Yes, there are things our Riding Instructors Wish We Knew. But there are a few things it would be helpful to tell them, as well.
At the start of each lesson or clinic some things about me and my horse are obvious. For example, I am a stubby-legged rider on a gelding who looks like he’s pregnant–with twins. Other things are not so easy to pick up on. Here are a few things I might let them know:
1. My memory wasn’t always this pitiful.
“The barrels, to the coop to the in-an-out, rollback to the skinny, red vertical, brick wall, yellow-stripes, gate, blue rails. Go!” Right. For many of us riders beyond twenty-something, instantly remembering a course or a dressage test can be as challenging as fitting into the jeans we wore in college. But we weren’t always this way! Dear instructor, please note that at one point I could ramble off scores of Grateful Dead set lists, most of Baskin Robbins’ 31 flavors, dozens of exits on the Jersey Turnpike and, I knew where my keys were at all times.
2. My ibuprofen intake.
While your instructor may be on an appropriate dose after riding eight horses a day, we students too may be in pain. Being trapped in a cubicle eight hours a day keeps a legion of chiropractors in business and sells millions of milligrams of painkillers. We ache too. And sometimes, due to difficulties outlined in #1, we forget to take our Motrin 20 minutes prior to our lesson so we will be able to enjoy it fully during instruction.
3. I do not suck at everything.
Sometimes, like after after working for 30 minutes on straightness still approaching a jump with a route resembling one a beer pong champion would take stumbling to the bathroom; or executing a downward transition in dressage that would have someone suggest I put on my cross-country vest, I’d love to remind my poor trainer that I don’t actually suck at everything. I do have a sassy sense of style, wits that got me through the Ivy League, and dogs love me.
4. Just because you’re yelling, doesn’t mean I can hear you.
It gets windy here in the Rockies. And what with my huffing and puffing (and my less-than-svelte steed’s huffing and puffing and the fact that his pounding hooves can sound like an elephant stampede) I can’t always hear what you’re saying. Yeah, I see your lips flapping down there at the other end of the arena, but if the wind kicks in, you’re on mute.
5. I am not a masochist, honest. Whips and spurs stay at the barn.
Though one of my favorite things on the planet–truly–is to be screamed at in either a German or Australian accent by one of my trainers (German for dressage, Aussie for airs above the ground) while in the saddle, I can’t afford regular lessons. So when I do have them, even as I fail to execute a single thing my poor trainer is telling me to do in an increasingly apoplectic manner, I am often riding around with a goofy grin on my face. This does not mean I enjoy masochistic activities out of the saddle. Nor does it mean I have a seat reserved on the short bus. Though if I did, come to think of it, I’d never have to remember where I put those keys.
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