Sometimes volunteering can feel like just another obligation but I realized yesterday as I went help out with the Warm Beach Christian Camp 9:45 horsemanship lesson that it's actually free fun. It doesn't cost anything to volunteer and so many other activities in my life do cost money. And it is fun, even traipsing through the muck to collect the horses for the morning lesson. I'm sure the horses are as done with the rain as I am. They get to go to pasture after it dries out.
The students groom the horses but an adult needs to do the groom check to make sure the saddle and girth areas are free from mud that might cause painful rubs. And the girls aren't as fastidious about good grooming yet. They really want to know what they can get away with. However, I found that one girl came clean when she put the saddle pad on upside down then realized that the saddle straps may rub. I didn't notice when I did the tack check because not all pads have straps and I didn't expect a test. Which means I've forgotten what it's like to test adults as a young teen.
I'm learning something new every time I help out, including how far to set apart trot poles using my own feet as measuring tools. When I ride, trot poles and jumps are set up for me but I like learning how to do that. I'm also being reminded of the importance of being straight and how far ahead you have to plan to be straight.
Even though I've ridden for many years and have trained in hunter jumpers, I still struggle with keeping my shoulders up and following the horse's mouth with my hands. My tendencies are to either throw the reins away because I don't want to bump the horse's mouth or I plant my hands. Sometimes throwing the reins away causes the horse to trip on the landing because the contact s/he had before the jump is suddenly gone. Planting the hands gives the horse nowhere to go but up or back. I think I need a jump strap again so I have a visual to aim for. I wish more trainers used them but maybe it's too insulting for the average client. I'm not insulted by having to go back to the basics when I've forgotten something or maybe never had it in the first place. If I need to be on a lunge line because I need to work on balance without worrying about direction and control or it's been a long long time since I've ridden without stirrups that's totally fine with me. I want to do it right and safely. My ego can just go take a rest.