Whether you’re an experienced horse owner or are just starting your journey, having professional help can be very beneficial. In fact, many equestrians work with some sort of equine professional for ongoing lessons and coaching.
Having a relationship with a riding instructor or trainer can help you advance your skills at a quicker rate and provide support should you need it. If you’re new to horses, taking riding lessons can help you learn how to safely handle them, and many instructors have horses you can learn from without having to own one yourself.
The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are two common types of equine coaches:
- Instructors specialize in teaching students how to safely handle and/or ride a horse. Often, an instructor will have their own lesson horses for students to learn with.
- Trainers specialize in training horses. Most trainers will also offer instructional lessons to teach their students how to handle different equine behaviors.
Finding the Right Fit
First, you should consider what type of riding you’d like to do and what your goals are. If you’d like to compete, you may want to find a trainer who has experience taking students to shows. If you’re just starting your riding journey, it’s important to find an instructor who has the resources and experience to teach beginners.
There are several great methods to finding a trainer or instructor in your area:
- The Certified Horsemanship Association (an ASPCA Right Horse Industry Partner!) certifies riding instructors with a focus on safe horsemanship. Visit their website and search for an instructor in your community.
- Attend a local horse show and network with attendees. You can observe the way different riders work with their horses to decide which trainer might be the best fit for you.
- If you want to learn how to ride a specific discipline or breed of horse, visit the governing body or local riding club for that discipline. They’ll often list accredited trainers on their website.
- If you’re considering adopting a horse, find a local ASPCA Right Horse Partner. Tell them about your adoption goals and ask for a recommendation for a local instructor or trainer. They’ll likely have relationships with several in your region and be able to help you find someone who fits your needs.
Making a Match
Once you’ve found a trainer or instructor who you think might be a fit, schedule a time to visit their barn. Ask if you can get a tour and watch a lesson so you can get a feel for their program and training methods.
During your visit, ask any questions you have about their program and share your goals. You’ll want to see a clean, well-kept barn with healthy, happy horses. If you can, ask other students about their experiences to get a better understanding of the barn’s culture and program.
Have a prepared list of questions for the instructor to help guide your conversation. It might be a good idea to ask about their training philosophy, expectations of students and lesson or training packages.
Off to the Races
Once you’ve found a great equine professional, it’s important to keep up your lessons—especially when your rides are going well! Ongoing lessons will help you improve as a rider and will help your horse continue learning valuable skills.
From there, the sky is the limit. Whether you plan to attend horse shows or simply want to improve your skills, having a good equine professional on your team is critical.
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