I’ve been riding since I was 6. I’ve never stopped taking lessons, and I’ve certainly had times where I feel totally inadequate and uncertain, but I’ve been riding most of my life. I forget what it feels like to not even know how to hold a lead rope or reins, and don’t remember a time where I was totally inept around a horse.
I think it’s incredibly important, especially for teachers, to be a beginner again. I’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar. I took a class in college and wasn’t immediately good at it, so I kind of gave up. My class focused a lot on changing chords quickly; and since I was the least experienced one in the class, the material progressed far beyond my ability quickly as well. I felt overwhelmed and kind of embarrassed so I quit trying.
I have a student now who is a guitar teacher, so the urge to play guitar came up again. I have to say- I am a total beginner. I have just enough experience with a guitar to be insecure about my ability. I’m extremely vulnerable as a student – my teacher is experienced, makes it all look smooth and easy; and I can’t figure out how to put my finger on a string without it buzzing half the time.
Luckily for me, she is a very gracious teacher. She encourages me, doesn’t make me feel embarrassed for mistakes, and tells me to slow down while my hands get the feel for where they should go.
As a riding instructor, it’s wonderful to be in such a position. It’s eye opening to remember what it feels like to know nothing, and to feel overwhelmed. It’s even more eye opening to feel how much quicker I learn with an encouraging teacher vs my old college class.
Being a beginner is an important experience – don’t downplay your experience with a horse just because you don’t know how to hold your hands yet. Don’t downplay your ability just because you aren’t sure where to put your leg, and your teacher makes it look so easy. Being a beginner is a wonderful thing to be. It’s a fresh, honest and open way to experience the world.