WHY USE HUMOR in LESSONS

WHY USE HUMOR in LESSONS

June 2019

 

It’s no surprise that people who laugh enjoy life and handle its challenges better than those that don’t know how to find the humor in everyday tasks. When giving riding lessons to students who already find life challenging or intimidating, making riding lessons fun and enjoyable can be difficult.

As an instructor, it is imperative that my students find learning to be fun in order to be memorable. If their lesson is memorable, then they will be able to build on it from week to week. Muscle memory will begin to take over allowing the brain to take in more information. In order to make the lesson memorable, I like to imbed a game of sorts into learning a new task. (Depending on the age of the students using the word game may not be appropriate. Instead, you might use the word contest, exercise, or challenge).

Many riding instructors get caught up in the technical aspect of the lesson which for many students is boring. Boring does not make a lesson memorable or enjoyable for the students or volunteers. I like to have fun with the students and volunteers during a lesson. As an instructor you are a teacher, actor, impressionist, comedian, and friend. Tying all of that together can be exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time!

When writing a lesson plan, try to make it visually stimulating as well as tactual. Include props, moving parts, silly sounds or voices, even music (if students are ok with music or loud noises). Many people are visual learners. Adding in colors and textures helps create a picture that a person can hold in their memory. Having fun and laughing creates dopamine, which will help regulate emotions and assist motor skills.

Here is a sample group lesson for beginning riders:

Objective: Steering horse at a walk to cone, turn one full circle around cone and back to barrel 3x’s, Steering horse at a trot to cone, turn one full circle around cone and back to barrel 3x’s

Arena set-up:

4 long poles set up like a box at one end of the arena about 10ft from fence

3 cones set up at opposite end of the arena set up about 12ft from fence

2 barrels set up in center of arena (home base for each rider)

4 volunteers to be cows or cats or dogs

 

After students have had their safety checks, stretched, reviewed previously learned tasks, teach new task of steering a straight line at a walk and trot. Each student will choose a barrel for their home base. From their barrel, they each will ride their horse 3x’s in a straight line to a cone at a walk, turn a full circle (either direction) around cone and return to base at a walk. Next, they will ride their horse 3x’s at a trot to a cone, turn a full circle (either direction) around cone and back to home base in a straight line.

 

 

Game – Moving Cows:

Students will each try to move volunteers who are acting like cows, following them at a walk/trot and try to move them into the corral created by the 4 poles. The “cows” will be moving in random directions and “mooing”. After all of the cows are caught the game is over.

No cows are to be touched or run over by horses in this exercise!

 

Benefits of this game: authentic steering, authentic turning, motor planning

Be creative! I’ve had students try to move volunteers who played dogs, cats, even chickens! Lots of clucking, barking and meowing by all!

 

As you can see in your minds eye, you were able to visualize this game while reading the instructions. You could hear the game in action because you know what a cow sounds like when it moo’s! And there will be LOTS OF LAUGHTER BY BOTH STUDENTS AND VOLUNTEERS! Do you think this will be a memorable lesson? Why yes, because it was created with humor in mind.

WHY be a VOLUNTEER?

Why be a Volunteer?

April 2019

 

It’s not for the money, it’s not for the fame.

It’s not for any personal gain.

It’s just for love of fellow man.

It’s just to send a helping hand.

It’s just to give a tithe of self.

That’s something you can’t buy with wealth.

It’s not medals won with pride.

It’s for that feeling deep inside.

It’s that reward down in your heart.

It’s that feeling that you’ve been a part,

Of helping others far and near,

that makes you a Volunteer!

 

Author Unknown

 

PERSEVERANCE

Not long ago we had a new student sign up for lessons. His main goal was to be able to sit on a horse with confidence. For most of us that sounds like it would be a fairly easy goal to accomplish. For this youngster his anxiety was so overwhelming it was all he could do to just go in the arena and stand by the horse. Not next to the horse but close by the horse. After witnessing his angst, we realized this was going to be a process instead of a normal set of lessons.

First, we tried him with our oldest horse 35 years old Laredo. Laredo, we thought being a tenured horse in our program would be the perfect choice. Instead Laredo was more concerned about getting back to the barn for dinner. Any of Laredo’s movements shattered his confidence. Eventually, we chose Whiskey for our new student. Perfect match! Whiskey doesn’t like to move much and if she does it’s not going to be fast! The second lesson was just attempting to pet Whiskey and hold a brush, possibly brushing her on her neck from time to time. Baby steps, we had to keep reminding ourselves, baby steps.

Soon we had the 3-step mounting block nestled in close to Whiskey’s side. The plan was to have our student stand on the 2nd step to start brushing Whiskey’s back and rump areas. He would climb down from the mounting block and take calming breaths. When he felt ready he would climb back up and start brushing again. At times he would talk to her quietly, sharing his thoughts and pet her nose. This was very endearing to watch. It’s like she understood everything he said to her. She knew how hard this was for him.

His grandmother asked us to have Whiskey tacked up for the following lesson. His mother was going to be able to come and she hoped he would want to show off and maybe get on the horse for her. He came out to the arena with his mother. She was so excited to possibly see him get on the horse. But the pressure was too much. We decided to break it down into steps for him. Initially, we had him standing on the mounting block putting his foot in and out of the stirrup. Let’s do that 20 times. Done! Okay, put your foot in the stirrup and put your weight in the stirrup by standing up in it briefly. Next take your weight out of the stirrup and come back down to the mounting block. He wasn’t at all sure about that! We demonstrated it for him and he realized it wasn’t going to be that bad. Let’s do that 20 times. Done!

This next lesson proved to be so close but yet so far away from being accomplished! First of all, Whiskey is a saint! She just stood there for all of this up and down business! He practiced his standing up in the stirrup 20 times so we decided he should try swinging his leg over and sit in the saddle. NOPE! So instead, HE broke it down into 2 steps! His mom was standing on the off side of Whiskey holding her hand up above the saddle. He would swing his leg up and over tapping her hand with the toe of his shoe then bring his leg back down to the mounting block. He must have done this perhaps 30 times. We told him how difficult this maneuver was and that it would be a lot easier for him to just sit down after he swings his leg over!

Now we have arrived at his last lesson for the session. He got out of the car with so much confidence and sharing with anyone in earshot that today he was going to sit on Whiskey! He kept telling his mom, “I really am, I really am going to do it!” The energy was electric, everyone was ready and we so hoped he would be able to do it! He marched into the arena walking right up to his horse and gave her a couple of pets on the nose while telling himself he was going to do it.

Whiskey was standing at the ready along with her horse handler, 2 side walkers, his mother and HorsePower volunteers. Standing outside the arena were the other parents of the other 3 students that were part of his class. Oh, did I neglect to share that he was part of a group lesson? Yes, and the last 5 lessons had been done at the far end of the arena by the parking lot where his grandmother and grandfather could stand at the arena rail close to him and help him with encouraging comments of support. Now getting back to his moment of truth, was he able to accomplish his goal? Yes!

He marched up and onto that mounting block, slid his foot into the stirrup and did three toe taps into his mothers waiting palm. On the 4th time, he swung his leg over and sat down in the saddle! He sat there beaming with a smile big enough and bright enough to light up a darkened sky! His mother was in tears, people’s hands are over their heads clapping and hollering in support of this tremendous moment. The 3 riders that were riding in the arena stopped and applauded their friend’s success. It was amazing! He rode Whiskey around the arena one time around each direction. But if that wasn’t enough, he asked if he could participate in the games on horseback with the other students! He was a rock star and he knew it!

SAYING GOODBYE

When you own animals you go into it knowing that they won’t be with you for the rest of your life. That being said, it’s still a shock to your heart when that time comes to say goodbye.

As a fellow horse owner, having a horse is one of the most amazing experiences you can have. No matter how old you are when a horse comes into your life or you might come into theirs, it will be unforgettable. Some of us were lucky enough to have our first horse when we were a young child. If you were one of those lucky one’s you might remember those long hot summer days laying on your horse bareback. Your chest is resting against the curve of their back, your head laying on her rump and your cheek pressed against her hip while your arms are dangling down at your horses’ sides. A perfect pillow, a bit hairy but otherwise perfect! Those were some of the best naps ever! You never fall off because she re-angles her hips to correct your ever increasing shift of weight. Your horse has now become the baby sitter.

Some of the best picnics have been with my horse. After riding on a hot summer day it was always wonderful to come home to a freshly made PB & J on white bread and an ample serving of Cheetos and share it with my horse! The best part of eating with your horse was to blow softly in their nose so they could smell your peanut butter breath. It was almost clockwork, you blow gently in your horses’ nose and they would stretch their neck raising their head high in the air and lifting their upper lip showing their teeth! It made them look like they were smiling!

As a teenager you want to ride fast! Everywhere you go it has to be at a run! When you get home from school, your horse is waiting at the fence looking for you even sometimes neighing at you! It’s time to go ride and race through the pastures!  The bond between a teen and their horse is something that is hard to describe. You just want to be out in the corral brushing them, braiding their mane and tail. Your horse loves being brushed, she leans into you with every stroke sometimes she’ll turn her head and nuzzle your arm. Your horse is your confidant in your teenage years. You can share anything with them and they aren’t going to judge you or tell on you if are making poor choices. They are your best friend. You need them as much as they need you.

You don’t realize it but time has gone by. All the sudden you notice the white hair showing up in your horses’ face. She’s not moving as fast as she used to and your conversations have changed from sharing your teenage secrets to sharing your dreams and accomplishments. She just rests her head on your shoulder while you stroke her neck and rub the tips of her ears or just gently rub her velvety soft muzzle. She listens intently while loving every minute you spend time with her.

Soon you are checking on her at night when the weather is bad or really cold out. You are now the babysitter, watching, caring, preparing for her every need. You begin to realize your best friend is now nearing the end of her life and you need to prepare yourself to let her go.

Quality of life not quantity is so important to keep in mind when you are an animal owner. You don’t want them to be in pain or so stoned on medication that they don’t know where they are. This is when owning animals becomes such an incredible responsibility. You love them unconditionally but you have to be able to let them go when it is time. They will always remain in your heart and in your dreams.

Contact Us

Colorado HorsePower, Inc.
PO Box 534
5027 Garton Rd
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Driving Directions

Email: info@coloradohorsepower.org

Phone: (303) 594-1509

Community Volunteers: 
Schools and Civic Organizations – (303) 594-1509 - Tricia Plattner
Other – (303) 887-6070 - Mark Renn

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