Saturday, September 7

explain me how

Ok, for those of you still wondering what exactly I was doing to that poor horse in the last post: I was taking his temperature. Yes, rectally.

I am holding a thermometer in the photo, but you can't see it because I am trying not to let it slip into the vast environs of the equestrian buttocks. They told us this can happen, but they did not tell us how the thermometer is retrieved, and I don't care to find out.

I have to say that of all the things I dreamed of exploring at the inception of this blog, taking a horse's rectal temperature was not one of them.

I surprised myself this week by getting excited about task analysis. Yes, task analysis. I can feel some of your eyes just glazed over. Don't go back to watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix! Stick with me; I promise it'll be good.

Basically, 'task analysis' means breaking down a specific action into a series of smaller steps. For our purposes, I'm not talking hydrogen bomb building here. For riding, I'm talking a task like getting off a horse––that's assuming one has gotten onto the horse in the first place, which is certainly not a given.

You might say to a more experienced rider: "Sally, I want you to dismount," and get the desired task completion. But for a rider who has never gotten off a horse before, or for whom "dismount" sounds so complex, you might as well tell her to "go to the moon," step-by-step directives may be required: like "take your foot out of the stirrup...lean forward...bring your leg back" etc. This sort of thing is exceptionally important in teaching riders with disabilities.

But I'm actually getting lots of practice with two of my housemates for whom English is a second language. I can't just go off spouting run on sentences rot with American slang (as I am terribly prone), and expect anything more than a blank stare.

In an attempt to streamline communication, I've almost naturally begun speaking a strange old-Western-stereotypical-Indian dialect, comprised of single-verb sentences full of monosyllabic words.

"It's OK I take shower now?"

"Yes I'm going to sleep."

" Star Wars."

My new friends are actually surprisingly well-versed in a language that some of them have been speaking for less than a year. But every now and then communication breaks down. I found bread crumbs had invited a scouting troop of ants and called up the stairs:

"Erika, there are ants eating your crumbs on the counter."


"Ants on the counter!"


"Ants! Ants!"

She came down the stairs and into the kitchen. "Oh, ANTS." she said.

My Korean housemate came to my room tonight, concerned that she may have difficulty communicating with her riding students. As I was trying to reassure her, it suddenly occurred to me that she and the other non-native English speakers may have the advantage when it comes to task analysis.

If you have less words to use, you use less words--and the right few words can speak volumes. I'm pretty sure a Tibetan monk once said that, but if not, I call it.

Simplicity is a language I'm learning to speak.


Thursday, September 5

too busy posting to post

Due to a serious avalanche of lecture hours, homework, and horseplay, today's post will be postponed until tomorrow.

Sorry to be a horse's...