Are You Teaching Foundation to Your Riding Students?
Say foundation and most people readily think of a house. Check out what the website This Old House says about foundations.
“A proper foundation does more than just hold a house above ground. It also keeps out moisture, insulates against the cold, and resists movement of the earth around it. Oh, and one more thing: It should last forever. No wonder builders like This Old House general contractor Tom Silva take foundations seriously. “Without a good one,” he says, “you’re sunk.””
What if we applied the explanation from This Old House to a horseback rider?
The Riding Instructor says:
The correct foundation does more than just hold the rider on the horse. It also keeps out bad habits, insulates against danger, and makes it possible to reach our riding goals. And yes: It should last forever. I agree with This Old House general contractor Tom Silva. “Without a good one,” he says, “you’re sunk.”
This Old House gives provides us with more analogy for rider education:
“For Tom, “good” means steel-reinforced foundation walls and footings made of poured concrete. By comparison, all the laboriously assembled foundations of stone, brick, and mortar that have supported buildings for centuries—even the walls of concrete block that most builders were using when This Old House was launched 25 years ago—are just crack- and leak-prone dinosaurs.”
For The Riding Instructor, “good” means paying attention to the basics from the foot up, teaching the rider about base of support, seat, hands, aids, and horsemanship. And we develop riders who understand and can think through riding problems independently. By comparison any other foundation is weak and leads to temporary riding, or worse, unnecessary accidents.
This Old House tells us: “But a good foundation requires a lot more than digging a hole and pouring some concrete into forms. It must be tailored to its site like a custom suit, taking into account soil conditions, water tables, even the quality of the backfill.”
The Riding Instructor tells us: Teaching a good foundation requires a lot more than giving instructions about how to sit, steer, stop and get the horse to respond to student instructions. It takes knowledge of the basics, attention to detail and the patience and fortitude to insist that students spend the time developing the correct technique and skill.
The Riding Instructor says: Foundation requires learning theory, developing skills and a reservoir of educational answers. An instructor needs to have methods to solve all kinds of riding problems. And add to it a good work ethic and integrity. Skip any part of this, hurry the process, skim over the details or water down the commitment and you’ve created a foundation that will erode and in time – crumble.
What do you say?I’d love to hear what you have to say about foundations. What are the most important parts of rider foundation?
Here’s to great lessons and super rides! Thanks for reading.
Barbara Ellin Fox