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Denny's Between Rounds column

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  • Denny's Between Rounds column

    One thing I like about Denny is his no-pretense honesty about, and emphasis on, teaching. I've always thought that the best teachers have had to struggle to learn and understand thoroughly what they need to do to be a good rider. George Morris comes to mind.
    I was struck by the fact that even as an upper level rider with a top coach, Denny struggled to improve his position over fences, and yet, NO ONE TOLD HIM HOW TO DO IT! He was able to figure it out on his own. I find that incredible, but it highlights one of the problems of teaching this sport. That is, not teaching the very basics of riding.
    When my wife and I went to Denny's adult camp a few years ago, I thought I knew how to ride thank you very much. Denny, however, was the FIRST PERSON to take the time with this flatlander noob with a completely inappropriate horse to teach the basics of stirrup length, rider position etc.
    As I continue to learn, often very basic riding principles, I'm with Denny: Do instructors just not break down the complexities of riding into teachable parts, or do they just choose not to teach it?

  • #2
    The teacher who is **CAPABLE** of breaking it down is a rarity. Too often people confuse riding ability and teaching ability.

    Yes, I expect that teacher to ride better than I do, and have that real world experience, but I am far faster to spend the money on a clinic with someone who can actually break a concept down into ammy or novice friendly bites.
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

    Comment


    • #3
      I think a lot of them just skip it out of lack of knowledge themselves. The emphasis isnt on doing it well, just doing it. I think a lot of people move though the motions, and the levels, with some big gaps in their training because they didnt have a coach that cared about skills over progression.

      And certainly not just in eventing either. A combination of arrogant students and overly lax trainers is common, and comes in all disciplines.

      Comment


      • #4
        Reminds me of a story in gymnastics way back in the day of Nadia and Olga. A young gymnast was able to do this skill that no one else in the world could do. Something like a double back layout something with two twists (or something like that). She finally tries to teach some other girls on her team to do it, failed - AND lost the move herself.

        Moral of the story was sometimes over analyzing takes a natural talent and confuses it with mental intervention!

        There are plenty of naturally talented people that can just DO stuff. They don't know how or why they can, but their body knows. But they really don't have the words for it.

        These people have nothing to offer me except they are great to watch. But they can't teach me to do what they can do. Find me someone whose had to work at it and made a priority out of helping other people "get it". Those are the real teachers and are great for the not so naturally great.

        This is also why you don't see the top physicists and surgeons teaching. They should be doing and probably can't teach for poo.

        If you ask me, this is what is wrong with the US system. We think all the people who can do can teach. In other parts of the world, they actually have teachers who can teach and don't really care if they win stuff - as long as their students do.

        Edited to add - Yes, there are those who can do both. But IMO, they are much more rare that people think.

        SCFarm
        The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

        www.southern-cross-farm.com

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        • #5
          A friend used this metaphor with me:

          "They just can't smell it anymore!"

          Think about living next to a feedlot/pigfarm/etc. After a while, you don't smell the stink--it becomes mundane, normal. So you don't warn folks, or try to explain it, because it's not on your radar. You simply don't smell it anymore.

          I think that's what happens to a lot of upper level riders. THey are completely competent--masterful, even (why don't we say "mistessful"?). But they don't know HOW they do it. And thus they can't explain it.

          It's like the academy--you don't get in without knowing the rules, but the rules aren't taught. You have to figure them out.
          --Becky in TX
          Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
          She who throws dirt is losing ground.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by riderboy View Post
            I've always thought that the best teachers have had to struggle to learn and understand thoroughly what they need to do to be a good rider.

            This is very true. Those to whom it all comes naturally, often have no idea what they are doing or why. And therefore can't teach it.

            Great article Denny!



            http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com
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            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
              A friend used this metaphor with me:

              "They just can't smell it anymore!"
              Perfect!

              SCFarm
              The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

              www.southern-cross-farm.com

              Comment


              • #8
                It has been proven in scientific research that humans can learn a huge amount from mimicry and that you also learn more from making mistakes. So it is perfectly possible that Denny learnt a huge amount from breaking down the problem, mimicry and practice. In fact if you speak to many of the best riders in the world then you will discover that this is how they learnt in order to get the deep practice to become expert and that actually it was a very average coach who started them off but who gave them passion or they just got on with it by themselves.
                The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Loved Denny's article. So many instructors tell you what to do, but not always how to do it. I struggled for some time learning to ride my competition mare's canter correctly. Just happened to watch a video of David O'Connor using an analogy about riding the canter and it just clicked. My horse was so thankful!!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not vs. To Do

                    Many times we're told what NOT to do, but not what TO do. When we're blessed with those rays of light that illuminate our pursuit, we want to shout them from mountaintops but must remember that what works for some may not work for others: many roads lead to Rome!

                    The only challenge I would offer on Denny's column - after reading it a few times and having contemplated this very subject for the past several years as my training and experience teaching pilates has evolved - is the suggestion of "pushing the hips back." I think integrating subtle/simultaneous movement too early in the learning process will only serve to disrupt balance more. Holding out for even more of the horse's jumping energy to fully flex the rider's hip should be the goal, and is really all that is necessary. For riders, that means developing a fitness level and knowledge of how to maintain the spine/pelvis in a neutral position (ASIS and pubic bone are level), even if the upper body is on the diagonal.
                    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Great comments. If I may add another observation. Denny posted a beautiful picture of Michael Plumb jumping a giant XC fence with his fabulous position. The contrast between that photo and the Hunter riders jumping position pictured a few pages later in The Chronicle could not have been more clear. I believe Denny calls it "The Praying Mantis" position!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I totally agree about people who have to learn to ride are often better teachers than those who are born ready to ride around Rolex. I've had some good lessons with the latter, but you have to have a good bit of knowledge to interpret " no, not like that. Yes, that, and now do it better". Although I am not really a fan of the complete over thinkers who discuss constantly about the position of each finger - shut up and let me try it out!

                        About hips back - reading the article reminded me that when I was about 10, and doing little hunter/equ shows I never ever won the eq. over fences. I had my heels down, I looked up, I never caught my pony in the mouth. Why wasn't I winning!? I was competitive and mad, and one day watched my friends who usually came in 1 & 2. They seemed to have their butts up in the air. So in I went for my round, and concentrated only on sticking my little tush out and back. (fortunately my saintly pony was point and shoot) and wouldn't you know it, I won the class, and continued to win after that. I had no idea why, at that point, that putting my hips back was a good thing in terms of effective riding, but you can watch and learn. Probably being 10 helped, because I wasn't overthinking.

                        But on the other end, I tried for years (as an adult) to develop an automatic release and no amount of looking at photos was making it happen. What did help was a jumper rider telling me "when she leaves the ground, lower your hands an inch". Voila, automatic release. That one tiny bit of instruction made all the difference.

                        But you HAVE to have your hips back, or it won't work! One step at a time.
                        Last edited by Hilary; Mar. 28, 2011, 09:39 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You know the position that Mike is in over that fence, the one in the picture?

                          That`s the same position he`s in now when he walks!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA
                          http://www.tamarackhill.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Like when your mom told you not to make a face because it would stick that way? I guess it does!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If the parents of young eventers ever watched old eventers, they`d never let their kids do it!!!

                              Like----Gee, I want my kid to end up like Wofford and Glaccum, and Davidson, and Plumb, and Emerson!!!
                              http://www.tamarackhill.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by LLDM View Post
                                There are plenty of naturally talented people that can just DO stuff. They don't know how or why they can, but their body knows. But they really don't have the words for it.

                                These people have nothing to offer me except they are great to watch. But they can't teach me to do what they can do. Find me someone whose had to work at it and made a priority out of helping other people "get it". Those are the real teachers and are great for the not so naturally great.
                                SCFarm
                                There's an old saying for that. "B students make the best teachers". Because the A students can't explain how they understanding, it's too intuitive for them to put words on.
                                HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                                www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by denny View Post
                                  If the parents of young eventers ever watched old eventers, they`d never let their kids do it!!!

                                  Like----Gee, I want my kid to end up like Wofford and Glaccum, and Davidson, and Plumb, and Emerson!!!
                                  Sore and creaky? Excellent, I'm all ready to go right now, so eventing can't make me worse!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Denny, all you folks of your era may be old n creaky n cranky, but you are still out there, and aren't fat, lazy, and wanting someone else to fix your problems.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
                                      A friend used this metaphor with me:

                                      "They just can't smell it anymore!"
                                      Mary Wanless uses this analogy a lot.
                                      "Friend" me !

                                      http://www.facebook.com/isabeau.solace

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by kdow View Post
                                        Sore and creaky? Excellent, I'm all ready to go right now, so eventing can't make me worse!
                                        That's what *I* thought...until I "bailed" recently.

                                        OUCH. I CAN get worse!

                                        --Becky in TX
                                        Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                                        She who throws dirt is losing ground.

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