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Saddle Up for Success: Finding the Right Horse Riding Instructor

Young girl having a horse riding lesson

Horse riding is an ideal way to connect with nature, improve fitness, and build a bond with these incredible animals. But whether you're a complete beginner or looking to refine your skills, having the right instructor is crucial. They'll guide you safely, develop your technique, and nurture your love for horses. So, how do you find the perfect instructor amongst all the wranglers out there? Let's explore some key factors to consider, along with some additional pointers to set you up for success.

Discipline and Goals:

Horse rider jumping over a tyre fence.

First things first, consider your riding aspirations. Do you dream of conquering showjumping courses, mastering the elegance of dressage, or exploring scenic trails on a trusty steed? Different disciplines require specific skillsets, so finding an instructor with expertise in your chosen area is vital. If you're unsure, an instructor who teaches general riding is a great starting point. They can introduce you to various disciplines before you decide what you want to do.

Experience and Qualifications:

Good communication

An instructor's experience speaks volumes. Look for someone with a proven track record of successfully teaching riders of your level. Qualifications are also important. Recognised bodies like the British Horse Society (BHS) offer instructor certification schemes, ensuring instructors meet industry standards and safety protocols. But experience extends beyond qualifications. Look for instructors who are actively involved in their chosen discipline, whether competing at shows, participating in clinics, or continuously learning themselves. This dedication to their craft demonstrates a passion for horses and a commitment to staying current with best practices.

Teaching Style and Personality:

Learning styles vary greatly. Some thrive with a clear, structured approach, while others prefer a more relaxed and conversational method. Consider what works best for you. During your initial contact, gauge the instructor's communication style. Are they patient and encouraging? Can they explain things clearly? Do they tailor their instruction to individual needs? Remember, you'll be spending a lot of time with this person, so finding someone you feel comfortable with is essential. Observe how they interact with their students. Are they respectful and positive? Do they create a safe and encouraging learning environment?

Facilities and Safety:

Horse rider in a sand arena

The learning environment significantly impacts your experience. Ideally, the stables should be clean, well-maintained, and have a safe riding arena suitable for your chosen discipline. For beginners, an indoor arena offers a controlled environment to build confidence. If you plan to ride outdoors, inquire about access to trails or hacking routes. Additionally, ask about the horses used for lessons. They should be well-schooled, patient mounts that can instill confidence in new riders. Look for instructors who prioritise the welfare of their horses, ensuring they receive proper care and training.

Cost and Lesson Structure:

Horse riding lessons can vary in cost depending on the instructor's experience, location, and lesson duration. Be upfront about your budget and inquire about lesson packages or discounts for block bookings. It's also wise to understand the instructor's cancellation policy.

Recommendations and Reviews:

Word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable. Chat with fellow riders at stables or equestrian clubs to see if they have instructors they recommend. Online reviews can also offer valuable insights, but remember to take them with a pinch of salt. Look for reviews that mention the instructor's teaching style, their interaction with horses, and the overall learning environment.

Taking the First Ride:

Many instructors offer introductory lessons. This is a fantastic opportunity to assess their teaching style, observe their interaction with the horses, and see if there's a good fit. Don't hesitate to ask questions and voice any concerns you might have. During the lesson, pay attention to your comfort level with the instructor and the horse. It's also important to feel a sense of progress by the end of the lesson.

Building a Long-Term Partnership:

Riding instructor

Finding the right horse riding instructor is an investment in your horsemanship journey. By considering these factors and taking advantage of introductory lessons, you'll be well on your way to a rewarding and enriching experience in the saddle. Remember, a good instructor is there to guide you on your equestrian path, not just dictate it. The best student-instructor relationships are built on mutual respect, clear communication, and a shared passion for horses. As you progress, your instructor can help you set realistic goals, navigate challenges, and celebrate your achievements. So, saddle up with confidence, embrace the learning process, and enjoy the incredible journey that awaits you!


The Confident Rider website was created to help nervous horse riders overcome their anxiety and fear through the use of Self-Hypnosis. See the range HERE

In addition to the Self-Hypnosis audio sessions, we also try to offer advice and resources about all aspects of owning or riding horses and ponies through this Blog. We welcome suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover.

Sharon Shinwell a co-author of the popular book "Ride With Confidence," which was forwarded by Kelly Marks, the well-known Horse Whisperer.

Sharon Shinwell creator of The Confident Rider Series.

Just click the link HERE to go to the main site.

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."

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