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Helping a Student "Get" Planning Their Track

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  • Helping a Student "Get" Planning Their Track

    Hello all...turning to the deep pool of wisdom that is COTH for some ideas. I'm relatively new to teaching riding and even moreso to the group lesson format, but I do love it and have a great bunch of students. Especially my group of teens who are at the level of cantering little jumps and working on stringing them together into little courses.

    When I first took over this group a little while ago I made it my mission to get then using their corners more and approaching jumps straight (as opposed to cutting corners and arriving at the jump any which way). They aren't perfect, but they have made a lot of improvement in this department. Except for one of the girls.

    She consistently cuts corners, rides tiny circles, turns right before the jumps. I've tried telling her to use her space, go to the walls, specified which letter she needs to ride to, but it's not clicking. She also forgets her "course" (which are generally 2-4 jumps, not an actual full course) on occasion.

    On the positive side, she also had some pretty big position flaws when I first started teaching her and she has improved immensely. Her seat is becoming super solid and her legs and hands are so, so much better. I am extremely proud of her for this. Also, for the purpose of this brainstorm, it tells me she does listen and want to improve, because I could literally see her making (even exaggerating) the changes I was asking for. This is key because honestly, the look on her face would sometimes lead me to believe she didn't care (very hard to describe, but almost like a constant half eye roll/faraway look).

    I know nerves are an issue for her sometimes. When she's nervous or flustered it certainly doesn't help the situation, but it still happens even when she's pretty relaxed. She has all the capability and tools to steer effectively, but she basically never seems to know where she's going.

    So at this point I know she's simply processing this differently, and it's my job as the teacher to come up with a new way to help her understand (and then execute.) Because talking at her while she does it isn't working. Putting up a marker and saying, "Go around this," hasn't worked. Having her go last so she can watch the others makes no difference. Riding behind someone else when they practice 20m circles has been mildly helpful, but I'm not sure how to translate it to the individual work/jumps.

    Keep in mind, any ideas I try need to be applicable in a group setting. This means I still need to give the other girls their fair share of time & turns on an exercise. It also means I don't want it to appear like I'm singling her out or talking down to her. These kids are so supportive and encouraging to each other, but I know it's a sensitive age so I'm not looking to embarrass her in front of her peers.

    I'm thinking next week I will have her tell me her plan out loud before she does an exercise and see it that helps. It's a good exercise for every student anyway.

    I'm also considering drawing the course on paper to see what happens. I can present it as, "Here is how you guys will have to learn courses if you show," versus, "SEE Suzie, get it?"



    But the more ideas I get the better. If you have something that worked for you — either as a student or coach — please throw it at me.

  • #2
    Rainy day exercise - "ride" courses on foot. You can make the courses more technical and thus make the "track" more important to the outcome. You could even have the students take turns "judging" the classes or invite other adults to do it. This could help make the points that smooth is good and straight is smooth.

    You sound like a great teacher. Thanks for that.

    Comment


    • #3
      What helped me with making a plan was to walk the course on foot myself (ideally in a freshly dragged ring) and then with the trainer, and have them show me where they would turn as opposed to where I had turned. And explain why, too-- you really need four straight strides after out of the corner to make this line work etc. And then you can reinforce it by putting cones or buckets so that they HAVE to go around them, stand in the way so they go outside you, etc. Course walking is something all of them should learn anyway.

      Everyone has their own issues for learning courses. I don't do right/ left, it's toward or away from the trailers/ barn etc. for me. And each jump has a name (maybe try to make them all look really distinct if they aren't already-- the yellow flowers/ rolltop/ rainbow jump etc.) and then lines are inside/ outside/ broken etc. (not the 3 stride to the 5, because for me that's confusing) and generally we practice them separately before putting them all together which helps. I also always turn and point/ look at the fences while my trainer is telling me the course, then draw a map in the air with my finger while repeating the course back to her.

      Also is she actually watching the other riders? Or just zoning? Can you ask her specific questions while they are riding? "What lead is Marissa on? How many strides did she get in that line?" etc. so that she learns to pay attention?

      Comment


      • #4
        I had a student who had similar issues. In the beginning I would tell her the whole course, then break it into pieces again as she was riding, as each step was being executed she would be told what the next step was, each step was quite limited. For example, pick up a canter and jump the green fence, as she jumping the green fence she was told to ride straight to the corner, half way to the corner she was reminded again to head to the corner and look up for the next fence and so on. As her skills increased I could give her more information at once.

        Comment


        • #5
          If following someone around a 20 M circle helped - have her follow someone over the course. The horses should be good enough this shouldn't be an issue and if she needs to stay 10 ft behind the horse infront at all times, she's forced to think about this.

          We used to do "follow the leader" in my lessons way back in the day. The lead person would come up with the course or pattern (for flatwork) and everyone else had to keep their horse a resonable distance behind. There were usually about 4 in a lesson.

          the WHY she cuts corners will help as well - is she getting nervous so just focusing on the next jump? If that's the case, it may help to change the course to include the markers. I have done this with success with students. So instead of "Jump 1 to Jump 2, go around cone" It is "jump 1 to cone to jump 2". This may help focus on going out instead of to the next jump. They may go inside cone instead of outside cone but the turns will start to be better and getting a better turn may click.

          Also, verify her eyesight. Does she have depth perception issues, especially associated with not having sight or having really bad sight in one eye? if this is the case, her idea of space is not the same as yours and it will effect how she learns to jump (counting strides/knowing distance is not a good way to teach these types - generally speaking).

          Comment


          • #6
            Traffic cones are your friend. Use them to mark the turning points and the diameter of your 20 m circle.

            "You must go past the cone on the outside before you start your turn."

            "You must make your circle around the outside of the cones."

            "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
            that's even remotely true."

            Homer Simpson

            Comment


            • #7
              What if you break the “course” into individual components, each of which consist of jump-ride into corner-halt? Do the first component, then do the first and second component after successfully doing the just first, etc.. And if at any point a cut corner happens, stop and try that component again until it’s corrected. Agree with the above suggestion to make going around the cone as important a part of the course as the jumps.

              May be worth a private lesson or two to drill on this (or otherwise try to suss out what’s going on), if you’re concerned about the student feeling picked on during the group lesson.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't ride hunters, so take this as you will - but when you said she cuts corners and won't make large-enough circles, my first thought was 'oh, she needs a few dressage lessons.' Balance and approach in corners is the basic thing we work on at lower levels. Have you taken lesson time to just work on how to do corners and 20m circles, spiraling in and out so they have more control over their horses and themselves? Does she know how to go deep into the corners and bend the horse around her inside leg? Can she accurately gauge what size circle she'll need for a certain jump?

                I remember the days before I learned to ride circles and corners properly (no real instructor!), those were TERRIFYING things to do! I had no idea how to half-halt and get the horse balanced going into them, so it always felt like we were scrambling and that we were going to slide and fall at any time. Even if it doesn't look like that to you, could she be feeling something like that?

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the suggestions.

                  Unfortunately, when I've tried the "You MUST go around the cone before you approach the jump" she still typically misses it and then each repeated attempt gets worse, likely because she's getting flustered and frustrated. I think I will try Redlei44's idea of adding more parts like transitions and halts along with the markers. It may help her regroup, and it's a great exercise for all the riders.

                  islgrl I feel like this is how I've been trying to approach it, with very limited success. I'll still keep trying, maybe with some alternative phrasing to see if one clicks.

                  I'm thinking I better not do an entirely unmounted lesson (don't want to rock the boat on "lesson packages" and such since it's not my barn, I don't do the setting up or selling programs) but I certainly can have them hop off and walk the course.

                  Great suggestions from Highflyer, thank you. I will definitely try asking some questions of the observers to see if they are indeed observing.

                  I guess I technically can do follow the leader too, if I set the right course. (Might try it with poles first just to be sure I'm not flirting with disaster, lol).


                  Ajierene the WHY is what brought me here. I can't quite put my finger on it. It's not only nerves or focusing on jumps. Those pressures make it worse but it happens even when she's trotting around relaxed or doing poles instead of jumps. Really good suggestion to wonder about the eyesight... it does seem like there is something funky about her spatial reasoning for some reason.

                  Her main nervous trigger is actually in the group canter. It's not the canter itself or the speed, she's just worried about crashing into the others. I get it... I'm a nervous wreck in traffic (horse or vehicular) too. But then I'll tell her "Ok, there's a big gap after Dobbin, fall in after him and start again." She rarely seems to actually make that happen, and I'm wondering if it's possibly part of the same issue... ie. that she doesn't "see" the same gap I do.

                  I understand that people learn differently, but it also seems like she SEES differently, and I have no real frame of reference for that. So keep the insights coming!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When you say cones don't help, are the cones kindof floating out there in space, or is it a fairly dense line of cones she can follow around the curve? When there's a lot of space between cones, they often don't look like the "shape" we intend them to, they just look like scattered cones.

                    I'm not saying you're doing this, but many new instructors don't allow enough quiet processing time for the rider, they feel obligated to fill the entire lesson with teaching. So check yourself whether you're giving her time sufficient to process? There's a whole spectrum of 'normal' responses when it comes to processing time. Let's say the teacher gives an instruction and the student is processing it. It may look to the instructor that they're not listening or 'not getting it' so the instructor jumps in to add more information or phrase it in a different way. This sets the student's processing back to square 1, and so on and so on.

                    Or this could easily be just sensory overload, where this student struggles to take in all the different forms of learning (visual, tactile, aural) at the same time. Just because other students are seem to be getting it, don't overlook the difficulty of trying to manage your body's position on a cantering horse (tactile), look for the next jump and spatial planning on turns and takeoff points (visual), AND listen to and process the instructor's verbal cues (aural) all at the same time.

                    Try this: Picture the tactile, visual, and aural components of your lesson as volume knobs. My rule of thumb (for any students, really, but this type of student especially) is that you can't have all three inputs at high volume at the same time. If you've got the volume turned up on one, turn the volume way down on the other two. So for example, if you're currently giving complex verbal instruction such as talking about the course and her position, bring her down to a walk or even halt in the center (i.e. mute the movement and visual inputs). If she's cantering to a fence (which are huge tactile and visual inputs!), just be quiet. Talk to her about how it went after she comes back to a walk.

                    Space planning difficulties were very common among my TR students--they'd have trouble knowing when to start a turn and how much/little rein they needed in order to, for example, execute a smooth change in direction. Here's a teaching trick that worked well -- I'd use talcum powder or barn lime to literally draw a line in the arena footing that describes the arc you want them to follow. With a line there on the ground, they learn to make smoother mini-adjustments to stay on the line, as compared to riding from cone to cone, where they might overcorrect at the first cone, and then overcorrect the other way at the next one, etc. This way didn't need my voice as much-- I didn't have to talk them through the turn (so, tying this in to the analogy above, I could turn down that particular volume knob and let them process the visual and tactile).

                    To everyone who is right now typing OMG THEY SHOULDN'T BE LOOKING DOWN!! : Yes, you are absolutely right. I'd coach to be looking at the line out in front of the horse, not right in front of them. And yes, even that's not ideal, but it was a very effective "stepping stone" kind of tool, to help them learn where and how much rein pressure they needed to keep horse on the bending line. The chalk line gave the instant (and SILENT!!) feedback they needed, as opposed to trying to get to the next cone, missing it, and overcorrecting.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This might be a dumb question, but have you talked to her parents? Maybe there are learning accommodations that you are unaware of, lost in the transition from old instructor to you? Or maybe there are accommodations in school that they didn't realize translated to riding, too. Or maybe this kid needs glasses. Because it does sound like she literally sees differently. Especially your remark about her expression -- my mom is basically blind in one eye and a few years ago, her prescription in her glasses was off so she stopped wearing them while she was visiting me and I swore she was giving me the stink eye the whole trip. Combined with her being tired and cranky sometimes, I was like christ, what is her problem? But then it turns out she's so freaking blind that her stink eye was actually her just not being able to see. Now my eyesight is going and I totally sympathize because when I take my glasses off, my depth perception and detail goes out the window.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pally View Post
                        Ajierene the WHY is what brought me here. I can't quite put my finger on it. It's not only nerves or focusing on jumps. Those pressures make it worse but it happens even when she's trotting around relaxed or doing poles instead of jumps. Really good suggestion to wonder about the eyesight... it does seem like there is something funky about her spatial reasoning for some reason.

                        Her main nervous trigger is actually in the group canter. It's not the canter itself or the speed, she's just worried about crashing into the others. I get it... I'm a nervous wreck in traffic (horse or vehicular) too. But then I'll tell her "Ok, there's a big gap after Dobbin, fall in after him and start again." She rarely seems to actually make that happen, and I'm wondering if it's possibly part of the same issue... ie. that she doesn't "see" the same gap I do.

                        I understand that people learn differently, but it also seems like she SEES differently, and I have no real frame of reference for that. So keep the insights coming!
                        It sounds like she may have some spatial recognition issues - whether it is due strictly to eyesight or some other synapses not firing correctly.

                        I have similar issues - due to a genes, I have Amblyopia. In my case it is Strabismus the pupils don't line up right and my brain shut off the nerves going from one eye to the brain to avoid the crazy double vision it was getting. It is correctable when very young but definitely not once puberty hits. Basically, those nerves die and you cannot resurrect them. Forrest Whitaker probably has the same thing but his is more pronounced - the average observer would not know my pupils don't line up because it is very slight and the vision in the bad eye is very limited.

                        Because of this and because I grew up not really knowing, some things I just couldn't figure out - like when I took gymnastics, how did those people just fly from one uneven bar to the other like that? How do they know where the other bar is? I ALWAYS had to sit on the lower one and lean over slowly until I touched the higher one. In horseback riding, do not ask me to stand at one jump and tell you how many strides to the next one in the line - I have no clue.

                        Likewise - as you said - doing things in groups can be hard - like is that cantering horse 5 or 10 feet from me? It gets easier as you get older and learn to compensate but I still have issues other people don't. At least I don't *constantly* knock over my drinking cup like I did when I was 5....

                        I would ask if she ever had her eyes checked. You can also have her cover each eye and tell you what she sees. Have her cover the eye for a good 30 seconds as your brain is a bit behind the eye...buffered like a youtube video that still plays for a few seconds after you cut off the internet. When I cover my good eye, I start to get fields of non-vision in my bad eye - it really reminds me of spots of static on a TV screen. She may get that or the whole world just may get fuzzy or something else.

                        With Amblyopia, the good eye compensated and the individual is not constantly aware of the issue but it can crop up in weird places. For instance, I don't use my left eye. The first time I took the eye exam for a driver's license, I put my head up to the device and saw nothing in the left column, saw appropriately in the middle and right column....because the leftmost and rightmost columns you can only see with the respective eye. No one I have mentioned this to has ever thought of that.

                        Anyway....ramble over....TL/DR....check her eyesight/have a conversation with her about it.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Alex and Bodie's Mom View Post
                          I don't ride hunters, so take this as you will - but when you said she cuts corners and won't make large-enough circles, my first thought was 'oh, she needs a few dressage lessons.' Balance and approach in corners is the basic thing we work on at lower levels. Have you taken lesson time to just work on how to do corners and 20m circles, spiraling in and out so they have more control over their horses and themselves? Does she know how to go deep into the corners and bend the horse around her inside leg? Can she accurately gauge what size circle she'll need for a certain jump?

                          I remember the days before I learned to ride circles and corners properly (no real instructor!), those were TERRIFYING things to do! I had no idea how to half-halt and get the horse balanced going into them, so it always felt like we were scrambling and that we were going to slide and fall at any time. Even if it doesn't look like that to you, could she be feeling something like that?
                          No worries that you aren't a hunter... I specifically put this in Off Course because I'm sure this isn't primarily a jumping issue.

                          I so know what you mean about lack of balance feeling scary, and I know sometimes the saintly lesson horses are actually not the most athletic and balanced. I'm not sure this is it, as it happens on some level on different horses and types. That said, now that I think of it, she was a little better on the honies, I may try an actual pony to see if it makes her feel like she has 'more' space.

                          They all need some dressage basics, lol (keeping in mind they are just once a week lesson kids). I have been really working on the 20m circles, and trying to incorporate the idea of balanced horses more and more. They aren't ready for Prix St. George's anytime soon, but every so often, there's a moment of "getting it" that's pretty fun.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Ajierene View Post

                            It sounds like she may have some spatial recognition issues - whether it is due strictly to eyesight or some other synapses not firing correctly.

                            I have similar issues - due to a genes, I have Amblyopia. In my case it is Strabismus the pupils don't line up right and my brain shut off the nerves going from one eye to the brain to avoid the crazy double vision it was getting. It is correctable when very young but definitely not once puberty hits. Basically, those nerves die and you cannot resurrect them. Forrest Whitaker probably has the same thing but his is more pronounced - the average observer would not know my pupils don't line up because it is very slight and the vision in the bad eye is very limited.

                            Because of this and because I grew up not really knowing, some things I just couldn't figure out - like when I took gymnastics, how did those people just fly from one uneven bar to the other like that? How do they know where the other bar is? I ALWAYS had to sit on the lower one and lean over slowly until I touched the higher one. In horseback riding, do not ask me to stand at one jump and tell you how many strides to the next one in the line - I have no clue.

                            Likewise - as you said - doing things in groups can be hard - like is that cantering horse 5 or 10 feet from me? It gets easier as you get older and learn to compensate but I still have issues other people don't. At least I don't *constantly* knock over my drinking cup like I did when I was 5....

                            I would ask if she ever had her eyes checked. You can also have her cover each eye and tell you what she sees. Have her cover the eye for a good 30 seconds as your brain is a bit behind the eye...buffered like a youtube video that still plays for a few seconds after you cut off the internet. When I cover my good eye, I start to get fields of non-vision in my bad eye - it really reminds me of spots of static on a TV screen. She may get that or the whole world just may get fuzzy or something else.

                            With Amblyopia, the good eye compensated and the individual is not constantly aware of the issue but it can crop up in weird places. For instance, I don't use my left eye. The first time I took the eye exam for a driver's license, I put my head up to the device and saw nothing in the left column, saw appropriately in the middle and right column....because the leftmost and rightmost columns you can only see with the respective eye. No one I have mentioned this to has ever thought of that.

                            Anyway....ramble over....TL/DR....check her eyesight/have a conversation with her about it.
                            Wow. Thank you for this. I will definitely have a conversation with her about her eyes. I think she is a year or two short of going for her license, so it's possible it hasn't come up. (I was in the license office once and a girl came in for her learner's... basically couldn't see anything. Crazy to think it hadn't caused her enough issues in day to day life to have been checked before).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Instead of one cone on the corner, might it help to have two cones that she must stay between? Or even a set of standards with or without a ground pole, or just the pole that must be passed over as part of the course?

                              Honestly, though, it sounds like she possibly has some sort of spatial, cognitive, or short term memory issue that might make this harder. Forgetting part of a course is normal, but not when there are only 2 or 3 jumps. I even know some adults who seem to lack spatial awareness - this is especially noticeable when driving. They don't look ahead down the road or use their mirrors and cannot accurately predict the near term future from visual input. Something like merging becomes a white knuckle experience and they jerk down the road in a fit of repeated sudden braking as everything seems to be a surprise. Sounds awfully similar to, for example, not being able to canter a circle and fall in behind another horse. So perhaps there are some who never grasp these skills.
                              Flickr

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Sometimes I have found with kids like this, it is really their anxiety that is shutting down their response time and their processing time. If she is uncomfortable cantering in a group, perhaps she is more anxious about jumping in general than she is letting on.

                                Just because she has the physical ability and position to do what you are asking, doesn't mean she is prepared for it mentally.

                                The zoning out/shutting down is very typical of someone with anxiety - they simply are too overwhelmed with their anxious thoughts and feelings to process anything else and sort of look like they are going through the motions.

                                Perhaps she has social anxiety and is afraid of speaking up about her nerves or feels she has to keep up with her peers so she isn't made fun of. She may not even realize she is nervous or afraid.

                                I would first find a time to quietly ask her if anything you are doing in the lessons is scaring her or making her uncomfortable, or how she feels about jumping, etc. as well.
                                Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique

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                                • #17
                                  It might be worth asking what other sports she does. My guess is she perhaps does nothing else.

                                  Some people have a very poor sense of spatial relations, and also a poor sense of "proprioception," meaning where their body is in the world. I would say in general, that boys in our culture have a better sense of spatial relations (and girls tend to have a better sense of social relations), but I don't know whether that is sex-linked or just because most boys are encouraged to move around more from an early age. People who are involved in active sport either have these senses, or develop them. Though people who don't have these senses, are often discouraged from sports in youth and never develop them.

                                  I would say I am not naturally brilliant at spatial relations or proprioception, but I have worked hard at them since I was a teen. So this is something I have thought about, especially when I see people who are *much worse* than me. For instance in Zumba fitness, the instructor will say "hold your weights straight out in front of you," and half the class will have their arms up, down, sideways. Or people riding horses who really don't know where their lower leg is.

                                  Adults have better attention spans, but sometimes they so lack the proprioception component or neural pathways that learning to be around horses is almost a remedial development thing for them. Teens on the other hand are better able to learn, but oh that spacey teen thing which I well remember! I flunked out of driving lessons at 16. I just couldn't focus. Then I got my license at 18 and became a safe efficient driver very quickly.

                                  When I was back in hunter jumper lessons as an adult I couldn't see tracks or pathways or where to turn, and as someone upthread commented, dressage really helped with that! I think I could have benefited from cones at the start.

                                  I think that if possible, a few additional remedial private lessons with this kid would do wonders for her, if you can slot that into your lesson program. Tell her that she has made great progress on her position, and once she gets steering down, she's really going to have the whole package, etc. And then set up some very basic things, like riding around cones on a 20 metre circle. Maybe always make the cones be "go to the outside of the cone." Have her tell you what she is going to do: I am going to ride outside of the cone. Have her repeat that at each cone. Take the jumps out of the equation.

                                  Maybe you even need to lead her at the walk or have her follow you at the walk around the cones shouting out "I'm going to the outside of the cone!" at each cone.

                                  My experience was that seeing distances and places in the ring took some time to develop, and that it is a global skill, not specific to one pattern. So if you can focus on something very basic and develop the confidence, it will translate.

                                  Another thing that goes along with not being great at spatial senses is not knowing how big something is. Have her halt and tell you how far away the wall is, etc. She might be cutting corners out of an instinctual fear of bashing into the wall or rail of the arena.
                                  Last edited by Scribbler; May. 8, 2019, 01:09 PM. Reason: Edited to add, the idea of making a circle with cornstarch is brilliant and would have been a *huge help* to me at the start of my adult lessons!

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                                  • #18
                                    I'm not an instructor, trainer or teacher, but some of these suggestions seem really good.

                                    If she was a horse you'd reduce the difficulty of the exercise until it was easy for her to focus on that one thing, found success with that, then start gradually increasing difficulty.

                                    So, in a one on one lesson, put one cone on the ground: ask her to ride to it, around it, come back - at walk. Then trot. Then canter.

                                    Then place the cone a few strides from a ground pole so she has to go round the cone at walk, to the pole. Repeat at trot, canter etc. Then change the pole for an x rail etc.

                                    She has no incentive to get this right really, from what I can tell. Has anything bad happened as a result of cutting a corner to a jump? Probably not. Does explaining WHY this is bad make a difference? Seems like no. And kids differ on their response to negative reinforcement from the trainer (ie being yelled at) or positive (huge praise) so you know her best. But figure out an incentive and a logic that makes sense for her.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Pally View Post

                                      Wow. Thank you for this. I will definitely have a conversation with her about her eyes. I think she is a year or two short of going for her license, so it's possible it hasn't come up. (I was in the license office once and a girl came in for her learner's... basically couldn't see anything. Crazy to think it hadn't caused her enough issues in day to day life to have been checked before).
                                      Ooooh, no, I really disagree with suggesting directly to a teenager that she get her eyes checked. To an insecure teenager, this may be tantamount to saying "You are so bad at this, that I'm wondering if maybe you can even see".
                                      I have no problem with talking privately to the parent about what you're experiencing and ask advice. Let the parent decide if medical or counselor attention is warranted.

                                      The far simpler and more likely scenario is that, as a beginning instructor, you just haven't found the right way to teach this kid yet. You are asking great questions but remember that learning how to teach is a long process. At this very early stage of your career, loooonnnng before you pull aside a teenager and ask what's wrong with her, you need to focus on you and your teaching methods. (which you're doing here, I don't mean to say you're ONLY looking for physical causes).

                                      Think about how a first time horse owner often assumes their horse must have this complex history of prior abuse (He spooked at an umbrella and bucked me off -- must've been beaten with umbrellas by a former owner!!). When the reality is the horse owner just needs to learn and refine her own training methods. It doesn't really matter whether that evil umbrella-beating former owner ever existed, we still have to figure out how to train the horse we find in front of us. It's the same with students.

                                      There are lots more things you can try-- are there any senior instructors at this barn who could watch your lesson and give you some feedback? Or, if this feels like a safety issue or just really hard for you to fix, it could be that you are not quite ready to teach her yet. One of the best things an instructor can do is acknowledge when they are not the right teacher for a given student.

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                                      • #20
                                        I am an anxious rider, and my instructor would always say "turn your head and LOOK at the jump", so I would turn my head and "look" at the jump but I just couldn't see a distance on this horse at all (and she was a STB, and had a lot of difficulty adjusting her canter). Finally a clinician told me, "You are turning your head and looking at the jump but it's like you are in denial about it. I want you to really engage the jump". She was totally right! I was absolutely in denial. I was turning my head and "looking" to get my instructor off my back, but I wasn't changing anything about my line or my position or the way I communicated with my horse. I can't explain what changed, but the rest of the clinic went really well because I made sure I was PRESENT for every approach.

                                        I'm an adult, so her making that observation was HUGE for me. I still have the tendency when nervous to "go through the motions", but when I feel that detached "this is happening to someone else" feeling, I can bring myself back in the game. In my case, I realized I didn't enjoy jumping that horse and I found her a trail home, and got myself a horse who loved to jump and never missed, or at least he never worried about any spot. It's a lot easier to stay present when you trust your horse.

                                        I don't know if my experience is relevant at all, but fortunately there is a lot of good advice on this thread re: exercises and different things you can say to help her have a break through.

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