As you start to become more aware of teaching styles of horse riding instructors, you will probably be looking at the positioning of the horse riding instructor. Some are teaching standing up, sitting down, on a horse, inside the circle, outside the circle, in the arena, outside the arena and many other positions. Many of my trainee equestrian coaches ask the question “Where is the best place to be positioned when teaching horse riding”
Before this question is answered, I like to explore the benefits and drawbacks of some different teaching positions with them.
Teaching horse riding on a circle
Standing in the center of a circle when someone is teaching is great for explaining details, giving immediate feedback and for giving confidence to the nervous rider. However as soon as you are teaching more than one rider this way you will find it difficult to focus on and watch more than one rider at a time
If you stand on the outside of the circle it is easier to watch both riders. It is also easier to view a rider from the front, the back and from either side.
Be aware that you should NEVER stand on the outside of the circle where the horse can easily drift and knock you over.
Teaching showjumping exercises
Ideally the showjumping instructor should see all students and horses from both sides, the back and the front.
In a group lesson with the ridersworking over a single fence they should change rein after the jump. The instructor can watch from one side with the majority of the ride in the background. Then as they change rein the instructor can watch from the opposite side. As the rest of the ride has also changed rein then they will still be in the background.
Teaching cross country jumping
When you are teaching experienced riders cross-country, there is every chance that you will teach them how to negotiate a group of obstacles on a course. In this type of training there may be times that you do not see the rider as they go down into a gully or behind some trees. Find some-where that you can see all the jumps and ask some-one else (another rider or a parent or interested party) to watch the rider while they are in your non visible area.
Teaching in noise challenging settings
When teaching in a setting where verbal communication is made difficult due to the noise the use of radio type headphones or a loud hailer is beneficial. If the rider is using headphones, they should be turned off and on near the horse first to confirm the horse is accepting of the noise. Occasionally horses can have a strong reaction to the static these communication devices have.
Remember too, that body language and the use of hands is a great way to communicate
Supervising trail rides
On a trail ride, it is usually more about safe supervision that actual teaching. The supervisor should be at the rear of the ride so they can watch everyone. At the front of the rider there should be a leader who knows the way and understands the rules of the ride. If it is a large ride then another supervisor positioned near the middle of the ride is beneficial, with the more experienced riders scattered throughout the ride.
Teaching in the equestrian arena
Generally teaching just outside the arena at either E or B allows the instructor to view the arena and to maximize the distance for voice projection. In arenas that are totally fenced or walled off from the outside, standing further towards the corner can be more beneficial to view the ride as a whole.
However every lesson is different and experienced instructors will position themselves to have the most effective communication for that particular stage of that particular lesson and to stay safe.
‘Duty of Care’ of the horse-riding instructor
Remember that horses can be dangerous and the ride circumstances can change with little or no warning
As a horse riding instructor you have a duty of care to make the ride as safe as possible. Part of this duty of care is to prevent accidents before they happen.
An experienced instructor can see that a learner’s horse is trotting too fast and the horse is about to canter or that a fresh horse will misbehave if they are asked to trot in a group.
By this time you have probably worked out that there is no one single place to stand when you are teaching, there are many. However they must have the following
- horse and rider should be visible to the instructor and in the best position to teach that stage of that particular lesson
- safe for the instructor, the horse/rider combinationand others
- easy communication
Remember to minimize risk to your self, your students/ horses as well as others