First- the whole point of riding is to have FUN! If it isn’t fun, then this isn’t the sport for you! I encourage questions and comments. Most of all, I want riding to be FUN for you! Now I’ll explain a little more about my teaching and training philosophy:
Horsemanship as a Foundation
Riding starts with the horse. I believe that students must learn about the characteristics and traits inherent to horses in order to learn how to ride effectively. This means that I spend a lot of time discussing how to communicate with the horse (and how NOT to) and how the horse communicates with us. It’s also imperative that young students learn about grooming, tack and anatomy.
Balanced Seat Instruction
I teach a balanced seat through classical principles of the training pyramid. I believe even at the earliest age, students can learn to sit with heel, hip and shoulder in alignment. However, this does not mean that the learning is strict or difficult. With younger students I use games and visual references to achieve this goal. The newest students spend their first several rides on a lunge line.
With older students, I delve quite a bit into the biomechanics of horse and rider- the what and why of riding, equitation and communication. Position is the key to effective aids. In order to learn position we must begin to learn to compartmentalize our body and use each aid individually and clearly.
With advanced students, we work on the concepts of impulsion and collection and how to vary our position and cues to achieve goals with that particular horse. Think in terms of natural horsemanship combined with classical dressage and sprinkled with Sally Swift’s Centered Riding Principles.
Hard Work and Home Work
Consistency is key to learning. Every student develops at a different pace. Learning to ride correctly takes time and hard work. I often give new students homework in the form of stretches and exercises to help in the development of their riding muscles. The fact is, the more you ride, the faster you progress. I encourage new students to take lessons more than once a week in order to jump start their learning. If once a week is all you can do, then we will work with what we’ve got!
I am very familiar with the frustration of coming back to riding after a hiatus. For me, I took time off to have children. When I finally got back in the saddle consistently, I felt like I had no idea what my body was doing. More importantly, I had developed some anxieties because I had children. Suddenly, I had a much higher level of self preservation and it took quite a while for my confidence to come back. Many trainers will put re-riders up and on and just put them through the ringer to develop their riding muscles. I do not do this. When coming back to riding after a break, or injury or child birth, it is crucial to focus on the basics again and identify how our bodies have changed. While many things come back quickly, others issues take more trouble-shooting. I take the time to make a return to riding go as smoothly as possible.