For the past three sessions at RDA, I have been working with the same rider and horse, but with three different partners. The first week, I was with a partner who was from a different school but had worked at RDA before, the second time I was with someone from UWCSEA, and the last time I was with a partner who used to work at RDA when they were in high school. All in all, while it is definitely important to be able to work with different people, the whole situation is so new that working with constantly changing partners makes the dynamics of the session harder than it could be. It makes it harder to work together because we first have to get to know each other and also to know the rider and horse.
I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily easier to work with someone from UWCSEA because I also did not know many of the people from school that well. It was easier to work with the two partners who hadn’t come from school because they both had previous experience with the facilities and with other riders. Each time, I did need my partner to various extents, but I could have never done it alone. Having a partner allows for better support of both the rider and the side walkers, and is more safe. I still think safety is a huge concern. The goal is to push the rider to improve as much as they can, but I don’t really want to let go (Physically, as we stand on either size and support their legs). It’s really important to individually focus on how you can help the rider, but still be aware and responsive to the horse, your partner, the person leading the horse, and the instructors. You have to plan and initiate but also pay attention and listen.
The third session was difficult because my partner and I found that our rider was quickly getting tired and unhappy, and was rather unwilling to do the exercises. The lead instructor was getting angry with us because we could not convince her to do the activities as well as some of the other riders. This was slightly frustrating, because I think both my partner and I were trying very hard but also know that the rider themselves was tired with the activity. I don’t think either of us wanted to be pushy or mean. So it took patience, a lot of coaxing and praising: we both had to try new things for different outcomes. We had to try some new things and experiment to see what could work best for everyone.
Overall, it’s really important to challenge yourself and the rider, and try new things to meet a goal. You have to work together with everyone, but also be able to focus on yourself and your contributions.