I mentioned some time ago that Sue wrote ‘Deaf Rider’ across the back of her hi-viz riding vest and I was, frankly, a little unsure about that. Would some people (you know the type) regard that information as a means for making fun of her?
I’m delighted to have been proved an idiot. It’s not an uncommon experience in my life, so I’m used to the feeling, never been so happy about it though.
Last week Sue was riding past the entrance to a cluster of houses where a rowdy group of young children were running around playing. A couple were hiding behind the wheelie bins next to the lane and Sue was aware that if they pounced on their pals screams and laughter would ensue – quite rightly that’s what kids should do, have fun. For a horse though, an outburst of fun can be scary; Tia was already eyeing the hiding kids because to her they represented a threat > skulking things are things waiting to attack.
Animals, particularly equines, pick up on human emotions, if you tense they will tense because tensing indicates a threat and if you’re worried about something then it’s gotta be a problem for them. It’s the same for us as when a smoke alarm starts flashing, we look for what’s wrong because whatever it is could be a danger.
Sue and Tia have a unique relationship in which trust, understanding and a genuine bond are everything. Sue saw what could happen and that a noisy outburst would require her to reassure Tia that all was well. As long as Tia didn’t spook sideways and unseat Sue… it hasn’t ever happened but there is the risk.
One of the lads, about seven years old Sue reckoned, dashed over to the hiders shaking his head and Sue saw him say the word deaf. ALL the youngsters stopped rushing around, made themselves obvious and smiled as Sue rode past. Sue thanked them and saw the lad pointing to his ear as he told the others why they needed to have stopped playing for a moment. People tend to moan about youngsters out of principle; not a bad lot though, are they?
Also, Sue’s noticed that drivers are much more friendly and (dare I use the word?) tolerant. Occasionally there hasn’t been enough room for Tia to move to the edge of the lane to let vehicles go past or, very occasionally, Sue hasn’t realised there was something behind her. She’s ‘pulled in’ and let the vehicles past as soon as possible while waving thanks and apologising, drivers have smiled and mouthed “that’s okay”.
Sue always wears her Hearing Link ‘lipreader’ wristband. Informing the world of hearing loss in any way, black ink on bright yellow for example, can make for better communications. It’s not for me to say this, I know, but hiding hearing loss (‘invisible’ hearing aids??) might not be that constructive.