We have all been there - to that kids' sporting practice where a parent just can't keep their mouth shut and let the coach do their job. They are driving much unnecessary attention to themselves, probably embarrassing their kid and definitely irritating the coach and other spectators.
Newsflash - don't be that person.
Today I want to offer up some riding lesson etiquette for parents. I've had the privilege of being the instructor of many students over the years. In this last year, I have also had the privilege to hand my own kid over to her instructors.
So, your kiddo has pestered and pestered and you have finally decided to give in and get them started in riding lessons. Congrats! Welcome to the club! This is an exciting time, that done well, can lead to a lifelong passion.
First things first though - you need to find the right barn! Good instruction can take on many shapes, sizes and financial inputs. Bigger and glitzier doesn't always equal better. Some of the best instructors I have ever had worked out of functional, frill free farms with few, but dedicated and successful students.
If you are new to the farm/horse life, know that dust, dirt and (a certain amount of) manure are all part of the game, but never feel like a barn needs an exorcism from its filth. Safety should be top priority. Finding a barn that supports a US Pony Club program is an excellent choice! Read on for some guidelines to finding the right instructor for your child.
1. - Ask you child what type of riding they might like. - Start with the easy question of English or western? Beginner lessons are generally pretty similar no matter the type of saddle, but some kids might have a predisposed "vision" of what they want to do. The great thing is, they can always change it up later!
2. Google it. - This is an easy one. Google search riding lessons in your area and see what you get.
3. Check the reviews. - Most trainers worth their salt are well known. Ask around, check Google, see if they have a Web site and social media befitting the environment you want for your child.
4. Do some research. - Make a phone call, check out their web site/social media and make a visit yourself, potentially without your child initially. Ask LOTS of questions like...
4a. Do MORE research. - Go and take a lesson or two yourself. See what your beginner child will experience first hand. Ask yourself some questions, like...
4b. Keep doing research. - When you visit a barn, take a look around. What kind of atmosphere does it offer? Is it organized? Do the horses look healthy? Are the other riders kind and seemingly well educated about their horses and sport?
5. Ask questions!! - Any instructor should be open to explaining a theory or practice they are using in their teaching. Bonus points if they refer you to additional resources either through books or online.
6. Allow for a trial period. - After you have done your research and selected an instructor you like, discuss a trial period before paying for a ton of lessons. Explain you want to make sure this is the right fit before making a long term commitment. Most trainers are super open to discussion, so be clear with your communication.
7. Get started! - The big day of that first lesson is here! Time to sit back and see what happens. Your world will be forever changed!
Hey there! I'm Katie. This blog was launched in 2019 to help other families in their horse-ing, small farming, and homeschooling endeavors. Join us on this amazing journey!
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Please note, these are experiences that have worked for us and do not represent the opinions, knowledge etc. of a professional. Please view full disclaimer here.