Sunday, April 27, 2014

One of those afternoons

We're having one of those Sunday afternoons at our house where everything is oddly peaceful.  The dogs are sprawled on the floor sleeping, one cat is buried in couch cushions sleeping and the other is under our bed sleeping and my daughter and husband are both reading.  Nobody is very motivated to clean up the clutter that is our kitchen island counter or coffee table or wash the dishes.

My week off from work has disappeared and it's back to the grindstone tomorrow.  Even not working it seemed like I was awfully busy.  For one thing I started Geir in the serious work-out mode.  Not just getting ridden lightly two or three times a week, but actually working out.  Now if I could just get motivated to do that myself.  He's been getting worked on the lunge line with a loose side rein to help him bend, and ridden with more trotting and a more active walk (not his half-asleep shuffle he enjoys) and every couple days he gets chased around for some cantering and yahooing.  He's still - as Trainer KL described it - trying to figure out where his feet go in the canter so he's not balanced or strong enough to be working under saddle with it yet, but he's building his strength, balance and endurance by doing it on his own during free lunging.  He's taking to it like a sport.

Speaking of him being the super-Fjord, I was working him in the outdoor arena this morning and it was incredibly windy and he seemed pretty oblivious to it.  His other Fjord friend, DJ, and his owner were also working in the outdoor arena and we decided to take them out on the trail around the neighboring farm to stretch their legs and relax after their hard work.  I figured since it was so windy we'd go try and if he seemed really angstful or anxious we could just turn around and come back or I could just get off and walk him back in the worst case scenario (which is hard to imagine with him). 

As it was both the boys were totally relaxed about it.  They looked around a little like when bicycles would whiz by on the neighboring Sammamish Slew trail, or when the plastic on the greenhouse walls would rattle and blow or the plastic they laid over the crops would undulate like black waves in the wind, but they didn't seem concerned.  Geir was extremely concerned about the puddles and even though DJ plodded through them with no problem right in front of us, Geir would bend his body in all sorts of contortions to not step in them, no matter how much I used my body and reins to try and keep him straight.  If we'd had a lot of room in front of us I think he may have gone through them if he could trot at full speed but then we would've run right into DJ's butt.  And since DJ is quite a bit younger, bigger and stronger I didn't want to see what that would look like.  But despite being seventeen and a little fat, Geir is still a Fjord and my leg aids were no match for his complete unwillingness to step in a puddle.  Finally after about thirty or so puddles I got him to walk through one and he got lots of pets and snuggles and praise.  But the next two he avoided like they were portals to Hell.

At one point he tenses up his body like he wanted to jump over one and I told him "If you jump over this puddle I will be so amazed and proud but at the same time will fear it is the first sign of the apocalypse."  I miss jumping.  I do worry that might be one of the things I am too old and breakable to do again, but after the trick-riding class a couple weeks ago I'm feeling the need for some more adrenaline inducing challenges.

I am looking forward to seeing my students after a week off, I have to admit.  Miss C. and I realized we refer to them to outsiders as "our kids".  I have three students right now who are "special needs" (is that still a P.C. term?) and I've been doing some research on how to be a better teacher to them.  So far what I've been reading goes along with what I instinctually would think of doing when trying to come up with teaching strategies on my own, so that is nice.  But I still worry about not having any formal education in therapeutic riding so I've been doing my homework.

I was telling my brother about one of my students who does not have a corpus collosum (the part of one's brain that connects the right and left hemisphere).  This is a hard to describe neurological issue because it's such a hard to pinpoint thing, what the communication between hemispheres means to the way a brain works.  Despite what doctors said 27 years ago, she is not a vegetable as they predicted, but can walk, talk, dress herself, do simple chores, ride a bike and now she is learning to ride a horse.  I do think a lot about how she must relate to the world though because it's hard to fathom.  She lives in the moment completely and does not have a concept of how long an hour or a day is.  But she remembers experiences and things that happen to her, she just doesn't really connect to the time frame of when they did.  She also doesn't distinguish all the time between what really happened and what she thought was happening.  So, if she found an empty box and thought her brother threw the contents away, that is how she'll remember it, even after she's told he didn't throw it away, it was taken out and put somewhere else.  You can't really hold a conversation with her because her brain doesn't work in the way needed to verbally interact.  And she can't make leaps of logic like "if you do a then b or c could happen" - but that's also nice because she is not able to be conniving or manipulative because her brain doesn't work like that.  She also has no filter and will say everything she thinks and feels as it's happening.  So, if you're a jerk, she'll just blurt out that you're scary and hide behind a trusted person.  If you're a cute guy she'll giggle and say you're really cute.  And she's extremely loving and happy, although she is kind of skittish and nervous like a horse.  Basically, she views and experiences the world much like a horse.  It's very hard not to instantly like her because she is such a truly innocent soul.  My husband commented the other day that she's kind of the embodiment of Buddhism or the complete being of one's self without ego. 

Anyway, what was interesting to me was that I was telling my brother about her because he also works with kids with special needs (only he does it with advanced degrees and immensely more formal education than I have) and when I was telling him about this student he got really sad and said it was absolutely tragic.  I tried to explain if he met her he wouldn't be sad for her but the subject really seemed to bum him out so we didn't talk much more about it.  I think if he met her he would see that sadness or pity were not emotions that are evoked when you meet her.  As one of the teens who assists me in her class said about her after they met, "How could you not like her? She's great! And she's a walking miracle!"

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