Every one of us goes to our riding lessons in order to get better at the sport we love. We go to our riding lessons because we enjoy them. They’re time away from being a mama. They’re time just for us. But, even though we know they’re fun, and we have fun while we’re participating in them, we also know they’re serious. We are there to learn, to become more skilled riders and our coaches want that for us too. But sometimes these things are easier said than done. So I’ve put together a list of 12 ways that you can ensure you are a good horse riding student … one who’ll learn, grow and achieve their goals.
1. Work hard
Every time I hear someone say “you are SO lucky” I internally cringe. Why? Because as far as success is concerned there is no such thing as good luck. People get where they get through the work they do. Not because they sat back on their butts and waited for the success to roll in for them.
Working hard is number one on my list because I can 100% guarantee that the one thing that your coach/trainer will appreciate over everything else is a good work ethic, a student who turns up ready to work hard, learn and improve.
2. Be on time
Organising back to back lessons takes work. Your coach likely spends days putting together their lessons schedules, carefully pairing horses and riders. The same care should be taken by riders when preparing for lessons.
Why? Because we’ve all been in the situation where you arrive at your lesson on time only to have to wait to start yours because the whole days’ schedule has been thrown out by the previous lessons. The coach is running around frantically apologising to everyone and wondering where the days got to. No one is paying 100% attention to the things they should be and everyone suffers as a result.
That’s not good for anybody and is so easily avoided by students ensuring they are on time and ready to go when the clock strikes their lesson time.
We all know that lessons should be fun. If they’re not, you’re probably doing it wrong.
If you’re a part of a group lesson, it’s more than okay to enjoy them and to chat to the other students but it’s also important to make sure you’re also ready to listen when your coach has something to say.
If you are constantly chatting or not paying attention then you’re potentially going to not get as much out of your lesson as you could have and you’ll be disrupting other students and your coach.
4. Have an open mind and be willing to learn
Even if you’ve been riding or taking lessons for a while, there will always be more to learn or something you can improve on.
Having an open mind and bringing a willingness to learn to each of your lessons will ensure that you continue to become a better rider and a better student.
5. Acknowledge your weaknesses
I often get this sense that it’s harder for adults to admit their weak points than it is for children. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with admitting when you don’t understand something, or feel like you need more guidance in order to be able to learn something new.
In fact, doing so shows initiative, and your coach will appreciate your willingness and eagerness to learn and become a more skilled rider.
6. Come prepared
If you’re heading to a lesson for the first time, then make sure you know what you need to do in order to be prepared.
Ask your coach beforehand whether there is anything you need to do or bring for the lesson. That way when you arrive on the day you’ll be ready to go straight into your lesson without holding anyone up.
7. Ask questions
Asking questions is good for two reasons.
1, it means you are actively participating in the lesson and want to learn how you can better improve your riding; and 2, it’s proof to your coach that you’re an active participant who wants to learn.
I know that you’re probably thinking that this belongs on a list for a school student, not someone taking horse riding lessons, but hear me out.
Sometimes there will be gaps in your lessons that are filled by the next lesson, or even the one after, or you’ll have questions that come up after your lesson that you just didn’t think of during. That’s why taking some time out of your day to study can be a great way to boost your riding skills and knowledge.
9. Set yourself goals
I am a BIG goal setter. As far as I am concerned, if you go into something without a goal then you’re setting yourself up to fail from the get go.
Your goal doesn’t have to be something huge, like do a full jumps course without knocking a fence. It can be something simple. For one of my most recent lessons, my goal was to let go of the monkey grip whilst at a trot.
The point is, that having a goal gives you something to work toward, allows you to have something to celebrate and shows your coach you are committed to pushing to improve and learn.
10. Let yourself be challenged
Your coach will challenge you during your lessons. It’s their job. If they don’t challenge you, you won’t get better.
A good student will be open to these challenges and embrace them, rather than come up with excuses as to why they can’t do something.
It can be hard to remember this when you’re being asked to try something new, so remember that your coach will never ask you to do something that isn’t safe or that they don’t believe you are capable of.
11. Take care of yourself
I’ll be the first to admit this is one I struggle with, and I’m sure lots of other mamas will also. But ensuring that you are fit and healthy, and able to actively participate in lessons is important, as a student who is constantly having to hold up the lesson can cause delays for other students and the daily schedule.
Aside from being a way to share my experiences, these are also the way I reflect on my lessons and what I’ve learnt. I like to chronicle the good and the bad because each time I take a lesson I learn something new, and I like to keep it written down because it means I can revisit it to see what I’ve learnt, what I’ve accomplished and how I’ve improved.
You don’t have to write everything down like I do. Simply taking 5 minutes at the end of the lesson to reflect on the lesson, what you’ve learnt, where you think you have improved and where you think there is still room to improve will allow you to mindfully piece together each of your lessons, put together a plan and continue to learn and grow. And believe me, your coach will thank you for that!