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Giving Lessons to Peers, Friends, Etc

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  • Giving Lessons to Peers, Friends, Etc

    How do you guys feel about it? Have you ever given a lesson to a friend before?

    I have recently had a couple of friends come to me, begging me to give them lessons. One of my professors who employs me as a research assistant has also asked if I would help him. I am hesitant in both cases (especially with my professor!), and have told them no, but one friend is still trying to convince me to teach her. I really don't think it would be a good idea because I imagine it would be hard to differentiate between what is professional and friendship, and then of course there is the risk of creating an "I'm better than you because I am teaching you" dynamic.

    Strange question I suppose, and I don't think I will be teaching my friend, but it did make me wonder, so I invite your opinions on the subject and would like to hear of any similar experiences you may have encountered. How did you say no and why? Or did you give a lesson to a friend and how did it turn out?
    Last edited by getonwithit; May. 2, 2010, 03:42 PM.

  • #2
    What's wrong with the answer you've already come up with?:

    Originally posted by getonwithit View Post
    I really don't think it would be a good idea because I would find it hard to differentiate between what is professional and friendship with my friends.
    If that doesn't work for you, there's always:

    --Sorry but I don't carry commercial liability insurance, which would protect both of us if something were to happen during the lessons, and I wouldn't teach without it.

    --Sorry but as a horseperson, *I* would not want to take a lesson with someone who did not have extensive credentials as a riding instructor. Would you put your kid in a classroom where the teacher had no formal education training and no teaching experience? No? Then as your friend, I will not allow you to enter a similar situation with your riding.

    --A simple "No."
    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


    • #3
      When I changed barns a few years ago, I asked an old friend (who I did my coaching exam with) if she would give me lessons. I am so glad she said yes. She was a fabulous instructor and I learned a ton. I never found it strange to have my 'peer' giving me lessons. If my financial situation allowed, I would still be taking lessons with her and never hesitate to recommend her to others.


      • #4
        Originally posted by jn4jenny View Post
        --Sorry but as a horseperson, *I* would not want to take a lesson with someone who did not have extensive credentials as a riding instructor. Would you put your kid in a classroom where the teacher had no formal education training and no teaching experience? No? Then as your friend, I will not allow you to enter a similar situation with your riding.
        To clarify, although I am not currently taking on lesson students, I have been an instructor in the past and do have plenty of exeperience. Part of the reason this friend has been pestering me is because she sees this, has spent time around me and the horses and listens to what I have to say and thinks I could help her. I probably could help her, but I am concerned about the friend/instructor dynamic.


        • #5
          Originally posted by getonwithit View Post
          To clarify, although I am not currently taking on lesson students, I have been an instructor in the past and do have plenty of exeperience. Part of the reason this friend has been pestering me is because she sees this, has spent time around me and the horses and listens to what I have to say and thinks I could help her. I probably could help her, but I am concerned about the friend/instructor dynamic.
          You still haven't said what's wrong with your original answer. If you're not comfortable with it, then just say no. A friend worth having will respect an answer like, "Sorry, I don't mix business and pleasure."
          Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


          • #6
            One of my very good friends is a far better rider than I am, plus she's a teacher in real life to boot. I have no issue whatsoever having her help me with my horses. She helps me because we're friends and because she knows I can't afford a lot of lessons, and also because she gets satisfaction out of seeing me advance and do well at shows, etc. On top of all that, she doesn't charge me a dime for any of it. I could never thank her enough for all the help she's given me.
            "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."


            • #7
              Originally posted by jn4jenny View Post
              You still haven't said what's wrong with your original answer. If you're not comfortable with it, then just say no. A friend worth having will respect an answer like, "Sorry, I don't mix business and pleasure."
              Good point. I guess there is a part of me that would like to teach her because the instructor she is currently with is not helping her progress whatsoever. I have observed a number of lessons, and it appears that this instructor lacks the tools to help her progress when this rider could easily do so. This girl would continue riding with her current instructor, but she would like to come to where my operation is based and have me help her in addition to lessons with her current instructor. That's kind of why I was asking for other people's experiences as to whether this has worked out for others or whether my inclinations were correct and I should leave things be.


              • #8
                I switched from an instructor that just didn't speak my language to a friend who was really able to help me. There was never any odd feeling or anything about it. I am still very thankful that she was willing to help me out so much with my mare (I have since moved to a different state).

                Of course, my friend is also the type who doesn't have her feelings hurt if I asked WHY she wanted me to do something a certain way, or if I told her that something wasn't working for my mare. For example, mareness gets all worked up over stupid things from time to time, and the only thing that helps is to halt, stand still for a minute, and then start over. She kept asking me to walk to let her decompress, and was not in the least bit offended when I told her that standing still works better for her.

                The thing about continuing with the other instructor, regardless of lack of progress, would bother me though. If she's not getting anywhere with this one instructor, I would have a hard time teaching her, knowing she was going to continue paying the instructor who wasn't helping her. But that would be mainly because I don't like to see people struggle and spend good money on trainers who don't help them.


                • #9
                  If you don't have insurance covering you, then don't, and tell them that.

                  If you are insured and decide to do it, get a signed liability release, before letting them step foot in the saddle. Even though they are friends, get one.


                  • #10
                    I've worked as an instructor, to preface this, but regardless of that, I've always enjoyed teaching people, be it clients or friends, how to ride.

                    my time spent as an instructor was only to kidlets and ponies, though.

                    I gave some lessons to my school friends with NO riding experience, at home, on my own property with a good ol' QH who wouldn't spook at a meteor landing in her pasture. good horse.

                    riding friends? gave a couple lessons on my own horse, at the time, who was a good fellow.

                    I didn't get paid with any of these friends, it was more of a "i want to learn to ride/ help me out" kind of cases.

                    I think, for me, it'd depend if I was getting PAID to teach them, or if it was out of my spare time wanting to help them out. I don't think I'd accept money from them, ever.

                    My best friend is a trainer, and I've ridden her horse for her while she's been out of town, etc. In the near future she's going to teach me on him. I'm not paying her, it's "just for fun" so to speak. And if I didn't love my trainer so much, I would have no problem riding with her, and paying her, but that's not the case. I don't think it would interfere with our relationship at all, although we've been best friends for years and years and our riding ability is even with each other (one of the reasons I perhaps *wouldn't* train with her full time, not that we're not very accomplished people, but I like being taught by someone who probably knows more than me, just my preference). She just happens to teach for a living and I just happen to be in college full time. Different circumstances.


                    • #11
                      I have a client who is friends with an upper level dressage rider. She hauls to her for lessons a few times a year. it works well for her, as she can get lessons with an upper level rider without having to board with her. It works well for me as I hear all about the lesson and can learn from it. And most importantly, both the upper level rider and I teach in a similar manner, and focus on similar things, so it is not confusing for my student!

                      In your situation, it sounds like you would NOT be teaching in a similar style as her regular instructor, so I am not sure it would be in the best interest of your friend. Sometimes consistency of style is more important.

                      As well you need to consider the insurance factor, and breaking your ammy status if that matters to you.

                      As for teaching friends in general though? I become friends with my students. I do not find it an issue as my corrections are not personal and I welcome feedback. Teaching my hubby on the other hand...now that is tricky!
                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                      • #12
                        As a "student" of several friends at various times, I'm very grateful to those friends for helping me out. I never had a problem listening to the other person, but I'm also pretty driven and committed to improving. I always saw it as them making me better.

                        On the other hand, I have seen some issues as being captain of my IHSA team. I don't give lessons, but if the coach isn't at the show, it's my responsibility to coach as well. Some of the riders who ride levels above me feel they're too good to listen and it has hurt our personal relationship. However, I think that's a slightly different situation because they didn't think they needed help to begin with.

                        It sounds like you want to help, so why not say "I don't feel comfortable giving riding lessons right now, but if you would like to come out to the barn with me and get some advice on ground work, etc. I would love to do that for you." Then use that as a test drive. If it works, then maybe offer lessons.
                        Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                        • #13
                          My best friend helped to mold me into the horseperson that I am today, by helping me to learn from her, and sometimes we both would learn from each other.

                          I did not consider them to be formal "lessons", it was just two amateurs who boarded together helping each other out.

                          I have also done "lessons" for friends that had no experience or intention of showing, all they wanted to do was learn the basics so they could safely go trail riding or vacation at a dude ranch. Never had any problems with being able to teach them and our friendships.

                          And I teach my own daughter on our own horses.
                          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                          • #14
                            I have a friend (my old trainer's daughter) who's just starting to give lessons, mostly as an assistant trainer at her mom's barn. I was thinking about it and I don't think I'd have a problem taking a lesson from her, even though I knew her when we were on ponies (her as a pony jock, me on the old bombproof lesson ponies lol). I know that she knows what she's talking about, and based on her personality I think she'd probably be a good trainer. I think she would probably even be a better trainer for me, personally, than her mother was.

                            I think where it could get murky is if you and your friend are around the same skill level, and she was asking for straight out lessons, rather than "help". I think if you do decide to teach her, make sure to establish "Look, right now I'm a trainer. I'm not going to go easy on you because we're friends, and I expect you to treat our lessons the same as you'd treat a lesson with your current trainer. If you disagree with something I say that's fine, but remember you're the one who wanted my opinion as a trainer, and this is it."
                            "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

                            Phoenix Animal Rescue


                            • #15
                              I ride with friends all of the time and we teach each other quite a bit. I've found that there are as many different teacher-student dynamics as there are friends

                              I have a couple of friends who I consider complete and total peers (we show against each other in the same classes, have "matching" sets of horses, etc.). When I'm schooling them I try to have it be as much of a partnership as possible and strive to be an excellent set of eyes on the ground (as opposed to being a TRAINER)....and they do the same when schooling me.

                              I have a couple of other friends who are trainers, and though they tone it down when helping me, they still act a little more trainer-like (which is totally fine).

                              And then I always have a kid or two helping me hack my horses. They're totally competent on their own, but I help them jump (seeing as how they're on my [usually green] horses). I generally take the approach of "fixing the horse" versus "fixing the rider" and have found that if you're able to clearly explain what needs to be done to improve the horse it often has the benefit of improving the rider along the way. It's interesting to me that my relationship with each group (trainers, peers, and "helpees") and my relationships with different people in each of those group are completely different from each other, but still functional in their own way.

                              So I guess my point is that I don't see why you couldn't help your friends. Maybe you could approach it from a "helping" stance versus a "training" stance initially. That would allow you to gauge each person's ability and willingness to learn from you as well as determining whether your friendship (or working relationship) can survive in tact. FWIW, I haven't ever felt a "I'm better than you" vibe from any friends that I've helped or friends who have helped me.

                              As a side note, no money changes hands to or from any of my friends and me. I would imagine that could change the dynamic a little bit and I suspect I'd expect a little bit more guidance from a friend I was paying to help me. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be just as workable, just that it might increase the complexity of the relationship a little???
                              Flying F Sport Horses
                              Horses in the NW


                              • #16
                                What about encouraging your friends to videotape their lessons with their regular trainer and/or when they are riding on their own? They could probably learn a lot just by watching themselves. You could offer to video but not critique.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by getonwithit View Post
                                  Part of the reason this friend has been pestering me is because she sees this, has spent time around me and the horses and listens to what I have to say and thinks I could help her. I probably could help her, but I am concerned about the friend/instructor dynamic.
                                  My opinion is not one of an instructor, but if I were, this part would make a big difference to me. If she is already keen and showing a pattern of learning and trying for you (as well as your styles and ideas meshing), then this will probably continue if you officially take her on. There is nothing more frustrating than a "student" who doesn't want to learn (and while some will certainly talk like they want to, when the time comes to do - as in listening and making an effort - that desire mysteriously disappears), but if it's a friend on top of that, yes, it's likely to be disaster. However, if you know she's actually an eager student, then I think it's entirely doable.

                                  In addition, I think the situation you describe, where she just occasionally ships to you, makes it a safer venture to try. If it's not working out, you can say so (or if you just can't confront, even make up an excuse such as not having time) and not have to send her out changing barns or anything.

                                  The last instructor I used - who was fantastic btw - was at my boarding barn mainly just to coach a long time friend. In their case it was a perfect relationship. The coach was able to stay riding and teaching a little, when the rest of her life wouldn't allow a huge commitment to that. The student got the knowledgeable eyes on the ground that she needed, as well as a trusted hand to ride and look after her beasts on days when she couldn't. Win win. It's not always a doomed situation.


                                  • #18
                                    Friends don't let friends ride badly

                                    if they can possibly do otherwise.

                                    I'm with PNWJumper. I have had some of the best times ever trading off riding and being the "eyes on the ground" for friends.

                                    I don't ask for money. But I don't make it really formal, either. You were asked to help, so you don't need to worry about over-stepping your bounds. And you can keep it as informal and collaborative as you like.

                                    That's even true with your prof. With you standing in the middle of the ring he/she is just another person trying to learn to ride better or fix a training problem.

                                    Riding and training is a pretty specialized skill that takes a long time to develop. If you have that, please consider sharing it. I think it's nice to be asked and that we ought to do what we can to "pay it forward."
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat


                                    • #19
                                      Who better to help than a friend? Most of us wouldn't be anywhere as riders without our friends. Many of my friends with horses are my mentors as well.
                                      If you enjoy having this person in your life its worth a try provided you have insurance. If you don't that is reason enough to say no. And a good friend will understand that.


                                      • #20
                                        Just don't try to teach your husband Ask me how I know this.....

                                        In all seriousness, if your first instinct is no, I would stick to that. Perhaps taking the route that PNWJumper and mvp described would be ok with you and your friend- just ammy's helping eachother out. Maybe throw in a pointer or two while you are both riding and leave it at that, if you want to stay away from the trainer role.