have to move to a new apartment by June 1, and I like apartment hunting. Is that weird? Moving will be a pain, but I don’t actually have much furniture—most of it is my house mates’. So it won’t be too bad. And that’s garage sale season, so I can pick some cheap stuff up for my own place. I swear my life is raining flower petals or something. Is this a dream sequence?

(The rest of the world: you are happy about garage sale furniture?! Me: erm… it’s the chance to own furniture that doesn’t come out of a cardboard box and is cheaper than the brand new stuff, so, yes, yes I am.)

The big question, of course, is what this means for buying a horse. The answer is I don’t know yet. I need a few months to get moved, get settled in, get used to the new job, and figure out what my budget is like. I think I know the answer to this, but I want to make sure I can budget the way I think I can before I say for sure. So we’ll see. The good news is that after months of letting the buy-a-horse dream slip to the bottom of my priorities, it’s back in serious consideration.

You see why I’m so happy!? I’m going to wake up soon. I know it.


Five Things I’ve Learned

6 April 2007 Comments

  1. Sometimes, in lessons, I begrudged the fact that Super Saint and I would jump a line two or three times and be done, while the other girls would continue jumping and working. At the time, I thought I was being “punished” (in some non-logical way) for buying an older horse. Later, I realized my trainer was keeping my inexperience from punishing Super Saint by drilling and drilling over exercises he could do with his eyes closed. And by preventing us from over-working in any individual lesson, she helped me keep Super Saint going strong for years—in the long run, I learned more from him than I would have if we had drilled every exercise to perfection.
  2. I sometimes envied the girls on their green bean horses, because they seemed to have it all—they were riding, they were training, they had years and years and years to go with their horse. Much later, I heard a rider lament that she wished, just once, she could ride a made horse into the ring—and I realized that for all I envied my barn mates’ young, strong, go-go-go horses, there were probably times they envied the experience Super Saint brought to our relationship. And just like I didn’t necessarily realize the tradeoffs they made, they probably didn’t realize the tradeoffs I was making. I started to appreciate the greenies and school masters for what they were—instead of agonizing over what they weren’t.
  3. Less is more. When we first learn a movement, we might exaggerate the aids in order to make it very, very clear what they are. The movements might be awkward, and I know my body certainly wasn’t always convinced it could move in the way I was being told to move it. But as my understanding of different movements improve, I realize how much easier they are when I don’t exaggerate the aids. As I learn to ask questions of the horse more subtly, he responds with more nuance. We talk, instead of shouting.
  4. I don’t have to be doing X by Y date. I don’t need my lessons to end on a big bang—it’s enough that they end with a feeling that this is how it could be, because next lesson, we will work more on how to get it to that “could be” point. And even when we aren’t working on something “new,” to have old concepts gel in new ways is itself an accomplishment.
  5. I am responsible for my own knowledge and progress. Even the best trainer can only do so much to teach a student—if I do not find a way to make sure I truly understand the concepts we’re going over in lessons, at some point it’s all going to fall apart. I can bring the lesson back to this blog to work out what I think I’ve understood, so later I can check/refine/correct my understanding, or I can mumble in the car like a mad woman while I sort out everything that was said and done, but somehow I have to process the lesson and find a way to make all my trainer’s suggestions and corrections mine. I can do mental homework between lessons, so our lesson time can be spent more on putting together the physical aspects of the movements. Ultimately, I learn faster and better than when I show up, ride, and forget about it for the next seven days.

Tagged: Horses

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