Here’s a bunch of teaching tips that I found the most important and helpful preparing for my PATH Registered Level Instructor Certification, in no particular order.
- Lots of Hows and Whys
- Praise Specifics (don’t just say “good job”)
- Teach from the middle of the arena
- Mount and Dismount using task analysis
- Progression throughout lesson
- Check girth and tack before mount and once during lesson before and/or after trot
- Can have trained SW adjust stirrups for you if they know how
- After adjust group’s stirrups, half them all walk down the center line toward you to check stirrups and posture from front, woah and check girth and change stirrups if needed, and walk on to check posture from behind. Say specifics about posture, rein holding, etc.
- When teaching a group, teach to the group, not to individuals. If you have one person do something, have them all do it, maybe having the one demo it first.
- Constantly look at the whole picture: volunteers and sidewalkers. Is the leader too far forward of back? How much should they help? What type of hold? Do I need sidewalkers?
- Regarding sidewalkers, ask yourself: if the horse spooks, is the kid balanced enough to stay on? If the answer’s no, you need sidewalkers.
- Teach a SKILL, such as turning or posting. A serpentine is not a skill its’ a pattern used to teach a skill such as bending.
- Do everything on both sides, reverse directions often
- The goal is to allow/reach as much independence as possible and to work toward the inclusion of rider into a non-disabled/therapeutic public riding stable
- First work on well aligned posture and balanced riding seat, then independent use of legs/seat/trunk, then on riding skills
- Use words and concepts most familiar to the rider’s every day life
- Recognize the horse as a living creature that requires nurturing responsibility and appropriate caretaking, use the horse as a metaphor for how to treat all people
- Start the lesson with familiar material
- Ask the rider how he is doing today, and plan accordingly
- Use posters, lists, pictures
- Build rapport with the rider from the beginning – try to understand his very real difficulties and behavior controls
- For riders prone to fatigue (brain injury, MS, etc) have a chair available to rest in immediately following the session to sit in for 10-20 minutes (explain the plan beforehand)
- Some riders may need to stretch before mounting (ask their PT)
- Use preparatory phrases (prepare to walk, get ready to woah, 1-2-3)
- If it’s hot, make sure your riders drink lots of water
- If it’s sunny, remind them to apply sunscreen
- Watch for skin irritation
- Incorporate social communication development by work in teams or groups
What tips would you add?
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!