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Dear Unsure Rider- Advice For Communicating With Your Instructor

Updated on January 26, 2019
Ellison Hartley profile image

Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.


Dear EHH

I ride at a local lesson farm. Up until now, I have been comfortable with my instructor, and happy with how things were progressing. I recently moved up from a push button lesson horse to a younger lesson experienced mount. I was nervous at first, but now I have fallen off twice and I'm afraid of the horse. I know my fear doesn't help the situation, but I don't want to disrespect my instructor by questioning whether or not this horse is appropriate for me. What should I do?

Dear Unsure Rider,

This is a great question and one that I'm sure many people have but aren't brave enough to ask. First, and foremost I would like to say that anytime you are afraid your instructor needs to know. Sometimes, we hide our fear and our instructors aren't aware of it, though I'd guess is she has seen you fall twice now she must know you have some apprehension.

You need to have a conversation with her about it, before your next lesson. Not before your next lesson when you are about to tack up, but when there is time to talk. You want it to be a relaxed conversation and not make her feel like you are putting her on the spot.

When you set up a time to talk to her, just tell her you are concerned and you were wondering what specific skills she was hoping this horse would teach you? Acknowledge that you are aware it was time to move on from a push-button and you are ready to be challenged, but try and get an understanding of why she chose this particular horse. She should be able to answer that question for you. The answer she gives you should make sense to you and also include an explanation of how she plans to progress systematically with you and your new lesson mount.

Be sure to tell her that your falls have unnerved you and that you are losing confidence. She needs to know this and there is no shame in it. You should ask her how she plans on helping you build your confidence. I would hope she would say some combination of riding your old tried and true lesson mounts as well as your new challenging friend, once you are feeling a bit more confident.

This should be a casual, friendly conversation. You are not accusing your instructor of putting you in a position to get hurt or afraid, you are just trying to understand her thought process.

Sometimes as trainers and instructors we have a plan in our head and we execute it as we see our riders progress and be ready to move to the next level. The problem is sometimes, we don't explain to our students exactly what that plan is, and how riding a more challenging horse is going to help you advance on your horsemanship journey.

I'm sure you and your instructor just somehow had a lapse in communication, which you can easily fix if you take the time to sit down and have a discussion about it. Trust me your instructor will be happy to talk you through things, rather than see you frustrated and not understanding what is going on in the lesson.

On a small side note, you did not mention how you fell off the that being said I do want to note that in my opinion, any horse that is known to rear, buck badly, or bolt should be used in a lesson program.

There is a huge difference in being challenged by an appropriate mount and being completely "over-horsed", as in trying to learn on an inappropriate horse. It is your instructor's job to know what is safe for you at your level, and how to best progress you along. They should do so without ever putting you in any sort of unnecessary danger.

Best of luck to you! I'm sure after you talk with your instructor, you will get back on the same page again and be good to go!



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