Of Horse

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Dear EHH, Finding a Beginner Instructor
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Dear EHH, Finding a Beginner Instructor

Dear EHH,

I have followed your suggestions and done my research as far as facilities for my child to learn how to ride. I have had email conversations and a phone call with each place. After these conversations, I still do not feel like I have a great feel of where the best place for my child to start would be. I'm being overly cautious, as I have no horse experience of my own whatsoever.

Dear Overly Cautious,

You say you are being overly cautious as if it is a bad thing. I think it is great that you are asking for her help. I also think it only makes common sense to be overcautious when it comes to your child and a thousand-pound animal when you don't have any experience with one.

You got the first step out of the way by making contact with some local farms. Depending on how many places you were in contact with, at this point, I want you to narrow down to three, whether it be three you get the best vibes from, three closest to home, or however you'd like to come to a smaller number.

Once you have your three target facilities, I want you to make contact with them in whatever way you normally go about it, either by email or by phone. I want you to talk with the person who would actually be teaching your child. Sometimes, depending on the size of the facility, you may have been speaking with this person already. If it is a bigger facility, it may be something totally different than you have been speaking to thus far.

You don't have to be a horse person to be able to speak with an instructor and get a feel for whether or not they would be a good fit. You should ask them what their background is and how long have they been teaching beginners. Ask them about their philosophy on group lessons vs private lessons for new riders. You should listen for these important words: things like all around horsemanship, safety, and a progressive teaching program. You want to be talking to someone who confidently answers your questions with answers you feel comfortable with.

They should be willing to answer as many questions as you might have about themselves, the facility, and their program. You should tell the person your goal is to give your child a safe introduction to the basics. See how they respond to that and ask them how they would be able to help your child reach that goal.

I think sometimes, in teaching beginner lessons, being goal oriented gets a little lost in the details of all there is to teach a beginner rider. It is easy to forget to be goal oriented as an instructor. Conversations with an inquiring parent can be a great way to get us really thinking about our program and set us back on the path of teaching in a goal-oriented progressive fashion.

Hopefully, after having these conversations, you know which trainer is right for you and your child.

You want an instructor that you both feel comfortable with. An instructor that you can openly communicate with. I think by having these conversations before signing up, you are setting your child up for a great start in the world of horses.

Good Luck!


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  1. pbb13
    Great article and good information. But, the picture for this article SCARES me. Never, never ride with stirrups wearing sneakers, tennis shoes, or any flat soled shoe. This is especially important for a beginner rider who hasn't learned how keep their feet in the stirrups properly. A good instructor will make safety the #1 priority at all times. If they don't require helmets and proper footwear move on.

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