Teaching private lessons to a beginner - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 11-20-2017, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Belgium
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Teaching private lessons to a beginner

Hi everyone!

I've recently moved boarding places - from a DIY pasture to a DIY actual boarding facility. It hasn't seen use in years, however, but me and the only other boarder so far are making sure to help the owner get things going once again. I've got a grooming post, a locker for my material, a closet for pots and such, a little arena, so much pasture,... I love it already.

Now, I've dabbled in giving riding lessons and my students were always pretty excited about it. Most of the time, I do focus on groundwork, since I find that to be the base of everything else after training a few horses from the ground up. The thing is, I've only ever given lessons to people that wanted to learn my ways, not necessarily horse riding per say. Someone heard I quite like giving lessons, and now that I have an arena, I'd like to get a bit more active in it again. I'd give lessons with my own mare to get them through certain fears, and to teach them just how soft a horse can be. As it is, she's a hardened trail horse that responds to very light touches. Now, the person who heard of me would like absolute beginner lessons - but I've absolutely never, ever given those. I have a lot of traffic cones because I've noticed it really helps in lessons for a variety of things, but an absolute beginner? Where would you start?

What do your beginner lessons entail, what do you start with, how long do you go on,..? Tell me everything you know, I'm eager to learn!

The horse you think is the oldest, is almost always the one that is still three years old in his mind.
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post #2 of 9 Old 11-20-2017, 05:11 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Plano, Texas
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Begin with horse safety and explain the general nature of horses. Explain how to lead and work with a horse on the ground. Include grooming and tacking up. Explain how to mount in a way which does not disturb the horse. Teach how to sit on a horse. Emphasize balance, good posture, relaxation, and moving with the horse. Then, move on to guiding and aiding the horse through various movements.
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Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
TXhorseman is offline  
post #3 of 9 Old 11-20-2017, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: South Wales, UK
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If you're taking payment for lessons, make sure you have insurance. Beginners, and even those who tell you they're experienced but aren't really, are much more likely to cause problems in the event of an accident. Even a simple, non-injurious fall can be blown up (most likely by Injury Claim companies, who can be very persuasive) into a life-threatening accident.

Have fun with your teaching but please protect yourself. Good luck :)
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The battle that never ends is the battle of belief against unbelief - Thomas Carlyle

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post #4 of 9 Old 11-20-2017, 06:36 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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That was MY first thought, too; insurance. But then, I come form the US, where suing and being sued is a real concern. It's really ridiculous at times, but the land owner will be the person who loses the most, should someone you are teaching be injured and they try to sue.
I see you are in Belgium, so it's possible you do not have such a 'litigious' culture . I hopes so.

But, do make sure the landowner understnads what you are doing.
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post #5 of 9 Old 11-20-2017, 08:06 PM
Green Broke
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Insurance runs about $60 per month. The problem is a small business like you are describing will cost the same insurance wise, as a larger operation. Giving lessons on one horse, may end up costing the same as having a 10 horse stable. For insurance, that is.

The problem is accidents happen, even to the best. If that accident results in life threatening injuries, you will be sued. It doesn't matter how careful you are. Know the equestrian liability laws for where you live.
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post #6 of 9 Old 11-20-2017, 10:34 PM
Join Date: May 2017
Location: NW Connecticut
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My "first time on a horse" lessons are not too far in the past...about two years. Let me try to remember how I started.

I think I was first ponied around by a person until they made sure that I sat comfortably and without being tense, nervous, or scared. Then I was taught to get the horse going and to make him stop. Then we went over turning and I got to walk him around 4 poles down the center of the arena. After 3 or 4 lessons I went on my first trail ride, which consisted of going the long way around from the arena to the tacking area through the property. :)

Trotting was a bit of a pain. First, posting at the walk. Then trotting on the long sides of the arena and trying to pick up the horse's rhythm. Then more sustained trots, followed by circles, figure-8s and trot poles. (The main point of the trot poles was not to look at them while going over them and just get accustomed to the slightly bigger steps.)

Then came canter prep: Lots and lots of up-up-down. Lots of two-pointing, at the walk and at the trot. Trotting with my hands behind my back, up-up-down with my hands behind my back, etc.

I took lessons with two instructors: a dressage "centered riding" instructor and at a show jumping barn. The former was very technical and biomechanical, the latter got me strengthened and conditioned.

After I started cantering I did what I started to take lessons for in the first place: a 6 hour w/t/c trail ride in Iceland.

After that, I started jumping cross rails and shortly thereafter my first 1-foot circuit. That's when I got tired of the arena and I went to where I am now, for field and trail lessons, and finally my first lease horse.
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post #7 of 9 Old 11-21-2017, 04:25 AM
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One thing that might be a problem is that you say that your horse is soft. That might not be the best match for beginners. They will slam down in the saddle, flail their arms and legs and pull on the reins. There is just no way around that stage for most people (working acrobats and professional gymnasts excluded).
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post #8 of 9 Old 11-21-2017, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: North Dakota
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Some things to think about.

Most trainers that give lessons at a boarding barn have to pay a fee to the boarding barn, for use of their facilities for giving lessons. I understand you are helping the owner to "get going", but know that it is a common thing for trainers to do who train out of a boarding barn.

Depending on your state laws, you most likely will need to have some sort of liability insurance, in case you have a client get hurt during one of your lessons.

Is your horse suitable for a beginner? Usually, one who requires "very light touches" is NOT good for a beginner, because they will not be "forgiving" to mistakes. Softness is usually not something a beginner is going to be taught right away because they will have too many other things to think about.

∞*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #9 of 9 Old 11-22-2017, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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First of all, get your waivers ready-one for you personally and a 2nd one for the property owner. Make sure that only parents or legal guardians sign for minors under 18 and that they add the names of any brothers and sister who may just come to watch. Have lots of waivers on hand for other relatives who might want to watch-if they are on the property, a waiver is signed, period.

Google is a good place to find free templates for this and you can modify them to fit! Bury them in paperwork right from the first while explaining that this is a potentially dangerous sport and that everyone eventually falls off if they ride enough. Emphasizing this can go a long way towards preventing lawsuits!

Insist on (and provide if necessary) helmets for the kids and don't allow anyone to show up in tennis shoes.

If your horse is soft to cues, consider not letting the beginners use a bridle with a bit or at the very least, loose rein only and definitely keep them on the lunge line as long as it takes for them to start "getting it". When you've been riding a long time it's easy to forget how totally overwhelming it is for beginners!

Work on the very basics only at first and explain, explain, explain. Especially with kids, repeat yourself a lot! Balance, posture, moving with the horse, leg control and position, hand control and position and definitely let them practice a lot of "Whoa" at first! It gives a new rider more confidence to know that they can successfully stop a horse if they get overwhelmed. Spend a reasonable amount of time with ground practice, grooming and explaining horse behavior but don't deny them riding time-you will end up with a bad reputation when people gossip about not being able to ride!

If you really get heavily into giving lessons (and I've been doing it for 40+ years) you will find that you get about 50 kids for every one adult. Adults seem much more willing to spend that kind of money on their children but not willing to spend it on themselves. Teaching kids and teaching adults are two totally different experiences as you will see.

With experience you learn to gauge how a particular rider will probably progress-there is no normal, everyone is different. Some take years to learn what another may get in 6 months. Accept it yourself and help them accept it too. Casually discuss goals especially with adults so that you can tailor your method to it.

Be professional in your attitude but make sure there is some fun involved. With kids I usually give them 5 minutes at the end of every lesson for "play time". They get to ride around the arena on their own without me yelling out instructions and practice what they've learn if they want. (I am always watching carefully on the sly!!)

As far as property fees, I've never paid more than a commission of $5 per lesson to a barn owner as I have helped a lot of my lesson people buy their own horses and they ended up boarding at the properties.

And final warning... You need to be careful not to overbook your mare if the lessons really start building up. Being a lesson horse is stressful to them and they will get very tired of it and start acting out. Lesson horses always get a bad rap but there is a very good reason they got that way!
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beginner , coaching , lessons , private , riding

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