Taking the plunge of publishing a first full length fiction is a huge event for an author, so I decided to use the opportunity to tell you how my author website ties in with The Riding Instructor.
In Case You're Concerned I've Gone Over to the Dark Side
Do I miss teaching riding? Yes. Absolutely, and I constantly resist the urge to begin again. Teaching drives me to write The Riding Instructor, although there is more feedback when you teach face to face.
But I love Fiction, too
I love writing fiction about horsewomen who face challenges. Gah! Challenges are so real for all of us, it hardly counts as fiction. But putting the challenges to personalities and situations in a story gives me the opportunity to entertain while showing the truth about how easy our lives are not. In my first series, For Love & Horses, the heroes are purposely all wealthy because I want to show the things we face are not cured by wealth. And maybe a small part of me loves spending some time in a world where money is not an object.
Instructors Have Problems
Outside of the fiction world, I know the problems instructors have dealing with school activities, students with outside interests, and money issues. I look at the vast numbers of people who ride, ranging from the back yard horse to the better-than-the -Olympics crowd to consider where the largest numbers of riders occur. From an instructional standpoint, the largest group of riders ranges from the kid who is taking their first lesson to the ones who have made it to the A circuit for a few shows and perhaps don’t have the coin to own a contender. Some members of this group will continue riding forever, some will drop out and return later, some will decide horses were not for them. Most of them will always love horses in some form. The lessons we teach will influence each student.
Perhaps we don’t hit this POV (point of view) about riding horses hard enough.
It’s easy to Google the benefits of riding or how a kid benefits from hanging around horses. We all know it is a good selling proposition. (Check out Horsemanship Life skills Your Child Will Use as an Adult) Youth organizations are especially strong in this area.Is it enough to list off the benefits of a horse relationship, or should we show adults the places these qualities can apply in their child’s life?
I’ve spent considerable time with United States Pony Clubs, a group that knows how horses help develop good citizens. One thing I love about USPC, is that kids are encouraged to verbalize and defend their positions. Pony Club kids have orals during certifications where they explain what they have learned and what they are going to do. This increases in difficulty as the levels go up. They also learn to defend a position through competitions known as rallies. In a rally, kids generally compete in teams. The team has a horse manager, a captain, and riders. There are horse management judges who remain in the stable area where parents are not allowed, and a team is penalized if they receive outside help.
When the team or its member receive marks off, rally rules teach how to contest a penalty. And the officials listen to the kids. This single facet of USPC, where kids are required to say what they know, or defend a position has helped many kids with self-confidence and composure. It teaches them to speak up in a way that they are heard. And it diminishes the fear of public speaking. Those qualities alone, translate into a child’s education and are used repeatedly in the workplace.
I’m hopping off the soap box. What are some of the other life examples or correlations we could use to show the value of time spent with horses. The list is huge and I’ll touch a couple of areas with blog posts from my author page https://BarbaraEllinFox.com.
In the post, The Similarity between Riding Horses and Writing books, I tell about using the traits I developed learning to ride in my education and career as an author. The lessons, the practice, the continual effort toward learning. You can’t rest on your laurels in either business. Consider all the places these lessons apply. Where have they mattered in your life?
Why a Writing Contest is Like a Dressage Test explains how the things I learned in competition prepared me for competition in the writing business. I made my preparations, performed, and then looked at my score sheets to see where I could improve my work. Both situations are like their own self-applied work evaluations.
Riding, Teaching, Writing, & Critique talks about negative teaching vs positive teaching and what a happy medium looks like.
There are many more correlations to draw in comparing a riding education to what is needed in life. I've barely mentioned a few but will likely write more. What I haven’t yet written about is how my identity as a rider who had worked hard and done well, saved my mental headspace at a very troubling time in my life.
Almost all character traits, good or bad, that a rider develops will apply to something else significant in their life. Perhaps we need parents to understand how applicable these traits are to their child’s future.
Other Things for Fiction Authors that Could Suit Your Students
I love to help riding instructors when I can, and I love to help authors who include horses in their stories. To be perfectly honest this began because I was put off by characters who only gallop their horses or use reigns to steer instead of reins. Or, and this one is my bugaboo, the hero puts the heroine in the saddle in front of him to save her. Have you ever actually tried to ride with two people in the same saddle? Okay, so I could go on with these aggravations, but I won’t.
I got the idea to help with videos after giving a Facebook class on horses for writers. I loved that people had so many questions about the horses in their stories.
The videos I made for authors turned out short on topics most horse lovers would enjoy. There are eight videos on this page for your students. They’re worth mentioning to homeschool moms, too. The videos range from the horse’s size to kinds of saddles.
BarbaraEllinFox.com has other interesting blog posts. Some, such as Horses for Writers-Are You Riding or Leading? which discusses the common misconception of leading, directing, and riding. Others are on topics like Horse Whisperer, What Does it Really Mean?, which after your read it might take some galmour out of the label, Horse Whisperer. And some post are a tad personal.
This Was Fun
I hope you enjoy this look into the other things I do and how they tie into TheRidingInstructor and teaching.
Here's a Question
What misunderstanding of horses or horse terminology puts you off when you read fiction?
Would You Check Out My Debut Fiction?
And if you like to read fiction / romantic suspense, I hope you’ll consider my debut novel, Remember Not. It’s in eBook form on AMAZON here.
Thanks for reading.
Barbara Ellin Fox