Saturday, July 13, 2013

Teachers and students

As I've mentioned on occasion, I sometimes teach at the barn as a substitute.  This is useful for the barn since it means they have a back up when the regular teachers have a conflict.  It's nice for me because it keeps me in practice as a teacher and, when it's not what I'm doing for a living, it's fun.  After working in an office job, spending a couple hours trying to keep kids on top of ponies is a nice change of pace.

With my background in the hunter/jumper world, I'm a bit different than the other teachers.  I'm a stickler for position and accurate riding.  My personality is also a bit different.  I'm a hard nose and drive students a bit harder.  Jumping position until their legs shake, no stirrup work, gymnastics and complicated courses, all of that is in my repertoire.  I can't tell if the kids are happy to see me or not.  On the one hand, I'm the sub so I shake things up.  On the other hand, I have no issue with barking if a kid does something I think is dangerous.

I've subbed in enough to know the kids now.  We've worked out a teacher/student relationship and I do think of them as my students.  I get all protective of them when I start thinking of them as my students.

One of my kids gave me a very serious scare today.  It wasn't too terribly hot, cooler than it's been, but it was very humid.  I had them going through a pattern one at a time.  I turned to one of them, asking her if she was ready for her turn, and she said that her stomach hurt.  I walked over, asking her what kind of hurt, and noticed she looked pale.  I repeated my question and she wasn't focusing properly.  She didn't respond.  At this point I noticed she was trembling.  I reached up to wave my hand in front of her face and saw her list to the off side.  All I could think was 'she's having a *** damn seizure!'.  I grabbed her arm as she slumped forward, half conscious.  She was aware enough to hang on to the reins and keep her feet in the stirrups, but wasn't responding.

I had to ask her a couple times to let go of the reins and take her feet out of the stirrups before she complied.  At that point she was a bit like a sack of potatoes.  I gave her a tug and she slid off into my arms.  Good thing she was a little one, since I had to completely catch her.  Also a good thing she was on the amazing school horse Red.  He just stood there while all of this was going on, still as a statue, even as I hauled her half conscious self to sit on the coop.

I asked if she was diabetic, epileptic, had any allergies, but she said no to everything.  She looked better now that she was on the ground.  Her grandmother was waiting in a car, so I took her arm so I could walk her across the ring to her grandmother.  We made it maybe ten feet before she melted on me.  I caught her and this time, she was lowered to the ground.

Fortunately the working students arrived at about that point so I had help.  We laid her on her back with one of the students holding her feet up.  She'd gone gray and though she never completely lost consciousness, for all intents and purposes, she'd passed out.  Her grandmother spotted us at this point and rushed over with water and an Epi-pen.  No Epi-pen needed, and after lying on the cold sand and drinking water for about ten minutes, my student was back on her feet and her color was back to normal.

It was a lesson on how easy it is for a kid to overheat or dehydrate.  She had breakfast 2.5 hours before and that was the last time she had something to drink.  45 minutes in the saddle in high humidity was enough to send her system into shut down.  She rebounded just fine once she downed a bottle of water and had some time to chill. 

That was one of the scariest damn things that have ever happened while I was teaching.  In the end no harm done, but I will certainly be harassing my parents about bringing water in future lessons.  This sport is going to give me a heart attack, one way or another.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, super scary! I know I have a really hard time in high humidity too, a good reminder to always have water!