equestrian coach education international

62452426 10 lessonsTopics in this article

  • Scenario: non-rider who has never sat on a horse before
  • What to remember as a teacher
  • The resources you need
  • The teaching protocol
  • Lessons -
    1. Just sitting
    2. Active riding on the lead
    3. Walking free
    4. Rehearsing the trot
    5. Trotting free, sitting and rising
    6. Riding free round the arena
    7. Riding a line, free
    8. The canter in a round yard
    9. The canter, free
    10. Riding a test

 

Teaching the New Rider to perform their first dressage test in just 10 lessons!

From Go! to Whoa!

This is an outline of a carefully-structured series of ten lessons, to take the new rider from their first ride through to riding a preliminary dressage test. I first drafted this programme after I was pressured by a friend who wanted to take up riding, and wanted me to teach her. At the time I was heavily involved with top-end competition riders, and my reply to her was “Sorry, but I’m not teaching beginner riders right now.”

She wouldn’t go away. Three weeks later she re-appeared.

Would I teach ....?

“Sorry, but I’m a bit busy”.

A month after that she appeared one Wednesday afternoon, in her bright-and-shining new riding wear. This time I relented. While wondering how I could turn this into an absorbing project for my curious brain, I decided to design an entirely innovative program, and see what I could achieve. Oh, and if she could find five other would-be riders, we could start on Saturday. We did.

Scenario: A Non-Rider who has never sat on a horse before

You can ignore the fact that I chose to take five riders in the same programme. That was largely for my own amusement and in order to challenge myself. They were taught collectively, individually or in series as the various segments suggested. I used two schoolmasters, but at no time in the arena together (because that would have necessitated adding to the riders’ skillsets which I considered unsustainable – they already had enough to think about). Safety protocols were rigorously maintained. Home practice was quite clearly prolific. All riders were delighted and I felt privileged to share a rare learning and teaching opportunity.

As their teacher, remember

  • Rider(s) will probably be slightly nervous/apprehensive/excited
  • You have only met once before, probably on the phone
  • They have never had a riding lesson
  • They do not know what to expect
  • They are not riding-fit
  • They will not know the usual safety practices
  • You must check everything from their girths to their anxiety levels and their understanding of what to do next.

Your resources

  • A well-prepared, thoughtful teacher (...that’s you).
  • A trustworthy schoolmaster, moderate-sized, voice/rider-obedient, calm but willing
  • This horse should have only moderate movement, be not too light/quick to the rider’s aids, work consistently on the bit and be extremely voice-obedient to you and a SAFE ride for an absolute beginner
  • A saddle that fits both horse and rider
  • A snaffle bridle with a Market Harborough
  • A demonstration rider (this can be you)
  • Theory notes (pre-written)
  • Lesson Plans (pre-written)
  • A saddle, securely strapped to a simmie-horse of your creation
  • The rider appropriately dressed (helmet, gloves, jodhpurs, boots, no jewellery etc)
  • A small enclosed arena, a contained portion of a larger one, or a round yard
  • A small-sized, lettered, dressage arena
  • Lead rein
  • A mounting block
  • A quiet environment. No gallery.

Your teaching protocol

  1. Familiarise yourself with each lesson plan ahead of time.
  2. Print out resources for the rider and yourself.
  3. Organise a clipboard for your lesson plan, notes and printouts.

At the beginning of the first lesson,

  • go through the lesson plan with the rider as part of the introduction
  • agree the goals with the rider for the lesson
  • work systematically through the lesson plan.

During the lesson,

  • it is particularly important that you do not interrupt the rider’s practice with corrections or comments
  • use relatively long practice reprises, perhaps three minutes per task
  • give the rider clear and immediate feedback after they have completed their practice, during their rest period.

At the end of the lesson,

  • summarise the lesson, clearly and succinctly.
  • state the goals the rider has achieved
  • give the rider:  a copy of the next lesson plan;  the accompanying theory notes & a home practice sheet to complete for the next lesson.

At the beginning of the second lesson,

  • question the rider on their understanding of the theory notes
  • review the rider’s home practice

For all subsequent lessons repeat this protocol.

The 10 Lesson Plans

Lesson 1: Just sitting

Introduction: address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • being calm, positive and present, astride a barrel
  • staying calm, positive and present astride the schoolmaster
  • not yet riding! (e.g. riding a train or a bus when stopped)
  • rehearsing rein contact
  • rehearsing leg contacts
  • rehearsing seat contact
  • questions

Conclusion: summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes - the seat, contacts. Positions left and right. Stopping. Vocab.
  • Home practice – position, contacts

Lesson 2: Active riding on the lead

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • feeling the walk
  • letting the horse do the walking
  • you begin riding: e.g. passenger to driver of car, steering, position left and right brakes, sitting down

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – the walk footfall and aids. Stopping. Vocab.
  • Home practice - visualisation

62452493 10 lessonsLesson 3: You’re in charge now, walking free

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • where you want to go straight/turning
  • how fast you want to get there stop/go
  • halt aids
  • walk aids
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – the importance of line, half halts, the trot footfall. Vocab.
  • Home practise –practise aids and half halts.

Lesson 4: Rehearsing the trot

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • looking, counting, sitting
  • rehearsing trot rising on the barrel
  • trot on the lead, sitting
  • letting the horse do the trotting/keeping riding
  • trot on the lead, rising
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – the trot aids trot sitting and rising. Stopping. Vocab.
  • Home practise – visualisation

62452514 10 lessonsLesson 5: Trotting free, sitting and rising

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • trot aids
  • practise trot sitting
  • practise trot rising
  • practice transitions down
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – trot aids, halt aids, transitions, the arena tracks. Vocab.
  • Home practise – visualisation

62452499 10 lessonsLesson 6: Riding free round the arena

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • the arena tracks incl. centre line and halt/salute
  • half-halts before transitions up and down
  • halt, walk and trot
  • changes of rein using the markers
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – circles, vocab
  • Home practise – visualisation

62452456 10 lessonsLesson 7: Riding a line, free

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • circles
  • tangents and line
  • practice circles at walk and trot
  • mix circles with going large around the arena/changes of rein/transitions
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – the canter footfall and aids, vocab.
  • Home practise – visualisation

Lesson 8: The canter in a round yard

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • the aids
  • looking and counting
  • letting the horse do the cantering/ keeping riding(nothing changes)
  • practice + stretching tall
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – Vocab. A copy of their dressage test.
  • Home practise – visualisation (the walk trot & canter)

Lesson 9: The canter, free

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • practice: keeping riding + keeping stretching
  • smoother transitions
  • canter on the circles
  • better lines
  • questions

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

Resources:

  • Theory notes – learn the test.
  • Home practise – visualise the test

Lesson 10: Riding a test

Introduction: review home practice, address lesson plan and state goals

Content:

  • accuracy, eyes high!
  • putting it together
  • riding that first dressage test
  • review

Conclusion: questions, summary, goals.

I share this program with those of you who may have a particular interest in teaching beginners, or who may just want to explore the further reaches of your own teaching abilities. I would be interested to hear your feedback. 

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