I have met many parents who have horse crazy kids that have never had any horse experience at all. This can be intimidating of course, since you have no idea what is going on, and your child is about to get on a thousand pound animal.
I based this information on how my program runs. Each farm will be a little different. This is how we have been doing it for twenty one years so hopefully it gives you a feel for what your child being in a lesson program will be like.
Grooming And Tacking
We are committed to teaching all around horsemanship to our students. That being said grooming and tacking ( saddling) the horse is an important part of the riding lesson.
The students watch and learn. It won’t be long and they can begin helping with it and eventually do it on their own. It may seem like the grooming and tacking up for the lesson takes forever when your child first starts. This is normal and an important part of the learning process. As they get more experienced it won’t take nearly as long.
Mounting and getting the stirrups adjusted is another thing that will seem like it takes a long time in the beginning.
We want the kids to learn to mount as safely as possible. In the beginning our instructors adjust the stirrups for our students. We explain to them how it is done and what the correct length is.
Again, this is a slow process in the beginning, but each week it should get a little faster.
Watching your child learn the proper position you will hear a lot of repetitive instruction. This is because the proper position helps the child ride as safely as possible.
You will hear instruction like
- don’t let your feet go too far through your stirrups
- correct rein length, too short or too long
- upper body leaning forward or back too much
All of these instructions are helping your child to learn the correct and balanced position on the horse. This gives them a solid foundation to continue to progress. It also helps to create muscle memory, riding is all about muscle memory!
If your instructor sounds like a broken record, you have probably found a good one!
Group lessons are a fun way for new riders to begin. At our farm, we don’t do more than four at time. This, we think, is a reasonable number of students. That we can safely divide our attention amongst everyone.
Normally, for four kids we have two instructors. This also ensures that everyone can get the attention that they need.
If you see a student struggling and it seems like they are getting more than their fair share of attention. Just consider if it was your child needing that extra help. You would want them to get it! It all works out for everyone learning in the end!
Again, a reminder that the process may seem slow but solid basics is what assures your child will be safe. As well as have the foundation they need to continue to progress.
Lesson Horse Personalities
As you watch the lessons week after week, you will see that the horses all have different personalities and behaviors. It doesn’t take a horse or riding expert to see it. You will notice it right away.
Lesson Horse Tricks
Our lesson horses are professionals, they have been doing their jobs for a LONG time!
Just as any other professional would, they learn the tricks of the trade. For lesson horses, those tricks are things to test the riders on their back and see how much they can get away with. Like with anyone else they only want to do as much work as they have to!
Which is why you will see them doing behaviors like
- trying to grab grass
- pulling the reins through the kids fingers
- trying to get towards the gate
- trying to get back towards the other horses.
These are all tricks typical of lesson horses. As the new riders learn to ride correctly and be more assertive, you will see the horses not bothering with trying their signature moves anymore.
Who Rides Who
Every child will have a favorite lesson horse. One that they want to ride every lesson! Unfortunately, we can’t always give the students their first pick.
We chose the horses for the kids, according to what they need to work on. As well as other lessons on that same day and which horses those kids need to ride to get the most benefit from their lesson.
Learning to ride different horses is an important part of all around horsemanship. Great riders can use their skills to adapt to many different horses and they will learn from each horse. Even if they are apprehensive at first, they will learn a lot and gain confidence!
Relaxing At The End Of The Lesson
In our program, we get to work on whatever the days plan was. Then we like to end with either a walk around the short trail on our farm, or a mounted game in the ring.
It is a fun way of ending the lesson. The kids get a chance to interact with each other a little more and make friends.
Riding outside the ring also helps improve balance by riding on different terrain. Also it teaches the riders to be extra assertive when they are outside of the ring fence.
Mounted games work on skills that we are already working on in lessons. It is just a fun way to do it. As well as a fun way for the instructors to build relationships with their students and create a fun and positive morale for the group. Since they are all on the same horsemanship journey together, they might as well enjoy it and make new friends!
I Know This Is A Lot Of Information!
I wrote it in hopes that new horsey parents will feel more comfortable heading to the farm for their children’s first lesson. I know I feel more comfortable going into new situations when I have an idea of what to expect! So hopefully this helps!
If you have questions or concerns about what is going on, just ask!
Hopefully your child will stay horse crazy! You will enjoy watching them progress in their riding and you will become a proud horsey parent!