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Today we are going to handle a bit of a tough topic – better communication with your riding instructor, and specifically how to ask them about other ways of riding that you may see in videos, or read about in books.

There are often many different ways to accomplish the same thing, and sometimes hearing the same concept explained differently from someone else or even just seeing it demonstrated can create a big breakthrough in your learning.

In addition, learning through reading or especially through watching video can be very beneficial because you have the opportunity to learn visually instead of simply hearing what your instructor may tell you during lessons.

It may feel intimidating to bring up different, sometimes conflicting, advice to your instructor, as you don’t want to insult or offend them. However, most teachers love questions, and a good riding instructor should be able to explain the “why” behind what you are doing, whether it is a certain posture or position, or a training exercise.

In today’s video, I share several ideas for talking to your instructor about questions you have or things you want to try. If your instructor or trainer is not receptive to outside ideas or not interested in discussing your questions, then remember that you are hiring them and it may be time to consider the value you are receiving in your lessons in exchange for your time, hard work, and money. If the value is not there, perhaps it is time to try someone new.

On a positive note, most instructors will be happy that you are eager to learn and excited about riding, and enjoy answering your questions and supporting you as you learn and grow as a rider.


If you have more suggestions for communicating with your riding instructor, put them in the comments below!

Also, The Balanced Riding Course starts next week, and the first few videos, the introduction to the course, will be available for free. I continue to make changes to both the course and the introductory videos in order to make this program something of extraordinary value where we cover a variety of topics essential or any rider or horse owner. If you enjoy these blog videos, don’t miss out on the Free Videos from the Balanced Riding Course!


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9 Responses

  1. I really admire your approach to learning and sharing. I think there is a bit of student and teacher in all of us and that we shift between them. Sometimes I ride better if I act like the teacher, but mostly the balance is more student. In that role I think understanding the philosophy, approach, principles, etc of a trainer should guide us as students to know what might be complimentary or conflicting. Conflicting ideas might be best explored in view of why they are conflicting to better develop understanding of a trainers approach . What is the reasoning? The way you are always learning, adding, considering and developing ideas for the horses and us as students is fabulous. We can all be hurt by comments but for you it seems it is about doing the best you can and not about ego. We are very lucky!

  2. I feel very fortunate that I have an instructor who is very open to questions, willing to help me on something I’m having trouble with and when asked about trying something different will say, “Go ahead, give it a try and let’s see what happens.”

    At the end of each class my riding instructor has “play time!” This is free time that we can work a little more on something we learned in class that day, work on something else we wanted to do, ask questions or request help on something.
    Possibly students could ask their instructors to do the same where they take lessons. Then during the free time they would have time to try something new or different.

  3. As always Callie an excellent video with good advice for us students. As you mentioned it can sometimes be a difficult topic. I enjoy working with different instructors as I get something different from each one.
    Thank you Shanna for mentioning “play time” at the end of each of your lessons…what a great idea! I think I’ll mention it to my instructors.
    Nancy B

  4. Hi Callie.
    your timing is as always right on.!
    my Trainer and i just had a similar discussion after our last session.
    turnes out he had a very different idea of what i accually wanted to achieve and therefore pushed me way harder than i was willing to he is a great trainer he changed his tact straight away and we now both enjoy the lessons again. communication is so important.

  5. I like the way you do these videos ; answering questions along the way. I wanted to say that when I watched the video on how to teach a horse to turn on the forehand and haunches (the one you demonstrated at the fence) I shared it on my FB page where others at my barn and trainer could see. I tried it with my horse and it kind of opened up a discussion with my instructor / trainer when she saw me practicing. Thank you for your teaching.

  6. I’m so glad you did this video, Callie. Drawing from different experiences and different people and different horses in different circumstances can be confusing or conflicting (to me), and even frustrating. I have found myself in a position where I wanted to defend someone when someone else has seemed critical (or skeptical) of someone else and what they were doing around horses. It can also be very educational to me to look at the differences.

  7. Thank you for this video, it was very timely! I began learning to ride 6 months ago (adult, private lessons), made rapid progress then felt that things had stagnated after about 4 months (stuck in trot), then that I was going backwards, with goalposts (one of which was going on a proper trail ride) seemingly moving further and further away with each lesson – then discovered that there were basic gaps in my knowledge, things which children learn from the very beginning but which I had not been taught. I felt so inadequate, my confidence plummeted, I began to dread each lesson, even though I really tried and worked hard and did all my exercises without complaint. I had lots of candid conversations with my instructor, there was never any animosity. However, I increasingly found myself turning to other sources for explanations, inspiration and encouragement when nothing seemed to work or when I left each lesson feeling deflated. I have learnt so much from your videos and have regained my confidence from a point at which I had seriously begun to wonder whether there was any point in pursuing my dream of learning to ride. The turning point for me came when I went overseas during month 5 and did three solid days of cantering on trail rides on different horses, even though my instructor would have had me wait at least another 6 months to begin to canter. I returned to my riding school on a massive high was swiftly brought back to earth. I started jumping a couple of weeks ago (different school) and I couldn’t be happier.

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