7 ways to make every riding lesson count

Whatever your goals, having the right instructor makes all the difference when it comes to how you and your horse work together and understand each other. So how do you get the most out of your lessons?

1. Be a good student

“To me, an excellent student is someone who is open-minded, imaginative and willing to persevere,” says Olympic dressage medalist Spencer Wilton.

“It’s also important to have confidence in your coach. Sometimes the path to achieving your desired outcome is difficult, and it’s the trust you have in your coach that helps you get through it.

2. Arrive on time

“It’s very common for people to arrive literally 10 minutes before class and feel stressed. They will never be in such good spirits as if they had left earlier or arrived with enough time to warm up,” says Spencer.

3. Discuss what you want to focus on

Before your lesson begins, facilitator-turned-coach Caroline Moore suggests that you “discuss with your coach what kind of session it will be. Will it be for fitness, training to practice previous skills or just for fun? »

4. Ask lots of questions

A student who asks questions will get the most benefit.

“You get what you put in – when a runner comes in with questions, it shows they want to improve,” says Caroline.

5. Give a brief recap

At the end of a session, ask your trainer to take a few minutes to recap what you did.

“Ask them to highlight things you need to work on at home and identify what you’re going to look at next,” says Spencer.

“Sometimes that can mean leaving what you worked on in the lesson for now and going back to consolidate the basics.”

6. Do your homework between classes

“It’s really important that a cyclist understands what to work on between sessions so that they come back excited to show off what they’ve learned,” says Caroline.

A proactive approach also applies out of the saddle.

“Young runners, in particular, may tend to think their coach will tell them everything,” adds Caroline.

“Instead, I tell them to go home and search YouTube for different ways to teach something, then ask them to tell me how we’re going to teach their horse, so they learn to see the things from different angles.”

7. Find the right trainer

Finding the right trainer for you and your horse can take time. If you don’t feel like you’re getting the most out of your lessons, talk to your coach to see what you can do, or seek out a new coach.

Meet the Experts: Spencer Wilton is an international dressage rider who has represented Great Britain at the European Championships, World Equestrian Games and Olympics.

Caroline Moore is a former five-star rider and the current British youth eventing coach.

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Clyde P. Johnson