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What do re-riders look for in a lesson program?

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    What do re-riders look for in a lesson program?

    I've read the "re-rider support" thread and a few of the other "specific threads" but would appreciate more specifics:

    Adult re-riders, what do you look for in a a lesson program?

    I seem to see adult group lessons (no riding with kids), suitable safe lesson horses, quiet environment crop up the most. What else would be a deciding factor in choosing a suitable barn for you?

    A kind trainer would be at the top of my list. And, I have never liked a yeller or a knit picker (even as a younger rider.) My expectations are: to learn, be safe and when lesson is done -look forward to the next one Simple . ( but I am old..... )


      Yep, you need the trainer to be the right fit. Trainers are not one-size-fits-all. And yes, the safe horses are a must. Good luck!
      My hopeful road to the 2021 RRP TB Makeover:


        Trainer with the flexibility to work with adults with varied backgrounds and abilities is #1. Agreed on "suitable safe lesson horses", with particular emphasis on "suitable"; a stable of ponies isn't going to cut it. I'm not sure where the cutoff on "no riding with kids" is, but sometime in the teenage years people seem to develop enough communication ability that it's not super-annoying to share a lesson with them.

        FWIW, I'm not sure any of that is specific to "adult re-rider" vs just "adult rider". (When do I stop being a re-rider, anyway?)


          I agree looking for a kind trainer, and possibly one with experience with adults and adult re-riders. I'm definitely a lot less brave than I was when I rode as a kid/teen. As a rerider, I found success at an eventing barn with a trainer who has a strong dressage background. Jumping is an option if I am up to it, but not expected. On off days, there is plenty to learn on the flat even just at a walk/trot which helps on those days I may be feeling more hesitant.


            I feel like there are a lot of different kinds of re-riders out there, but speaking for myself -

            Trainer who acts professionally - from returning my initial phone call to consistent ability to schedule lessons. No yellers for me either.

            Safe school horses appropriate for my ability level. Preferably more than one. Bonus if they can be competitive at local shows. Demerits if they don’t have their own, labeled tack (just me?)

            A nice group of fellow riders that I can lesson with at least occasionally. I don’t mind a mix of ages as long as the riding levels are compatible.


              I think it helps to have an instructor who has worked with adults. Adults learn and progress differently from children. And for reriders, often we don't need another explanation of the idea, mechanics or theory, we need an understanding that we just cannot yet get our bodies to cooperate!


                Along with the qualities everyone else has mentioned, I would add an understanding/flexibility for “life happens” moments that might require rescheduling: have to work late, kids’ game ran late, babysitter canceled, etc.
                "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." —Bradley Trevor Greive


                  This is my bread and butter.

                  - Adult re-riders don't seem to do well with coaches that don't have depth of knowledge. They expect not only to be taught what to do, but also taught why.
                  - Adult re-riders often have fear, so need an instructor who understands the psychology of fear.
                  - Most re-riders are very hard on themselves, so I find I need to help them pace themselves AND forgive themselves that their bodies don't do what their brain thinks they should do.
                  - I have set up my program to accommodate shift workers, and workers who sometimes have to cancel last minute.
                  - They don't want to be bullied. Or pressured to buy a horse.
                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                    I think another important one for re-riders and adult beginners is scaling lessons and expectations to goals. Some adults want to be competitive, and are willing to do the physical and mental work to get there - the no-stirrup hours, learning to sit the buck, comfort-zone pushing, etc. Others want to feel safe and have fun for an hour. You cannot tell a thing by how old they are or how well they ride, and sometimes life events move them from one track to another. Someone who can't listen and adapt to the rider's needs will lose at least one group.


                      I am not a re-rider but my horse life has had it's up and downs and I have taught lessons.

                      As far as group lessons go, it depends on the adult. Personally, I never had a problem with the group jumping lessons and being in the crossrail group watching the teens in the 3' group. This was a weekly or so lesson that was specific to jumping where everyone trailered to a particular indoor so there could be 10+ people in the lesson and it lasted 2+hours; though your part may be 30 min followed by watching everyone else. Jumping is generally a one-on-one thing so you are just as likely to have some issue that causes a "delay" as some 10 year old. You can also learn from anyone. My friend's mom did not start riding until after her daughter got into it and also never had an issue with group lessons with kids.

                      Teaching adults is different than children in that they do not have the expanse of knowledge but there are many similarities also. For example, when I discuss keeping your heels down both children and adults will receive the "pretend there is a weight in your heel pulling your heel down - don't push it down, let it fall down" explanation along with the suggestion to hang your heels off a step to practice. Older children and adults (I have taught 5 years to 50 years so "older child" may be a 10 yr old) will get the scales explanation - your heels are two sides to a scale if one heel is not dropped down as much as the other, there is less weight on that side and you will fall on the side there is more weight. The 5 year old probably doesn't understand that.

                      Adults are generally not "show focused" - meaning they enjoy the ride and the journey and are less likely to measure their progress in moving up show levels. This is not to say they don't want the blue ribbon (and there is nothing wrong with that), just that they are in less of a hurry and tend to beat themselves up less if they don't get the blue ribbon. They tend to measure success differently - the dressage score was better than last time or the jump round was smoother, or the left all the rails up or had no refusals that time. There are plenty of children riders that are not show oriented as well, it has just been my experience that children are either competitive or not, whereas adults may like to compete but are not "competitive" (so to speak...hope that makes sense).

                      Safe, small horses/large ponies are great for adults. Most adults I have taught prefer the 14.3-16HH range for their initial comfort.

                      A coach that understand the fear and stiffness more common in adults, especially the stiffness - kids are more elastic by the biology of their growing bodies and are more able to "contort" at a moment's notice whereas tends and muscles become more stiff as bodies age and injuries compound that. Even though I have been riding for most of my life, my broken ankle still does not allow my heel to drop as well as it used to, which alters my riding a bit.


                        As a re-rider I would really be looking for a trainer who reserves some "prime" lesson times for adults. I get that kids have school, etc, but adults have kids to handle AND jobs, and families to care for. Fitting kids into the earlier hours when school lets out and reserving some evening times, or even being open to teaching late evenings even though it doesn't really suit you, is going to be important. Some adults just don't have any other time.
                        Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                        you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the long as its in a conservative color.


                          The biggest thing for me when I started riding again as an adult, was the instructor's personality. I was in my early 30s, and my young instructor did not seem to be able to grasp that my arthritis and other issues greatly affected my ability to hold certain positions or have perfect equitation. At the same time, at shows, I definitely needed someone to talk me through how the day was supposed to go, and was instead ignored by the trainer I was paying for the day.

                          Adult riders may have physical or emotional issues that make it hard to progress in a typical manner, and we need instructors that can understand that and be patient.
                          Mom to Amica - 2007 Perlino Buckskin Mare
                          Vice President, SBF Animal Rescue, Inc - Farm animal rescue in Harwinton, CT


                            I've been riding for decades, and what I've wanted in a program has been different all along the way, so "It depends".

                            Right now, I ride for exercise. I don't care so much about the show-ring specifics. But that wasn't the case 20 years ago. I do care about safety, and I will not ride the rank horse, imagining I need to "learn to handle" that type. I did that in my 30s. Not any more.


                              I’m not a re-rider but I HATE it when trainers use their high-pitch-fake-nice- kid voice when they’re teaching adults. I probably would’ve hated that as a kid too. I don’t need to be yelled at but I also don’t need to be talked to like I’m 7.


                                A friendly trainer who can explain concepts and not just tell me what to do - I don't want to be yelled at and I want to know WHY I should leg yield in the corner.

                                Safe and fun horses - don't put me on your least predictable horse when I've only been back in the saddle a few months and don't have my stickability back.

                                A certain amount of understanding re: riding history and habits. I grew up with an old-school event trainer; I will probably never have a 'pretty' arched back over fences. A few months after I started up again, I rode with a trainer from a BNT barn known for Medal/Maclay kids, and she nit-picked my eq so relentlessly I never rode with her again. I do this for fun! 3 years with my current trainer and my eq is hugely improved, but we slowly worked on it.

                                A good amount of adult clients - if the barn is all kids, trainer might not be great at adjusting their teaching style to an adult, plus it's nice to have grown-ups to chat with.

                                Adults riding at the level I aspire to - if everyone in the barn is jumping 2'3 forever, there's nothing wrong with that but that's probably not a long-term situation for me.

                                Scheduling flexibility - I see some kid-oriented barns with "adult group lesson 6 pm Tuesday!" which is way too rigid.

                                Horses shiny and in good weight, decent quality school horse tack!


                                  Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                  This is my bread and butter.

                                  - Adult re-riders don't seem to do well with coaches that don't have depth of knowledge. They expect not only to be taught what to do, but also taught why.
                                  - Adult re-riders often have fear, so need an instructor who understands the psychology of fear.
                                  - Most re-riders are very hard on themselves, so I find I need to help them pace themselves AND forgive themselves that their bodies don't do what their brain thinks they should do.
                                  - I have set up my program to accommodate shift workers, and workers who sometimes have to cancel last minute.
                                  - They don't want to be bullied. Or pressured to buy a horse.
                                  CHT nailed it. Most re-riders have careers or have had at least some college experience. Most (particularly us Type-As) have already read up on theory and watched videos so we come armed with questions. I need a knowledgeable instructor who can explain how to apply the theory in a real-world scenario. I need a patient instructor who is open to me asking questions and able to discuss an article or concept I read - not just someone who barks orders.

                                  Scheduling is a huge for re-riders as our time is limited by career or family obligations. Having a consistent, weekly lesson time allows me to prioritize that time for my lesson. If the instructor is just trying to fit me in 'whenever' and the time is constantly moving, we are more likely to have scheduling conflicts.

                                  CHT's 3rd point is dead on. Be patient with us. Hell I'm in my 30s and never felt more out-of-shape then when I started taking weekly dressage lessons. That deep feeling of frustration when you are trying so hard to do the right thing, but ultimately your biofeedback is off and even though you are telling your thighs to relax, you are unconsciously gripping. Help us by recommending specific off-horse exercises and stretches that we can do so we can be better prepared during our valuable lesson time.

                                  Have a sense of humor. We know we are not your star pupil who can do canter pirouette or pilot a 1m course. But we really do try hard. I want an instructor who understands what my humble goals are but respects my time and effort just as I will respect theirs.


                                    I prefer an instructor who is in similar age bracket to me s0 they understand the baggage that comes along once you hit your 40's. Also scheduling flexibility is super important as I have a full-time job that, in non-COVID times, involves 20% travel. A barn with many other older adult riders vs a perpetual summer camp type environment. I avoid the barns that advertise birthday parties and petting zoos, mostly because that just wouldn't be the right environment for me! There is a barn I started riding at that is mostly adult women, it's a great atmosphere and lots of friendly, low-key people.


                                      Not a re-rider but an adult amateur who is kinda surprised by all the answers about scheduling around work. I have really struggled to find a barn that has any, let alone many, adult riders who are riding around a work schedule .It seems most of the other adults don't work for whatever reason (retired, stay-at-home mom's, etc). I really want to know where the rest of the working stiffs ride because they are not at the barns I've been at!


                                        Love CHT 's post above.

                                        I will add that a good adult instructor knows how to teach the adult in front of them (which applies to kids too, I realize). And if group lessons are the thing they know how to group their riders so that they are all getting the most out of their riding experience.
                                        For example - If Rider A is athletic and wants to get into the show ring as quickly as her two lessons per week allows her to they are likely not going to want to lesson with Rider B and Rider C who are riding because they want to ride a horse and to them it is also fun to sit on Dobbin and Star and talk about things so their lessons are not always packed with doing as much as they could be. (I realize there are lots of types of people in between these two types.)