As a new instructor sometimes I get really nervous about teaching. I feel overwhelmed at all there is to know, feel pressured by myself to be this amazing teacher full of profound knowledge and wisdom, feel inadequate.
At times like these I need to remember that really, all the kids want to do is just ride a horse. And really, all they need to do is ride a horse.
They usually aren’t looking to me to teach them amazing horseback riding skills or lead them through an amazing entertaining time on horseback. They just want to and need to be on and with this huge, moving, living animal. And that is good for them, physically spiritually and mentally, regardless of what my lesson plan is.
Isn’t it the same for you? I remember being little, when just being around or on a horse made me happy (it still does). Of course I wanted to feel safe, and secure, and knowledgeable on a horse too, though I didn’t realize it…but most of all, I just wanted to be on a horse.
This realization was brought on partly from reading this article from the Spring 2009 backissue of PATH Intl.’s “The Instructor Voice” newsletter (page 7):
“The more lessons we observe and the more certifications we attend, the more we see instructors spending a great deal of class time with clever games and activities to address their riders’ needs. Although these can be great and sometimes motivating tools, we need to remember that many of our riders’ issues can be addressed very effectively by simply letting the horse do his job. The motion of the horse is the greatest gift we, as instructors, have to offer our riders…making decisions on gait, pace and direction relative to our riders’ position can be the most creative ‘idea’ we have to truly benefit and improve the rider’s level of function…Creative activities, games and especially group activities should certainly not be eliminated. They can be highly motivating tools. But they should not take the place of understanding and applying the motion of the horse as the greatest gift we have to offer as therapeutic riding instructors.” -Joelle Devlin
So remember, although the job of an instructor is huge – lesson planning, safety, skill teaching, game coordinating, and everything else – in the end, just having the kid on a horse, getting the input of motion and feeling connected, is huge! As long as the kid doesn’t get hurt, and ends with a smile, your lesson was a success!
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!