So, yesterday, we're smack in the middle of class, with JJ instructing (which is a completely different experience than Marlyn) working on counter-bends.
I'll step back a bit and explain. A counter bend is when you turn your horse in one direction with his head turned in the opposite direction. This may sound weird but when you're training for spins, or pivots, you want your horse to step across himself in the front. By turning his head to the outside of a turn you lift up the outside shoulder and he starts to step across a little naturally. This just shows him how you want his body to move.
The beginning of training for a counter bend is being able to turn your horse's head to the side while walking in a straight line. That's what we were working on. Monkey wasn't quite getting it, being on the fence and having me ask him to turn his head toward the fence (to keep him from turning and reinforce the idea of "keep walking forward") made him think I wanted a roll back for a while. I was keeping a strangle hold on my patience and just concentrating on keeping asking him, and praising him when he did the right thing.
All of a sudden, as I'm leaning forward to praise him (which, at the beginning of training for any new concept is not a simple stroke and pat, but one hand on either side of his neck and a vigorous rub, a "good boy, that's it!" and a double pat. This strategy leaves no doubt for him as to whether he's done the right thing. Maybe some people can get by with just releasing pressure, Monkey needs something a little more demonstrative.) Anyway, all of a sudden he jerks into a trot.
I look back, and there's a girl at the position which, previous to Monkey's sudden speed increase, would have been right behind me. Now, Monkey was walking slower than usual, because he was thinking, and because he needed to coordinate with the new idea. No big deal. Except that the horse behind us was a faster walker than Monkey at that point, and his rider, instead of stepping off the rail and going around, had allowed him to push right up on Monkey's butt. Thus, when she released his head, his nose was basically checking Monkey's prostate. Which Monkey might have taken exception to, but he didn't have time, because that horse just went right ahead and nipped Monkey to get him to move.
It worked, and if Monkey hadn't been feeling fairly level-headed at that point, I might have gotten flying lessons. I gotta say if someone bit me on the ass with no warning in a public place, I might do something a little more extreme than just jogging away.
Why is it, I wonder, that people can't seem to understand simple concepts like this? It's easy, folks. If your horse is faster than the horse ahead of you, go to the inside, go around, and then go back to the rail. Even break into a higher gait if the gait is not the major concern for the exercise. Yes, we were in the indoor which crams a lot of us into frankly too little space (come on, remodel! More on that in another post) but still, you can make it work. Don't let stupidity get other people hurt.
Don't get me wrong folks I'm not the only person that these things happen to, but when they happen to other people, I'm generally not looking in the right direction to catch the whole thing, to tell which person is really at fault and what all happened, so I try to keep an open mind.
Working with JJ is always a switch, when he wants to teach us something he uses one of his horses, and demonstrates. He also demonstrates what we look like when we do something wrong, hand positions, seat positions, and all. Which can get pretty entertaining.
I love Marilyn to death, but she doesn't ride with us while she's teaching unless she's got a horse to work with for a client, and sometimes not even then. Last semester she had a horse she rode a few times, called Jabar because he was freaking huge. The problem Marilyn sees is that she has problems keeping track of everyone enough without adding her own horse to the mix, so she has a sophomore work study student to demonstrate for her. Which doesn't always work out the way she'd like, because that student's horse is usually just as green as any of ours.
It's a switch to work with JJ, and I enjoy it just as much as working with Marilyn, but not everyone does. JJ has more experience with the class situation, and keeps an eye on everyone, and isn't shy about letting people know when they're doing something wrong. Marilyn doesn't always catch things that JJ does. Which makes the students that don't get corrected as much with Marilyn kind of cranky. Monkey and I rarely get corrected with Marilyn anymore, but JJ corrected us a few times, which I actually appreciated. It will make us even better.