Noble Life

Beginner Basics: Finding a Riding Instructor

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Looking to improve your riding skills with lessons? How do you find the right instructor? Consider these tips:

  1. Ask yourself why you want to ride and what you want to achieve. If all you want to do is trail ride, your search will be much different than if you want to show.
  2. Make sure the person is qualified to teach in your discipline. Since there are no licensing requirements for instructors, anyone can hang out a shingle stating that they give lessons. It is best to do research on their background to see if they understand your discipline.
  3. Ask your horsey friends for suggestions. If you are new to the area, ask potential instructors for references. People will tell you what they think, good or bad.
  4. Go to a show to watch the instructor and her students compete. Whether or not you are interested in showing, this will give you another place to view the instructor in action. It will also give you a chance to see the instructor ride and get a feel for their abilities.
  5. Does the instructor have a professional appearance and facility? This doesn’t mean expensive. It means safe and functional.
  6. Is the instructor a good all-around horse person? Do they have knowledge of nutrition, physiology, first aid and basic handling? You’d be surprised how many talented riders leave the rest to staff. There is a big difference between being a rider and being a true horseperson.
  7. Does the instructor continue to build their knowledge and skill base by going to clinics and seminars? You can never stop learning. If you find people who think they know it all, they don’t and you don’t want to work with them.
  8. Ask if you can watch them teach. If they don’t let you, walk away. Try to watch a variety of different lessons. Do they tailor the lesson to the individual horse and rider combo? Do they have a wide variety of exercises to bring out the best in the horse? Do they focus on the lesson or are they easily side tracked? Do they keep the lesson positive and end on a good note?
  9. Take a trial lesson. Again, if this is an issue, walk away. After watching the individual teach, they may look like a good match for you, but you won’t know until you try a lesson yourself. Then trust your instincts. If you come away from a trial lesson with a positive feeling, it’s probably a good match. If you have any doubts at all, you may need to try a second lesson or it may not be the right person for you. That’s okay. There are many people out there and the right one will come your way.

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The Author:


For 20 years Stephanie J. Corum has be involved in various aspects of the horse industry, including Thoroughbred and Arabian racing, breeding and training sport horses and therapeutic riding. Stephanie has maintained her own freelance writing business, SC Equine Enterprises, since 1999 and has published the illustrated children's books "Goats With Coats" and "Antics in the Attic", which won an honorable mention at the 2011 San Francisco Book Festival. Currently she and her husband own Charisma Ridge, a small horse farm in Maryland, and she competes in dressage.

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