Teaching the older gentleman non- horseperson who wants to do Civil War Reenactment
need I say more.....?
Actually had to rap his knuckle last night as he swooped in without regard for horse's reaction or my safety and grabbed a piece of tack out of my hand while his mouth went like a duck's ass, telling me what to do while tacking up the horse.
humerous, exhausting, requires massive dosed of diplomacy and patience...and that doesn't even cover the poor horse's role in this.
Why do non horse people think that the horse is just another accessory in their hobby? And why don't more people get trampled on these weekend retreats while gallumping across open fields waving swords and peppering each other with guns full of Cream o Wheat?
I'm making the best of it and not losing any sleep over it but anyone have good advise for teaching a mid sixties business man used to being the most powerful person in the room? A man who is determined to have the answer to a question? A man who thinks that buying the tool needed to do the job is enough to make it happen? A man who gives the impression in conversation that he is open to learning but who's lifelong habits have him completely tuned out to the living beings around him? A man who runs on his own perceptions of what tight is? What frightened is? What gentle handling is?
This one's gonna be a fun one.
my poor young assistant trainer tried to be involved in the conversation we had last night about the military tack as we debated the fit of the saddle (it doesn't) and the horse's comfort level (he hurts) but the owner continued to debate my knowledge of the subject and the body language of the horse happening right in front of him. I diplomatically stated my points repeatedly and moved the conversation forward to finishing tacking up. While stooping in front of the horse's offside chest to pass the ill fitting breast collar girth strap between the horse's front legs, owner swooped in from the near side, grabbed the strap from me and instructed me on how and where it should go.
I had had enough. Passive Alpha mare had told this young mustang quite clearly for the last fifteen minutes that he was incorrect but that I would teach him right if he were willing to listen. He was tuned out completely by that point and was in fact getting pretty big on himself that he was right, I was wrong and he wasn't going to stand for this foolishness from a young lady who have never been involved with military reenactments.
I reached out and rapped his knuckles with my hand and met his eyes as he was a mere foot from my face. I calmly and firmly told this high powered profession business man to back off and step away from the horse..... now. I never broke eye contact....
He stuttered and sputtered in surprise while I repeated my request to back the hell up and slow down.... now. He raised up, stepped back and gruffly said that I had asked him to show me how the breast collar went on! This poor guy doesn't know what he doesn't know nor does he realize that I know very well exactly how much he DOESN'T know.
I stood up, walked around the horse and very sternly but quietly repeated to the owner that he needed to slow down, shut up, listen and remember who exactly is the student here. It took several seconds for the young mustang to break thought, look at the Alpha Mare and realize that he had crossed a line he didn't even know existed.
It's taken many years to come to this level of control in my instruction. I am calm, secure in my knowledge and delivery. And I will not, under any circumstances, allow anyone to come into my barn and blatantly ignore the signals given by the horses, the instructors, the lessons happening in front of their eyes. This poor guy was totally shocked that he had just been backed down by a young woman. He is the leader. He is the one in control. He is the one who commands attention in his high profile biz. He is the one who knows the info and fixes the problems so great things can occur.
Well, soldier, here you're just a grunt who needs to see that you have missed an entire novella of conversation your horses have been trying to communicate to you while you were steam rolling them through your reenactments.
the good news is that, like good training, once the mustang gave me the reaction I needed, I release the pressure and explained my need to get up in his sh** so he would understand why it just happened. Poor bloke. He was flustered and embarrassed. But we moved on, got him on the horse and ended on a good note. He was riding with his legs wrapped around the horse like any green rider would do and couldn't understand why the horse was acting so awful. I showed him simply the physics behind leg placement and its affects of the horse. We started off again and miracles of miracles, the horse took a big breath, dropped his head, walked calmly and quietly for two laps around the arena. He was gob smacked....
He's been riding for four years. Never has any other trainer or instructor of any kind addressed this man's riding as part of the problem between him and his animals. (head hits desk)
fortunately, he left in a wonderful spirit, made another lesson appointment and was very excited about coming back.
Gotta love having to bring a smack down on a new student. sigh....haven't done that in a loooooong time. And quite frankly, I have the decorum to do it and not give two hoots whether it makes the client pull their business. Win, Win. You change your attitude, we both win because you will start learning. You don't change your attitude, you leave, and I don't have to deal with your inflexibility.
So what's the draw for hobbiest who do this reenactment stuff? Why in the world would you get into the cavalry section of Civil War stuff if you have never thrown a leg over a horse in your life? And why in the world would the other cavalry members allow these people to show up with their unsuspecting animals and be a safety hazard to themselves and everyone else at the reenactment? Stupid!!
Not to mention the poor horse who is unprepared for this kind of activity. I've done many hours of Youtube viewing to familiarize myself with what this horse is expected to do. For the most part, the horses seem quiet and well behaved.
What sweet, adaptive and forgiving animals our horses are! wait till I have to train this poor horse to gun fire and smoke....ugh. ya know boys, there's a reason we don't ride horses into battle anymore....
We had a guy like this at one farm - he was very scatterbrained but pretty nice when you got to know him. His horse was an absolute saint and pretty cute - a black TWH. First time I met him he was practicing his 'sword work' in the dressage ring while galloping around full tilt. It was a little shocking LOL !
Luckily he was an animal lover and basically a good guy although pretty odd at times. I remember a conversation where he said he was part Native American and that he dressed up in authentic skins and such for the reinactments (he did French and Indian War). He found out that I was dressing up as an Indian for Halloween and offered to 'loan' me his costume to wear as it was authentic. There were several other friends there and the questions were flying - did he wear undies under the costume (no, he had to be authentic) ? Did he ever wash the costume (not really) ? Ummm .... EWWWWWWWWWWWW !
OMG the VISIONS in my head ... we had a good laugh (and he did too, he was a good sport).
So, yea the whole thing was pretty odd but he did love his horse very much and tried to do his best caring for him. We all realized that while his chosen discipline was very different than ours, he loved his horse just as we all loved our own.
And just an FYI, for daily riding, he used a western saddle that fit his horse very well. He only used the period stuff during the actual reinactments.
#1 lesson for reenactment where there's horses is don't bivouac near the caisson's picket line if it's between you and the latrines, because in the dark, late at night, it's hard to see the difference between mud and...other things.
Winfieldfarm, this is a great post. I have taught/teach the same senior novice riders (whole different kettle of worms from starting kids), and here in Virginia there are tons of mounted reenactments! They are fun to watch and I'm sure a blast to participate in (on the right horse!). It sounds like you did a great job responding strongly when needed, which I agree is difficult if you're not usually a "yeller" instructor. But, the executive personality probably respects that type of feedback, and it sounds like he got the message and better yet ended on a good note.
I would keep whacking away at the pinata regarding the fit of the saddle, though, because at the reenactments, they are often on the horses' backs for a looooong time.
Winfield, I loved it. Thank you for taking the time with him for the horse's sake.
I know one who acted the same way for the same reasons, until we had a few Come to Jesus discussions. Heck there's a frequent poster to COTH who fits the mold. Could be the military thing. The telling statement is that they don't know what they don't know. And the good Lord watches out for idiots and little children, or is that drunks. Unfortunately you find this same lack of knowledge, but determination to get a horse involved in so many other places. I won't make a list for the fear of offending. Keep your chin up, a stiff upper lip, and I doubt he'll cross you again. After all, his wife should have trained him better.
You know, those powerful in charge men usually like to have 1 person able to have power over them. Keep it totally assertive with him, don't let him get away with anything at all. Strict but nice. A look and raised eyebrow can say alot. Oh, teach him how to fall off the horse and play dead also! Those re-enactment folks do that. Really funny. And insist on the proper tack, etc for the horse or cut him off. He has probably rode roughshod over his previous instructors but it stops here. And charge him Xtra for his lessons.
I will say that these executive kind want to ride because it is higher "status" than being foot soldiers. Men on horses thru the centuries, have been Leaders, with the capital L. They were folks who changed things, made a difference, good or bad. He wants to be THAT KIND of person in his renactment activities. Horse is his accessory, as others mentioned.
Sounds like you regained control of the situation and REALLY got him paying attention to you. Lead mare and mustang view was right on target!
Sure hope things continue to go well, don't let him zone out in reciting his knowledge. He isn't listening to directions then. You have a tough row to hoe, teaching him to ride with ANY kind of skill, because he THINKS everyone ELSE is the problem, not him! Charge enough so you can like him anyway!!
He needs a few old lesson horses that will show him the error of his ways. Why not set up ground rules that he listens and asks questions only, once the lesson starts. He can flap his gums before and after.