I worked Thurs, Fri, all day Saturday then filled in for another shift yesterday (Monday) and now I have two days off so I'm having a little trouble getting out of my pj's and off the couch. I was actually pretty nervous about the shift I was filling in for yesterday because I had three group classes and I'm really only confident about teaching private lessons and only have one group class per week which is only four students. So, two back to back group classes, each one with six kids I didn't know at all sounded really overwhelming. Well, the first class only had five kids I didn't know because my daughter is in that class. And I actually knew a couple of the kids from when they came to camp over the summer.
As it is it turned out fine and I think I did a lot better than I thought. The aunt of one of the tweens who volunteers came and volunteered to help with chores and classes too and for the first class one of the other instructors came and helped so it was much less overwhelming. The second class was older girls and another staff member was available to assist because she was done with watering/feeding chores so that went better than planned to. The first two classes I didn't feel like I was very effective - I never do with large groups because it's just not what I'm used to. It is very different than one-on-one and the other instructors who do teach the groups do it all the time so they've learned how to be effective whereas I just feel very out-of-place and disoriented because it's so wildly different than what I'm used to.
My last class was a lot of fun because it was only three adults who were all very self-sufficient and honestly I didn't feel like I was really any better of a rider than a couple of them. So I did what I do with my kids but amped it up to a little more complicated concepts - I taught what Trainer K and Beth Glosten have been teaching me. I even told them that, I said that everything I was telling them was literally being parroted by me from them because I don't feel like I can take credit. I feel like I'm literally telling my students word-for-word what Trainer K and Beth tell me. Regardless, they said they got something out of it so yay Beth and Trainer K! The director of the school had made some suggestions too but we didn't get to that because first we had to work on relaxation and balance, the former of which is hard to get adults to embarace when they're riding. It's a lot easier to get a 9 year old to relax on a horse than an adult. Myself included!
One of the students from that class is switching over to private lessons with me next session because we're getting rid of the 7pm lessons now that winter is coming (thank God - it was so cold by the time the sun went down!). She made a joke, "A few more sessions with her (me) and I'm going to be sleeping on my horse!"
At the end of class the staff member who was riding the director's Mustang, Kiddo asked me if I would ride him for a few minutes because she's only seen kids ride him and she'd like to see an adult with a little more experience ride him. After a few minutes of debate with myself (the director has implied I can ride any of the horses who are big enough for me - obviously not the ponies - and had already briefed me on what you need to ride her horse - but I still worry about riding other people's horses without their permission right there and then). Anyway, we decided it was probably ok, and the other two students were more than happy to ride an extra few minutes.
Kiddo was a wild mustang when he was young and after being gentled went straight to the director and her horse trainer. But I've never used him in a lesson, never handled or even really met him, so when his rider handed him to me, he looked at her with a lot of fear like, "Where are you going? Who is this lady?" And when I put the reins over his head he backed up a little and his eyes looked really terrified so I told them to just give me five minutes with him so we could get to know each other before I rode him. I asked him to walk with and he refused to move. The staff member tried to jump in and make him walk with me, but I asked her to let us work it out together - it's part of getting to know each other.
So, basically we just stood next to each for five minutes and got used to each other's energy. I scratched his withers and just stood there and eventually he started to lick and chew (a sign of relaxed submission) and tried to bonk me in the stomach with his nose (a sign of playing) and sure enough, when I asked him to walk on he happily followed me all around the arena like we were best buds. After that riding him was great. He prefers little to no rein contact and just riding with your leg and seat. And although I was able to do that just fine, when we'd change gaits like go from walk to trot I would unconsciously pick up rein contact and a minute later remember "Oh that's right! No contact for him!" and let it go - but amazingly he didn't react at all to that, I'm not sure he really noticed and if he did he didn't care. Once again, another horse I've ridden there who is so incredibly sweet and willing and just all around a good heart.