For our inaugural blog post we decided to talk about students and lessons. There are many important things to cover but for this blog post we will cover what we have determined to be the most important five things to know. Those five items are when to show up, How to properly groom a horse, how to properly warm up, what and when to clean, and proper barn etiquette.
-When to show up for a lesson.
Lessons are the life blood of most boarding barns. The instructor spends at minimum a few hours teaching lessons every day. Each instructor will have his or her own style of teaching and that includes the length of the lesson. Some instructors will not stop until something meaningful is accomplished while others will have a strict deadline for lessons to be over. Obviously students want to get the most from each lesson. The best way to do that is to be tacked up and ready to ride when the lesson starts. If someone has a lesson at 2:00PM and they show up at 2:00PM to begin tacking up he or she just used lesson time for tacking. Each instructor is different on how they end their lessons, but one thing will be the same. Be ready to ride when your lesson is scheduled to begin.
-How to properly groom a horse
This brings me to my next point, proper tacking. I could write and entire blog post on tacking and I just may in the future but for now let’s cover the basics. The mane always goes on the right side. No matter which direction it naturally falls, always comb it to the right. This way when the student or instructor post pictures of the lesson horse and rider will look proper proper. Secondly, always get as much dry dirt off the horse as possible. Make sure his or her face is clean and always make sure to clean where the saddle and saddle pad will rest. Not only do these actions show that you care about your horse they also serve a purpose. Trapped dirt under a bridle or a saddle will rub and become uncomfortable to a horse. This will introduce an outside variable to your riding and will make it harder to make progress in a lesson since some behaviors may not have anything to do with the rider. Proper grooming will show that one cares and also allows one to get the most from their lesson.
Lessons will all follow a particular pattern. The instructor will ask you to warm up the horse which should include ten minutes of walking at the beginning of the lesson. Proper warm up is vital to the overall health of a horse. The warm up is not a time to just aimlessly walk the horse. Use this time to focus on one’s self. Notice your posture; are your heels down? Are you mentally prepared to give it your all for an entire lesson? Warm up is just as important to the rider as it is the horse. Throughout the warm up the instructor should already be talking the rider through what is going on.
-What and When to Clean
Cleaning after the horse is an important part of riding lessons. The point of taking lessons is to teach the rider about horse care as well as riding. Having a horse consists of many more tasks than getting the horse from the pasture. The most important secondary task a student should be aware of is cleaning up after the horse. In the grooming stall if the student picks the horse’s feet or pulls the mane he or she is responsible for sweeping the grooming stall when the lesson is over. If the horse poops in the arena during the lesson some instructors will expect the student to clean up after the horse immediately. Others will want it cleaned up after the lesson. Some instructors may pick It up for the student while the student is still riding. If you are unsure what to do just ask. Never be afraid to ask. Especially as a student you are paying the instructor to teach, so ask away. Most barns will have a list of rules either posted or in the boarding agreement. It is good practice to follow these rules at all times even if others do not.
-Proper Barn Etiquette
Proper barn etiquette goes back mainly to the barn rules. Make sure one knows the barn’s rules for leaving things in the isle or on stall doors. Proper barn etiquette would include keeping your space clean. If you have a space in the tack room keep it tidy. Clean the grooming stall after one is done using it. If there is a wash stall do not leave soap suds and mud in the bottom or on top of the drain. If the student wants to give treats to the horse ask the instructor when a proper time would be to give them. Never give treats to a horse that is not yours without asking the owner’s permission. If the owner is not around, do not give the horse treats.
I hope this will serve many students well not only here at Castle Glen Equine, but anyone who stumbles upon our little blog! Here at Castle Glen Equine our motto is,”Building a better partnership between horse and rider.” We sincerely hope this blog facilitates building that partnership.
-Castle Glen Equine