As I predicted, third session flew by. I had different classes again this session: I taught four classes per day (all “English” riding – one beginner, two intermediate, one advanced), but only had one rider who I’d worked with previously. This was a little disappointing, as several of my students from the previous session stayed, but they rode in different classes. I had another student go up one class – which definitely wasn’t disappointing, and seeing the grin on her face when she came back from her first trail was easily one of the highlights of the session – but as a result of only retaining one student, I wasn’t able to fulfil my ambition of helping my other students progress further.
That said, I worked with some brilliant riders during this session. Two girls in particular – who are cousins, but rode during different periods of the day – have been taught to ride in a way which I really like: they ride very quietly but confidently, not fussing too much with their horses and getting the job done. They did a joint private lesson on visiting weekend and their parents were involved, supportive and happy with what they’d achieved.
This session was challenging as the weather was incredibly hot for the first two weeks, as well as humid. There were several days where we had to cut back on the workload of the horses, so allowing the campers a chance to progress and stay engaged was tricky, but we managed it.
I also implemented a well-used riding instructor trick with my beginners: riding without reins in order to improve balance. My colleagues and I led the horses at a trot whilst the kids posted with their arms out or their hands on their heads. A few were nervous, but when the first camper tried it and felt like they were flying, the others soon wanted a go and it quickly became the most popular part of the lessons. When we demonstrated the exercise in the end of session show, there were gasps of delight from the audience, and the campers left the arena grinning.
The lack of year-round schooling that the horses receive is frustrating – even by riding school standards, they are all very stiff and unbalanced, so it’s disappointing that this writes off a lot of more advanced flatwork exercises (even leg yield, shoulders in and turn on the forehand are pretty much off the agenda). At the time of writing I don’t know what my schedule is for the final session, so I’m trying to prepare for all eventualities and am wracking my brains for exercises which are more interesting than serpentines.
It’s hard to make a judgement based on working at one establishment, so I’m still uncertain as to where I’d like to work next. All I hope for at the moment is that it’s somewhere I’ll continue to learn, be successful and push myself.