Before they are concerned about whether a student is the next olympic superstar, a potential champion in the show ring or even a future horse owner, there are 5 basic things that riding instructors expect. These expectations are fairly universal.

#1. Respect My Time

Respecting an instructor’s time starts with being ready to ride when the lesson begins. There should be an understanding between the instructor and student exactly what this means. If a student rides their own horse it may mean that the rider is expected to be mounted and have their horse warmed-up when the lesson begins. If a student rides a lesson horse there may be different set of expectations. Expectations need to be made clear and students need to respect the start of the lesson.

Anyone can run into a scheduling problem but students need to understand that if they are late to a lesson they will miss part of their lesson. Respecting an instructor’s time means not expecting the lesson to run over due to the student’s tardiness. It’s presumptuous to think the instructor should run fifteen minutes over the lesson because the student got caught in traffic. Plus, it can cause the domino effect for the instructor who has back-to-back lessons by pushing each lesson further off schedule.

Respecting the instructor’s time goes beyond timely arrival. It also includes keeping appointments. Last minute cancelations or no shows are especially disruptive to an instructor’s schedule, plus they are time wasters for a busy professional. It’s particularly annoying for instructors who make special preparations for individual lessons whether it be getting a horse ready or setting up the arena.

Most instructors enjoy spending time visiting with their students but the student who obsessively occupies the instructor’s time seeking advice is also not respectful of the instructor’s time

#2. Pay Me On Time

Riding lessons are expesive and no one knows that better than the riding instructor who’s spent a small fortune to learn to ride and teach others. Instructors have the same kinds of normal living expenses as do students. Riding might be a hobby or luxury for the students, but it’s a business for the instructor.

If an instructor supports lesson horses their expenses increase considerably, including the whole realm of horse care and supplies. Even the instructor who teaches on a student’s horse has to pay for liability insurance.

But all that aside, when a student contracts with an instructor, the instructor expects and needs to be paid in full on time. Any working adult expects a paycheck from their job and so do instructors.

#3. Respect My Background and Training

There is no fast way to become a good riding instructor. It takes years of dedication , usually working from the ground up to develop a solid foundation to pass on to students. It’s expensive, requires endurance and sometimes a good share of blood, sweat, and tears.

Instructors expect students to respect their knowledge and to come into lessons without preconceived ideas. They expect students to be open minded and willing to learn. There is nothing more annoying than a student who takes a lesson already believing they know everything. Attitude can cripple the educational process.

#4. Come With Your Head in the Game.

Riding instructors expect students to come to lessons ready to focus and fully participate. Few riding instructors are psychologists. Students need to leave the crisis from work at work and worries from home at home. Personal problems have no place in lessons. Neither do bad attitudes. Instructors intend to give their best lessons to students but student must be ready to receive theinstruction.

Learning to ride is not a simple skill like soccer or tennis. It’s an education. It requires concentrated effort and focus.

Instructors expect students to come ready to ride, learn and participate.

#5. Instructors Expect a Student’s Best Effort

And why shouldn’t we? After all riding is one of the greatest privileges we have and we ride because we choose to do so. Why wouldn’t a student come with a positive attitude, intent on learning what we have to teach, focused on a terrific horse and physical activity, trying as hard as they can to learn and absorb?

If students expect an instructor’s best lesson it seems fair that instructors expect a student’s best effort.

Instructors prefer students to ditch the attitude before they turn down the barn drive and put their strongest effort into learning what we have to teach during their lesson.

What Do You Think?

I’ve only covered the basic expectations of a riding instructor. As students advance and become more involved in riding, instructors expect more. It’s the way we help students progress. So how about you? What do you expect from your students? What do you expect as students advance? Can you add anything to this list?

Thanks for reading The Riding Instructor.

May you give your best lessons ever this week.

Barbara Ellin Fox


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