Q. How do I find an appropriate riding instructor for my child or myself?

riding lessons: ready for first horse show

 A. When looking for a horseback riding teacher for your child, it’s  important to find someone with experience teaching children and access  to child safe horses (Keeping in mind horses are not machines and there  is always a risk involved) many stables teach children on horses not  particularly suited making it very difficult for them to progress.  Look  for someone who teaches a number of children and appears to be  successful with them. It’s a good idea to visit the stable you are  considering and watch a lesson with the instructor.  Try to meet the  horses if at all possible before you book.  When looking for riding instruction for yourself, you would look for  pretty much the same criteria  except there has to be access to larger  beginner horses for adults.  There are sometimes instructors that are  good with children but don't have the scope for adults, so look for  happy adult clients as well.  Adults learn to ride with a different  mindset  regarding reality and fear than children and an instructor  needs to understand this and be able to work with it. 

Q. What do I need to have for the first riding lesson and what should I expect?

Horse showing fun!

 A.   You will need long pants, at the very least and a boot with a heel,  NO SNEAKERS!   A safety helmet will be required and that’s something  you will want to purchase for yourself as quickly as possible.  Most  places that teach beginners will have safety helmets available if you  don’t have one yet for your first lesson.  If anyone tries to teach you  or your child without a safety helmet, leave quickly!  You should be taught from the beginning how to handle, halter and  lead, groom and tack up a horse.  Small children can’t learn to do this  all themselves but older kids and adults should learn how to get their  horse and tack them up from the first lesson.  This is an important part  of horsemanship that should always be taught right along with riding.   If you are getting on a horse for the first time you will probably be  put on a lounge line where the instructor will control the horse and you  will be taught how to sit, hold the reins etc. After your ride you  should be taught how to un-tack and put your horse away. 

Q. How can I tell if a stable is a good place to take riding lessons?

Horse loving riding instructor

 A. when you check out a stable you want to see fat, healthy looking,  happy horses in a clean environment.  If the horses are skinny and  miserable, it’s not a good place. Sometimes older horses may look skinny  even though they are well cared for, but in general you shouldn’t see  well defined ribs. Horses should appear friendly and happy.  You want to  find a place that is educated in caring for horses as well as educated  in teaching. This is generally regarded as horsemanship. 

Q. What about a riding instructor's certifications?

USHJA Certified riding Instructors plaque

 A. There are many certifications out there for many different  disciplines.  For hunter jumpers the USHJA Certification is the basic  standard.  It is a comprehensive certification including far more than  just the education that every instructor should have, it includes  background checks, insurance, recommendations etc.  For more information  go to:  USHJA Certification. 

Q. Do I need my own horse to take riding lessons?

Horse loving  riding instructor

 A. No, not when you are first starting. In fact, you should never buy a  horse until you have a trusted trainer to help you. Riding different  horses as you progress can be very beneficial as many changes occur in  skill level and through this a student can decide what kind of horse  is  appropriate.  It will only be after learning to ride that a student can  decide what type of riding they want to pursue. 

Q. I want to show horses, how do I find an appropriate horse show coach?

Showing horses is fun!

 A. It sounds obvious but look for a record of success at shows and  someone who is actively out there with clients showing!  If you don’t  own a horse it’s important that there is access to appropriate lease  horses that can go out and “do the job” at your level.  If there is only  access to green horses needing a lot of work, be aware you will not be  out showing soon.