Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Instructor Responsibility

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our newest guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

Photo by Kasey Mueller

Photo by Kasey Mueller

From Sally:
This week’s training tip is the start of a two-part article regarding the responsibilities of both instructors and students in a lesson setting.
As an instructor, there are certain things that I consider to be my responsibility for each lesson, and there are particular ways that I go about planning each one. For example, when I teach a jump lesson, my main focus is to keep the horse and rider confident. My second goal is always to improve both the horse and rider’s skill level, and thirdly, to help them to become more competitive.
In a lesson plan I always try to think of ways to improve a horse’s foot work and a rider’s response time. In all of the lessons I teach, I always work on correct position of the rider. The underlying goal is to increase the margin of error for both horse and rider at the level at which they are currently competing and to build the skills necessary for the next level.
It is important when planning a lesson to know when the horse’s next competition is. In the week preceding a competition, I try not to introduce anything new or overly challenging because if something goes wrong, there is not enough time to fix it.  The week or weeks following competition is when I would introduce something new or address something that had come up in the competition as an area that needed improvement.
I believe it is important to be on time. I teach riders who have to go home to get children off the bus, go back and feed their other horses or have other appointments after their lesson. I do not assume they have nothing else better to do than to wait for me. Sometimes lessons run over or horses are not going well, so of course I am sometimes late. However, I am careful to be aware of this and let the next lessons know I am late, even if it is just five minutes.
If I have a new student, I will try to get as much background from them as a I can before their lesson even starts. I will often ask them to email me giving me some background on their horse and the link to their USEA record.
Like most things, good planning will often make for a good lesson experience!

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