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Finding a Riding Instructor 

Triple Creek FarmThis time of year we get a lot of inquires about riding lessons. Many of these are parents or adults who have never ridden a horse. From the questions they ask it is clear that their criteria for selecting a teacher is based on a combination of location convenience, cost of lessons, and available lesson times. I realize that all these kinds of considerations are important in order to have life work out smoothly. But it does surprise me that very few parents or adult new riders inquire about the quality of the instruction that may be available to a new rider.

I suspect that the main reason we receive so few qualitative questions about our instruction is that new students do not know what to ask, or perhaps they think that all basic or beginning instruction is the same. It’s not. 

The quality of instruction comes down to a question of the teacher’s ability to convey information about balance. Some instruction programs take the view that every new rider starts out as a passenger, and that their lessons should be limited to developing the rider’s balance, as well as their comfort and familiarity with the horse. That’s not riding. Riding is in fact the relationship between the rider and the horse that begins with shared balance between them. It is not a passenger sitting on a horse each with a separate balance from the other. Therefore, teaching a new student to focus on their balance and ignoring the horse’s balance is counterproductive, and will in time create a huge problem for the student.

For example, most beginning riding lessons include the rider being taught that the reins are for steering. This is incorrect. The reins are attached to the bit which if correctly used is a primarily a tool to balance the horse both laterally (side to side) and longitudinally (front to back). Ultimately the legs and seat, not the bit, are primarily used to turn a horse. If this is true, then why do so many riding teachers teach the incorrect use of the reins during early instruction? There are two reasons. One reason is that many instructors do not understand correct combined balance of the horse and rider. Others, those instructors who do understand correct balance but do not teach it in the early stages, believe that an oversimplified abbreviated version of the correct fundamentals is easier for new students to grasp. These instructors teach simpler methods that knowingly include incorrect balance and partial methods, believing that later in the rider’s career, if they last in the sport, is the time to teach the student how to really ride a horse. 

Here we believe that balance is simple concept understandable to children if it is skillfully explained through simple clear exercises and examples. As a result of decades of learning and teaching we feel that we have a program of instruction that addresses the true fundamentals of riding right from the first lesson. We do not attempt to abbreviate or simplify any fundamentals because of a belief that they are in some way “too complicated”. Instead, we explain concepts like balance and bending a horse correctly to every student so that they will never have to back up and start over at some future point so that they can really learn how to ride. Here we really ride every time we get on a horse, and so do all our students. There is a qualitative difference in riding instruction and we vigorously encourage every prospective parent or adult rider to ask teachers questions that address this distinction of true fundamentals of balance right from the get-go. 

Email Bob at triplecreekfarm@gmail.com or phone 717-243-8178             Balanced Seat Discussion Forum (coming soon)

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Triple Creek Farm
Bob Wood    941 Longs Gap Road    Carlisle PA  17013    717/243-8178    triplecreekfarm@gmail.com

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Last updated 09/03/09