Second time around

I’m surprised by my timetable for our second session of camp. As with the first, I’m only teaching two riding classes per day – what they are is less of a surprise, but I’ll come to that later. Half of my day is still devoted to horsemanship, plus one hour each day of barn work. The biggest surprise for me is the continuation of my horsemanship programme: the second session sees a huge increase in the number of campers, meaning my department is even busier and, usually, all hands are on deck for teaching riding lessons and supervising horse care sessions. But for some reason, it’s fitting in still.

What’s even better is that I’ve picked up a number of new students. My student from first session is here throughout second session too, so she’s continuing to work with the horse she chose at the beginning of camp. My first horsemanship class of the day contains four campers, and my final class is another lucky private lesson, so I’m working with six campers in total. It’s a lot, managing the different campers, plus the horses they work with and trying to keep it interesting but achievable. There will be far less time to work on my own horses, but hopefully the campers will enjoy the sessions and perhaps continue with this approach.

The riding classes I teach are both English-style – I’m relieved to escape Western again, but it probably means at least one class is inevitable next session! This time though, I have one intermediate class and one advanced class. It’s the first time in six sessions and counting that I’ve not had a beginner class. It’s nice to have a break!

I’ve taught both of the advanced kids before, and one of them is also a horsemanship student. I also taught one of the intermediates last summer. The first day of lessons has already involved pestering from the intermediates – many of whom ride year-round at home – about jumping. It’s nice that they’re excited, but does give the impression that they’re not accustomed to hearing the word “no” – they need to be reminded that they’re not the instructor, and nor are they the person who makes the rules.

The other staff seem to have realised how much harder it is now that camp is full and we’re incredibly busy: it’s the kind of information which isn’t fully understood when delivered verbally, more of the kind of situation which must be learned via experience. I was in their position last year, spending the first session being told “it gets harder, I’m trying to prepare you” and failing to grasp the sentiment, before finding out what was meant through the shock of experience. It’s hard to empathise, though, because if there had been a way of making people understand sooner, they wouldn’t be suffering from such a shock now, and there would be more pulling together and less of a headless chicken situation.

Our boss reminded us at the end of day one that we’ve been through this before: that the staff felt like they’d never cope at the beginning of the first session, but they did. We have to believe that it will happen again, so that we can plough on and make it so. There’s just a tough week ahead first.

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