Download the PDF You can download a pdf of this lesson complete with diagrams. Just click the download button. Simple Trot Pole Jumping Lesson:BEFox:RidingInstructor.netDownload Using trot poles for beginning jumping can work well for students or for a green horse. ...

Read More

How much grip should a rider have with their legs? Should they grip at all? The short answer is—it depends. Stirrup length, seat, and activity all factor into if, when, and how much a rider grips with their legs.  At ...

Read More

My intention with this month’s post was to move on with a discussion about seat mainly defining the terms and definitions we use. As usual, I looked through a few online articles to get the pulse of the sort of ...

Read More

Performance & SafetyFor the RiderAll sports and many arts teach "position" or form because good form results in better performance. How you hold the golf club and position your feet affects how you hit the golf ball. The way you hold ...

Read More

An Excerpt From Riding and Schooling by Harry Chamberlin “The correct principles of equitation and horse training are in themselves simple and well defined, and easily within the comprehension of any intelligent mind. Unfortunately, these principles are so difficult to ...

Read More

No riding instructor wants their student to fall from the horse, but it's naive to think you can teach riding and not see this happen. Even the most gentle horse is capable of shying or stumbling or cutting a corner. ...

Read More

Thank you, Kathy Boettcher of Meadowsweet Ranch in Spring Grove, Illinois for sharing this great Holiday Obstacle Course idea with The Riding Instructor's readers. From Kathy "Something that I do the last two weeks of December is put up an ...

Read More

A reader asked about website design basics for riding instructors, insurance, and release forms. I thought I’d share my answer with a blog post and ask other instructors for their input. Websites In today’s word of internet communication, every riding ...

Read More

Covid Difficulties So much has happened to effect riding programs in 2020 that many riding instructors have re-evaluated where they are headed with their students. Trainers and instructors who depend on horse shows and other competitions for part of their ...

Read More

Grassroots is the basic, most elementary part of what we do. Think about your lawn for a minute.  If grubs eat the roots of your grass your lawn dies.  Roots feed the plant and make growth possible. If the roots ...

Read More

By now you have read the many good articles on inclusion published by The Chronicle of the Horse, Plaid Horse, and across the internet about the Black experience in the horse industry. Some articles are vitriolic and others are passionate ...

Read More

This is a tough time for riding instructors, especially those for whom teaching is their major source of income. Trying to figure out what to do and what to believe can be difficult. The American Horse Council has a good ...

Read More

We horse lovers are a gregarious sort and social distancing sure crimps our style. Take heart. With all the options for education and interaction, students and instructors need not worry about staying connected. Today I’ll share some of my favorite ...

Read More

In my book, anytime we teach horsemanship it’s a good way. In this post I talk about 4 different ways to include horsemanship in your teaching program. All are effective and have their pros and cons. Some programs focus on riding ...

Read More

The annual ritual, No Stirrup November, is almost upon us. Say you YAY! Or Nay? As an instructor I love this opportunity to be creative and to help students achieve basic goals. I’ve included downloads at the end of this ...

Read More

Scheduling and collecting payment for lessons can be a headache for riding instructors. When you’re busy handling horses and more than one student at a time, it can be easy to forget who prepaid for a class and who pays ...

Read More

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What is the best way to manage riders and riding lessons in the summer heat? Having taught riding in both the dry hot Southwest and the very humid Midwest, I hope some of the tips I’ve gathered will help you ...

Read More

Summer is the best time to get intense horsemanship instruction into kid’s, and since I love getting new riders started I was excited when a reader asked for tips for a one week, 1-2 hour a day class for beginners. I’ve ...

Read More

Respect her time One of the complaints I hear most frequently is that students don’t respect the instructor’s time. Let your instructor know you value that she/he has set a specific time period aside for your lesson. Do this by ...

Read More

Have you ever wondered why parents support kids so strongly in sports like volleyball, yet are willing to cancel their weekly riding lesson? Volleyball at Lower Grades Volleyball, like other team sports such as soccer, is introduced on the community ...

Read More

A reader had an interesting situation to discuss this week involving a client with two horses in  training  and a plan for their daughter to show. Normally this would be ideal, except the parents enroll the daughter in after school ...

Read More

A reader who has been a riding instructor for 10 years asked for my opinion on how to handle a difficult student. She agreed to wait for an answer while I put a post together to share.  The student is ...

Read More

Dealing with people in any field can require compromise. When we set our standards as instructors or barn owners we should have a mental list of things on which we are absolutely steadfast, and others with which we are willing ...

Read More

We all have “go to” sources where we read about horses.  It could be a book, website or periodical and each type of riding has it’s own selection. Research I love research, and when I write lesson plans or blog ...

Read More

Good riding is as much the result of conditioning the rider’s thought processes and reflexes, as it is conditioning the body and learning skills. What a rider does or does not put into their mind will have direct bearing on ...

Read More

A solid and correct base of support is one of the best gifts we can give to students because it’s the foundation of good riding and balance. Definition A quick Internet search for “base of support” produced the following from ...

Read More

Writing about two-point was supposed to be easy.  After all, two-point is the mainstay position for the hunter-jumper world. Definition I planned to start out with the definition of two-point used by the leading authorities. That seemed simple enough. Start ...

Read More

There have been a lot of conversations lately about the direction the horse business has gone, and what needs to be done to keep things from getting out of hand. But the horse industry is like popcorn kernels. Once they ...

Read More

As a professional, I’ve always taught Pony Club Clinics and even helped form a club in the 70s, but I didn’t become fully immersed in Pony Club until 2000 when my daughters became members. 2018  One of my adult daughters ...

Read More

The following simple exercise can be used for all levels of independent riders in a variety of settings and seats ranging from a pole on the ground to a jump. This Simple Exercise has Multiple Benefits How often do we ...

Read More

Even though I enjoy several breeds of horses Thoroughbreds have always been my favorite, so I was happy to see The Chronicle of the Horse  devote an issue to Thoroughbreds earlier this month. Most of the many Thoroughbreds I’ve ridden or ...

Read More

An over-mounted beginning rider can have so many problems that I wonder why any instructor would allow it with their students. A Schooling Show Recently I visited a schooling show where I didn’t know any of the players. The show had a ...

Read More

 It can be unnerving for an instructor to lose confidence during a lesson, but it happens more often than you might think. I’m not talking about losing confidence in the grand scale of an entire teaching career. I’m talking about ...

Read More

Do I recommend certification to student instructors? Would I tell prospective riders to look for only  instructors who have certification? It all depends, because those are two questions that don’t have black and white answers. Because The United States doesn’t ...

Read More

  Participating in your first dressage test is a big event and everyone wants to do their best.  You are a fortunate rider if you do your first test on a school master but not everyone has that opportunity.  Just ...

Read More

If you teach beginners you know the importance of developing a safe riding program. Safety is the number one requirement for beginners, but how can you tell if a program is safe for both students and horses? There are no ...

Read More

You don’t wake up one morning and suddenly have burnout. Burnout creeps up over time and is a common problem for riding instructors. What is Burnout? Dictionary.com defines burnout as “fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or ...

Read More

Why Rate the Gait? Before your students learn lengthenings, rebalancing, corner adustments or even takes a ride in the pasture they need to learn to rate the gait. It doesn’t matter whether you teach dressage, hunt seat, saddle seat, or ...

Read More

I commend The Chronicle of the Horse for the articles in the April 9 & 16, 2018 issue which speak out against sexual abuse in the horse industry. They’ve been doing a terrific job of enlightening us with a number ...

Read More

I love the fact that riding horses is a healthy physical outdoor activity, but the life skills learned through supervised horsemanship carry farther than becoming fit. By supervised horsemanship I mean a riding lesson program that encompasses horse care as ...

Read More

Ask any horseman and they will tell you the character building benefits to a child who becomes a horseman over flow the feed bucket. The character building benefits your child will gain partially depends on how you approach their horsemanship education.  ...

Read More

Any instructor who has taught for a while has dealt with fear in a student. A horse is many times larger than a person and riders ask them to do risky things. And we all know of times the horse ...

Read More

A Reader Requested: I would like you to present an article about the trainer instructors that keep riders “hostage” by: limiting opportunities to show at their convenience,  refusing to allow independent riding,  scoffing at going to clinics.  The limiting factor for many ...

Read More

THE PROBLEM: Lesson cancellations can become a big problem for instructors if they are not handled well.  Lesson cancellations leave holes in your income and also in the student’s progress.  Plus canceling students adds stress and worry to your life, ...

Read More

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. ...

Read More

How important is riding without stirrups? Whenever I ask a class of new riders “What keeps you on the horse” one person will answer  “the stirrups”.  Rider’s receive security from their stirrups and become dependent upon them, so it’s important ...

Read More

When I think about a horse who drops his inside shoulder a certain tone of voice sort of screeches through my mind.  It’s the voice of a frustrated rider who believes they’ve done everything to correct the problem—without any luck. ...

Read More

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 ...

Read More

What is it? Teaching outside the box begins with thinking outside the box. Merriam-Webster defines outside the box: to explore ideas that are creative and unusual and that are not limited or controlled by rules or tradition. Cambridge Dictionary defines ...

Read More

Games are an important teaching tool because they engage students and keep them interested. However there is a right time and a wrong time to use them in lessons. When Not To Teach Games: Games are not normally used to ...

Read More

For many kids summer horsemanship camp is a dream come true. It gives horse lovers the opportunity to hang out with horses and other horse kids full time. What can be better than that? Organization and imagination can help make ...

Read More

There is a blurry line from one level of riding to the next that can cause problems in the instructor / student relationship particularly if the student is a child. The blurry line is a magnet for dissension. But before ...

Read More

Spatial awareness is a persons ability to be aware of their body in a space and how it relates to other things in that space. When your new student comes to his first time experience, riding lesson, he doesn’t come ...

Read More

What Are Toe Touches? Toe Touches are an on-the-horse exercise during which the rider stays seated and reaches down with his hand to touch his toes, one foot and one hand at a time. There are two types of Toe Touches: ...

Read More

Have you ever considered the reason behind why you teach trot diagonals? Do you teach it because it was taught to you? Do you teach it as a learning exercise? Maybe you teach it so your equitation students will be ...

Read More

In the November 7, 2016 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse, Sara Lieser wrote a commentary about the blood in the mouth of RF Scandalous, ridden by Marilyn Little in the Dutta Corp, Fair Hill International. Lieser’s commentary was ...

Read More

Fixing With Feed -An important lesson Nancy, one of The Riding Instructor’s readers, offered to share this great Fixing With Feed info graphic with readers. Choosing the correct feed for your horse takes knowledge of the feeds that are available ...

Read More

Plotter? Panster? When referring to their writing method, fiction writers say they are plotters and pansters. A plotter uses structure to lay out the story and then fills in the details accordingly. Plotters know when the hero will make a life and death choice, or ...

Read More

Say foundation and most people readily think of a house. Check out what the website This Old House says about foundations. “A proper foundation does more than just hold a house above ground. It also keeps out moisture, insulates against the ...

Read More

A good two point is dependent on these four things:  A Strong Base of Support (BOS) My definition of base of support agrees with the Manual of Horsemanship and Horsemastership, vol. 1.  “The base of support is formed by those parts of ...

Read More

I’m happy to introduce Dana Merritt to The Riding Instructor readers. Dana teaches beginning riders of all ages ( 5 years old through adult) at Young Riders,LLC in Post Falls Idaho. RI: Why do you teach riding? Dana: I have ...

Read More

Olympian and coach, Jim Wofford, gives an excellent description of the rider hand position in his book, Training The Three Day Event Horse and Rider , James C. Wofford, 1995 Doubleday, Pg 44-45 “The position of your arms should form ...

Read More

An over-mounted beginning rider can have so many problems that I wonder why any instructor would allow it with their students. Recently I visited a schooling show where I didn’t know any of the players. The show had a laid back, peaceful ...

Read More

“Doping in performance horses is defined as the “illegal application of any substance, except normal diet, that might modify the natural and present capacities of the horse at the time of the race.” The prohibition of doping is mainly based ...

Read More

Riding Instructor, Karla Deacon is the busy owner of Spruce Meadow Farm, Inc. in Clarence, New York, USA. Spruce Meadow Farm teaches English horseback riding to beginners through advanced riders. Karla Deacon also oversees Phoenix Rising Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. – ...

Read More

3 things are required to teach beginner trot poles knowledge of how to use trot poles (see – Trot Poles – TheSet Up for Riding Lessons) a horse trained for trot poles (see – Trot Poles- Teaching the Lesson Horse) a ...

Read More

Fear in beginners usually stems from a sense of not being in control, whether it’s the horse or the student’s own body that causes the problem. It’s easier for adult beginners to understand the concept of being a leader and ...

Read More

Deciding to embark on the instructor certification process starts with understanding the purposes behind certification. In the U.K. – The process of becoming a BHS instructor is immersion. In the U.K a person attends a riding school that teaches according to the ...

Read More

 Today I want to introduce you to Shannon Christ, a hunter and balanced seat riding instructor from Maryland in the U.S.A. Shannon is one of those lucky people that gets to have her horse at home. She teaches basics in ...

Read More

Looking from the perspective of the horse, what we ask them to do is abnormal. Consider a horse who has just been turned loose in an enclosure – a paddock or an arena. What does he do? He may run and ...

Read More

Today’s riding instructors have more options for receiving riding lesson payments than ever before. It used to be that students either paid by cash or check. While cash and check are still welcomed, there are other options available. PayPal PayPal offers ...

Read More

Before you start teaching trot poles to your students you’ll need to be sure the horse they ride is confident over trot poles. Just because your lesson horse is well trained in other areas don’t expect him to automatically accept trot poles. ...

Read More

Ong Wan Ming is a riding instructor who lives in Malaysia and teaches mainly in Kuala Limpur/ Selangor. Wan Ming teaches a full spectrum of horsemanship, including dressage, jumping, eventing, driving and horse management to beginners through competitive riders. She ...

Read More

Trot poles (or ground rails) are one of the most versatile tools for a riding instructor. They can be used for all types of horses and riding, and by changing their configuration they can be used at all three gaits. ...

Read More

A simple game can give your students the opportunity to practice skills while having fun in their riding lesson. The Bandana Game can be played with all ages and skill levels.  I’ve included the basics in this post but there ...

Read More

It’s winter. It’s cold.  What better way to warm up your lessons than by including bareback riding? Pull saddles off and give your students a leg up on those nice furry backs. Bareback naysayers will tell you: It feels weird: ...

Read More

James Wofford’s Book, “Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider” was first printed 20 years ago and it remains on my recommended reading list for students. It is one of my favorite books on good riding technique. Few horsemen in the ...

Read More

A habit is defined as an automatic response to something. Developing the right habits in our students is one of the goals of good riding instructors. Even though repetition can be boring, riding instructors should embrace repetition because correct repetition ...

Read More

I ask new students a lot of questions and since I love foundation teaching, I usually start my inquisition with the leg. Almost 100% of the time, a new student will answer with, “a straight line from the heel to the hip. ...

Read More

If you jump horses then you have a connection to Federico Caprilli.  If you learned the American method of jumping, you probably have a connection to Col. Harry Chamberlin. Prior to Italian Cavalry officer, Federico Caprilli introducing his forward system ...

Read More

The Chronicle of the Horse July 27, 2015 article titled Boarding barns: The Good, The Bad and The Dramatic and Practical Horseman’s August 2014 This month’s question: What Makes a boarding barn a good place to keep your horse? are ...

Read More

There are two basic types of riding students; the ones who have riding experience and the ones who do not. When I make the commitment to teach a student in either category, I have a system of questions based on ...

Read More

It is just as important to balance your lesson horse as it is to teach balance to riders. And even though balance for individual horses can be directly related to their conformation, some points are universally true. Point #1 The ...

Read More

Teaching good balance while riding horses is essential for students developing an independent seat and finesse in communication with the horse.  At an elementary level, developing good balance has a direct relationship to staying on the horse. Rider balance is effected ...

Read More

I’m pleased to have a guest blogger on The Riding Instructor. Bob Wood has used his background in the Military Seat  training horses and riders for polo, fox hunting and eventing, while he competed in these and other sports like ...

Read More

Teaching beginner riders seems like it should be easy, right? After all, what do you teach? A few safety rules, how to lead a horse, how to mount/dismount, stopping, starting, how to steer – there’s nothing to it, right? I ...

Read More

I just finished reading Denny Emerson’s book, How Good Riders Get Good, published in 2011. It was an easy read, moving right along, with enjoyable stories and sage advice. Denny Emerson is not afraid ...

Read More

If the title of this post made you feel out rage, anger or any other emotion, believe me…it was meant to get your attention. In the past couple of years there have been statements made and articles written by certain ...

Read More

For some time I’ve struggled with the problem of how to introduce certain books to readers of The Riding Instructor. My friend, Roger Hannington, solved this problem for me by compiling the following abstract of one of my favorite books, Horsemanship by ...

Read More

When is a rider ready to canter? A reader commented that students she was teaching at summer camp were pushy about wanting to canter and were unable to assess their own riding ability. Camp is different Camp lessons are different than private stable riding ...

Read More

Riders, Instructors, and trainers  know how important it is to be flexible – but each condition (trainer, instructor, rider) requires a slightly different use of “Flexible”. And where there is no flexibility but there is pressure – something is sure to ...

Read More

If you have followed The Riding Instructor for any length of time, by now you know that I’m a huge advocate for beginners, their instructors and the foundation that is laid in riding lessons. The beginner rider is where we ...

Read More

I make no bones about being an advocate for instructors of beginning riders. It’s because I firmly believe that you can lay so good a foundation for your students, that they will not forget it, no matter what style or ...

Read More

Recently I received an email from a reader asking about diagonals at the trot. The reader understood and could ride correct diagonals but had difficulty seeing them on other riders. Did I have any suggestions? Teaching diagonals is interesting because ...

Read More

The instructor/trainer – student/client relationship is a conundrum that causes major difficulties for everyone involved. A lot of the issues exist because of a lack of clear definition of “who you are” on both parts. For simplicity’s sake I’ll use ...

Read More

Practical Horseman Magazine is an endless source of entertainment for me; some of it is good and some of it sends my blood pressure racing up. The article  “Rider Tune Up” in the December 2013 issue gave me one of ...

Read More

The action of taking small rocks form one spot to the next causes students to exercise multiple skills.  I call this “The Rocks Game”. Set Up is Simple Place 5 or 6 rocks (you can choose the number of rocks ...

Read More

One of the things I remember most vividly about my Dad was his desire to earn a pilot’s license so he could  fly the Cessna 150 and 172 fixed wing planes. When I was in high school I used to ...

Read More

Assertiveness comes naturally to some individuals while others must learn this helpful quality. What do you do with the student who just doesn’t seem to try very hard or gives up after one or two tries at getting a pony ...

Read More

What do you do when a student or your child says “I want a horse”? Buying the first horse can feel like jumping into a crater lake when you only know how to dog paddle. Buying one too soon can be ...

Read More

Group riding lessons used to be the most common form of riding instruction, but factors today have developed a private and semi private riding culture. I believe group riding lessons have tremendous value causing beginner and intermediate riders, in particular, ...

Read More

Ask- Don’t Assume Before you hand over money to a riding instructor for your child’s first riding lesson find out what their policy is regarding your presence during lessons. Never assume that a riding instructor thinks like you think. Some ...

Read More

I’m always on the look out for ways riders can improve, even when they’re not on a horse, in order to have continuity from lesson to lesson. Becoming aware of your posture can have a direct effect on how you ...

Read More

Everyone, including instructors, is busy these days and too many of today’s riding instructors “wing it” when they teach.  Each time a student arrives at your barn for a lesson, they are investing.  They invest time, money, and effort in ...

Read More

Most of the old time horsemen have asked the same question during the past few years.  Where have the horsemen (and women) gone? I think it’s fair to say that horsemen beget horsemen, usually. But spend a little time around ...

Read More

My #1 Best Heels Down Exercise For Kids Who Ride, To Do at Home: The Step Stretch This is the oldest and best exercise to work your heels down off of the horse. It stretches your tendons and muscles, and ...

Read More

1. Sitting Correctly: If you have trouble keeping your heels down when you ride, check to see if you’re sitting correctly.  By sitting correctly I mean in a balanced position, in the optimum spot over your own feet.  You can ...

Read More

All instructors, whether they teach beginners or advanced riders, should utilize horseback riding lesson plans. Riding lesson plans for beginners are especially important for making sure they learn all of the basics. Riding instructor lesson plans and how you plan ...

Read More

Jim Wofford is one of my favorite instructor/coaches for eventing.  His background contains much of the traditional Fort Riley instruction plus he is a silver medal Olympian in Three Day Event, but what I really like about Jim Wofford is ...

Read More

If you’re like me, you’ve had to quickly put a temporary fix on a blanket, bridle, or stable tool, so I thought I’d tell you about my fast (and cheap) quick fixes. #1. Duct Tape is probably number one on ...

Read More

It’s a question that most riding instructors have had to answer. There’s a simple, one size fits all answer, but it brings to mind a plethora of questions. And answering a question with a question is purely annoying to the ...

Read More

Longing is often over looked in riding instruction programs.  Until recently longing riders was not normally taught to American instructors.  With USDF instructor prep classes, the teaching of longing the rider has been given more attention. It’s not my intention ...

Read More

She’d taken the polo pony out for a trail ride when the mare bolted toward home. As the mare made a sharp right down the lane at a gallop, Merri lost her seat and parted company from the horse; head ...

Read More

Not too long ago horse sites on the internet were having heated discussions about a pony named Humble that had died at the Devon horse show after receiving an injection on the show grounds. NY Times reporter WALT BOGDANICH wrote ...

Read More

“Integrity is what we do, what we say and what we say we do.”– Don Galer Integrity is one of the most important qualities a riding instructor can have. But it’s the quality that will be most often challenged and ...

Read More

  This is part 2 of the Basics and Building Blocks™ Games lesson plan. Once your students have have successfully accomplished pattern 4 (see part 1), you  can begin  to introduce team play.  Assessing your students’ personalities will help you  ...

Read More

  Nothing raises confidence levels and increases a a novice rider’s skills quicker than the challenge of playing a few games on horse back.  I’m not talking about the full blown competitive gymkhana games here.  I’m talking about ones that ...

Read More

Problems With Heels Knowing what the problem is in your heel goes a long way with how to correct your heel position. Two especially common problems are curling the ankle (which can result in pain in the outside of your ...

Read More

In part 1 we discussed why to get your heels down. In part 2 we’ll talk about how to get the heels down.  And then in part 3 I’ll give you some exercises to help keep your heels down. Where ...

Read More

“Keep your heels DOWN!” What rider hasn’t heard this a multitude of times? And what riding instructor hasn’t said this to the point of near despair? That one sentence has been spoken into the air for so many generations that ...

Read More

Recently I audited the clinic of one of my favorite instructors, Jim Wofford. Jim teaches with humor and clarity, both of which are really helpful to students. Jim’s system  has been developed from his early lessons from Fort Riley instructors, ...

Read More

Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re ...

Read More

I’m neither for nor against riding instructor certification because after all these many years of limited certification in the U.S., I’m convinced that certification has little to do with becoming a first class riding instructor. But there are certain benefits ...

Read More

There’s a lot of education involved in becoming a good riding instructor. 
You increase you instruction skill level by take riding lessons, practicing teaching. Maybe you’ll work on certification. Perhaps you go to a school that will teach you to ...

Read More

Jumper loves attention.  He tries so hard to be good and wants you to love him so badly that when you go in to his pen he just about puts his own halter on.  He hasn’t had much attention lately ...

Read More

Try these teaching tips to give great riding lessons. Pre Lesson Teaching Tips Plan Ahead Have a goal for each lesson. Do you want your student to gain more control of his horse’s body?  Do you want your budding jumper ...

Read More

Riding is different than most other sports because if a person is taught the correct basics they can ride for a lifetime. I’ve known people who continue to ride in their  70s, and 80s and even a few who have ...

Read More