“Sounds” is a pretty generic topic for a blog post. How does this apply to therapeutic riding lessons? Why is it important?
Using sounds in lessons is a way to reach lesson objectives and to change up a stale lesson plan. I’ll give you a few examples of how to do both of these is today’s post.
A riding skill I work on with almost all of my clients is looking where they want to go. The rider needs to turn their head, then shoulders, and then reins to get the horse to go where they want them to go. This is easier for some riders then others and this is where sound comes in. Use sounds to get the rider’s attention. This can be music, rattling a toy, shaking a bucket, or even just calling to the rider. Use volunteers in corners of the arena and ask them to call the rider when the rider needs to turn in that direction. Making a noise can encourage the rider to turn their head towards the sound, making it easier for their body to turn that way.
Music is a great way to shake up a lesson plan. Working on whoa’s and walk-on’s with riders? Play music every time the horse walks and stop it when the horse whoa’s. Act out a song like the Cupid Shuffle on the horse. When the song sings “to the left, to the left, to the left”, do a circle to the left. Use Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes to get riders to warm up or stretch. Play whatever music your rider(s) enjoy to engage them in the lesson.
Sound can also be used to teach riders about horses or the barn environment. Listen to the sounds of the horse – what sounds do they make? How does that differ from the sound of a dog or a person? Listen to noises around the barn. Is there a door closing? A bucket being filled with water? A muck bucket dragging down the aisle? If you are outside, listen to the sounds of the wind in the trees or birds chirping or squirrels chattering.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate sound into your lesson plan. I hope this gave you some ideas! Let me know if you use this in your lessons or if you have more ideas on how you use sounds with your clients.