While it’s true that a majority of training can be done at home, sometimes the introduction of a riding teacher can dramatically improve your riding technique. Just like a personal training session at the gym, a lesson with a coach will teach you to refine your skills and give you exercises to continue improving. However, they are expensive and definitely a luxury. So what can be done to make sure that every penny is well spent and you get the most out of the experience? There are a few easy steps that can be taken that will benefit everyone.
Have a Plan
Asking your teacher to ‘make you a better rider’ is vague and won’t allow either of you to get the most out of the lesson. Instead, know exactly what it is that you are worried about and need to work on. This way they can devise a lesson plan that will suit you the most. If there are a few areas that need work, then separate them between different lessons – this way you know exactly what you and your horse need to do to improve and it won’t get confused in your head. You can also ask your teacher what to practice after the lesson to further improve as they may have other techniques they didn’t have time to show you.
Make Sure They Are the Right Fit
There is an old expression ‘horses for courses’, which means what suits one person, may not suit another. This applies to riding lessons. Sometimes your riding instructor isn’t the right fit for you and if you realize this then there is no shame in changing. However, be sure that you aren’t just swapping because they are strict. An instructor who pushes you to do your best is a valuable asset. When you find yourself struggling or even disagreeing with your instructor, have a conversation to see if it was just a miscommunication and trust your instinct. If you think there is someone better for you then you are most likely right.
Try a Group Lesson
Do you want some extra help, but you are nervous about the one-on-one time? Try starting with a group lesson – while it won’t be as specialized as an individual one, you will find riding with others a lot of fun. It’s also a good chance for you to be social and work as part of a team. You can also watch the other riders follow instructions and see how they interpret it. This is beneficial especially if you don’t feel like you don’t understand – you can get clues for those around you. It is also a great way to socialize your horse and they will enjoy being part of the herd.
Ask Lots of Questions
You must get the most out of your lessons so if you find yourself confused or unsure of what your instructor is telling you then speak up. Not only will it be easier to answer questions straight away – but it will also help you understand the bigger picture. When your instructor tells you to do an exercise, try asking them why? What is the benefit and what are they aiming for? This way you can get an understanding of how to train your horse outside of lessons.
Do Your Homework
As much as we would like to have the instant gratification of mastering a skill easily, sometimes it takes time. Don’t assume that just because you are being taught that you will learn things more quickly. It will take time for you and your horse to full master everything. Try taking notes to keep your riding on track and it will work as a reference if you find yourself wondering what to do. You can also research what other exercises complement the ones your instructor gave you for a fully rounded experience.
Have the Schedule that Works for You
It might seem like having a lesson every week is the only option, but that is not possible for some people with their schedule or bank balance. Instead of panicking, try and figure out what is best for you. Is there a certain skill you are trying to learn? Take some time after your lesson to practice it and then book a follow-up lesson to finish the improvements. Your instructor will have seen you before and can see your progress first hand. Not only will this be incredibly motivating for you – but it also lets your instructor know how quickly you can learn so they can assign lessons that are challenging enough for you. Otherwise, if it is just general improvement try and train as often as you can to see results.
Be Fully Invested in the Lesson
It is easy for your mind to wander, but during the lesson, it needs to stay focused! Try and get rid of distractions – don’t bring your phone and concentrate fully on what your instructor is saying. If you are having an especially bad day, then consider postponing the lesson. When you are caught up in your head, it can be hard to take in new information. Constantly check your mind is on the task in hand and train yourself to stay focused. This will ensure the best outcome for you, your horse and your instructor. You are a team and all of you must be fully invested.