I am a qualified instructor, I know I am a good instructor and I enjoy teaching.
Things have changed a lot since I was learning and not necessarily for the better.
I learnt at a riding school run by two partners, the woman took the beginners and he took the more advanced. There were also two employed girls that took some of the rides.
I think it was over a year before I was riding in the arena. All novices started out on the lead rein out on hacks. We were first taught to sit and develop a good seat. Rising trot was not allowed until you could do a good sitting trot.
`I stil agree with this. Posting is easy, sitting not so. Once a rising trot is established a rider rarely ever does a sitting trot and the novice finds sitting very hard. By learning a good sitting trot the canter comes easy because the seat is secure.
That woman had eyes like a hawk! She would shout out instructions, from the rear of the ride and you got away with nothing! When walking back we would ride in pairs and be told to mane parts of the horse, the tack or asked what sort of tree a certain one was or what bird was singing in a tree we passed.
The thing was about learning this way was that you were relaxed. The ponies were going forward without having to worry about corners. Cantering was in a straight line and the ponies knew they were going from A to B so there was no having to worry about the correct aids and you were concentrating on your position.
When you moved up to a more advanced ride then it was a different matter. He was military and rides were conducted as such! Competition between riders was great. No individual lessons always in groups of eight. Very few riders could have lasted an hour of that tough teaching!
We would go un the jumping lane without stirrups or reins, either taking our jackets off or putting them on. Cantering around the arena taking the ponies saddle off and holding it up.
All this was to develop a good strong seat and confidence - the best start any rider can have.
I rarely teach nowadays. Last time I did several lessons was when I was at 'home' and took my niece's ponies and stabled them at a riding school I use to run.
The kids I taught had children of their own and asked if I could take them for a lesson.
Poor kids were terrified! Their parents had told them how tough I was, how hard they would have to work, how the ponies would be worked hard too.
I had eight of them in the indoor arena and worked them hard. Ponies and kids were sweating before half the ride was over but, end of the lesson everyone of those children asked if they could have a lesson the next day.
Yes, I am tough, yes I do shout so that instructions are audible, I demand respect and get it.
I can assess a rider's ability and confidence within a minute and adjust my expectations to suit.
Most of all I am fair. I might shout but encouragement is frequent - praise is earned and the fact that I am confident rubs off on the riders and the ponies.
Experience and intelligence of both horses and riders is vital to be a good instructor. An instinct for teaching a terrific bonus!
Teaching at a Pony Club camp one summer I had a girl on very nice pony that was a bit 'hot'. The girl was very nervous.
On the first lesson in the afternoon, the girl was cantering rather fast when the pony spooked and she fell off. She was shaken but not hurt.
That evening I saw the girl walking towards her mother's car, her head was down and she looked sad. I put my arm around her and said "Don't you worry, Lizzy, tomorrow I will take the fizz out of Champagne and he will be a better pony for it."
The next lesson I had her at the front of the riders. We had done some warm up exercises and then it was "Off your pony and onto the one in front." My niece was then on Champagne. I had her canter around the arena and do several circles as she went around the arena. Then they swapped ponies again. Champagne ended up cantering around that arena with the five of the eight riders who were capable of riding him so, when Liz was back on him he was tired and behave beautifully.
The way this was done was such that it did not make the owner feel as if she was useless on her own pony. Everyone had ridden different ponies and Champagne had had a darn hard work out to steady him up.
At the end of the week Lizzy was jumping him around a set of show jumps in the open field well under control. Her confidence was on a high, she was laughing and smiling and most of all she was joining in with the other children rather than being on her own a lot.
I awarded her the cup for the 'Most Improved Rider' She earned it. I have a lovely picture on my wall of her face when it was announced at the prize giving. Later her mother came to me and told me the previous year Liz had not wanted to attend after the first day. This time she was awake early and wanted to return early.
That is good teaching, to encourage and have the ability to sort out problems so that a rider is confident they can deal with a situation and the horses all improve with the way they are going.