View Full Version : Rainy days and ideas for ground lessons

Nov. 10, 2011, 07:42 AM
I don't know about you all, but I dislike having to cancel lessons dues to crummy weather. I'd like to make it a habit to offer ground lessons instead of riding time on the days where the weather isn't agreeable. What are some of your favourite ground lessons? What do you like to work on with your riders?

Nov. 10, 2011, 08:05 AM
This has been discussed some before, and there is usually a person or two (or ten:lol:) who backlash at the idea of charging for lessons and you do groundwork/horsemanship lessons instead. Just a forewarning!

I think it depends upon the audience. With beginners, I've done parts of the horse (I put each name on a piece of notecard and we tape it to the saintly horse), parts of tack/tack cleaning, wraps (shipping/standing/polo), colors & markings, clipping & pulling manes, etc.

When it's been too sloppy to really ride but you could safely walk, I've taught lunging, ground driving, & bareback lessons. The ground driving was the best b/c the kids made the same mistakes as they did in their riding, but they were able to see the changes to the horse right in front of them. It really helped some see what they were feeling but couldn't interpret.

My farm's policy is that we do ground lessons/horsemanship when weather is incliment for beginners and low intermediate riders. Once a rider can show she knows those skills, I allow cancellations and makeups. Boarders are usually exempt from this policy (assuming they aren't rank beginners who bought a pony and then signed up for lessons ;) )This is our understood policy when clients enroll in our lesson program.

That said, I had a boarder (who showed a lot) that couldn't put a bridle together. Once I found out she had others do it for her:eek:, I insisted she take a lesson on "how to reassemble your bridle" where we did it over and over. She got the point! ;)

Nov. 10, 2011, 08:17 AM
That has always been my experience with "lesson" students. They want to pay for riding. If the weather is bad, they don't want to come and really don't see the value of unmounted instruction. What I found worked well was to schedule a special "clinic" day several times during the bad weather season. We tried to get everyone to come and served hot chocolate and made a party of it.

One thing that was always popular was to have a "fashion show". I had one student model poor turnout for every day riding and one student model good turnout. Then I had one student model good turnout for young kids showing (paddock boots/garters/breeches) and one kid model mature clothes for showing (tall boots). I used my owner kids as models to get them interested.

The parents were enthusiastic about this because they also got good information on what to buy.

Nov. 10, 2011, 08:51 AM
That's a great idea Janet! I hadn't thought of that =)

Ivy, my thought process is to offer the option of driving out to the farm on the off chance that the weather will be agreeable by the time they arrive. If it is not, then a ground lesson will commence. If it is, then on we go to riding! I, like you, feel that beginner riders benefit from the ground lessons, learning the parts of the horse and the tack. Obviously with the more experienced riders you end up having a harder time coming up with things they can do from the ground, so I think they benefit more from riding v. ground stuff, but it is surprising how many more experienced riders do not know horse parts, tack parts, etc.

I don't wish people to think that just because it looks gross outside (thunderstorms not withstanding, we don't teach in that kind of weather), but I also hate for them to drive out to the farm only to be standing around in the pouring down rain. So, I offer the option of coming out and it is to their discretion. I am at the barn regardless!

Nov. 10, 2011, 09:24 AM
whether its a riding lesson or a ground lesson,i don't mind being charged as they are still using their time and still think of it as a LESSON(there is always something to be taught even if its ground work/barn lessons).

if its pouring out i do cancel and do a make up on a better day,but if it isn't as serious weather wise we do things like brush up on ground driving or lungng,ground manners(esp.with young horse who needs it),etc
just like my lesson yesterday when it was yucky out . put a spin on lunging on my youngin and added side reins for first time and really re learned what i need to brush up on for when im mounted and get a ground perspective.

im not a coach,but i thought you would like a students look on the weather/lesson ideas.

Nov. 10, 2011, 09:36 AM
What about teaching them how to braid mane & tail? Learning how to braid WELL can be very valuable.

Nov. 10, 2011, 09:45 AM
I would teach horsemanship stuff like putting a horse on a ground tie, braiding, wrapping, clipping ears, which of this five saddles fits this horse?, giving shots etc.

However, I think your students would be justified to say, "Well, a riding lesson is worth $x to me but standing here wrapping a leg for practice is not." To my view the horsemanship stuff is learned for free by people who are interested enough to show up and ask, "What can I help with?" and learn along the way.

If I showed up for a riding lesson and somebody said, "Actually, today we are going to do longe work!" I would be like, "Not on my $75 bucks, we're not."

Nov. 10, 2011, 12:17 PM
I think as long as there is an inclement weather policy stated upfront then I think riders & parents will be OK w/ it - that said I agree above comments that many people feel they are paying to Ride. My first ever riding lessons included ground lessons for the first 2 days - I still remember what I learned and the instructor made up a little book - including breeds and color breeds.

I second above ideas- like the idea of a fashion show and why not compliment that w/ the fashion turn out for the horse too? Grooming to win so to speak.. also braiding, bandaging, trimming - like feet, muzzle & bridle path (depending on the ages).

Nov. 10, 2011, 02:02 PM
Yes, it would be a new inclement weather option, and of course students could opt out. However, I want parents and students alike to know that this is a place for learning all aspects of being an equestrian, not just the in the saddle stuff. So, I will offer to parents that in case of rain it is up to them as to whether or not they drive out here with the chance that it might not be riding weather. The bonus will be that if the weather DOES clear up, we get to ride! Also, I don't mind teaching if it's just drizzling a bit, but if it's pouring buckets I'd rather not get soaked.

I think unmounted lessons can be very helpful, especially with young riders who are still new to horses.

Meup, you are right, knowledge is only absorbed by those who really have the desire to learn =)

Thanks for the ideas!

Nov. 10, 2011, 03:01 PM
However, I think your students would be justified to say, "Well, a riding lesson is worth $x to me but standing here wrapping a leg for practice is not." To my view the horsemanship stuff is learned for free by people who are interested enough to show up and ask, "What can I help with?" and learn along the way.


One of our boarders teaches lessons on her old schoolmaster. All beginner/novice riders. Since we have no indoor and ride on the wet coast, she has a clause that states that lessons will NEVER be cancelled due to weather. If conditions are dangerous (i.e high winds, hail) the students will instead have a barn lesson. She has done tack cleaning, taking apart & putting together a bridle, wrapping, braiding etc. With her students it works well because they are all very willing to learn those types of things. I remember when I was around 9, a pony camp I went to did "horsemanship" in the mornings. We cleaned stalls for two hours, and were happy to do so - parents weren't thrilled when they found out.

If you put it in some kind of contract, and it's agreed to ahead of time then that's fine. If it's not fine, then those throwing a hissy fit about actually being a well rounded student can ride in the rain, or forfeit their lesson.

Sing Mia Song
Nov. 10, 2011, 03:49 PM
Some of the most informative fun I had as a kid was when we would pretend to be the horse and "canter" courses in the aisle (hay bales and what not). It's how the idea of pace and impulsion finally dawned on me, as well as how to ride broken lines and combinations. Great fun for the under 10 group.

Nov. 10, 2011, 05:15 PM
Another suggestion for the "clinic" idea for older kids would be to get some of the footage from recent horse shows and have a "judging" clinic to help students understand what is being evaluated and what different styles and qualities of rides look like. At horse camp as a kid we would always use the thunderstorm prone afternoons to go over parts of horse, tack, clean school tack, etc. We would even have races putting together bridles. Also growing up doing 4-H we routinely had in hand lessons doing showmanship and learning how to best present our horses.

Nov. 10, 2011, 09:56 PM
I'm 33 and actually look forward to ground lessons when it's rainy/bad weather. I think my favorite one so far was a general horse conformation lesson, using the boarded horses in the barn. There was also a lunging lesson, IIRC, thrown in there and the latest lesson on vaccines/shots, coggins, etc.

Other lessons I'm hoping to do eventually: Braiding, wrapping, clipping, supplements/diets/feeding, basic breeding and or/training questions, etc.

Of course, I'm not a kid, my lessons are private, and the point of a lot of these are because I'm preparing myself for horse ownership in the next year or two.

Fun Size
Nov. 11, 2011, 07:56 PM
I would totally appreciate that! I'm in full training/care, so if it rains and we don't ride, that is kind of it. During the summer we will lesson more than the normal 4x a week, so it does even out, but sometimes you still want to be at the barn when it is crappy out.

I think horsemanship or general horse care information would be great. Practicing standing or polo wraps would be good, other minor medical care (like how to do a poultice, I learned that last year!), or even injections for your advanced students. I can do an IM shot, but I never do it so I could really use a refresher (hence why I like to keep a paste tube of some meds, just in case I'm too freaked out!).

Also maybe teaching some horsie stretches that students can do before/after riding, or do when weather is bad and all the horse gets is a hand walk. I learned how to do some leg stretches a long time ago, and our weather has been a little iffy lately with lots of days off for the horses, and Max is getting up there in years so I think he appreciated that!

There are all kinds of things we all should know but either don't or are out of practice on. I would leap at the opportunity! :D