People learn to ride in many ways and are instructors have developed many different routines and procedures to teach their beginner riders. The more experienced the instructor is the more the procedures are fine tuned so that the beginner rider remains safe while learning to ride in the most efficient manner.
I am a strong believer in teaching beginners on the lunge. They can focus on gaining their balance and confidence while the instructor focuses on controlling the horse in a pace that is most beneficial to progress the skills of the rider. As soon as the beginner rider is able to walk and trot without balancing on the horses’ mouth and thumping them in the back then they can progress to the next stage of riding without the lunge in a confined area.
When I teach instructors or trainee instructors how to lunge beginner riders there are many, many tips that I give them to improve the safety and efficiency of their lessons.
Here are just 7 of these tips for teaching beginners on the lunge
Support the elbow when mounting
When a rider is mounting, sometimes that extra bit of assistance can help them balance to make the whole mounting process more graceful. However where you touch the rider to assist can leave them feeling embarrassed and even leave you open for a lawsuit is your hand inadvertently slips. The best place to support 99% of riders is on the left elbow.
Support the leg when mounting
When giving a leg up, hold the rider’s lower leg close to the knee and not under the rider’s foot. Holding the leg gives better support assisting with balance. Also, if you are not prepared the rider may get their foot in the stirrup before you have removed your hand.
Secure the horse when mounting
When mounting a rider, make sure the horse’s head is secure so they will be less reluctant to move off. It can be difficult enough for a beginner rider to mount without having them walk off at the same time. Hold the horse’s head, preferably by the cheek piece.
Check everything before moving
After a beginner rider has mounted, check that both feet are in the stirrups and that they are comfortable as well as breathing normally and ready to progress before moving off. Check the horse is relaxed and showing signs of moving off quietly.
Keep lunge line organized
Always keep the excess lunge line neat, organized and above your knee and the horse’s knee. It should never touch the ground between your hand and the horse. The lunge line between your hand and your horse should have contact so that you have maximum control in the same way as when you are riding.
Keep the beginner safe and comfortable
Most horses lunge better and are more comfortable from the near side. When you start a nervous beginner rider, do everything in their favour to make it a safe comfortable ride. Start lunging on the horse’s easy side. Training the horse on the other side can come after they have warmed up or when they are more confident.
Teach throughout the lesson
While the beginner rider is walking around getting used to the movement of the horse, teach them. Give them value for money. Teaching them simple ideas such as colors and points of the horse, parts of the bridle and saddle can help them to relax. More relaxed riders can learn ‘feel’ exercises before they progress to the trot.
If you teach (or plan to teach) beginners then these are just a few of the thousands of tips from teaching beginner riders on the lunge.