Knowledge is a school thing: it is life made abstract; it’s experiences made theoretical; and it’s teachers being the knowing ones and students the note-taking ones.
Knowledge gained over time, in work, in life situations, in families or elsewhere, is hardly even categorized as knowledge academically. Knowledge accepted by academics is mostly learning formal concepts. Non-formal training simply does not count.
Now what does this have to do with horse training or being an equestrian teacher?
I have had many equestrian teachers and I have noticed that the teachers I have learned the most from carefully observe what is happening in the moment and have the flexibility to change their program when it does not work. My best teachers are also good at looking at each horse, each situation and each student, and then coming up with suitable lessons so that both horse and student move forward and are successful.
My best horse teachers did not have a formal equestrian education. They had a vast number of experiences in their lives and with many different horses and students. From this I learnt that a formal education is not always necessary. My favourite teachers also had another key quality – passion. My best teachers are filled with passion, for horses and for their students.
The traditional riding schools I went to had teachers of a technical kind, where lots of control, rather than communication, was used to train both horses and students. I think a more progressive education is needed in both normal schools and riding schools, for example where teachers are facilitators, guides who foster thinking, instead of sources of information and authority, and where decision making is shared by all constituent groups, instead of centrally based and administratively delivered.
Knowledge is constructed through play, direct experience, and social interaction instead of solely absorbed through lectures, worksheets, and texts.
Here you can read more about the difference between Traditional and Progressive Education: http://www.wingraschool.org/who/progressive.htm
Over the past five years I have studied personally with three teachers: Carolyn Resnick, Samantha Harvey and Gabriel Toth. Each of these teachers has a different style and way to get their message across.
Samantha Harvey recently stayed with me for six weeks and helped me with lessons in ground training the horses for riding. I got some good tools for how to work with my horses using tack.
Images from lessons with Samantha Harvey:
Gabriel Toth has trained several show jumpers up to medal level and he stayed at our center for 4 months a couple of years back. Gabriel was a master in teaching the rider – from him I learned many lessons about what it takes to be a good rider for your horse. I also understood how difficult it is for a green rider to teach a green horse.
Images from lessons with Gabriel:
Carolyn Resnick was my teacher in Liberty Training and I learned the language of horses through the Waterhole Rituals. I also learned a lot about body language communication, the pause, and how to have a flexible approach in how to teach each individual horse.
Images and a blog from Lessons with Carolyn
Here is a blog lesson from Carolyn reminding us to build the foundation slow;
May 14th, 2009 by Carolyn Resnick Method
Picking up on our conversation from Tuesday…
My advice is once you have built your foundation when you work your horse at liberty to think of working with slow and fast tempos as a way to create the connection and partnership you are want to advance to.
Stina’s and Alessandra’s work with their horses on their YouTube videos show them working slow and easy and this is the way everyone needs to start out. Be very careful on this point. Don’t jump the gun. Alessandra knows now how to work her horse at all levels of energy and Stina is now beginning to work with her horses with a little more animation too. Readers might like to take a look at her work on YouTube and watch her development.
As you start to do this, remember to vary your programs of tempo to keep the horses happy connected and enthusiastic. If you have a low energy horse, start out with asking for more speed. This will cause him to wake up and be more interested in following your lead. In the wild, when the lead horse wants to get his band to run with him, he will agitate the herd by snorting and prancing around. This stirs the horses up, builds their energy to pay attention and then they will follow him when he gives them a direction he wants them to go.
Stina has been doing so well with my program that she is now offering clinics on my Method in St. Vincent. Her programs look like the very best way to develop connection with horses because of the natural conditions her horses live in and that her program is about a spiritual connection in freedom with horses. Stina lives in one of the most beautiful spots in the world to vacation. Check out her YouTube videos and get prepared to see God’s natural paradise.
I hope these lessons have been of some help. Remember to build your foundation slow as you go and then speed up when you need it. I want to warn people not to parrot my work; it will get you into trouble. Wait till you can clearly understand how to get what you want through balancing slow, medium and fast interactions to build the magnetic connection that you are looking for. If you lose the connection when working fast, wait till the horse slows down to a lower energy, looking to reconnect, and work on what you know would keep the connection.
Remember that to have a good work relationship with your horse you need to sit with him as much as you interact with him in performance. A perfect performance under saddle can be gained through the time you spend with your horse in appreciation of one another’s companionship. Take the time it takes in companionship from the ground and you will achieve a better ride under saddle.
Have a lovely weekend!
So, if I may advise you, find yourself a variety of teachers and always stay a student.
Happy Weekend everyone.
Ps..I have a working student placement form 15th of May, let me know if you are interested.