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 your lessons are important for all levels of teaching, and here’s why:
How you conduct your riding lessons says tons about you as an instructor, horseman and person. It also indicates your motives in our industry. And let’s face it, horses are an industry, even though there are many of us who teach more for the love of horsemanship than the love of money.
Notwithstanding the rare exception, I have come to the opinion that people who teach off the cuff and don’t use a riding lesson plan, are usually ones who aren’t grounded in the basics and have a weak foundation. They’re usually teaching as a means of keeping their cash flow going as their chief motivation. They’re normally not students of horsemanship but are artists of the quick fix, the gimmick and what to do for the best ribbon chasing. They’re the ‘users’ of the horse industry.
Or else they’re instructors who are ignorant of what it takes to plan a lesson, use a system or method, and develop depth in their riding program.
These folks do stupid things, such as; talk on their cell phones, text, tweet, or reply on face book during the lesson they’re teaching. Or worse, they leave their student in the arena to search for something they forgot or need. Or they stop to talk to a prospective student or border who has a question. They’re the ones who take care of other business (or social life) during lessons.
Not every lesson you teach will be legendary, but but every lesson you teach and every student you work with deserves your full attention the entire time you work with them. They also deserve 100% of your effort in preparing their lesson. That’s where a good riding lesson plan comes in.
But when I talk about a riding lesson plan I’m not just referring to a plan you carry in your head. I’m talking about a hard copy, written on a sheet of paper and attached to your clip board or note book, riding lesson plan that you can take to the arena. Or something you carry on your IPad or Smart Phone (OK the phone is acceptable in this case).
A Good Riding Lesson Plan Has Room For:
Information about the lesson-
what kind of riding area you need for the lesson
private or group lesson
how long the lesson lasts.
Equipment/set up –
what do you need for this lesson? Do you need cones, markers, poles, standards, old tires, eggs, or buckets and rocks.
When you use a riding lesson plan you can have all the tools you need gathered and at your arena before your student arrives. If you are jumping a grid or course have it set up ahead of time off the rail so that you don’t have to use precious lesson time for set up
do you need leaders, jump crew, horse holders, etc? Your riding lesson plan will help you to remember to make arrangements with helpers well before your lesson. It will save you from looking for last minute help.
If grooming and tack up is part of the lesson, list areas you need to cover. If you want to go over something from the last lesson write it here. Include how much time you’ll allow for this and write it on the riding lesson plan.
What warm up exercises will you have students do? Note how much time will be given to warm up.
What do yo want your students to learn or improve on? Note how much time will be given to lesson objective.
This is where you list how you’ll teach the lesson objective. Will you use grids? Courses? The Weaving Game? Practicing without stirrups? Turns on the forehand on corners? Have students ride a full dressage test?
List all of the things your riders will do during the lesson; such as
changing to trot poles and cross bars
changing to trot poles with cross bar and 2nd cross bar 18’ away
1st round trot.
By 5th round should trot in and canter out”
Or let’s say you’re teaching games. Your list might look like this:
weaving poles walking both ways
weave up trot, weave back walk
Weave up and back at trot
Unless your students are spending a long time during prep, as new beginners may do, method/application should take up the bulk of the lesson time. This is where students are riding and working on the objective.
Write down how much time you will devote to Method/Application in this lesson.
This is when the riders and horses will wind down. Note if you will have students practice stretches and toe touches while you review the lesson and answer questions. Or note if you will have students walk quietly while you talk about home work and handouts. Be sure students realize the value of cool down for their horses.
Write down how much time will be given to cool down
This is another ‘note to self’ area. List your review points, the hand outs you’ll give to students, or something you would like to have them work on between lessons
A Riding Lesson Plan Does Great Things:
Using a riding lesson plan can improve all instructors. It will help you to lay out time segments for your lesson so you can complete everything within the appropriate time frame. It will help you to provide continuity from one lesson to the next or if you have to ask another instructor to step in for you one week.
Riding lesson plans will help you to stay focussed, be more thorough with your curriculum and help prevent holes in your students’ riding education. Riding lesson plans also aid in keeping lessons from getting stale.
Every instructor knows that sometimes lessons just go off course. Horse and rider can come to the lesson with their own special attitudes, issues or problems and sometimes it’s just impossible to keep lessons on track. Good riding instructors have to carry the ‘extra flexibility gene’ and need to be able to adapt and adjust during difficult lessons. You stand a greater chance of holding your lesson together if you use well thought out lesson plans You’ll have fewer lessons go off course and you’ll have happier more successful students.
Thanks for reading The Riding Instructor!
Barbara Ellin Fox