Teaching the basics to adult beginners

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Teaching the basics to adult beginners

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    01-18-2010, 05:41 PM
Question Teaching the basics to adult beginners

I'll probably get some crap for this, but here goes anyways.

I'm in the position where I am teaching a couple of adults "how to ride". One is a rank beginner (my boyfriend) the other is a good friend who hasn't ridden in years. I'm only attempting to teach them enough basics so that they can go on a trail ride (on a safe horse) without endangering themselves or others. Neither one of them is open to taking lessons from a real instructor (despite my numerous attempts to get them to), so that's where I come in.

Does anyone have any helpful suggestions or methods? I've already started working on a general lesson plan, but I'd like some other people's input as I've never really done this before (beyond teaching kids the basics of turning).
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    01-18-2010, 06:47 PM
Have they been around horses before?
If not I would get them to groom and learn how to tie a horse and tack up, this could help them be comfortable and confident with the horse. I'm assuming you have some real 'bomb proof' horses for them to learn on. Once they're comfortable with the handling of horses and aren't afraid of them then they can get on and ride around.
I would teach them the one rein stop, that way if they ever have a run away they'll at least the knowledge of what to do (giving them more confidence). Then you can get them to learn the basics of riding - turning, stoping, backing, trot, lope, walk (not in that order...lol) After learning the basics comes the fun stuff - miles. Keep it fun for everyone and best of luck.
    01-18-2010, 07:09 PM
The trick with teaching adult beginners is that you have to give them enough of the basics to keep them safe, but you can't drill them in the same way you do juniors or they'll rebel. The fact that they've refused to take formal lessons tells you they have zero tolerance for trotting a circle in the dust being told "Heels down, look where you're going, back straight."

So....you have to cover position, but focus on the functional aspects -- if you do it this way, you're better able to control the horse; not, it looks better or what's expected in the show ring.

As far as basic control, once you've taught them the mechanics, do lots of games...red light, green light, Mother, May I, and similiar ones, that focus on their ability to control their horses independently, rather than moving as a group. Motor vehicle metaphors work well with adults -- talk about safe following distances, how hard it is to turn without forward motion, etc.

Set very specific goals - I want you to be able to catch, groom and tack up by yourself without assistance; I want you to able to w/t/c both directions of the ring and perform simple figures without coaching from the ground, etc., to keep them motivated.

Good luck!
    01-18-2010, 09:07 PM
Safety stuff first. Emergency stop. Mounting/dismounting from both sides. Emergency dismount. Proper tack/tacking. I would also start off by getting them to think about riding as being balanced as opposed to "holding on". I would pay close attention to not only the control they have of the horse, but also the control they have of themselves. Hopefully they are receptive & you can enjoy this experience with your friends!!! Best wishes.
    01-18-2010, 09:53 PM
Yeah, you definitely can't drill adults like you would kids. My trainer says her kids would attempt a hand stand on her horse if she asked, but we adult riders are a tad more difficult since we're older and set in our ways. The big thing with adult riders seems to be building confidence, so I agree with the above posts. Teach them balance, power steering and brakes. Give them all the tools they'll need to stay safe.
    01-18-2010, 10:27 PM
Great suggestions so far! I think with my boyfriend the safety stuff will fly. Especially if I make it funner for him. He's pretty nervous around the horses. I definitely like the idea of the games and such.

My friend I'm not so sure. She rode enough as a teenager that I'm really wondering how well she'll take my help. She isn't very well balanced and tends to hold on with her hands (especially now that she's had 10 years or so off). I'm considering some lunging with no reins to start things off this spring. That might be a little boring for her though.

I don't have a horse that's "safe" for them to ride out of the paddock, so unfortunately they will be confined to that. Of course, helmets are going to be a must and release forms.

Keep the suggestions coming! Also, anyone have any good books for my friend? She's a busy mom so it would need to be something a little shorter and less technical than most of the books I have,
    01-19-2010, 02:10 PM
I am in the middle of reading The Rider's Problem Solver by Jessica Jahiel and it has really made a difference for me. I like the conversational language a Q&A format.
    01-19-2010, 02:12 PM
Cool, I'll check that out. :)
    01-19-2010, 04:54 PM
I try to correlate what they are learning to something they already know. It's new territory and can be frustrating - especially if the instructor is younger than the student. If they can relate to something in their lives, it's more relaxing and easy to grasp.

I also explain why some things are done the way they are. And of course encourage questions.
    01-27-2010, 07:55 PM
Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes    
My friend I'm not so sure. She rode enough as a teenager that I'm really wondering how well she'll take my help. She isn't very well balanced and tends to hold on with her hands (especially now that she's had 10 years or so off). I'm considering some lunging with no reins to start things off this spring. That might be a little boring for her though.
I am teaching my nephew right now and he's one of these that THINKS he's ready for the rodeo . I have done the lunging exercise with making him raise his hands above his head at the jog and close his eyes at the jog. He now realizes that he needs some basics and good balance and is fine with the lunging as long as I change it up and keep it interesting. I also make him do a lot of steering around cones and stopping whenever I say stop so he learns control. I give him specific patterns (similar to a trail course or horsemanship) to add some interest.

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