Fitness Magazine

Riding Lesson Planning

By Balancingonhoney @balancinghoney

Giving horseback riding lessons has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had. This came somewhat as a shock for me because while playing softball in college I never had any desire to coach or give hitting lessons. A lot of my team-mates invested their time in giving lessons, coaching summer teams, and working softball camps. I never could get into it.

I just assumed coaching/teaching wasn’t in the cards for me. Then I started volunteering at Whispers of Hope and began to really enjoy giving riding tips. I noticed lightbulbs coming on and positive adjustments being made just from the simple suggestions I would make.  I was soon certified as a riding instructor and giving lessons a few times a week.

My lesson this morning was with a girl named Kirsten. This was only her second lesson with me, but she was already saddling Buddha up on her own while I stood back and made minor corrections, like saddle placement and fit for instance. I would explain why we do things like adjusting the blanket up, into the gullet of the saddle, over the horses withers.


Kirsten and Buddha

I prepare a lesson personally for each individual based on their needs and goals. I thought I would share my lesson plan form with you guys and take you through some of my thought process.

The Lesson Plan link will take you to a PDF of my simple Lesson Plan Form that I use.

My first step is filling out the info at the top. Name, Date, Age, Place, and Horse used. I do this so I can keep the lesson, put it in a file dedicated to a rider, and look back at it if I need a reminder of how far along the rider is or what we have done in the past. I also make a note of how many lessons the rider has had at this point or how many weeks they have been coming.

The next thing I do is decide my “Destination/Goal” of the lesson. The goal of Today’s lesson was to maintain control at a walk.

I decided the best way to practice that would be to work on circles, reversing, and stopping at cones. In the lesson planning form, there is a rectangle box, where I would draw my ring set-up and cone placement for the lesson.

Ring Set Up

Ring Set Up

My Introduction is usually reviewing safety, grooming, saddling, as well as, the goals of the lesson.

Warm-ups are probably one of my favorite parts of the lesson. I use this time to get the rider comfortable in the saddle, confident, and hopefully an attitude ready to work hard yet have fun. I try not to spend more than 10 minutes on the warm-up because I want to save a substantial amount of time for the meat of my lesson. Beginner riders have a tendency to be very stiff and tense when they first get on their horse. When we spend a little extra time warming up, I see shoulders dropping down and legs lengthening which makes it easier to keep the rider in the correct position.

Lessons in Therapeutic Riding is an excellent blog resource. She has an entire post dedicated to >>> Warm Ups <<< and provides lots of warm up ideas!

The Lesson begins after warm ups, starting with what we learned in the previous lesson, and builds upon that. If I need inspiration for my lessons I revert to resources like the CHA Horsemanship Manuals, 101 Arena Exercises, or the internet!

After every lesson I let my rider know what she did really well and write it down in the Positive Review.  I also might include a fun game or Finisher if there is time.

Once the rider leaves, I make a few notes about what I liked about the lesson, didn’t like, or what the rider needs to work on.

Just like in any other coaching/teaching situation I have learned the value in lesson planning! Who would have thought I would get so much joy from teaching horseback riding!

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