This morning I volunteered at the Warm Beach Christian Camp horsemanship program. The camp is precisely a 10-minute drive from my house and I've known about it for years because a friend has volunteered there long ago and more recently.
Two weekends ago the Certified Horsemanship Region 1 conference was held there and I got to know more details about the program. Plus my friend who volunteers there was one of the riding instructors during the conference and she encouraged me to volunteer.
I volunteered for the morning lesson session. Lessons are in 10-week sessions and are held Thursday, Friday, and several on Saturday. There were 4 young ladies in this morning's session. I helped catch horses in the field, watched over the girls as they groomed (where's the pride in having a clean horse?!) and saddled. The girls are beginner level and safety is a huge priority for this camp so they're really only allowed to groom the middle part of the horse, paying close attention to where the saddle pad and girth go. No rubs or pinches for these tolerant horses! The horsemanship director, Lisa, brushes faces, does the grooming check, tack check then lines everyone out.
I've ridden most of my life in different disciplines but have never thought about how to break down what 30 years of riding experience means to a beginner. Some things you just know, but how to describe it? We set out trot poles and the girls were asked to say which gaits were appropriate for those poles and why. And why are they supposed to post or be in two-point over the poles? They were asked to describe gaits in terms of their own hands and feet; they turned it into a little dance, which I hope to practice. They were asked what the 4 natural aids were (legs, seat, hands, and voice).
The horses were a bit fresh even though those of us who participated in the CHA conference a couple weeks ago tuned them up a bit in our own lessons but it's been cold and a couple weeks. The girls got to spend a little time going over poles but mostly they were instructed to keep their eyes up, shoulders back, heels underneath their hips, stay straight. I worked with Bella, one of the girls a bit, as her horse was getting fast and frisky.
It's a challenge for me to turn experience and instinct into instruction but I like the girls and Lisa and hope to keep practicing instruction.