Guest Author - Kim Wende
When choosing a riding instructor there are several things you will want to consider. Riding lessons are supposed to be fun, enjoyable and most of all safe. A bad riding instructor can discourage you in a hurry or worse yet get you hurt.
If you don't have a horse it is a great way to get involved with them with only a small financial investment. This is also a great way to learn about a horse, their care and about the equipment needed.
First you need to have a goal in mind. Are you wanting riding lessons for fun or are you interested in them because you plan on buying a horse and maybe competing later on? Some instructors will offer different styles of riding such as english or western.
The English style of riding uses a smaller saddle that has no horn and is lighter in weight. The bridles and bits are different from the Western style of riding and so is the clothing. The Western style of riding uses a saddle that is much heavier and it has a horn. Western riding is associated with Cowboys. I recommend an instructor that offers both.
If you know that you only want to take western riding lessons make sure your instructor is experienced in that discipline. If they have only ridden english all of their life it will be very hard for them to teach you about western riding. A good instructor will take you as far as they can and then recommend you onto someone else who can help you further your riding abilities.
The ideal instructor will have safety as their number one priority and insist that you wear a helmet. They will also teach you the importance of ground work. There will be barn rules posted in plain sight.
Be sure to visit several facilities in your area and don't go with the first one you find. Don't take their word over the phone as anyone can make themselves sound good over the phone.
Ask the following questions:
How much does a lesson cost?
How long is the lesson?
How often can I come for lessons?
Are lessons private or group?
If a group lesson how many are in a group?
Are children allowed in group lessons?
Will I have one instructor?
Do you have lesson horses for beginners?
What is your professional experience?
Can you come to watch a lesson?
Do they have references?
Ask them to describe a typical lesson. Be sure to tour the facility and take note of the students and how they act towards one another and also watch the horses behavior are they pleasant and well-mannered or are they ill tempered. Also, look for cleanliness and organization. If the barn manager gives you the tour be sure and ask to meet the instructor(s) who will be giving you the lesson.
When watching a lesson pay close attention to the instructor do they explain things well or are they short-tempered, do they yell, are they harsh, controlling or condescending, do they finish the lesson with the student feeling successful?
Choosing the right instructor is not easy as there are bad instructors who are only in it for the money. Beware of instructors that talk on the phone or sit off to the side talking to others while you are taking a lesson. Take your time when choosing an instructor and don't be afraid to visit the facility several times before making a decision.