I’ve started a series of Youtube videos for people who are beginning to examine the world of learning to ride horses. I believe the best way to develop long-term horsemen and women who treat horses well is to start by answering simple questions from the very beginning.
A grown individual who wants to explore riding for themselves will have many of the same questions as a parent of a horse-crazy child. Where do I start? How do I find a place to ride? What do I need? What are the options?
The trend in my area is to advertise with large vinyl signs that say “Riding Lessons” in bold letters, followed by a telephone number. They attach this banner in an obvious place, under a farm sign or on a pasture fence to catch a person’s eye as they drive past. It’s good basic advertising.
In my humble opinion, it is honest advertising if the next step, after enticing the potential student to contact you, is to find out how they visualize their time riding and explain the riding options, so potential clients know they have choices.
Also, in my own humble opinion, it’s seedy and dishonest to sign up the uninformed to an instructor's preferred riding style and indoctrinate them just to increase your income. Some might call that doing business. I call it a foundation for short-term clientele.
Take the Time
It’s why I encourage instructors to take the time to visit with potential students and to give them a facility and program tour. It’s also why I suggest offering “Try It” lessons for an introduction to horsemanship.
I like students to be informed. I want them to have the tools to choose their goals. And later, I want to discuss the changes of course they might need to move on. I enjoy helping students become independent and able to make decisions.
The Real Influencers
Of the millions of riders and horse lovers, many of them will compete, but most of them ride because they love horses. While competition is fun and is a source of income for some businesses, developing riders into educated horsemen and women has a much longer-term, positive impact on our industry’s future. Long-term horsemen and women, riders for a lifetime, those who return after some years away from riding, those who send their kids to the same program they attended—these are the real influencers in the horse community.
If you want to survive in the horse business, you must give people meaningful value. Give them foundations to build on, direction for their interests, and support their dreams.
But first, you must show them what is possible.