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I'm looking to switch riding instructors. I've outgrown my previous instructor, and want to go in a different direction. I've been taking lessons from her since I started riding 13 years ago. She's taught me a lot, but she's more of a stock-type, all-around instructor/trainer. She teaches general English and Western pleasure, and driving, working mostly with Quarter Horses and Appaloosas. I want to delve more into traditional English riding, and take dressage and jumping lessons from someone with more specific experience in that area.

I found an instructor through the grape vine, and exchanged a few emails with her. She's willing to travel to my barn, and seems to fit what I'm looking for in an instructor. I'm planning on auditing a few lessons before I take a lesson myself.

My question is: What do you look for when looking for a new riding instructor? What questions should I ask, and what are some things I should look out for (good and bad)?
 

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Think about instructors you have had in all areas of your life. Think of the ones you enjoyed and why- make that priority when auditing. Some people like tough love, others enjoy a more gentle approach with instruction.

Make sure she can/ will get your barn's name on her insurance card.

Ask what her policy is if something comes up and you can't make your lesson time. Is there a 24 hour policy? Rescheduling possibilities?

If you plan on showing ask what her rates are for shows.

Ask what she as instructor wants her riders to take away from her lessons.

A lot of these questions may be answered just from your audit, but it never hurts to ask.
 
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I've changed instructors a few times in the short time I've been riding, mostly because I've outgrown them. Except at the first barn I rode at, each instructor has been great and has taught me something different. A few things come to mind when looking for a new instructor...

-Are they personable and easy to talk to?
-What is their teaching style? I've had instructors who were passive and some who were so aggressive they might snap you with their lunge whip- it's happened! This was the same lady who would scream at you for doing something wrong and scream even louder if you did something right! Some people don't like aggressive instructors, but their particular lady was great. She helped me out with more than my riding and was always there for me.
-How flexible are they? If you have to switch your riding time or days, will it be a huge issue?
-Do you have to pay in advanced? Personally I wouldn't like paying for lessons in advanced or by month, and so far have been able to avoid that.
-How successful have their students been? What is their show record? What other equine related jobs do they have or have they had?
-How are their lesson horses like, if you're not using your own?

I would try some instructor's out before committing, if you can!
 
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Instructors "teach" but can you understand them and then produce what they ask for with their way of asking...communication and understanding between and on both of you needs to be very clear and understandable.

I find that I learn sometimes by watching it done so I know and understand what it is supposed to look like... can this instructor hop on your horse or any horse and demonstrate what it is she is teaching.

Many teach "book" but can't back it up in hands-on applications.
Sometimes, your horse might not be able to do something either because they just don't know it so can she teach the horse during the lesson from the ground and astride as well as you?
Not every "team" is compatible... you need the team of rider, horse and instructor to all work from the same page to move forward and achieve success...

Above many things I find RESPECT of her/his knowledge and generally of the person and the showing of respect to me and my abilities and effort put forth is important. Encouragement, not belittling works better I find for most.

Some things I look for...

Good luck.

:wink:
 

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I would add, sometimes you need to be shown how to do "x". My trainer can hop on my horse and show me specifically how to do something; a haunches in, for example, and how it should look like. Then I remount and attempt. Invariably, she has better feel than me and I can rarely get the same result, but at least I know what it should look like!
 

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I always go and watch a few lessons. It gives me a much better idea of what I can expect from watching their teaching style versus asking a bunch of questions.
 
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