There are a number of reason why instructors teach riding but a majority of the time, if we think about it long enough, we can boil things down to one main reason we started. And it can be different from one instructor to the next. I’m going to talk about five common reasons people teach riding but I’d love if you would let me know what motivated you.
1. Because We Love the Art
When we have a desire to hone our art close to perfection frequently we desire to pass that passion along to the next generation of riders coming along the equestrian trail. I’m hearing music freestyles in my head, seeing gorgeous dressage rides, and beautiful warm blood horses with creative movement. The instructor who teaches because they love art will shop for the most serious students, ones that are willing to sacrifice sleep to practice, and are willing to invest their lives in their art. I get this and I love it. As a kid I was an all out equitation freak. Still am.
2. To Augment Our Business
When a horse professional is in the business of training, showing, competing, boarding, buying and selling horses etc, it makes perfect sense to include an instructional program in the business plan. Students buy horses. They go to horse shows, their horse need training, they need a place to board, and if they improve in their lessons they will probably need a new horse when they’re ready to move up the levels.
Lessons beget business. Teaching riding is an important part of an equestrian business plan.
3. Because We Love Teaching
Some people are natural born teachers and if they love horses you’ll find them teaching riding. If they were into crafts they’d be teaching someone how to make something creative. If they sail they’ll teach you to sail, too. They teach because they’re teachers.
4. Because We Love People
Riders that love kids or other people that ride horses will be found trying to help their friends work out their problems with horses. This teaching goal might motivate a person to work in a Therapeutic program helping to improve quality of life and health, and full filling dreams. In my mind, anyone who loves teaching leadline or “experience the horse” lessons must be someone who loves other people, whether they are kids or adults.
Instructors that teach because they love kids will always put the safety and success of the rider first. If a horse needs to be sold, they sell it. If a pony needs a stronger bit, they use it. It’s not that they are heartless, far from it. They are concerned about the success of that rider and the horse is not the first focus.
5. Because We Love Horses
Some people teach riding because they love horses. This person probably never met a horse they couldn’t find a purpose for or didn’t deserve a good home. This instructor might be eating off the dollar menu but her horses’ hay and grain is high quality suited for it’s age and body type. This person might sleep on a lumpy mattress but the horse’s stall will be clean and he’ll probably have a gel pad under his saddle. Students are taught to be considerate of the horse first. If a horse is a little sore it doesn’t get meds and continue to work. It rests. They don’t get rid of a troubled horse until they’ve done everything to work out it’s problems. Everything is geared to the horse first and the rider second.
There Can Be Many Motivations
Every one starts teaching for their own personal reason and one reason isn’t better than the next. Over the years we may morph into all five of the areas I mentioned but that very first reason that you started teaching riding will not change, even if it gets buried under a whole pile of life.
Why I Started to Teach Riding
Three years ago I retired from teaching riding. I started in 1966 and in that time have ridden almost every kind of horse and taught more types of rider than I can remember. And my reasons for teaching have been many, changing with time, place, opportunity, education, and understanding.
People who know me will recognize which of the five areas define me as an instructor and which ones make me want to take up a new career. I can honestly and without any doubt say that when I taught my very first lessons I had only one motivation. I loved horses.
If you’re curious as to why I retired—it was to focus on writing. My love for horses is still why I get up every morning and head out to the barn.
How About You?
So how about you? What was you first most basic reason for teaching riding? Is it different than my list? And did your motivation determine the path of your teaching career?
Thanks for reading The Riding Instructor!
Barbara Ellin Fox
PS- Thanks to AFoxPhotography.com for Capi’s picture
I love the new picture Barbara. Short hair suits you. As to motivation — as you know I do not teach riding but the factors that would apply if if i did would be 1, and 5. coupled with my dismay at the way so many ride and treat their horses today. I have been associating with horses since 1946 but at the age of 79 have retired both my mare and myself from riding now. Nevertheless she still gets the attention that befits an officer’s charger about to go on parade. (I think it is called love).
Thank you so much. The hair was a big decision. I know how much you love the horse. We’re kindred spirits on that count. That love is a special sort of gift that provides deep satisfaction on one hand and pain on the other. Your mare is in such good hands with your care and she certainly has one of the most lovely accommodations.
The art of riding has provoked the most heated debates. I can picture, maybe even hear, passionate Santini arguing against those who thought they had developed an adaption of the forward seat. Or even Caprilli or Chamberlin (I picture Chamberlin as less heated but still passionate) or in this country, the Russian, Littauer, who debated with my instructor. Debate and passion is what stimulates thought and develops theory. I think as long as man rides horses we won’t reach the end of it nor will we have every answer, but I hope conversation continues through the next generations. For you and I the consideration for the animal will always come first.
Best wishes, my friend.