Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Canberra Australia
Start off gentle, the way its done where I work is to teach people from the get go to groom, saddle and bridle their own horse, every time, and I think that's probably a really good thing. people get to learning that horses aren't out to kill them and in that and they start learning to handle them in a very basic sense.
Most of the lessons I teach are of children, though I have taught a few adults, and I'm only very new the whole horse riding instructor caper (I have been riding horses for around 31 years and training them for about 20 to 19 years so the whole horse riding thing isn't new to me), though I seem to be picking up the instructing fairly quickly even through I'm having to learn a whole new way of riding to do it (I am learning to teach "English" style though I orrigianlly learned Western/Vaquero style). What I have noticed in the teaching I have been doing is that safety is really a big deal.
Having done the teaching I have, I think its 1) surprising that this person was cantering after three lessons, and 2) that the girth was in a position to get loose in the first place, someone who has ridden three times is in no position to know how to cinch up a saddle, it all has to be checked and double checked by the instructor. But be that as it may, and assuming everyone is ok, put past things behind and get on with doing it right next time.
since this person is willing to continue, I'd start off nice and gradual. So, as I teach people I like to think of things that a person needs to ride well. they need good aids. legs, hands and so on, they need a good seat, they need to relax, and all of it to me at least seems to depend on a good seat. I watch people ride and if their seat isn't there they pull on the reins to stay on the horse, they can't engage their leg aids, they cant use the reins properly, and they cant use their seat.
What I would do with this person, were they to show up and I was their instructor is to work on their seat. I wouldn't have them do anything past trot. I wouldn't necessarily have them on the lunge line, but I would keep them hemmed in fairly close and keep them working on getting something approaching an independent seat (or as much of that as possible in a one hour lesson). Just getting their heels down, and under them, moving through the hips and keeping the hips in the saddle with the legs consistently where they should be, relaxed through the shoulders and arms so as not to be pulling on the reins and their hands relatively still.
slow and steady would be the key, do it at a walk, then perhaps rising trot. if there is any uncertainty in steering or impulsion/stop in the rising trot, pull it all back to the walk, do lots of exercises to marry up good control with a good seat.
I don't know what this person you are teaching is like, hopefully they are mature enough to understand that faster (i.e. canter) potentially means more dangerous. If the person is anything like the kids I teach they are always champing at the bit (pun intended) to canter, and they need to be reined in (yep, another intended pun) for their own sake, but usually if you give them a task that is RELITIVELY complex enough they forget about wanting to canter. So what I mean, is if I figure a person isn't to a stage they can, say trot, and they want to, I tell them, "well lets see how you can control the horse at a walk doing, such and such a task" I make that task such that it pushes them to the limit at a walk, and pretty quick they see that they need to work on control rather than speed.
Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race where quality and safety are concerned.