I remember, in my youth, the first time I became a teacher of linguistics in addition to being a student. It was a gentle introduction, since I co-taught with one of my professors, but it really did me a lot of good. They say that you really start to master a subject once you teach it, and “they” (whoever they are) are telling the truth! The stuff I learned when teaching interested college students about linguistics, as well as teaching grumpy engineering students about rhetoric for engineers sticks with me today.
Here’s a shameful admission: the ONLY writing class I ever took after high school English was reading the textbook for engineering rhetoric a chapter ahead of the students the first time I taught it. Yep, I taught myself technical writing. That seems to have worked out.
I watched this phenomenon of the student becoming the teacher play out yesterday, when we went out to play with the horses. Sara had already worked with Ace in the morning, so today she saddled him and put a bridle on him. The bit was a new surprise for him, but by the end of the day, he could eat grass with it. He’s no fool!
So, I brushed tons of hair off Apache, then got him all saddled up, while Sara took Ace to the round pen for some groundwork (that’s when you teach a horse to follow your instructions while running around). I started groundwork using a rope, but she was doing it “at liberty,” which means you’re in the pen with a horse who can do whatever it wants to (including, one hopes, what you ask it to).
It was quite an active scene, with Ace running and bucking and doing the kinds of things a horse who’s learning will do. Meanwhile, I decided it would be a good opportunity to help Apache keep focused on doing what I ask him to do, no matter what’s going on around him. We did patterns and turns, and different ways of approaching obstacles, and he did an impressive job of not paying much attention to Sara and Ace.
Ace was making progress, but not finding it easy to settle down, being burdened with all this new paraphernalia on him. He truly did not want to calmly walk in a circle. So, we tried having Apache be his role model. We walked calmly around the outside of the round pen, while Ace and Sara walked on the inside. Sure enough, Ace matched Apache’s mood and pace, and we walked in both directions just fine. That was the perfect time to stop the lesson, while success was happening.
I was proud of Apache for being a good teacher. Both horses got their reward when we walked to the end of the driveway again, me mounted and Sara alongside of Ace. Then we enjoyed a grazing break again. That was also good practice. It’s nice that these two get along so well.
I know it’s really good for Apache to be the calm, reasonable role model for the first time in his life. I can tell he enjoyed doing it, and he didn’t even realize that yesterday was the second time we ever rode without another person riding with us. Score!
That’s it for today’s horse report. Don’t worry, I won’t be writing about Ace progress every day, even though his owner says this makes him “famous.” But, Trixie comes today, so we may need a foot report!