When deciding to start horse riding lessons it’s important to find an instructor who you will get along with and who can help you to achieve the skills and goals you are aiming towards. Whether you want to be able to go on a leisurely pony trek, or learn to compete, your instructor needs to take you there. Mike from Horse Seller has written this guide to help you find the right riding instructor for you.
Identifying your own riding goals
The first thing you need to do is think about what your goals are in learning to ride, that way you can share them with any would-be instructors to see if you will be able to work together successfully or not. Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about riding:
● Am I hoping to ride for enjoyment or do I want to take part in shows?
● What kind of time commitment can I give to horse riding?
● How much can I afford for lessons, riding clothes and safety gear?
Checking the instructors’ accreditations
Once you know what it is you want to achieve, you need to make sure you find someone who is professionally qualified to teach you. Find a qualified instructor in Australia. Make sure you check the certifications and accreditations of any driving school which you might be considering. Here are some questions to ask when looking for an instructor:
● How experienced are you with beginners?
● How many years have you been teaching?
● What qualifications/accreditations do you have?
● Do you do private or group lessons?
● How much is a private or a group lesson?
● Can I visit the riding school before committing?
Once you have found a school and instructor you like it can be worth running a quick check on social media to see if you can find anyone else who might have posted a review of their experience with this particular riding school. Word of mouth is always a good way to assess validity.
If the instructor has made claims about their previous riding experience, for example, they used to be a champion show-jumper; you should be able to find verification of this by searching online, perhaps with press articles or the horse show organisers.
The right experience is essential
Make sure the instructor is an expert in the type of riding you want to learn – there is no point signing up with a dressage expert if you want to take part in horse trials. Make sure the instructor matches your original goals.
Choosing an instructor for your children
If you are looking for an instructor for your children then you need to ask even more questions, around their experience of teaching youngsters and whether or not parents are able to come and watch the lessons if they want to.
You also need someone who has a good rapport with children as this person will be shaping your child’s first experiences with horses, riding and the culture of the stable yard so make sure you thoroughly assess their all-round knowledge and attitude before signing up.
It will be worth introducing them to the children before making any commitment as well, as they need to see if they will get along with the teacher or not. While you might think they are fantastic, your children might think they are awful and you don’t want to start their horse riding experience in a negative way.
Other riding students are also good sources of recommendations so if you have any contacts who are also learning to ride, talk to them about where they go and how they are getting along with their own instructors.
Finding an instructor when you are fearful
If you have particular needs then you need to make these clear to the instructor before you start your first lesson, for example, if you are particularly nervous or fearful around horses, or have had a bad experience in the past, you need to know that your chosen instructor will be skilled enough to deal with this and help to support and motivate you.
It’s as much about their personality and whether you get on with them as a teacher, as it is about their actual professional skill. If you clash or have an intense distrust or dislike of them from day one then they are probably not the right riding instructor for you.
Finding the right riding instructor for you or your children is an important decision as you will be spending both time and money with this person and trusting them to help you achieve whatever your horse riding goals might be.
Don’t rush into the first, or nearest school you come across. Do some research and make sure what they are offering really does match with what you are looking for. Check out their qualifications and accreditations and see if you get on with them – is this someone you will be able to listen to and take instruction from? If the answer is no, keep searching.