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ASL and Riding

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  • ASL and Riding

    American Sign Language and Riding.
    I have been a riding instructor, (hunter & lower level dressage) for many years. I’m now an Interpreter student. Through my classes and interaction with members of the Deaf Community, I’ve had many people show a great interest in learning to ride. Many people have wanted to ride and take lessons, but because of the language barrier they have had no opportunities.
    So, I’m wondering if there are any Deaf riders here on the board who would be willing to give me some advice.
    Thank you.

  • #2
    I suggest posting this in the Equestrians with Disabilities forum.
    I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne


    • #3
      What kind of advice are you looking for?

      I think it's cool that there might be another equestrian interpreter. I was fortunate enough to have the world's coolest interpreter in university who not only could interpret my horse judging class, but could interpret my riding class too. How lucky since she also had horses...

      Without her, I doubt that would have happened.

      Put me on the list of I wish I had access to an interpreted lesson. I can do OK, but certainly miss a whole lot more of what's going on. (Just hard of hearing, not Deaf. )
      Semi Feral


      • Original Poster

        I'm hoping for some feedback to understand what a Deaf rider thinks would have been the most help in their early riding experiance. I noticed that another poster suggested that I put this topic in the disabilities forum. I am trying to show that I want to work with people who use a visual language, that do not have a handicap.


        • #5
          I used to teach beginning riding for a local college. My classes would have 4 or 5 riders in each group. One student who took the class was deaf. She came with her interpreter.
          We needed a way to signal if there was a class emergency (like one of the riders fell off). We worked out that the interpreter (who stood next to me in the middle of the riding ring) carried a flashlight. If all riders were to stop and immediately dismount (our usual action if a rider fell or a horse began to seriously misbehave), the interpreter would shine the flashlight into the eyes of the deaf student while I gave a verbal instruction to the hearing riders.
          Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
          Elmwood, Wisconsin


          • Original Poster

            Thank you, I will be teaching private lessons,. I am thinking of putting a light in all 4 corners of the indoor to signal for attention.
            At a show, I'm wondering about signaling changes of gait, or at a dressage show, signaling the bell.


            • #7
              I have been hard of hearing all my life.
              I would say, the most important is to interact with teachers that can stay calm, don't get frustrated when THEY can't communicate effectively.

              Some teachers don't quite believe that the student, that seems to cope well most of the time, are really not hearing them all the time and may get mad if they are having a short of temper day themselves.

              As an interpreter, I didn't know those existed but in a fuzzy way, or to what extent they could be applied to students, I think that educating the TEACHERS how each deaf student can work best would be an important part of the job.


              • #8
                OP, you might be able to find something like a vibrating "pager" type device that the rider could have clipped to his/her belt and you can push a button to induce a vibration to indicate "look at me". Then you could sign your instruction.

                Mirrors may also be helpful. I know that for me, even as a hearing person, it was helpful to be able to be riding away from my instructor but see her in the mirror as she gave instruction.

                Best wishes. Where there's a will, there's a way!
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  I've taught riders with hearing impairments in therapeutic riding, and elsewhere. The main difference n my teaching style is that we come into the center of the arena to talk, then the rider goes back out to do whatever it is, then I get their attention and they come back in to discuss it again. This style of lesson can also work really well for anyone who's not an auditory learner and wishes their instructor would just shut up and let them ride! The FM unit that some kids use in school can be really helpful, too. I haven't taught anyone who exclusively signs so I'm not much help with that.


                  • #10
                    I don't know how people manage to ride with hearing aids or fm units. Must be tougher than I am. I can't even tolerate hearing aids outside. Too much interference with just about everything.

                    I don't know how someone would do a dressage test. I just ended up having to memorize my riding final exams (a dressage type test) since I didn't see a way around that.

                    There is a discussion going online about showing in ring classes with changes of gaits, etc. Some have used ringmasters to help signal a change of gait, others have friends (or I would assume instructor would work at well) for a change of gait/reverse.

                    I did show in-hand and the ringmaster was very helpful in helping clarify what was going on. Easy enough to get her point across on where she wanted me. *grin* The gate keeper was also invaluable and thoughtfully came and fetched me from the bullpen when my number was announced as there would be zero way to know what the heck was going on. In my case, I was there without a coach, so I am very grateful to others that stepped up to help.
                    Semi Feral


                    • #11
                      There are FM receivers that an instructor could use that sends a direct signal to the persons hearing aid eliminating background noise and having direct communication. My oldest daughter is deaf and rode. My other daughter who is hearing was fluent in sign and I could actually coach/root for her from the rail and never say a word. THere are sign language books out there for Riding/Horse words/signs.
                      One of the most difficult aspects of riding for my Deaf daugher was balance. Ya really have to work with them on seat and horsemanship ie understanding a horses way of communication.