Milton’s Missing Lesson
While the blog was on break last spring [Struggle Bus], Milton and I had a dressage lesson with a new instructor. It did not go well. Horse and rider were shivering wrecks for the next four days. I kept meaning to blog about it, but it kept threatening to turn into a 2000-word epic. Here is the short version. Well, I tried to make it the short version.
This person teaches a friend of mine. I went to watch a lesson. All seemed well. If anything, the person struck me as a little too low key. I might have said more about the ride that was going on in front of us. I scheduled a time to bring Milton over.
Instead of being the pleasant soul that I had encountered, they immediately got all up in our faces about how Milton would never do what we wanted him to do. This is a common attitude encountered in the horse world, ‘Your horse isn’t good enough. You need a new horse.’ Sometimes the speaker has a horse for sale. Sometimes the speaker simply has an opinion they feel compelled to share. Sure, fine, but five minutes after we get off the trailer? You haven’t even seen the horse move.
Nearby, but out of sight, a house was under construction. Huge machinery whizzed and clanked and banged. Milton hated it. Every whiz and clank and bang. He never settled. It took three people to bridle one horse. In hindsight, we should have gone home right then. Nothing good was going to come out of the day.
Lunging. The person had a theory of groundwork that we had not seen before. The work was a bit more demanding than I might have done, but nothing harmful. More of, ‘You will now listen to me.’ Milton didn’t like it, but he wasn’t liking anything at the moment.
No way was I getting on this cavorting, hysterical beast. Too much Tennessee flashback [not a post]. Cajoling occurred. I relented. I got on. I could barely walk Milton around the lunge pen. The instructor felt my hands were so bad that I needed to ride with a running martingale until I could learn to to keep them steady. Huh? Coach Courtney tells me she does this with her rankest beginners.
It finally ended. I got off. We made nice-nice noises and went home. There were tentative plans to come back. The new ground-driving/lunging technique had merit. Perhaps the person could be of use as a groundwork/driving instructor. Perhaps Milton would be more settled next time. We went off to buy a new rope.
I was not happy. Clearly, every decision I had ever made was wrong. And so on. This may be a bad place, but it is not an unusual place for me. My ground crew figured I’d snap out of it eventually. I generally do. By Wednesday, he realized that Milton was also still jumpy. Perhaps it was not all in my head. Perhaps going back was not a good move.
The session went badly from the get go. We didn’t do enough to get a good sense of this person’s teaching style. However, there appeared to be an underlying attitude that did not sit well either with me or with Milton.
Perhaps some form of tough love? Could be. I do not handle that well. Tell me, or even imply, that I am a useless waste and I will curl up in a ball in the nearest corner hoping to keep my worthless self out of everyone’s way. Tell me, show me, convince me that I am wonderful & I will amaze you.
Perhaps Milton feels the same way.
Thank you for reading,