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9 things you should never say to your riding instructor

If you are serious about your riding at whatever level, it’s likely you take regular lessons with a particular instructor, or perhaps more than one. A good relationship with that individual is key to the training sessions going well.

Here are eight things you should never say to your instructor if you want to remain a favourite client…

1. I’m sure that would work for lots of horses, but mine’s a bit of a special case

If your horse is a special case, your instructor will probably be able to spot that quite quickly. After all, you chose him or her because you respect their ability as a trainer. Why not try what they suggest and see if it works before dismissing it?

2. I was going to practise that thing we did in the last lesson, but I couldn’t be bothered

If you are paying someone to improve your own and your horse’s performance, you really should take the time to do the exercises they suggest between lessons. Otherwise progress will be slow and frustrating for both you and your trainer.

3. Can we cancel? It’s forecast to rain…

Are you made of sugar? Riders need to be willing to put in the hours come downpour or shine. And your instructor’s need to earn money doesn’t go away just because there’s a cloud overhead, either.

4. I tried what you suggested, but it didn’t work, so I asked my boyfriend’s sister’s best friend’s yard owner and she said to do this and it worked a treat.

Ok, so occasionally input from someone different is useful; we can all get stuck in a rut. But it might be more productive to phrase it as something someone suggested which was building on all that you’ve learnt so far from your instructor, rather than saying your trainer’s method was rubbish.

5. I’m hoping you can get us ready for Badminton in two years’ time.

Unless you’re already competing successfully at three-star level at a minimum, this probably isn’t a fair expectation. Be realistic about your goals and your own and your horse’s abilities. Otherwise you are setting the poor instructor up to fail from day one.

6. Please could I send you an hour-long video of my session/videos of all three phases at a competition today to review before our next lesson (without paying you any extra)?

This one does depend on your individual relationship as some instructors may be invested enough in your progress to want to see clips from training or competitions when they are not present. But you shouldn’t take the mickey in how much you expect. Perhaps you can come to an arrangement where you pay a bit extra for that service or if things have gone well, perhaps it’s best just to tag them in a Facebook post with today’s competition videos – with a nice thank you for all the fabulous training, of course – and leave it up to them whether they watch or not?

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7. It’s the end of the month, so is it ok if I pay you next week? 

No. It’s not ok, unless you always pay for lessons at that time. Stick to whatever schedule you and your instructor have agreed for payment, whether it’s cash on the day or a bank transfer soon afterwards.

8. I’m running a bit late so is it ok if we start 15 minutes later and finish 15 minutes later?

Again, no. If you are late, you have to expect your lesson to be cut short. Your instructor probably has another client to get to or maybe their own horse to ride after teaching you.

9. That feels weird, so it must be wrong.

If you’ve ridden a certain way for years or even decades, it’s going to feel weird when you change it. But you didn’t book a lesson to be told to do everything exactly the same as usual, did you?

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