Riding Lessons – How to Keep Your Instructor Happy

I thought it was a mistake as soon as she put her foot into the stirrup. Her non-stretch jeans stretched to a thin bare membrane over her bulging backside. The horse practically groaned as she hoisted herself up. I asked myself, “Why did I take her as a student?”

My impression was wrong. She was a great student. Three months later the same student fit and trim was cantering unaided and easily preparing her own . Why was she such a great student? She wanted to learn how to ride and she was teachable.

Whether you are a seasoned competitor or a recreational rider, consider the following to keep your instructor happy:

  • Be on Time

Remember that teaching riding lessons is a business. If your lesson starts at 10:00 then you should arrive at 9:30 – 9:45 to prepare your horse. Preparing your horse may be as simple as taking it from the previous student who was riding it, or it may include a trek into the back forty to retrieve, groom and tack up the beast.

If you are late for your lesson don’t expect the instructor to redo her/his schedule to fit yours!

If you think you may be late it is a great courtesy to call and let your teacher/trainer know you will be late or have to postpone you lesson. It is usual to have a 24 hour cancellation policy. This means if you cancel before 24 hours before the start of the lesson they will not charge you for your lesson. If however, you call after the 24 hour period they can and will still charge you.

Some may think this is a bit much but this avoids people abusing the system and prevents people scheduling lessons and not showing up for them.


  • Pay on Time

Most stables require that you pay for an eight week session in advance. This prevents students riding and then not paying. If your stable does not have this policy pay in advance anyway. This shows your teacher that you are serious about your riding.


  • Be Teachable

Wanting to learn, being teachable, is all about listening and following directions that are given by your instructor. It is not so much about head up, heels down, but also about how your apply yourself outside of the lessons that make a difference. It means trying, doing and not making excuses. I can’t because “fill in excuse here”.


  • Clean up After Yourself

Being courteous is always good. This means if you use the cross ties, then sweep up the mess you created. Or if your horse poops in the aisle way scoop it up and dispose of it. I know that putting manure in the wheel barrow is not enough for me. I go the extra few steps and then dump the wheelie. This does take a few more minutes but it goes a long way to keep things clean and to create great relationships with the stable manager.

After you have completed your lesson always wipe down your tack and equipment. This is a courtesy for the next rider and helps with the condition of the tack. Also at this time you can see the condition of the leather and see if any repairs need to be done.

If you keep these things in mind and help your instructor, s/he will be happier and more interested in helping you.

Being a coach, Judge and freelance riding instructor Laura May knows first hand what keeps her happy. Laura’s stable Thistle Ridge Stable is co-host of the popular Rising Star Series of Horse Show Clinics in Ottawa, Ontario. She likes it when people are on time and pay on time!

Laura specializes in the development and training of young horses with emphasis on the development of equestrians through systematic training techniques. School horses are available at Thistle Ridge Stables for your lessons and Laura provides freelance instruction/coaching at your stable.