Are you the best student you can be?
Does your riding instructor scream and run into her office when she sees you hop out of the car?
Do all of the lesson horses head for the hills when they see you walking towards the field with a halter?
If your instructor had to grade you as a riding school pupil what would it be--an A or an F?
Here at Young Rider, we know that lots of our readers take lessons at riding schools. Lesson barns are great places to learn a lot about horse care and if you work hard, your riding skills are bound to improve. But are you the best student you can be?
In order to get the most out of your riding school experience, here are a few rules to follow!
Wear the correct clothes. If you’re serious about riding English style, ask your parents if you can buy a pair of jodhpurs or breeches. Riding in jeans can rub your legs and make them sore.
Whether you ride English or western, invest in a pair of riding boots with a small heel. It’s not safe to ride in sneakers because your foot could slip out of the stirrup.
A pair of gloves is a good idea too because they prevent blisters.
If you show up at the barn looking professional, your instructor will know that you mean business!
Be honest about your riding ability so the instructor can put you in the correct group lesson. Don’t tell her you know how to jump if you don’t.
It’s a good idea to have a private first lesson so the instructor can assess your skills and put you in a suitable class.
Arrive before your lesson time. Offer to help groom and tack up your lesson horse or help others tack up. Be ready to hop on your lesson horse when the lesson is supposed to start.
It’s annoying when students show up late for group lessons. They distract the instructor and everyone in the lesson loses out.
Go to the bathroom before your lesson! The rest of the students won’t be happy if you disrupt the lesson because you’re desperate to go to the toilet.
Don’t get mad and sulk if you don’t get the lesson horse you want. Riding lots of different horses will make you a better rider.
Stand in the middle of the arena and adjust your stirrups and check that the girth is tight enough.
Make sure you are holding the reins correctly before you ask your horse to walk on.
Keep at least one and a half horse lengths between you. You don’t want your lesson horse to get kicked.
Listen to your instructor and follow her instructions.
Don’t canter when everyone else is walking and upset the other horses in the arena.
Parents should be seen and not heard during lessons! If your mom or dad has a problem with your lesson, they should discuss it with your instructor afterwards and in private.
But, it they think something you are doing in your lesson looks dangerous and think you might get hurt they should talk to the instructor right away.
If you feel scared about doing something, let your instructor know. If she's a good instructor, she'll help you work through your fear and keep all of your riding activities fun and safe.
At the end of your lesson, don’t just hop off and hand your horse over to a barn worker.
Run up the stirrups properly, loosen the girth and ask your instructor what she’d like you to do with the horse.
If she asks you to untack and groom him, jump at the chance. Doing these tasks helps you learn about caring for a horse and will prepare you for owning your own horse one day.
If it's not your lesson, don't bug your instructor by asking her lots of questions. Try not to interrupt someone else's lesson unless it's an emergency.
If you ride in a group lesson, encourage the other people in the group. Tell them "god job" when they do something well, or cheer them on if they are anxious about trying something new.
Don't talk too much in your lesson - it can be distracting to other riders. Plus, you are there to learn, not chit-chatwith buddies! You need to be able to hear what your instructor says.
Reward your session horse with treats after your session in the saddle. Horses always welcome apples and carrots! You can also feed them packaged horse treats from the tack shop.
* This article first appeared in the May/June 2005 issue of Young Rider.