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!"


  1. Well put!Great post!
    And I love the Shire , such beautiful creatures

  2. I second Fern! An old cowboy told me that "if you want to know if a trainer is good, go ask their horses." I think instructors can be graded the same way. Are their pupils happy and safe?

  3. This is a wonderful post! This is one of my anxieties as I contemplate becoming a re-rider after 25 years (I consider myself a newbie). Good job - this is why I lurk here. (Can't wait to see additional comments - please post away everyone with experience!)

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  5. Beautiful post, thank you so much! I can't agree more with number one, too!



    I'm swooning.

  7. Now that's what I would be happy to spend at least $7000 on......a to die for Shire. Too bad hubby would have a cow if I got another horse. He sure is gorgeous.

  8. The Shire's for sale for seven grand?! *Snork* Yes, I know I'm dreaming...that is one beautiful horse. Out of my reach, but oh, beautiful!

  9. Oh No, I didn't mean THAT Shire is for sale for $7000, I was just saying that I would gladly pay that much and more for that Shire or any Shire that looked that good. Damn, I can't stop drooling.

  10. that's the thing about horses, everyone has their favorite breed or discipline. What one person will pay big money for, another may not want at all. The horses that I drooled over as a young person would not suit me at all now...

  11. Yes, to each his own. I drool over just about every horse I see. I love them all. I just like a couple of breeds more than I like other breeds. The draft horses are amazing to me and I would LOVE to own one. I am satisfied with the ones I have and love them to pieces but I can dream about owning my fav, a Fresian, the next on my list is a Shire. Oh well, I'll just admire those horses owned by others. I sure would love to sit on one some day though. I'd feel like a queen sitting on top of one of those (Fresian or Shire).

  12. Friesians and Shires are closely related. They have a similar build and movement and tend to be naturally light on the fore. My Shire is very smooth to ride.

  13. I had a Clydesdale Morgan cross when I was a kid, man that old boy could move. I did have to shinny up his leg to get on bareback though, until I taught him to lower his head and I'd step over his neck and he'd raise his head...the things kids get away with!
    I think every breed is beautiful, if the individual horse is a representative of their breed standards. The purpose behind the conformation is so interesting. The only type of horse I don't like is one with a genetically screwed up brain, which may or may not be combined with physical pain caused by defects.

  14. Kes,
    Hilarious! You're lucky you didn't get hurt.

  15. Okay, just visited Fubbly's blog. Can you say Old News? FCS, everything she has put up lately has been all over the boards. The Breathe youtube is old, the Parelli and young girl in the pasture have been scrutinized already by several BB's as well as the court case.
    Fub's, I know you read here- Youse is slipping. Old stuff, you old mare.

  16. The Ontario Equestrian Federation has a program to train teachers to instruct youth and beginner riders. I think this is a great idea to help non-horsey parents and beginner riders make a judgement as to the qualifications of an instructor. Without it, it would be hard for them to make a decision.

  17. Fubb's comments were way down so she rehashed things that would get comments. Im so over her and her ignorant followers

  18. "Parelli and young girl in the pasture have been scrutinized already by several BB's as well as the court case."

    Ok, I don't follow Parelli, so what in the world happened?


  19. Very nicely done GD.

    I think #1 is the one thing people kind of overlook. It's all well and good if an instructor is also a really good horse trainer, but to give lessons you HAVE to like people at least as much as you like the horses.

  20. I don't care if Cathy rehashes the same topic every week, I don't care if she drags the bottom of you tube to find old videos. I care if she is hypocritical, abusive, or maliciously wrong.

    I do admit to a prurient curiosity as to her concern about children. She has stated she doesn't like them or is very interested in them, so why the hyper-vigilance about children? As an adult, you can spend your life never seeing kids. How many kids hang out in law offices? (Well, other than the adjudicated ones)
    Is Cathy using kids as an easy way to whip up support? The video she has on her blog with the kid and the horse "bumping" her is pretty indefensible. The camera work was very steady, and tracked very well. I wonder if it was on a tripod. Exactly what was the story behind this video? But why did Cathy choose this video? Lots of videos of parents being stupid out there. Did she choose it because it doesn't seem to have any rational explanation? Having worked with kids of various ages all my adult life, it felt more like either very young ignorant parent, older half/step siblings, familiar baby sitter or to my mind most likely proud grandparents. The girl was calling the horses name (Preston)and did seem familiar with the horse. Grandparents can forget how vulnerable little kids are.

    Examples: Why do they need a car seat? We never had car seats when I was growing up? It is only a little way to visit my friends down the street, and Annie can't walk here and we don't have a car seat.

    Why do they have to be strapped into booster seats? They won't fall. My hands are to stiff to buckle the snaps.

    Heidi our German Shepard has never hurt anyone. She is a good dog, why should she be locked up?

    The sooner the kid falls down a flight of steps the faster they will learn to be careful.

    Yes I have heard all these statements from Grandparents/ waaay older aunts and uncles.

    Proud Grandparents sometimes over look safety issues when trying to give a child a showing off grand child or trying to give the kid a good time.

  21. Did anyone else read today's Fugly blog? Cathy was very upset about what she perceived as cheating. A girl on a appy entering a novice walk trot class at a schooling show and winning a blue.

    Cathy "Yep. Ms. Breed Show Appy proceeded to win yet another blue ribbon, taking a chance for a ribbon away from the kids in nylon bridles, the genuinely green horses and the adult riders who were in there for the very first time. So you know what we’re gonna do today? We’re gonna talk about how much that sucks on this blog! :)"

    She seems more upset than usual about this type of cheating. Normally she gives short shrift to 4-H and schooling shows. I tried to think why she would be so upset about a scrap of blue ribbon. Then I noticed the show was in the same area that I believe BYC is in, Redmond WA.

    I looked at Capstone stables website that there were lots of trivia (little kind hot wearing hunt caps!) that she normally gets all hot and bothered about, that she let by without mentioning.

    Sooo, Do you think that this horse beat out BYC? That maybe she will have to put up (Geld) or shut up ?

    Any opionions?

  22. I think its too funny she cant even win against kids and novices! Ride much FUBB?

  23. As to Cathy's post today. Sour Grapes. Get over it and just out perform the cheaters. That kind of thing happens all the time when showing at smaller/local types of shows. Yea, it pisses me off when I ride a green horse in a dressage walk/trot test to make sure I won't get bucked off against a professional ride someone else's imported warm blood schooling 2nd level. But hey...thems da ropes...

  24. Kaede, the vlc is in a training barn in Yelm, WA.
    Over the weekend he was in a schooling show at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

  25. this IS the second gripe-blog that she's had with the western Washington schooling shows she's entered the horse in.
    Well, the world isn't a perfect place, Fubbs. Haven't you figured that out yet at your age?
    I agree, that was poor sportsmanship on that blue-winner's part, but Fugs' as well, for posting her name for anyone to go after her.
    She's like a middle-schooler who's got a grudge.
    She'd be more productive if she would shut up and just go to the judge (I hope she did, in the least) and complain to him/her, instead of stirring up her flock of crows on her blog.

  26. I just looked up the distance between Yelm and Puyallup, looks to be about 30 miles. Cathy did state"my horse was in the class. (And nope, he wasn’t perfect so I am not saying he should have gotten a ribbon, but there is an exhibitor who the judge would have placed 6th that deserved to have 5th if the incorrectly entered horse hadn’t taken 1st" So she is complaining on someone else's behalf?
    I know nothing about schooling shows in WP. Do points won in those shows count toward a ROM?
    In my experience novice horses have a tendency to be young (4 and under) very talented horses. If I wanted a soft spot I'd go with novice rider.
    Why is Cathy talking about little kids? This addition muddies the waters. She was going up against 4-H kids. She is a professional horse woman and she was riding against fellow adults. I mean she is paid to write for HI. She has be paid to ride or teach, she can't be an ammy. Soo if we follow this line of reasoning:
    1) Cathy is a professional horse person
    2) BYC is an exceptional individual (By Cathy's estimate)
    3) BYC Didn't get any ribbons.
    4) Therefore the other riders cheated.
    5) Now I can do a Human Flesh Search Engine routine on the "cheaters" and get them to pay.
    All for a scrap of ribbon?
    Isn't this one of her big beefs? What folks will do to get a ribbon? Isn't that what she is doing now? Denigrating and perhaps intimidating her competition?
    Think about it. Would you go up against BYC and Cathy if you thought that she would sic her mob on you and your trainer?

  27. My fave quote from her list. Why doesn't she just geld the ugly yellow thing now and just admit that she's not in it for anything other than another reason to make people look at how dimwitted she is.

    "Yeah, I fully understand that these blog entries may bite my horse in the ass – but again, I’m not that violently emotionally invested in winning. I like winning as much as the next person but I’m easily pleased – I once won the trotting barrels on an old broodmare and it made my day. :) If no one will place my horse because I’m me, he’ll just be my fun horse and we’ll go team penning and run barrels at little local playdays. Stopwatches don’t hold grudges!"

    I mean, really? She beats people with a stick and posts their names up over one class? Really? She says how awful it is to take away ribbons from others, how they cost nothing, and here she is bitching about a cheap ribbon. OK, so a season horse was entered improperly. Get over it. My god, I've never seen such a whiner in my life, and I know I can get bad.

    All I can say to all this is for her to quit now, as I cannot imagine what will happen when she finally jabs at somebody with a set of razor teeth and a platinum lined pocket book to take her to the cleaners. One day her name will be ruined instead, and eating that dose of crow while karma watches on will be an enlightening day for her. She may not have much, but when you have nothing it suddenly becomes a lot clearer that something is better than nothing.

  28. Typical over reaction. It's poor sportsmanship, but it's not a major show. On the other hand trashing someone online, posting their personal information, and encouraging a public attack is quite serious. She needs to just report the person to the officials or forget about it. An online attack is over kill.

  29. bhm- can you make the latest Fubb's comments above into it's own topic? I think it warrents headlining and not being buried in the comments. After all, I think HI needs enlightening.

    Fubb's- you are a douche.

  30. I just tried to go to FHOTD to read the post on this issue but have gotten a "This Account Suspended" message.

    What was the actual class title and description, was it novice horse or novice rider?

  31. Perhaps she named names one time too many and her host shut her down.

  32. Novice Horse – Not to have won a first at a Recognized show

    The trainer also contacted Fubb and told her the judge said it was OK for the girl Kym to enter and that they returned her ribbon. Fubb replied she turned them in anyway.

    FUBB your a over 40 yr old bitter woman grow the hell up and just geld your horse!

  33. I know. For the trainer to contact her, tell her what happened, and for her to still stick her nose in the air is pretty well a classic case with her. It was a novice horse class. Jeez. Is it really their fault when they asked the judge if they could go in? Isn't it the judge's dilemma at this point? Either way, a fixed situation is never good enough.

    Cheap ribbon 1, Fugs 0.


    To get back on track, I do like this article a lot. I meant to comment on it earlier. While I think somebody putting the horse's welfare above a rider's is a two way street, I think that a horse's welfare can sometimes be best served by properly matching horse and rider. You don't put a beginner on a seasoned horse who needs the exact and proper signals with light hands. You end up with a horse who will probably have a ruined mouth and a bucked off child. Now if you gave that said beginner a nice tolerant horse, everybody wins. Welfare for both is seen. Now if it comes down to ability or injury, then a horse should be considered regardless. I think it comes down to a fair balance between the two. Don't give a person more than they are ready for, and don't give a horse something they aren't ready for.

  34. Japanese House Boy and I were talking about what made a good stable and he said that it was the same things that made any good business: The people.

    Top notch engineers won't make a business if they aren't people savvy. No one likes to hear that they (the user) are too stupid to run the software package.

    Same thing with riding instructors I believe. Don't just tell me I'm doing it wrong, treat me as if I have brains in my head as well as money in my pocket and tell me the why behind the right way to do it. Don't be afraid to loose me as a client, and sugar coat my flaws or if I bring a piece of tack in that isn't suitable say "Humm. we can keep that for future use." Tell me what is wrong. But be kind, courteous and respectful. Or as I say to my 3 teens still at home nothing should pass you lips if doesn't meet two of the three items on this list:
    Is it true?
    Is it necessary?
    Is it kind?
    Even then it can be said in a courteous/respectful manner.

    Kaede ,I have never worked with a revolver mouthed full cheek snaffle on a Saddlebred. I feel more comfortable working with the half cheek Dr. Bristol that I'm familiar with until I understand the revolver mouth bit more.

    Rather than
    That is a gimmicky piece of crap. It's not used in the Saddlebred world.

    Please note my trainer has never said any such thing to me. I'm still with the same trainer now for four years. I love her to death.

  35. I moved the comments to a new thread.