I just started my business: Tessa Lawson Horsemanship. I teach horsemanship lessons to children and adults and my curriculum covers many aspects of horsemanship, not just riding. I teach about anatomy, psychology, tack, nutrition, etc. My mission is to build safe, responsible future horse owners.
My question is, does anyone out there have experience in this field that would be willing to give me advise, warnings, criticism, etc.
I have been teaching since 2008 and learned how to teach at Rawhide Ranch: a large summer camp geared toward western riding. I have audited a CHA clinic; I could not afford certification at the time however. I do plan on attending another CHA clinic in the spring and becoming certified. At the ranch, I worked my way up from knowing very little, to becoming one of 2 lead riding instructors for the beginner program and taught from 30 to 100 students each day, with class sizes averaging about 15 students but up to 25 students. I was in charge of assigning riders to horses, teaching class, and overseeing 3-5 assistants. I have since moved to Northern Ca and wanted to continue teaching. Financial difficulties forced me to sell my horse, so I have partnered up with the owner of a local facility. She teaches some lessons but focuses on taking tourists on trail rides in the redwoods. I ride her horses regularly, usually about 5 days a week, and I am continually pushing myself to learn more.
I charge $40 per hourly lesson and I give her $20 of that for using the horse.
I have a website, business cards, a business email, flyers at all the local feed and tack shops, a craigslist ad (where most of my business has come from). I have lesson plans and take home materials for my students. I keep detailed notes on each student and know exactly what I will be teaching at their next lesson.
I also invested in new, ASTM-SEI approved helmets, since the owner of the stables does not provide helmets (gasp, right?).
I only have access to western saddles, but would it behoove me to invest in english saddles as well? Would teaching english help me find more clients? Or should I focus on one discipline?
I have been going for about a month and a half and I have 6 regular students. I can accommodate about 20 students a week. One family just purchased $1000 in lessons upfront.
So, Basically my questions are
1) How can I find more students?
2) Should I teach english as well as western? (I am confident I can teach english)
3) Should I purchase Instructor liability insurance? (is the $750 a year really worth it?)
4) What else can I offer to make my business stand out?
5) Would it be bad form to contact other facilities to teach at different places? (The stables I teach at only have a round pen, no arena. I have to trailer horses to a local public arena to use one) I would also want to do this to accommodate clients' locations/reduce their drive time.
Thank you in advance for any help at all, and please don't be shy- I thrive on and welcome criticism in any form!