Teaching Tips II

Here are some random tips and quips I’ve collected that don’t fit into a whole blog post but want to share!

I attended some of a clinic by Lou Denizard at our barn today and he had some neat ways of explaining things I liked that could be applied to therapeutic riding:

  • He encouraged a rider with heels up tight knees to “Drop your weight into your long legs.”
  • He explained using the rein aids as “Two Rein Guidance.” I love this as a natural progression from teaching riders “Direct rein steering” and the “Indirect Rein” to coordinating both. I never knew what to call it!
  • He explained balancing on the horse like sitting on someone’s shoulders – you can’t lean back or you compress both your backs and throw them off balance, you must sit tall and balanced aligned above them, and when they move forward you must move a little forward with them.
  • He also uses the praises “Excellent” and “Good for you,” which my own trainer does, which I like. It reminds me to be proud of what I’m doing well, when usually I’m just focused on what’s wrong.

Also, here are a few teaching tips from the Advanced Workshop I attended last summer:

  • A nice question to make sure they’re listening: “Are you with me?”
  • For looking down:
    • “Look forward. If you look down, your horse will look down and slow down!”
    • “Keep looking forward. You are the guiding light of your horse.”
    • “Nose up, toes up!”
  • For wide hands: “Keep your hands apart the width of a banana.”
  • For walk-trot transitions: “On the count of 3, trot: 1 push your heels down, 2 look where you’re going, and 3 trot!” This can be applied to anything – count to 3 and add the steps!
  • When you reverse: “We do everything in both directions because horses’ brains are divided so everything looks new going in a new direction.” or “We do everything in both directions to warm up both sides of you and your horse’s body.”
  • For sitting tall: “Stretch up tall, use your muscles, stretch your tummy, do you feel how tall your back is?”
  • Review Hows and Whys throughout lesson, not just when you teach the skill. They might not have heard or understood completely the first time, and hearing it again reinforces the benefit and motivation of doing it right. Explain it again when they practice, and when
  • When have riders change directions across the diagonal, use the spare time to explain/review the Hows and Whys.
  • Encourage rider/team interaction and socializing. Have them:
    • say hello or good afternoon to the team and other riders once mounted
    • ask their sidewalker’s names
    • give high 5’s at walk when they achieve something
    • talk about a specific topic, perhaps relating to the lesson – what’s a friend, what’s a season, what’s your favorite horse color
  • When dismounting multiple riders halted in a row, start with the rider farther to your right (when facing them) because as they go you can keep an eye on the rest of the riders. If you start on the left, your back is to the rest of the riders.

I hope you got some new ideas for teaching this week!


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 judgment!

One thought on “Teaching Tips II

  1. Brilliant tips – thank you so much. I especially like the dismounting one and ‘nose up, ‘toes up’
    Pushing heels down is quite difficult for a lot of our riders.

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