Starting out as an instructor? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-09-2012, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Starting out as an instructor?

I've been riding for 11+ years, and being an instructor has been something that I've always been super interested in and have been learning about due to the unfortunate number of bad instructors I've worked with. I've worked at several different barns in a few states, doing odd jobs, exercising, and when I had my own horse, my trainer taught ME how to train the horse, and I learned other aspects of teaching/barn management from her. I've also worked at therapeutic riding centers, volunteered, and assistant taught horse classes for kids who had never been around horses.

So, at the risk of you shaking your head and thinking my word, what is she doing, I put that up there because I do have quite a bit of experience and know what I'm doing! My main point is, I've got my first small teaching job. A local family has a small family farm, a young kid, and a pony, whom they want me to teach. The child is described as "even less than a beginner" and can't tack up or anything, so I'd be starting right at square 1 with her which is good for me.

Does anyone have any advice? Anything you want to share or things you'd wish you'd done when you began teaching? I'm putting together a "lesson plan" of sorts, that is, a guide to how I want to teach, what I want to work on and emphasize, etc, that I'll modify as I get to know pony and child.

Now onto the business side of things--like I said, this is a really small family farm, and I'm barely getting paid because well, lessons are expensive, and it's just good experience for me. I know liability insurance is a huge deal, so I've been researching that, and I'll have to hold off on that for now since I'll only be teaching one student part time. I need some advice from real people though and not just google--as an instructor teaching lessons on other people's horses and at other people's barns, will I need liability insurance/what kind will I need (for future reference)? Anything on the business/insurance side of things that I should be aware of?

Any and all advice appreciated :) Thanks!
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-09-2012, 10:29 PM
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I teach a few beginners on the side (one more advanced kid who I've tried to move on to another instructor but she really wants to stick with me even though I can't teach her much anymore) and I think the main thing to emphasize is to not be too locked into a teaching plan.
Each kid you teach is going to have certain, different, things that motivate them.

For instance, my advanced kid, she's more advanced purely because she really really wants to learn. I can drill her all day and she loves it! her favorite lessons are the ones where she gets off and is immediately feeling sore.
On the other hand, most of my other kids are not that invested. They think horses are cool and enjoy being around them but I have to work to keep their attention. They'll do what I say but the second I look away, they stop whatever they're supposed to be doing and go back to "la-la" land. With those kids, teaching is sometimes more rewarding but it's also more challenging. I have to focus on what I'm teaching, they force me to be a good teacher. :)

Anyway, be whatever your lesson kids need you to be, whether that's strict or easy going, some kids need a teacher, other just need a buddy.

The things I focus on with my kids is having a great seat and great horse handling skills. I feel like no matter what they go on to do, being able to handle a horse well and having a great seat will ALWAYS help them. I basically try to set them up to succeed in whatever discipline they may choose to go into, if they continue with horses.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-09-2012, 10:35 PM
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How old is the kid? Depending on their age and attention span, lessons might have to consist more of games, where subtle learning goes on, rather than instructing them the way you would an older rider.

I'd be sure to put lots of emphasis on horsemanship, proper handling and care. It's always good to get them started on that sort of thing young, so they don't become accustomed to just showing up for a lesson, with the pony already tacked and the hopping off and going home directly after the lesson. I think it's important to instill at a young age, an idea of just how much work a horse is, and what a privilege it is to be able to ride them. There's nothing I hate more than a kid that has been riding for years, yet can't tack up a horse or clean a stall.
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-11-2012, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips! Always good to remember that different kids have different teaching styles; and now that I think about it, my earliest lesson memories are of my instructors playing games with me, so that's definitely something I'll want to do with younger students! The girl I'm teaching is 8, and today I found out there's another interested student who's 7, so I'll have to make it fun and interesting for them.

So, I mentioned I have another possible student--the owner of the pony/barn found this possible student, and wants to know if I'll teach this one too. Of course that sounds great to me, but I'm just worrying about the legal issues involved with outside students. It's one thing to teach someone on their own horse and own property but totally different when I get an unrelated outside client. Being a full time college student, and possibly just doing lessons for only 2 kids over the summer, I can't imagine having to get insurance... but I don't want to get sued xD Any advice? What do you all do when you have outside students? I know I'll at least have a waiver to sign, since that's pretty standard and will at least protect me and the owner a bit, but is there anything else I should consider?

Also if anyone has a template or at least something for me to look at (or a list of important stuff to remember) in regards to a waiver, that would be great... As a student over the years I've signed so many myself but it's different when I'm coming up with my own!
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-11-2012, 11:52 PM
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I'm lucky that in Oregon we have a statute/law/whatever that says that riding instructors cannot be held liable unless gross negligence can be proven. So to that end, I work with my mare regularly (to make sure her training stays up since she's my lesson horse), check my tack regularly, have parents sign a waiver that they understand how dangerous riding can be, and anyone on my horses MUST be wearing a helmet.

So unfortunately I can't be much help to you on the not getting sued front.

I'm really excited for ya about the second student! I didn't like kids all that much before I started teaching, it was more that my mare adored kids and I wanted that for her so I started teaching, but now I love them. They're so much fun and they're all the time drawing me pictures which is totally adorable. Kids are the cutest. I'm excited for you.
Another bonus I found, as I started teaching, is that my lessons make enough to cover all my horse expenses. I have to be frugal about my own things but my horses are totally provided for. Since I'm also a college student, it's really reassuring to know that I have a reliable way to pay for my horses, no matter what might happen in my personal life. :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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