Just like veterinarians, farriers and knowledgeable barn managers, riding instructors are an essential part of the American horse industry. For horse-crazy kids (and adults) who live in urban and suburban areas, riding instructors are most often the gatekeepers to the world of equestrianism. New riders depend on qualified riding instructors and dependable lesson horses to teach them the basics. Even advanced riders need an experienced set of eyes on the ground to help them work through problems and continue to improve.
- Be a reliable student. Most instructors would list punctuality as a desirable trait in a rider. Show up and have your horse and yourself ready to go when your lesson is scheduled to begin. This will help you get every minute of instruction you’ve paid for without infringing on the next lesson. And if you have to cancel, give at least 24 hours’ notice. Some barns require a certain amount notice, but even if yours doesn’t, it’s the courteous thing to do.
- If you’ve got some spare time before or after your lesson, offer to help out. Many instructors have their afternoons booked solid with one student after another. Maybe your instructor could use an extra person to go catch a horse from the field for the next lesson or do some quick organizing in the tack room.
- Offer a token of appreciation. You don’t have to go all-out to show your instructor you care. A small gift like a pair of boot socks, a batch of homemade baked goods or a gift card to her favorite coffee shop is a nice gesture if you want to give a tangible item as a “thank you” for all your instructor does.
- Don’t forget the other half of the equine education equation: your lesson horse. Lesson horses have a tough job, and the good ones are invaluable. Your favorite schoolie would probably appreciate his own homemade cookies or an extra long, relaxing grooming session after a good ride.
- If you have a close-knit stable, one of the kindest gestures might be to get all of your instructors’ students together to give her a card or a small gift, or maybe a fun group photo. You don’t have to spend a lot of money (or any at all) to make your instructor feel appreciated.