What to Expect from an Instructor? - The Horse Forum
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  • 4 Post By SteadyOn
  • 2 Post By tinyliny
  • 1 Post By Jolly101
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-07-2020, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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What to Expect from an Instructor?

Hi all,

I'm VERY much a newbie to the horse world. My daughter has been taking riding lessons for about 2 years and I have watched with so much joy and wonder. My husband said on Mother's Day, "You need to start taking lessons. It's time." So I've been riding for about 2 months. The people at the barn we use seem to be very nice. But the problem is... I don't feel like either me or my daughter are progressing that much (I mean I can understand it in my case, but my daughter...?). The instructor is extremely kind, but does not give specific feedback or corrections. I feel like much of what I've learned has been from videos I've been watching online and my daughter is picking up some things from just riding and watching others. She just switched to English and I would love to see more instruction happening so we don't get into bad habits. Your thoughts?
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post #2 of 8 Old 07-07-2020, 10:05 PM
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Ask lots of questions. Your instructor might be willing to get more specific with you if you show a true interest in progressing. She may not realize how committed you are.

Also, lots of good instructors will only fix one thing at a time in their students, so as not to overwhelm them. Mine is like that, and that works for me because I have never had a lot of aptitude for athletic skills. Yours may have a long mental checklist of things she's trying to work through with you, but you wouldn't know it just from where you are in your lessons. This is where good communication comes in. Ask her how you're doing, what the next major thing for you to work on is. Talk to her about your goals.
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post #3 of 8 Old 07-07-2020, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for this. That's the thing... I ask a TON of questions. She answers as best she can, but I feel that I need more guidance, especially when it comes to proper position, seat, and balance. She's also really young (high school!), so I'm not sure that she's had the proper training to be an instructor. I guess I'm just wondering at what point we move on...
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-07-2020, 11:39 PM
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I would want to know what experience my instructor has teaching. Teaching and riding are two different things.


That said, progress usually comes in sudden 'leaps' up a plateau, followed by agonizingly slow stalls, then another breakthrough.


Ask her to model what she is telling you to do, by getting on and riding your lesson horse for you, to show you what she means.
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-08-2020, 12:32 AM
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There are three things that may be going on here: (1) your instructor is the type to try and pick one or two things to correct before moving on, strategically or (2) your instructor doesn't have the ability or experience in teaching to progress you and your daughter as desired. Have you seen the more advanced students of this instructor ride? What level/ability do they possess? How long have they been there? or (3) this instructor's teaching method just may not be for you.

I've had an instructor that was a combination of 1 and 3. I will say I learned a lot in my time there, but there came a time where I outgrew the barn and branched out to instructors who specialized in the discipline I chose. I will also say that I do prefer an instructor who is constantly critiquing me and pushing for progress, which is not what everyone prefers. At the same barn, there are many instructors I would put in category (2). These instructors are looking to get their certification and are "shadowing" under the head instructor. They are inexperienced in teaching, and thus less flexible on adjusting their teaching to different riders, although some are still very talented at teaching anyways. Some, I would also argue, just don't have the extended riding knowledge to correct and foresee rider error since they still ride at the lower levels too.

I'd ask you the same question as Tinyliny, "what experience does your instructor have in teaching?" and "what experience does your instructor have in riding?". Your instructor does seem young, but that doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't have the experience. There are many very talented riders in high school.

If it were me, as it was at one point, I would move on when I felt I wasn't learning much at all after a series of lessons. It's true that progress doesn't always come in leaps and bounds, but if it has become a pattern, then I'd say there is little chance of it changing. You also have to take into account how often you are riding. Progress comes much much slower when you are riding 1x a week. Some instructors are quite talented in getting concepts across;however, correct position takes a degree of muscle memory to maintain and that is harder to develop at 1x per week.
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-08-2020, 12:27 PM
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Yeah, true, some places just... aren't good.

When I re-started lessons five years ago, after 16 years off, it was apparent pretty quickly that I was not at a good place. The instruction was poor, the horses were barely trained and weren't tuned up by anybody, and even then I gave it two months before throwing in the towel and moving on to somewhere else. I never regretted that decision, not for a second. If she really is just a high school student with no qualifications, sounds like maybe you should move on. Not that she couldn't be good, but that wouldn't be my first choice.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-08-2020, 01:02 PM
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about 14 hours ago #3
Thanks for this. That's the thing... I ask a TON of questions. She answers as best she can, but I feel that I need more guidance, especially when it comes to proper position, seat, and balance. She's also really young (high school!), so I'm not sure that she's had the proper training to be an instructor. I guess I'm just wondering at what point we move on...


Now. Now would be the point that you move on.

You want to find an older, more experienced instructor that can answer your questions and has a plan to get you through each level moving at a comfortable pace.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-21-2020, 01:55 PM
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I second finding an older, more mature instructor. A more senior instructor is going to see things with a very trained eye and will know how to help you correct easier.

That being said, you also have to make sure the instructor understands your goals. I have ridden at places in the past when I first got back into the saddle as an adult where they really didn't pay much attention to you unless you boarded a horse there or went to horse shows. Not all places are like that, but many are. Good luck!!
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