Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No One Will Give You An Education, You Have To Take It

My education is a continuous process so I can never say "I've gotten a good education.". It's not done and never will be done. What I can say, is that I have taken what ever I can from every opportunity I've had, to study horses, and I know enough to know that I have still more to learn.

As a kid, I would ride any and every horse, especially if it was a horse known to be difficult. It started with the horse that the neighbors owned and lived out behind our house. The barn was kind of tucked back in the woods, not visible from any where, which made it very convenient for little horse fiends to do some sneaky riding. *The following story is in no way a recommendation, or something to be emulated because it's a wonder I survived (plus it was totally illegal). I rode that horse. With no permission, no knowledge, no supervision, no tack and some may say, no survival instinct, I rode that horse. I would tempt the horse (a biggish Morgan gelding) over to the fence with Ritz crackers, and then, ninja-like, slide onto his back from the top rail. He would then go racing through the trees while I clung like a monkey to his back. He must have recognized my monkey-ness because he routinely tried to return me to my native habitat by scraping me off on low tree branches. My surreptitious riding wasn't discovered until I decided to let my fellow horse-fiend cousin in on the fun, and took her over to ride the horse too. I swore her to strictest confidence which lasted as long as it took for her to get back home. The first words out of her mouth, when we casually strolled into the house, were "I rode a horse!". My mom, knowing the horse and knowing his temperment was shocked that I had done such a thing (and lived) but was surprisingly light on the punishment. She told me to never do that again and that was it.

When I was 10, I started riding lessons and then had to quit them at 14 when Mom and I got our own horses. At 15, I started teaching the neighborhood kids to ride on my horse, and got a job working pony rides. Then at 16, I started working at a riding stable. It was there, that I was exposed to all sorts of different horses and made it a goal to ride every one of them at least once. That was a goal accomplished with the exception of the little Shetlands that I could have carried easier than I could have ridden. College was an Equine program and fancier horses that offered more challenges. I continued my trend of choosing to ride the more difficult horses but quickly found a favorite and then really wanted to ride him all the time. I couldn't ride him with any grace or skill but I loooooved him and struggled to learn how to ride him correctly.

While in college, there were opportunities offered to all the equine students to attend events, volunteer, compete, or ride in clinics. If there was a list I could put my name on, I did it. I took every chance to do something with horses that was available and put effort into doing everything I did. If only I could say as much about my Economics class. We all have our specialty.

Everything I learned I took home and told to my Mom and the little girls in the barn and my riding instructor and my friends I went riding with. There was so much cool stuff out there that I had not even been aware of and wanted to share with everyone else. Needless to say, I did not share my Economics knowledge, mostly because I didn't retain any.

Now, most of my learning comes from the horses I ride and work with. I take lessons when I can but learn also from the riders I teach. There are books, videos and of course the internet (which can be a source of information and mis-information equally) for tutelage. The deal is, though, that you have to want it, go and get it, retain it, and use it; not everything, but the stuff that makes sense for you and works for you. Even though I did a report and oral presentation of Combined Driving Events, I couldn't recite, right now, the scoring system. It was interesting to learn, but I didn't continue to use that information because it didn't apply to my sport or career choice.

Other than Economics class, I gleaned whatever I could from my college experience and squeezed every drop out of what I could learn about horses. As an instructor and trainer, it's my job to help other riders and horses to be more balanced, more effective and happier. If I ever think I'm done, than it will be over. I still want to ride that next horse. Unless my Mom tells me not to.

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