Online riding lessons? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. We caught up with Susan Starr, founder of a new website dedicated to virtual coaching.
For riders whose opportunities to seek “real life” instruction are limited by time, location or money, a website like RateMyRiding.com might be the tool they need to continue improving themselves and their horses.
Riders can purchase a coaching session by browsing Rate My Riding’s coaches’ biographies and photos from the “coaches” tab on the home page. From there, they can choose the coach of their choice. All they have to do is sign up for free, create an account, fill out a short questionnaire about their riding experience and goals, and checkout via Paypal. Then, they will receive a comprehensive written analysis about their riding (AKA homework) that they can reference as often as they need.
Recently, Susan was gracious enough to field Horse Nation’s questions about her innovative site. With assistance from Dani Moritz, RMR’s creative director and writer/producer.
How did the idea of RateMyRiding.com come about?
Quite honestly, I was watching “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” and wondered if equestrians would be interested in something like an online “So You Think You Can Ride.” Once I started creating the website, my focus shifted from entertainment to education. I realized what a great educational asset video really is—especially video with commentary by professionals. I started thinking about riders who can’t get the experience of learning at a horse show, clinic, or in-person lesson, and how a virtual coaching session could help replace those opportunities. And, for riders who do attend shows and clinics, it would be valuable to supplement those events with another set of ‘eyes on the ground’ in preparation for the next competition. Thus, RateMyRiding.com was born (though I must say, I still think something like “So You Think You Can Ride” would be a lot of fun!).
Who are the coaches?
Our coaches are instructors, trainers, and clinicians who are accomplished professionals and well-respected by their clients and peers. They represent multiple breeds and disciplines, but they all possess a true passion for teaching. Just a couple examples are:
- Karen Evans Mundy – prior to going pro, she won the prestigious AQHA World Championship Show All Around Amateur a record eight times on five different horses. Over the years, Karen and her horses have won 19 World Championships and 21 Reserve World Championships.
- Gigi Nutter – she received her USDF Gold Medal in 1988. That same year, at invitation, she rode Grand Prix at the International Judges Forum in Leesburg, VA and was long-listed for the USET. Over the years, career highlights have included Horse of the Year awards, USDF Regional Championships, High Point Score awards, and Champion or Reserve at all FEI levels. She campaigned KWPN mare Lestera in 2006 as her tenth FEI horse and the fifth trained through Grand Prix.
Before contacting a potential coach, we consider the individual’s showing and training record, awards and achievements, potential for web-based coaching and, above all, personal integrity and character. Our clients come to us looking for top-quality coaching—and we provide only the best.
An interview with RateMyRiding.com’s newest coach, upper-level event rider Jamie Price.
What type of instruction do students receive?
You receive a comprehensive written evaluation of your current body position, your horse’s suitability, your overall effectiveness, and recommendations and exercises for improvement (homework). Our coaches are also happy to give you feedback based on your current goals if you ask. Once you learn what the coaches have to say about you and your horse, you can then implement the strategies they provide to have a better training relationship with your horse and improve your riding ability. You may take as many coaching sessions as you need and in whatever intervals you like. Riders receiving monthly coaching sessions will progress faster.
Cost-wise, how does the service compare with a “live” lesson?
It’s much more affordable! One virtual coaching session is $19.99. And if you take one session once per month that is still more affordable than hauling in for lessons or paying for clinic fees. Plus, you get to do it on your own time! If your horse isn’t acting right one day, you can do the video the next day.
What breeds and disciplines are represented?
Our goal is to provide a coach for all breeds and disciplines. Currently, our team offers help with Dressage, Western, Hunter/Jumper, Saddle Seat, Eventing and more. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for, let us know! Rate My Riding is all about helping you—so we want to know what we can do to improve.
Can beginner riders submit videos?
Absolutely! There is no minimum skill level requirement. We welcome beginner to advanced riders. Our coaches make it a point to give clear instruction that beginners will understand.
Is there a maximum length for videos?
Videos should be concise examples of your riding at all gaits which you would like analysis of—usually four to five minutes is sufficient. You may provide us with a link to your video from another service provider and your footage can be schooling at home or horse show classes.
Can I see example coaching sessions?
Yes, you can see an example coaching session from the “coaches” tab dropdown on the website. As a free member, you can also see coaching sessions other members have shared. (For more information about how to purchase a coaching session, click here for a free online informational packet.)
Visit www.RateMyRiding.com for more info.