One of my targets for this year was to start having lessons again. I hadn’t had a lesson since before I bought Magnum, and let’s face it, that’s a long time ago now! I would love to have lessons on Florence, but, as I don’t hav either access to a school or any way of taking her to one, it has to be a riding school. This in itself has it’s challenges. As well as the usual things that everybody should take into account when choosing a riding school, horse welfare, accreditation, teaching style, etc, there is a whole other level of complication when you’re blind.
The law, in the form of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and the 2010 Equalities Act, states that all organisations providing goods and services to the public must make “Reasonable adjustment” to accommodate Needs of people living with disabilities. This applies to all disabilities, and all industries. The horse industry is no exception, but sometimes it’s very hard to tell!
So the first challenge is actually getting a lesson booked. The usual excuse for not accepting you as a client is that old chestnut Health & Safety, closely followed Insurance. Yeh right! Let’s face it, when you’re blind, any activity that involves crossing a road is potentially life threatening. If I applied Health & Safety to my everyday life I probably wouldn’t deem it safe to get out of bed in the morning! As for insurance, well, I personally have personal accident and third party liability cover through my British Horse Society membership. However, the insurance industry is also bound by the above legislation, so it’s a non-argument really.
You then get told that you need Riding for the Disabled. Don’t get me started!
Once you have convinced a Riding School to book you in, you then have a whole other level of issues to deal with. These range from the over clunky, scared you might break a nail and convinced you are totally incapable of thinking for yourself, to the totally oblivious to the fact that blind means can’t see, and actually some imput about direction of travel and proximity of hazards would be appreciated here please.
It’s not always that though, and when you find the right place it can be an enlightening and liberating experience for rider and instructor alike.
Hal a has been having lessons at a small, family run, riding school ever since we moved here. The owner/instructor there has a lovely positive way of teaching, and an ability to think round a problem. Her horses are also part of the family, not just the work force. It seemed like the obvious choice.
So the first few times were spent getting a feel for the school, working on my position, and dealing with the worst of my bad habits. Ideal! Then we took it up a gear!
The last time I cantered was on Magnum, probably about the third or fourth time I rode him, and a long time before I bought him. Until about two months ago that is! I really have to work on my transition from trot to canter, and my seat could be better, but canter is a regular part of my lesson now. I can’t wait to try cantering Florence!
A blind rider can’t jump though can they? Erm, well, yes they can! Last week a small jump snook into my lesson! It has been a very very long time since I jumped .
My confidence in the saddle is growing and growing.
Life is good