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Choosing a Riding Instructor and Facility

Photo by Gabriella Hall FlickrRiding lessons are the best way to get started learning about horses. Choosing an experienced horse professional capable of effectively communicating instructions to others, who places the safety of both horse and rider as the highest priority is of utmost importance. There are many “Riding Instructors” and horse facilities that offer riding lessons. So how to choose the one right for you or your child? Ask for referrals.

Do you have friends who can offer recommendations? Word of mouth experience, good and bad, is very helpful. If you don’t know of anyone who can offer a recommendation. You can always investigate a little further online or in the phone book to see what options are advertised. Feed and tack shops are other good resources for information and advertisements. Horseshows are another great way to find out about riding facilities.

Definitely do some research and call several facilities and plan on going out for a visit before making a selection. We all have different learning styles, and different facilities may cater to different learners. For example, are you looking for an instructor who can offer one-on-one, individualized attention? Perhaps you prefer a more “social” learning environment in a group setting with many students?Perhaps you'd like a program offering both options, private and group lessons? Some programs may not have a wide variety of lesson horses to ride. Is having the option of riding many different horses important? These are some things to ask about.
 
Personality is a very important consideration when choosing a riding instructor. You want to find an instructor who "meshes" well with your personality or that of your child. If you are the type of person who is easily distracted or needs strict guidance, you may be best suited with an Instructor offering a more “Disciplinarian, No-Nonsense” style of training. If you are more the type-A, overly serious personality, you may work better with a more easy-going or laid-back instructor. At any rate, you need to enjoy riding. If you’re not enjoying your lessons, feel overly pressured, or fearful, then you are not in the right learning environment, and it’s okay to try somewhere else before throwing in the towel!
 
 More Tips for finding the right Instructor and Facility

Call several different facilities and set up an appointment to meet with your potential instructor and see the facility and the horses.

Is the facility well-kept and clean?

Are the lesson horses healthy in appearance- with a shiny coat and a healthy weight, or do they appear skinny and dull? You don’t have to be a horse expert to notice an unhealthy looking horse! If appearances of the animals aren’t up to par, it’s a sign - cross of your list and move on.

Ask about policies and fees. Do they match your budget, expectations, and schedule?

If the lesson is for your child, will you be attending the lessons or will there be times when you’d like to drop off and pick up your child? Some facilities may have rules that parents are required to be present during lessons. Be sure to check on this.

Did you or your child feel a rapport with one instructor in particular that you met with? If so, this is far more important criteria for making your selection than choosing a facility based on fees, location, and convenience.

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