5 Questions to Ask Your Potential Horseback Riding Instructors Before Starting to Train With Them
Horseback riding instructors do more than teaching you how to sit on a horse or how to have a perfect canter. It's an critical priority for them to keep their students and horses safe & healthy. That's why its a very important criteria to find horseback riding instructors who are there to teach us "horsemanship" first, before anything else that we will learn from them. You should try to understand what you can learn in terms of riding & horsemanship by finding out questions to ask potential horseback riding instructors.
Finding an instructor that knows how to teach and can communicate clearly and be able to modify their instruction and teaching style to accommodate the individual learning style of each student plays a huge part in how you will advance in your riding lessons. You should be able to communicate well with your instructor and feel comfortable to ask when you have questions. In turn, just as you listen to the instructor speak, the instructor should listen to all things when you speak to them, and hear all the questions or concerns you bring to them.
If you find that your trainer tends to interrupt when you speak and disregards your questions and or concerns as being silly or funny, it will not help you advance as a rider. An understanding and compassionate trainer who is encouraging and compassionate will help you build your confidence and advance as a rider.
How to Find Horseback Riding Instructors
First things first. Make a list of the instructors you would like to call. Check the phone book and browse the internet to find the nearest horseback riding lessons in your area. If you have friends that ride you can ask if they have any instructors they could recommend to you. After you have your list of instructors to call, be prepared with questions to ask potential horseback riding instructors.
Which Questions to Ask Potential Horseback Riding Instructors Before Starting to Train With Them?
1. What is their professional experience? Are they certified, have a license or did they receive on the job training? And how long have you been riding and/or owned horses?
You want to know what makes them qualified to teach you. Think of this as a way to find out what your future instructor knows. Their knowledge directly impacts what you learn.
Unlike many other skilled trades it is not required to be certified or licensed to be a horseback riding instructor. Many instructors grew up or have spent many years in the equine industry riding and working alongside trainers and instructors, and overtime the skills were developed. So if you find an instructor you want to try, but you find that they are not certified, don’t let that stop you from riding with them.
Getting the history of riding and horse ownership will give you a good idea of what other knowledge your instructor has. Owning horses and caring for them 24/7 adds additional responsibilities along with other odds and ends, that one may not encounter if they work at a barn from 6:00 am - 6:00 pm. You will also get a sense of their personality by how they speak of past horses and interactions they had with horses throughout their life.
2. Did you or do you currently compete? If so, what disciplines and what awards have you received?
If you plan to show you will want to make sure your instructor has experience showing. Learning what discipline and when they competed will help you decide if they are up to date on current show trends and if they have the skills to help you accomplish your goals. If you don’t plan to compete it's still nice to know this information but it's not as important if you plan to just ride at home or out on the trail with friends.
3. Are lessons private, semi-private or group? Do you ride another horse during the lesson or do you instruct from the ground. If lessons are semi private or group, are the riders all adults or do children and adults ride together? How long each lesson is and how much does it cost?
Most instructors will start private then as your skills advance move to semi - private or larger group lessons. The instructor should be mindful of riders' ages and try their best to have youth and adults ride at separate times unless the students are all in agreement of who rides in the group.
As the student becomes a better rider it can be very beneficial for the instructor to ride alongside so you can clearly see what the horse does when the rider applies a specific cue. This can make things much more clear and you can also get a better picture of how and or why something is done.
It’s important to know how long each lesson is and what the cost is. Private lessons are generally an 1 hour and will most likely be the most expensive because of the one-on -one attention. Semi private lessons, on average are one and a half hours and 15-20 percent is taken off the price. So if a private lesson is $75 and semi private lessons would be $60, and a group lesson of three or more people will usually be 2.5 - 3 hours and be given about a 35% discount making the cost per person be $45-$50 dollars. Each instructor's horseback riding lesson prices will vary but they all seem to average about the same costs and price platform.
As you become a more advanced rider you may start taking the semi private or group lessons but find you miss the one on one attention from your instructor, but enjoy riding with others also. Make sure you bring this to your instructors attention immediately and they will do their best to accommodate your request.
4. Do you have insurance? Are you covered by the barn or do you carry your own policy?
Don’t overlook this, carrying equestrian insurance is very important. Even if you have found the perfect coach only to learn they do not have insurance, keep looking for someone else.
If any type of accident occurs and the instructor and/or the facility is not covered correctly this could end up costing you a significant amount of money that you will be responsible for.
5. Why did you start giving lessons? Or What part of giving lessons do they enjoy the most?
There is no right or wrong way to answer this question but learning what got them started giving lessons and why they enjoy teaching will help you get an idea of the type of person they are and if you will enjoy having them for an instructor.
Some instructors enjoy giving beginner riding lessons while others prefer to give lessons to more advanced riders. If you find yourself speaking to an instructor who isn’t too keen on instruction for beginner riders, look for someone who is.
Pay close attention to how they speak when answering. Do they sound excited and make you feel like they enjoy teaching, or do you feel like they do this because they have to and it's not all that enjoyable for them. That will make riding either a good or bad experience for you as a new rider.
Finding the perfect horseback riding instructor in your area can take time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t click with the first, second, or even third one you try. There are all types of instructors out there and you will find the one that is the most suitable for you and what you would like to accomplish. Riding is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable activity and if you find yourself feeling discouraged, or you are not having a good time look for a different instructor where you are having a good time and you look forward to riding when it's time to have your lesson.
By the way, do not forget to find out where your new instructor teaches and ask these questions for selecting a horseback riding stable to your instructor of management of the facility.
Enjoy the ride!