Building a quality lesson program takes a bit more than hanging a shingle and signing up for an Instagram page. It’s not rocket science, but there are factors to consider before you open your doors. Learn more:
If there were any silver linings to a global pandemic that changed how we think and live forever, one might be that more people have discovered horses and riding in recent months. This discovery or rediscovery has been a boon to the industry – more lesson, therapeutic, and access programs are popping up all over the country.
But operating a successful lesson program isn’t as simple as hanging a shingle and signing up for an Instagram page – and while it also doesn’t require a degree in rocket science, there are nonetheless plenty of considerations to think of ahead of time.
Whether you’re building a new business (congrats!) or looking to refine your existing program, we tapped Brittney Chambers of CBC Therapeutic Horseback Riding Academy in Elk Grove, Ca. for her expertise on the subject.
Brittney has spent her whole life around horses, and now combines her educational background (she holds degrees in social science, alcohol and drug counseling, and criminal justice) with her professional training and coaching experience as a certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning through PATH International. This path eventually led her to found CBC, where she operates a therapeutic program as well as a riding academy. She also recently began coaching other professionals in building their business, something near and dear to her as she feels that proper professional development only helps the industry as a whole.
“Coming from me having one horse leased with three clients to now having over a hundred clients, a full staff, and more horses, I’ve been through a lot of the same things you have,” she explained about her consulting and development work. “So I want to help people now so they’re not starting out how I was. I had a lot to learn and I failed forward every time. There’s more to it than I ever realized, so I wanted to make that information available to others.”
So let’s jump in. We asked Brittney for a few of the things she helps her clients develop:
What are your administrative policies and procedures?
“It’s not as simple as just ‘paperwork’. You want to have your policies ready up front. A lot of people put them in place as they go, but that comes back to bite you. Be up front about payment policies, cancellations, fees – have all of that sorted before you open your doors. As much as you think you’ve thought of everything, there’s probably more!”
Find the right horses.
“The horse is the bread and butter of any program. Not just any horse can be a lesson horse. Take your time to find a good one, and also make sure you have the right plans for maintenance and care. They work hard and deserve to have the top level of care just like any show horse.”
What is your program’s structure?
“Treat your lessons like any other curriculum. You have to have an idea of where you’re going and what you want to accomplish along the way.”
What is your program’s culture?
“How does the outside community see you? What is the tone you set? How is the community talking about you? These are all factors that affect your brand and your business. Considering these things and identifying them sets you apart from the other programs and it lets people know that they’ll have a good, well thought out experience.”
Many of us got our starts in lesson programs just like Brittney. Successful lesson programs build horsewomen and men for life, and setting up the business and its structure properly will pay off in the long run with a stable and sustainable program.
To learn more about Brittney and CBC, click here.