When his team complained about the small size of their playbook, Green Bay Packers Coach, Vince Lombardi told his players when they’d mastered the basics, he’d give them more. Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers were legendary. I’m not a football fan but I know Vince Lombardi had it right. A thorough understanding of basics is the foundation for success in football and in riding and teaching.
I grew up on L.I. in New York, riding and showing in the days of Joan Johnson, Vladamir Littauer, Harry DeLeyer, Gordon Wright, not realizing the treasure around me. But it was an era for serious horsemen and women. I began teaching in 1965 as a neophyte instructor. In 1968 I was fortunate to attend the Potomac Horse Center, MD. PHC was the only British Horse Society program offered in the United States at the time, one of the few places an instructor could be certified. I’ve taught riding for my lifetime, teaching children, adults, and instructors in all disciplines of riding. I especially enjoy I enjoy teaching instructors.
I became a United States Pony Club Instructor in the 70s. I’ve held many USPC positions, including Regional Supervisor, Regional Instruction Coordinator, District Commissioner, Regional Camp Director, Pony Club Examiner, course designer, and event organizer. United States Pony Club is the best equestrian youth organization in America today.
Instructors of beginners are some of the most important people in the horse world. Everyone starts at the beginning. And if we can get the foundation started correctly, our students will have more success.
Blue ribbons are not the only indicator of success with horses. Helping a rider overcome issues, seeing someone continue to ride for their lifetime, and seeing that smile that comes from the joy of spending time with horses also indicate success. Success is in the trail ride, or the bonding with a frightened horse, or the healing provided with equines assisted therapy. There is no limit to the number of ways we can succeed with horsemanship. But for me it is only truly success when I see the horse well handled, well cared for, and well treated. We need to teach the whole package to the next generation—riding skills, theory, sportsmanship, horsemanship, and relationship. Then we will have true success.
Hang out with me at The Riding Instructor and we’ll discuss issues, theories, methods, and just about everything. Add your thoughts to the conversations— comments are always open. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.