The Rider – Riding Instructor Relationship

The Rider – Riding Instructor Relationship

By Dr. Mike Guerini (

This is the second in a series of blogs on how we as owners interact with the different professionals that we rely on in the horse world.  Some of these interactions include:

Horse Owner – Horse Trainer

Rider – Riding Instructor

Horse Owner – Clinician

Horse Owner – Veterinarian

Horse Owner – Farrier

Horse Owner – Stable/arena owner/manager

The horse owner – horse trainer relationship was discussed in the last blog.  This time we are looking to the Rider – Riding Instructor relationship and things you can do to help this interaction be a success.  Here are a few items to think about.


1) Keep to the schedule

If you have a scheduled riding lesson, be on time or try to cancel at least 24 hours in advance.  Yes, emergencies happen but if the instructor has reserved a spot for you, he/she might be able to fill the spot with another student if you must cancel.

2) Have your tack ready

If you have a piece of tack that you know needs repair or cleaning before the next lesson, take the time to do that before the start of the riding lesson.

3) Have your horse ready

If you are riding your own horse, have your horse tacked up and ready to ride/work with at the designated start time for your lesson.

4) Put your cell phone away (and not in your pant pocket)

In the world, we rely on our phone for many things but during the lesson, we need to pay attention to both the horse and instructor.  Most lessons are an hour at the most and it is reasonable that you can go without a phone for at least 60 minutes.  Most lesson providers understand if there is a pressing issue that may need your attention (sick family member, work issue) but you must ask yourself — can you really be at your best for the lesson and the horse if a pressing issue distracts you.

This is also an issue of safety.  If you are not paying attention, you will have a time when you get hurt.

5) Do your homework and be prepared

If your instructor gave you some homework, try to do that in between lessons or at least be honest and tell him/her that you did not do your homework.  Instructors can help you best if they know what you have been doing.

6) Leave as many distractions at home/car as possible (children, dogs, etc)

For your lesson, it is a good idea if you can minimize the number of distractions during your lesson time.  When you cannot pay full attention to the lesson, you and your horse are not optimally prepared for learning.  Again, there are safety considerations here.  Distractions can keep you from focusing on the task and this leads to a situation where you or the horse can get hurt.

7) Share goals with your instructor

Make sure you take the time to email or communicate with the riding instructor what your goals are and ask him/her to let you know how he/she will help you with your goals.  Every instructor should be able to help you grow as a rider and should push you to excel and you need to accept or discuss with them how much they might be pushing you.  However, make sure the instructor is ready to help you with your goals.

Riding Instructor

1) Keep to the schedule

As an instructor it is important that you remain on schedule, are at the arena at the designated lesson time and that you keep the lesson on track.  Sure, horses and students may take a bit longer but it is bad form for the instructor to not be at the arena for the start time.

2) Put your cell phone away

Pay attention to the student.  This is an issue of safety, liability, and responsibility and if you wish for the student to pay attention to you, then you must give them your attention.

3) Have a plan for the lesson

It is the instructor’s responsibility to have a plan and communicate the lesson plan to the student.  By having a plan, it shows a commitment to the education process.

4) Have your arena prepared

Have a safe and groomed (dirt/sand prepared) area to work with the horse and rider safely.

5) Leave as many distractions at the barn as possible

Just as the rider needs to leave distractions out and away from the arena, the instructor needs to do the same thing.

6) Listen to the student’s goals but push them to improve

The instructor needs to show the student how the lesson is helping him/her get to the goals.  At the same time, push the student to go further, develop more, and challenge him/herself as a rider.

If the rider and riding instructor follow these steps, it leads to a more conducive and safe learning environment.  Build this relationship by communicating, setting goals, and being prepared.

As in all my blogs, these are items for you to consider.  I am sure you can come up with other items of importance in this relationship and I look forward to you sharing your thoughts.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, and co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at  Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (


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