Last month, I went with Susan to see a Level 2 Western Coach. I was there to babysit the little feller, who was just shy of his first birthday. In between stroller walks and biscuits, and pointing his chubby fingers at the horses in the pasture, I got to catch a few pieces of information. "Spyder" and I sat on a lawn chair in the barn, where he could sit on my knee and watch his mommy wrap a horse's leg in a very complicated knee bandage.
I had to think about this little ladder of knowledge. I'm a Level 3 Rider. I get my lessons from Susan, a Level 1 Coach. She in turn gets her lessons from Maggie, a Level 2 Coach.
I need to reach Level 4 Rider, then take my exam, to become an Instructor. After that, I have the option to study what's called a General Component, which will qualify me for another exam, after which I'll be a Level 1 Coach as well. (This might take a few more years!)
Susan's at the point where she's sort of eyeballing the Level 2 Coach thing and thinking she might go for it one of these years. She didn't need the General Component in 1999. It's a course of study that makes sure the coach has a broad knowledge of western riding disciplines, such as reining, equitation, and barrel racing. There's also a more intensive look at stable management and first aid, which is why Susan was learning all kinds of obscure leg bandaging techniques.
It was quite odd to see my own teacher being taught.
It was reassuring.
She's not only a good teacher; she's a good student too. She asked questions, made mistakes, and kept trying.
I try to be a good student, but I am so aware that I'm a slow learner. I have a hard time getting the lessons through my ears and brain and into my hands and legs. I have to do things wrong several times before I get it right. Even if I understand the concept, or at least think I do, it takes a lot of physical work to really accomplish the goal. It doesn't matter how much I love horses; this riding lesson thing is very hard work.
After Susan's session with Maggie, she had a lot of ideas for coaching me. I'm one of her most advanced students. She's throwing it at me hard, teaching me stuff I won't even need to know for my Level 4 test. I will be very prepared when the time comes.
But the most interesting part has been my own teaching style. I can't even name the specific difference, but I feel like I've gotten some benefit from that afternoon. Maybe it's confidence from seeing firsthand that we are all teachers and students. I still get my left and right confused during lessons, but I feel like my students can trust me more. Is it authority? Does it come from knowing that we're all learning here? Because I can tell you this: when I'm teaching a riding lesson, I definitely feel like I'm learning from my students!
I didn't always do well in school. But I loved learning. This learning process has been so incredibly rewarding. I love knowing that I've got a whole lifetime ahead to learn more!