8 Instructors You May or May Not Have Met

Photo courtesy of Laura Harris.

Any of these sound familiar?

The Screamer

The screamer is a very exuberant teacher who tends to only see your riding in extremes. You can hear her from across the venue, and you never wonder where you stand with her. She lets you know. A lesson may sounds something like this:

Trainer: OKAY! Time to go to work, no time for nonsense! Trot Rising!
Student: [starts trotting]
Trainer: WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT? MOVE FORWARD!
T: I DIDN’T SAY RUN FORWARD, GET POKEY OFF THE FOREHAND!
T: STOP PULLING ON HIS FACE!
T: SIT UP! STOP LEANING!
T: WHAT ARE YOU DOING? SHOULDERS DOWN AND BACK, CHIN UP!
T: TURN LEFT! NO YOUR OTHER LEFT!
T: PET HIM, HE SAVED YOUR REAR!
T: SOFTEN DON’T DROP HIM!
T: YES! JUST LIKE THAT!! WAS THAT SO HARD?
T: AGAIN!! BUT BETTER!
S: <rides butt off>
T: GOOD!! But relax, why are you so tense?

The Saint

The Saint is often the instructor who is teaching the bump lessons, the up-downs. She loves children, she loves horses, and she is worth her weight in gold. She and the most reliable lesson horse communicate telepathically to take care of yet challenge the kids. She may also just be the one who you’ve never seen mad and never seen her less than perfect.

Trainer: up, down, up, down, up, down.
Student: Wait was I on up or down? [looks down]
Trainer: Do you feel a difference in your diagonals?
Student: No.
<Trainer explains again>
S: Oh! Ok! I remember.
T: Great, let’s see you go out there and win the Trot Grand Prix!
S: <walks off> updownupdown
T: You’re not posting. Up, down, up, down.
S: Sorry! I get bouncing and forget.
T: Eddie is steady, focus on what you’re doing. Like a metronome, 1, 2, 1, 2.
S: Right.
T: Up, down, up, down, up, down……

The Therapist

Being a horse trainer is like being a psychiatrist but without the pay and you always write the same Rx ride minimum 1x a day as needed for pain. The obvious comparison comes in that horses make for great therapy, but the real truth comes in the questions.  You’re in trouble when the instructor starts answering her own questions. Questions are like that of lawyers and pop quizzes. Your trainer knows the answer before asked, and the question is likely a trap. Be very careful how you jump into the trap.

Trainer: You went off course.
Student: I forgot.
Trainer: Why? How? Did you not look at it?
Student: No! I mean yes! I did review it.
T: <stony punishing silence>
S: Well, I got nervous. And then we chipped. Then I was like, whoah, and he was like, no, and then we were like, woe.
T: Why did that chip happen?
S: He got fast. Then he got slow … And then a wild jump appeared out of nowhere!
T: Why did he get fast?
S: [guiltily]  Pullingonhisface.
T: What?
S: I was pulling on his face.
T: Too much?
S: Hand.
T: Not enough?
S: Leg.
T: Because leg is?
S: Life … But I got the lead change!
T: What did you do to get it?
S: Eh …
T: Were you balanced or was it a swap?
T: Yeah. You swapped. The hippo ballerina in the next pasture was more balanced.

The Silent Monk

Questions may help provoke thought and insight, but silence is deadly weapon. The Monk uses it as such. Do not try to best her at her own game.

S: Oo, I’m not sure I’m ready for that.
T: ok, why not?
S: It looks scary.
T: So, how do you ride brave?
S: Sit up, look up, leg. No fetal position.
T: See? You got this.
S: That angle though, we’re just going to blow past the turn, then get in there all odd-like [mimics disco
octopus in the saddle]
T: So don’t blow past the turn.
S: We always miss it.
T: So don’t.
S: He blows out his right shoulder though.
T: <Profound silence>
S: <tries significant silence>
T: <eyebrows raise>
S: <sheepish shrug>
T: <doubles down on the mare glare and settles in>
S: and the answer is not to yank my left hand but to use my right leg.
T: <still waiting>
S: Right-o! Off we go….

The MacGyver

The MacGyver is the fixer-of-everything, can fashion a pair of reins out of a hoof pick and a polo. Or bailing twine — she is the master of twine and has not found something it can’t fix.

Student: Sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find my boots so had to dig my half chaps out of my trunk, which was buried in my garage.
Trainer: You can use polos to help protect your legs too.
S: Oh, that would have been much easier. Next time.
S: Also, I broke my spur straps. I couldn’t find my other pair.
T: I’ll hold him, go get my bailing twine.
***
T: This will do for now. Where is your whip?
S: I left it at the show, Mary is picking it up for me tomorrow.
T: Carry this. <Picks up perfect whip shaped slim stick from the ground>
S: <Laughs> OK. <Trots off>
S: <Bouncy Trot stops awkwardly>
S: <Trots back>
T:  What now?
S:  My sports bra gave out.
T:  Get the duct tape and zip ties.

The Gadgeteer

While The Macgyver may need to come up with solutions on the fly, The Gadgeteer already has an App for that. Or some fancy doo-hickey. She likes the leading edge of science, or any leading edge.

Student: Ugh! I can’t get Prince Fluffernutter on the bit.
Trainer: Hmm … what bit are you using?
S: Just a plain loose ring snaffle.
T: It may be time to get his teeth done. But then again, let’s try the Pelham for just a bit of leverage.
S: I don’t think he likes the bit, he keeps going above it.
T: Let’s try the neck stretcher, get him to stretch out some.
T: He’s stretching but is really wobbly and crooked. He goes straighter and more balanced with the draw reins.
T: Tomorrow, we’ll lunge him in the rig and he can do some hills on the horse gym. But make sure that
you get that new bit we talked about and the exercise bands.
S: OK great! Remember to email me his equisense stats. Chiro and acupuncture appointments next week! Still trying to get ahold of color therapist.

The Professor

The Professor likes to talk, or maybe she’s just so full of information she can’t stop talking. Either way, be prepared to listen and “OK” in the right places.

Trainer: Do you remember what we worked last week?
Student: I think so. I practiced half-halts all weekend.
T: OK, great, but make sure not to drill it. That can sour them on it just as easily.
S:I don’t think I did. I got what I was looking for, rewarded, and moved on.
T: Great! Half halts are important because they balance your horse. <Launches into lecture on how half
halts won the Civil War>
S: uh-huh

The Diagnostician

There is a logical reason why what you want to happen isn’t happening, and The Doctor is in. You may not like the diagnoses, but she’s usually spot on.

Student: He’s ignoring my leg.
Trainer: Let’s see. Go trot.
S: He kicked out!!
T: His back hurts. That saddle is not helping you out, it puts you in the wrong position, and it is too small for both of you. See, it is tight here, short here, and rubbed off the hair here.
S: My last trainer said it fit. And to use this pad to help.
T: Have you felt him use his back since you’ve been using this saddle? Does it feel comfortable, does he feel like he comfortable?
S: Well … No …
T: You need something that fits him and fits you. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a brand new custom saddle, bridle, and boots. But we can find you something that is a better fit so you both can do your jobs.
S: That would be nice.
T: We know my saddle works, we will use that temporarily.

Have any other “types” to add?

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