Picking the right instructor will maximize your skills, minimize your weaknesses, keep your horse happy, and shape your entire horsemanship journey.
Riding instructors do more than just teach us how to use leg aids and ride with steady hands. The right coach will guide riders to develop horsemanship skills that uphold their values. They also aid them in understanding themselves and their horses on a deeper level.
So how does one go about finding the right person to fill this crucial role?
There is no rider’s version of Match.com, at least not at the time I’m writing this (who knows maybe I’ll add this one to the “future ideas” jar). In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for putting my best tips to use while searching through instructors one-by-one to find the right fit.
The first step toward your perfect match is getting to know yourself.
Having a clear understanding of your personality traits will give you insights into the personality traits you want in an instructor. For example, if you’re an introvert who becomes overwhelmed by extroverts it won’t do you any good to choose a highly skilled coach with a huge personality. Their extensive knowledge will be lost as you become flooded by their exuberant energy. Once you know how you learn most effectively you can ask potential instructors what ways they use these methods to teach their students.
It’s also important to get clear on your values, goals, and expectations. It sounds obvious, but knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and the type of relationship with horses you want to have ensures you find the right fit.
The next step to choosing your perfect match is to gather info about instructors in your area.
- What disciplines do they specialize in and which ones are they strong at teaching? The instructor that is a jack of all trades is usually the master of none, be sure you are going with someone that teaches the discipline you’re interested at the level you’re striving for.
- What type of schooling/certifications/experience do they have?
- What training theories do they follow? What practices do they use? You want to be sure that their values parallel your own to ensure they teach you methods that you’ll feel comfortable putting to use.
- Ask around, your local horse community will have lots of feedback about the professionals in the area. Ask fellow horse people what they like about the teaching style and methods of instructors.
- If possible try to see them in action. Watching instructors coaching their students at an event will give you an idea of how they prep students, their ability to think on their toes, and how they give feedback.
- Are they within your price range?
- Are you able to fit into their schedule?
If you happen to be looking for tips on finding the right spot to keep your horse check out my tips on choosing a boarding stable.
Becky Ruhl is obsessed with finding ways for horses to thrive. She’s all about sharing her ideas on her blog at Insightful Equine and hopes to inspire others to find optimal ways of working with horses. When she’s not buried in horse projects, she loves spending time with her boyfriend, traveling and hiking with their two squishy faced Boston Terriers. If you’re up for expanding your circle of horse friends stop by and say hello on Facebook or for a bit of beautiful equine inspiration follow her on Instagram @insightfulequine.