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5 Things Your Riding Instructor Wishes You Knew

Ever wondered what your instructor REALLY wishes you would do in lessons? (Aside from moving your leg one way and your hip another way and your elbows another way… at once?) Susan Lauffer breaks it down.

[top photo: flickr user sk8geek]

Instructors don’t have it easy. In addition to having to actually know what they’re talking about, they’re expected to repeat the same advice over and over while somehow not losing their minds, and they also have to become masters of scheduling and barn diplomacy. And just to make things more difficult, their students could fall off and land on their head in their first lesson, which is exactly how I began my relationship with the ever-encouraging instructor Susan Lauffer. (Through no fault of her own.)

Here are Susan’s top tips to get the most out of your lessons:

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1. Be on time! Everyone is late sometimes, but instructors often have lessons back to back and one late lesson can mess up the whole day. The time of the lesson is not when you arrive at the barn, it’s when you should be ready, tacked up, and (if you’re not riding a school horse) warmed up.

2. Have realistic expectations. If you only have time to ride once a week and your horse is a 25 year old Shetland Pony, don’t expect to win the Olympic Selection trials in Show Jumping. Set realistic goals and work towards them, whether it’s a specific show or year end award, or riding a better canter transition.

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3. Communicate. If you want to work on something special, let your instructor know. Also, if something scares you or makes you uncomfortable, say that! Instructors aren’t mind readers, and it may not always be clear that something’s frightening to you.

4. Ask appropriate questions. If you don’t understand a concept or some instructions, just ask for clarifications. No good instructor will be upset with that. But maybe the middle of the lesson isn’t the best time to ask about the meaning of life or what your eventing colors should be. Keep questions relevant.

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5. Give it your best effort. Riding is hard! All an instructor wants is for you to try your best. Maybe it’s a different concept than you’re used to, but if you’re paying for a lesson, just see if it will work. Nothing is more frustrating than a student who won’t try, always knows better, and argues every point. Give it a shot, and if it turns out that it doesn’t work, discuss that with your trainer. And if you really don’t agree, then find another instructor. But while you’re in a lesson be courteous and try to follow the instructions.

Share your top lesson-taking tips in the comments!

Go Riding.

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