Dear Ehh-Finding a Beginner Instructor
I have followed your suggestions and done my research as far as facilities for my child to learn how to ride. I have had email conversations and a phone call with each place. After these conversations, I still do not feel like I have a great feel of where would be the best place for my child to start. I'm being overly cautious, as I have no horse experience of my own whatsoever.
Dear Overly Cautious,
You say you are being overly cautious as if it is a bad thing, I think it is great that you are asking for her help. I also think it only makes common sense to be overcautious when it comes to your child and a thousand-pound animal when you don't have any experience with it at all.
You have gotten the first step out of the way by making contact with some local farms. Depending on how many places you were in contact with, at this point, I want you to narrow down to three. Whether it be three you get the best vibes from, three closest to home, however, you'd like to come to a smaller number.
Once you have your three target facilities, I want you to make contact with them, however, you normally go about it. Whether it be emailed or on the phone. I want you to talk with the person who would actually be teaching your child. Sometimes, depending on the size of the facility, you may have been speaking with this person already. If it is a bigger facility, it may be something totally different than you have been speaking to thus far.
You don't have to be a horse person to be able to speak with an instructor and get a feel for if they would be a good fit. You should ask them what their background is, how long have they been teaching beginners? Ask them about their philosophy on group lessons or private lessons for new riders? You should listen for these important words! Things like all around horsemanship, safety, progressive teaching program. You want to be talking to someone who confidently answers your questions with answers you feel comfortable with.
They should be willing to answer as many questions as you might have about themselves, the facility and their program. You should tell the person your goal is to give your child a safe introduction to the basics. See how they respond to that question and ask them how they would be able to help your child to reach that goal.
I think sometimes in teaching beginner lessons, being goal oriented gets a little lost in the details of all their is to teach a beginner rider. It is easy to forget to be goal oriented as an instructor. Conversations with an inquiring parent can be a great way to get us really thinking about our program and set us back on the path of teaching in a goal-oriented progressive fashion.
Hopefully after having this conversation with the three instructors that you've narrowed down to your favorite prospects. You will have gotten three great answers, that makes it easy for you to feel confident in choosing any of them as your child's first instructor.
You want an instructor that both you and your child feel comfortable with. An instructor that you can openly communicate with. I think by having these conversations before signing up, you are setting your child up for a great start in the world of horses.