Whether you have riding lessons once a month or every week, it’s vital to get the most out of every second you spend in the saddle. Follow these steps and your riding will come on in leaps and bounds before you know it!
Don’t be a passenger
You’ve probably seen those riders who just let their pony do whatever he wants – that’s not riding! You only get out of your pony what you put in, so make an effort and it’ll soon be rewarded. Don’t hide away behind the other riders in your group – volunteer to take the lead and really think about your riding!
If you’re in a group lesson, there’ll be times that your instructor’s not speaking to you directly because they’re helping someone else. This doesn’t mean it’s time to switch off, though. Even if what she’s saying doesn’t apply to you at that very moment, it’s all useful info that you can use another time.
Find your own space
It can be tempting to let your pony follow his friends because it’s harder work to get him to leave them. But challenging yourself is the only way you can improve, so even though it’s sometimes tricky, stick at it and persevere. Having your own space means you can do so much more because you’ll have your pony’s attention.
Ditch the excuses
Just because everyone else makes an excuse when they don’t get it right, doesn’t mean you should, too. All ponies can go into the corner and trot more actively, so it’s your job to get him to do it.
If you didn’t quite hear or aren’t sure of something, it’s always best to ask! It’s not scary to ask or wrong to be confused – your instructor will be glad you’ve asked and more than happy to explain it again to help you understand. If you’re nervous about asking questions in front of others, wait until you’re riding closer to your instructor, then park up and ask. Remember, other riders might have the same question, so asking in front of everyone could help them, too.
Ever feel like you’ve missed a chunk of the lesson because you’ve been too busy daydreaming? Your instructor might have just given you the key to riding like Charlotte Dujardin but you were busy thinking about what’s for dinner and giving your pony a pat! Likewise, although it’s good to learn from watching other people ride, focus on what you’re doing rather than looking at everyone else in your group. Sit up, concentrate and soak up every little thing your instructor says.
Swap your steed
Almost everyone has a fave pony that they’d pick to ride over any other if they had the choice, but sometimes it’s good to switch things up. Every pony has something new to teach you, so riding different types and learning new things will give you a real confidence boost!
Have a go
There are times when your instructor says ‘Now we’re doing…’ and you immediately think ‘I can’t’ or ‘That’s too tricky’. It’s important to remember that your instructor isn’t going to ask you to do anything they don’t think you and your pony can manage, so the best thing to do is have a go! Being positive and trying something new is the only way you’ll get better.
If you don’t know them already, making friends with the other riders in your group is a great idea. Having your mates around makes anything more fun – even when your instructor announces that this lesson will be all about trotting with no stirrups! Your new friends can help you out, too, as they might have a few tips on mastering a tricky riding school pony they can share with you.
Click here to to meet the six types of pony you’ll find in every riding school!