Tack Room Tales
After decades inspiring and training hundreds of coaches, Bert and Marion Hartog have decided to retire from horseridingcoach. Luckily for the horse industry, the business is in safe hands and will continue to deliver quality courses when new owners Elissa and Andrew Forbes take the reins in March. Bert’s humorous and educational Tack Room Tales have been gracing the pages of Horses and People magazine for many years and their support, professionalism and good humour will be truly missed.
Every so often, we organise a special night for our students to show off their skills to the public and friends. One of the most popular performance is the quadrille, ridden by eight riders.
A lot has been said about safety. There have been many workshops trying to formalise what a good riding instructor was already doing; that is having the physical and mental wellbeing of their students at heart. Physical wellbeing; you don’t want to injure your student unnecessarily. Mental wellbeing; if you over-face your students they lose confidence and self-esteem. If you are silly enough to put your student’s safety in danger, or damage their confidence by unnecessary yelling or doing things they cannot do competently, they will not come back.
Graham came to us as an adult RDA rider with a severe Cerebral Palsy condition. We had to sit him on a barrel so he could slowly stretch his abductors before we could mount him on a horse. In the beginning, his balance was so poor he needed to have two side walkers and a leader for the horse.
In the course of time, you meet all sorts of people. Some are nice, others not so nice, and some are downright difficult. Difficult students can make your life miserable, if you don’t deal with them straight away. It is important that your students listen to you, as often their safety is at stake. Here is one of these stories...
Let me tell you about my friend Kevin. One day, Kevin decided that he needed an interest in something other than mechanical horse power. Yeah, you got it. He bought himself the one horse power variety. He agisted it in a paddock near him. He knew very little about horses and it was not long before he met the Queen of the Paddock. Let me explain, the Queen of the Paddock is the person who has her (usually it is a she) horse in that paddock the longest. That fact alone makes her the expert.
With consumer goods, you get instant gratification by purchasing a better product. If you think your computer is too slow, you can buy a faster one or if you want a better quality car, you can purchase one if you can afford it. This is not so with horse riding or any sport for that matter. You can’t just purchase a horse with better breeding and pre-training, step on board and, miraculously, your performance will improve.
Especially in their early training! I remember when learning to ride in my early teens, my instructor had a number of expressions that were nonsense. We were running a Gymkhana this beautiful Sunday morning. Part of it was a cross country track for novice riders, which included a ditch. One of the ‘schoolies’ took the ditch with a big leap and afterwards showed her excitement with a sort of pigroot. Needless to say, the rider came off. The big leap had already unseated him.
Some time ago, I wrote a Tack Room Tale titled ‘My best lesson was when I did… Nothing’. Well, I did not do nothing entirely, but I did less. I just stuck to one training subject and the students ‘got it’. For them, it was more. Quite often, we try to do too much to fix a problem.
Milo was born a long time ago on a far away continent called Europe. He was sometimes called Half, maybe because he had half a mind on anything he did, he never could make up his mind. He had quite a large family and they went under the surname of ‘Ophouding’ or ‘Parade’, depending on which dialect they spoke. Half was born into a family that was wellknown for their horse skills.