Thursday, March 11, 2010
Finding An Instructor
by Grainne Dhu
It can be tricky finding an instructor, no matter if your interest is
riding, dancing, dogs, music or whatever. Anyone can put their shingle
up as an instructor or teacher, with very little in the way of
regulation. I've often been asked how to find an instructor in my own
particular field of expertise. I think most of my recommendations
apply to finding an instructor in any field.
1) Look for someone who genuinely likes humans. Too many people who
love horses would love to find a way to make a living around horses
and the idea of instructing immediately comes to mind. They don't
realise that instructing is mostly about working with other humans and
very little about working with horses.
2) Riding and teaching are two very different skills. A great rider
can be a terrible instructor and someone who doesn't ride can be a
good instructor. Look at how the instructor's students are performing.
That's what your situation is going to be! Does this instructor have
students who are doing well in the type of riding you are interested
3) Listen to how the instructor talks about their students. Someone
who derides and bad mouths students to you is going to do exactly the
same thing behind your back as well.
4) Ask yourself if the instructor seems more invested in helping you
attain your personal goals or in helping you to attain the
instructor's goals. If you want to trail ride and occasionally show at
small local shows, you don't want an instructor who is determined to
turn you into the next dressage sensation. Will this instructor
support your goals if they do not match the instructor's desires?
5) Ask yourself if the instructor seems more concerned about your
horse's welfare than your own. You and your horse both need to be able
to work safely and comfortably. If you sense your horse's well being
is a higher priority to your instructor than your own well being, that
is a big red flag.
6) Make sure that your general philosophies of training are reasonably
well matched. For instance, if your instructor prefers to work every
problem out from on top of the horse and you feel that it's better to
work problems out on the ground first, you will find yourself in
7) There is always more than one way to do something. Pose a couple
hypothetical questions in order to find out what happens if the first
suggestion won't work. A good instructor can come up with several
different ways to tackle the same problem... and none of those ways
should include "sell your horse and buy this one I just happen to have
in the barn!"