What to look for in an instructor? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-27-2016, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Boston, MA
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What to look for in an instructor?

I'm finally going to try a few barns/instructors, have a few private lessons! I went to an open house yesterday and saw one instructor working with a student, really liked her.

I live very near horse country north of Boston. It's kind of an embarrassment of riches which makes it hard to set a limit on how many barns and instructors to visit.

I'm middle-aged, in terrible shape (regime is now yoga, Pilates, and riding), and want to develop a graceful seat and post, canter. My goal is to feel confident on the trail and to ride with (read: behind lol) the local hunt this fall or next, I'll be one in the group that does not take the jumps, which I understand is OK!

I bring an upbeat personality and calm nature, patience and commitment to the enterprise. Just curious as to what you'd look for, ask, see as red flags, etc.

Many thanks!
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-27-2016, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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I look for:

how well thehorses are cared for first and foremost. That they are being fed right aka don't look skin and bones. They are treated respectfully- as in not harshly nor overly spoiled.

Another thing: atmosphere. This is your personal choice. I prefer a quieter lesson barn. WHile I dont really have any experience with show barns, I just think they would be focused more on things I am not too concerned about-maybe i am wrong. But I like to work with my horse in a place that isn't overly packed or busy. Sometimes it does get lonely at the barn I am at, but i'd feel too crowded if there were several people there all the time. But just ask yourself- are you interested in socialization as well? SOme people may not be a fan of lesson barns that have a lot of younger kids, or some may want a place with more boarders...ect. Lesson days at my place are busier, and sometimes I had lessons that had a few more people in it that I didn't care for, but it wasn't constant.

Also, the instructor- broken down into 2 catagories

Does the barn focus on what you eventually want to get into? Mine is more dressage/pleasure riding. They don't do any jumping. So, if I wanted to jump, this barn would help with the basics, but if I ever wanted to jump, i'd have to find another one. The instructor just flat out wants to focus on other riding abilities rather than jumping ( plus, she doesn't want to invest in jumping horses since hers haven't been jumped/worked out to be able to do any significant jumping).

and then, you can take direction from the instructor. Basically you like the way they teach. Not everyone can be the best teacher to every student- everyone learns differently. If you can observe a few lessons, you could probably see what their way of teaching is and see if it will fit your learning abilities.

But in the end, if you go to one and it doesn't work out, you can always look for another. Of course, prices may help determine your choice and location.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-27-2016, 09:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: west palm beach, fl
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You'll want an instructor who gives clear direction, abd in the case that you don't understand Will take the time to explain, without yelling, or getting frustrated. Someone who will push you to be better, even when your nervous, but not push you past your abilities. Also, look at their horses. Are their feet nice, are they healthy (not skinny, appear happy and not lethargic or sickly). My rule, is to take two lessons (at least) with a trainer you think you might like before making a decision. But mostly, I'd look for a trainer who has happy students. If you get a chance to talk to one of their students, ask how they like their instructor, abd what they don't like. Gives you a very clear picture.

I hope you find something that works for you!
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-27-2016, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
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I think when you find the right trainer they will make you think "Wow, I didn't know I could do that!" They should be encouraging but still push you. I had a trainer who had favorites, and I was not one of them. She kept me walking and trotting 20 m circles for THREE YEARS. My breaking point was when she said rude things about my mare. Then I found my amazing new trainer. She loves all of her students and is like an aunt to me. On my first lesson with her, I hadn't ridden properly in months. She was supportive and by the end I was able to wtc and jump cross rails! I hope it doesn't take you so long to find the right trainer lol!
As for horses, the lesson horses should be in shape (not fat and not super skinny) and have minimal to no bad habits. Any lesson horse that is a habitual bucker, rearer, bolter is a huge red flag. When you narrow down the list of trainers, maybe ask to watch them give a lesson to one of their advanced students. That will give you an idea of how they train.
Good luck!

c'est la vie
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-27-2016, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
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^^^ this. Watch the instructor giving some lessons. How he/she speaks to the students is critical to me. You can point out faults and correct someone using an encouraging tone, then if they still fail to achieve what you want you assume your instruction is not clear and try another way of approaching the problem. Some, unfortunately start yelling or getting sarcastic - run from these, there is enough people prepared to bad mouth you in life without paying for it!!
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-20-2016, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Alberta, Canada
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It's all about trying different people. When you have the right match, you'll know. And all the stuff everyone else has said! Good luck
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-29-2016, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Things I'd look for is how well they introduce themselves and how they just kinda talk and stuff. It's kinda crazy, but it almost gives you a little taste of their personality. Also, look at how they treat the horses. You want someone with a gentle touch, yet they will handle the horse correctly when need be. Last, I usually try to watch them ride, so you know they do actually know what they are doing Hope this helps!
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-29-2016, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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Great instructors make you feel loved and show you how to create miracles.

Good instructors make you feel respected and show you how to make progress.

Poor instructors make you feel disappointed in yourself and your horse.

Horrible instructors make you feel like giving up the whole business, and holing up in your darkened bedroom with a bottle of scotch.

Go by feel.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-19-2016, 08:35 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Colorado
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Depends on the person.

Some people do better with a more gentle approach. Others enjoy being pushed.

Be picky about your instructor. I once took lessons at a place where I was only allowed to walk and trot for 30 minutes for 2 years (I only stayed so long because I really liked the horse I took lessons on). I soon switched barns and found my new lessons were more fun, and I loved the horses there as well!
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-21-2016, 03:41 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Mississippi
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Don't make the mistake I made when I started taking lessons. I took lessons from the same instructor for almost 2 years before I finally quit. I learned everything that she taught me in the 1st 2 months of lessons. With me being new to horses, I didn't know any better.

If you take lessons and do exactly the same thing in every lesson, don't wait months before you find another instructor. The one you have has limited knowledge in teaching you or is only trying to keep you there as long as possible for the money. This is a milk man instructor.

I learned most of what I know from watching "Riding with Confidence" dvd series and from reading posts on here. There's actually a few members on here that I actually look for their posts because I know that I can actually learn something from them.

Don't just go by auditing a few lessons and think that the instructor is knowledgeable. Some students that's taking lessons went there with years of riding already under their belt and just needed help developing their technique. Be sure that the instructor know how to teach a beginner and help them learn and progress in their riding.

If you ever feel like you're stuck in a rut and not getting any better, they should be able to help you work through it. If they can't, run, don't walk away. The last thing you want is to shatter your confidence.

Never be afraid to ask questions when there is something that you don't understand. You are there to learn and paying them for this information.

The best thing I did was find a few saddle clubs in my area. There is a lot of people there that is willing to help you. Some of them even give riding lessons, some even offer help, all you have to do is ask. I always go there a couple of hours early. The other members know that, and someone knowledgeable always show up to ride with me and offer help and guidance. Most of them are on facebook. If I put a post out there and say that I am going to the arena and ride for a couple of hours, someone always show up to ride with me and offer help and support. There is nothing like having eyes on the ground willing to help you when need it.

"Don't let doubt, fear or the negativity of others stand in the way of your dreams and goals." - Clinton
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