Finding an Instructor
specially designed section for the
HOW TO FIND A
instructor, in conjunction with a reputable stable (go back for details on
choosing a stable),
will start you on your path to learning.
While learning to ride, you will learn the essential tools for a safe start on your journey with horses.
So...one of your most important steps is "Finding the Right Instructor":
You Sign Up
(From "Riding for the Rest of Us" by Jessica Jahiel)
Do not sign up for lessons with anyone unless you have met them, seen their school horses, and watched them teach. Remember that the best performers are not necessarily the best teachers. Even if they have certificates from three different countries, even if they compete internationally or are Olympic medal winners -- watch them teach.
You can learn from good riders just by watching them ride, but many successful competitors couldn't teach anyone if their lives depended on it. Some are intuitive riders who can't explain how or why they do something, because they have never intellectualized it. Some have no interest in teaching, and some are inarticulate or can't explain their methods to anyone who isn't riding at precisely their level. On the other hand, there are many excellent teachers who are no longer performing, and many who can teach to a higher level than they can now ride.
Consider the level of the lesson, as well. Watch lessons that are relevant to your standard. The coach who is brilliant with international-level dressage riders may be less effective with beginners; the instructor who can coax even the most frightened novice over a small grid may not be able to help you with your Grand Prix jumper.
If you have "inherited" the horse of a child who left for college after making you promise not to sell Champion, you may find that the instructor who was wonderful with your talented, single-minded, prize-winning young equestrian is less wonderful with your middle-aged, overworked, over-scheduled, much-less-ambitious self. If your styles and goals are not compatible, the instructor should recommend someone who specializes in teaching novice adult riders, and you should part with no hard feelings on either side. But this is more easily done in theory than in practice.
Most instructors, whether they teach full-time or as a sideline, truly believe that they can help anyone. They tend to be quick to accept students, and reluctant to let them go. Take the time to observe and evaluate before you sign on with anyone; it's much easier to approach someone about giving you lessons than it is to tell your instructor that you wish to discontinue lessons.
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