Student on brown horse with teacher leading - 4 major factors to look at when seeking horse riding lessons

Learning to Ride Horses

So you want to take up horse riding? Below, you’ll find some guidelines as to what to look for when considering a place to learn to ride. We’ll look into group and private lessons, qualified instructors, disciplines and the types of horses available.

Group vs. Private Lessons

When you’re first seeking out a place to learn to ride, you may want to consider whether you’d rather learn in a group or alone. A lot of riding schools will offer students the chance to take part in group lessons (which often include up to six riders), semi-private lessons (two riders per lesson) and private lessons (just one rider).

If you’re riding to learn and socialize, then a group lesson may appeal to you. Quite often, you’ll find that this is the cheaper option, too. So if finances are a driving point, group lessons could be more affordable. Riding in a group will also give you the chance to see others ride and learn, which can aid in your understanding of the sport.

On the other hand, If you feel you’d like the riding instructor’s undivided attention, then a private lesson may be more appealing. You may also feel that it’s worth paying that little extra so the lesson can be catered solely to you.

Many people opt for group lessons as they’re learning the basics. They may then choose to go onto private lessons as they become more established in riding and learn more difficult movements on horseback.

The Qualified Riding Instructor

When planning to undertake riding lessons, it’s worth considering who will teach you. Perhaps you have your own horse and want to employ someone who’ll come to your place and offer instruction. Or maybe you’re keen to go to a local riding school and learn on someone else’s horses. Whatever the case, the question of qualifications should come up.

You’re within your rights to ask any would-be instructor if they’re qualified to teach horse riding. Learning about their qualifications will help you determine:

  • The level they’ve studied at
  • Whether they have insurance
  • If the qualifications they have are recognized in your local area

They may have a qualification through a nationally recognized body, or they may have studied overseas with a top rider in dressage, eventing or show jumping.

Be sure to research exactly what your future teacher knows, as it’ll greatly impact you and what you can learn. It may also affect how much you ‘ll be paying for your lessons. A local, unqualified instructor may be a lot cheaper, while someone who has a formal teaching qualification may be a bit pricier. It’s up to you to decide what’s most important—cost or qualifications—when choosing someone to give you riding lessons.

Your Horse Riding Discipline

As you consider learning to ride, it’s worth considering what exactly you want to learn. Do you plan to excel in dressage down the track?  Would you like to ride fast and jump high?  Are you interested in riding in style? Does English riding take your fancy, or are you more interested in the Western variety?

The discipline you’re interested in will be a major factor when it comes to the location in which you’ll be able to learn. If you’re not too bothered about this—you just want to be able to sit on a horse, enjoy riding and get some exercise while you’re at it—then that’s OK, too! Maybe even a quiet hack or trail around the local area will be attractive to you.

Regardless of what appeals to you about riding lessons, be sure to communicate that to your would-be instructor. When they have a clear picture of what you want, they’ll be more able to cater to your desires. This leads us on to the last big decision you’ll need to make: choosing the type of horse you’ll ride.

Types of Horses Available for Lessons

When learning to ride horses, there can be nothing more frustrating that being on the wrong horse. Much like people, horses have different personalities. You’ll click with some, and others, not so much.

A horse’s age and training will also greatly affect it’s suitability for different riders. One that’s more educated may be better for a beginner, while one that’s younger and greener may be the perfect challenge for an accomplished rider. On top of this, the height and stature of the horse is important.

If you find horses a little intimidating and are of a small build, then a smaller horse or even a pony may be better for your first lot of lessons. If you’re a tall and broad person, then it’d be unfair to place you on a pony. Your physical build, at times, will need to match the horse you ride. That way, the horse isn’t being asked to work too hard.

To sum it all up, the height, the build, the personality and the education of the horse are all important. It’s these factors—as well as your instructor’s ability to match their lessons with your desires—that’ll ensure you’re able to enjoy your horse riding lessons.

Do Your Homework and Have a Great Time

Riding lessons can be an incredibly fun thing to undertake., but if you’re going to invest your time, energy and money in these lessons, be sure to do your homework. It shouldn’t take long to ring around your local area to find a riding school that could potentially suit your needs. If you aren’t sure of the quality of places nearby, contact a local riding club and ask them for suggestions about whom to approach about teaching you.

Happy trails!

Christine Meunier is an equine author and educator with a Bachelor of Equine Science. Her passion is the thoroughbred breeding industry, in which she’s worked as a stud hand and foaling attendant. She has also taught horse breeding courses. As she’s particularly passionate about careers in the equine industry, she writes Equus Education at http://equus-blog.com/—sign up to receive the free booklet Choosing a Horse Career.
image: Christine Leiser (Creative Commons BY)