Why did you sign up or sign up your child for riding lessons? Most likely your answer is something along the lines of “I am not an equestrian and needed someone well versed in equestrianism to teach me or my child.” If you sign up for any sport you typically hire someone who has been doing it more consistently than you, has had more qualified training than you, and someone whose life revolves around taking care of both riders and their horses. You trust this individual to educate you in every detail of the sport even in the care of equipment and yourself. You trust this individual to allow you to move to the next level of training when you are mentally, emotionally, and physically able to do so without injury or harm.

    Most coaches or trainers in other sports encounter a problem with all of their students at some point: “When can I take the next step?” 99.9% of the time this question is asked too soon by the student, thus the student receives the answer: “Not until you complete steps A-Z.” The student then works hard to complete the tasks required so that they can reach that next level without asking again.

    Unfortunately, in the equine world trainers are pushed to make their students to run before they can walk by parents, family members, and friends of the student. It seems as though they think of horseback riding like any other sport where your own two feet are on the ground and your teammates all speak your language and are of the same species. This creates an already dangerous situation into a highly dangerous situation.

    Compared to other sports horseback riding is exceedingly more endangering than the more common sports such as softball, tennis, volleyball, soccer, football, and gymnastics. In these sports you take skills you already possess and then build upon them to create a new skill.  Granted the sports listed take incredible skill but still do not compare to riding a horse.  For example in soccer you take one skill you already have, running, and add upon that skill. You learn to run faster, maneuver a ball, working with your teammates, among many other things. Soccer takes a lot of mental and physical fitness whether the player is wanting to make a career out of playing or is simply there to just enjoy the sport, and the coach you chose to train you knows what is best for you personally to get you to your goal.

    Riding a horse, however, does not simply add upon a certain basic skill you must completely relearn that skill. To ride a horse you must have good balance both on the ground and while on a horse. You must learn how to walk, run and jump all over again. You have to learn a new language (body language) so that you can communicate clearly with your partner who is a 1000lb animal. You must learn how to dance with your partner and create a strong relationship with it based on trust and leadership. You must be physically and mentally fit to be able to ride or even work with a horse. Equestrianism takes a lot of mental and physical fitness whether the player is wanting to make a career out of it or is simply there to just enjoy the sport. Choose an instructor to train you who knows what is best for you to personally get to your goal.

    Students, parents, family, and friends asking questions is always a good thing, even if you think the question is senseless, but please if your trainer gives you an answer and you ask again and receive the same answer trust them. They know enough and have done enough to make their income by teaching people the art of horsemanship and equestrianism and you chose them for a reason when you first started. Trust them, ask them questions so that you can learn, and then ask them what you can do at home to help you reach your goals a bit faster. You may find that if you dedicate yourself to this art form, to this sport, whether for pleasure or for competition that you will get closer to your goals sooner rather than later.