You’ve worked tirelessly at home on improving your technique or refining skills in your favourite discipline and now have a lesson booked with your trainer, or at a clinic with someone you trust. But now you’ve taken the plunge and are going to spend your hard-earned money on getting help with your horse, how are you going to get value for money? Here are eight tips on how to get the most from your lesson and make it count:

Wear appropriate kit

When you go for your lesson, dress smart, think smart (and the same goes for your horse). You could even wear some competition kit so that you can better replicate the feeling you get while competing (again, the same goes for your horse).

Give yourself time

To help prevent yourself from becoming stressed even before your lesson has started, don’t book a lesson five minutes after you have finished work — it’s not going to happen and you will come across rude to your instructor for keeping them waiting! 

Listen 

Go into your lesson with your eyes and ears open. If you don’t hear something your instructor says, don’t be afraid to say it.

Be prepared to take criticism

If you’re self-aware and you can honestly assess your own weaknesses you will be more likely to improve at a faster rate than those that aren’t. If you think you know more than your instructor, it’s never going to work. It’s perfectly acceptable to change instructor if you find it’s not working for either you or your horse, but don’t turn up to a lesson with the wrong attitude — you will be wasting both your time and your instructor’s too.

Communicate

Ask questions — whether your understand and want to garner a deeper knowledge of what your instructor is asking or if you don’t understand what they are asking of you, don’t be afraid to ask. Equally, if you’re having a bad day or you have encountered a specific problem with your horse, don’t be afraid to let your trainer know.

Record your lesson 

Whether you take a helper with you or if you just set up a remote camera on a fence post, capturing your lesson will be a valuable tool with regards to deepening your understanding of your lesson. 

Take note 

Where possible, make notes on your lesson. For example, write down the breakthrough moments you might have had and how you got to that point. Diagrams can also be a useful tool.

Set goals 

To help you keep focused on your progress set short-, medium- and long term-goals with your trainer. Follow the SMART guidelines where your goals should be:

Specific

Measurable

Agreed

Realistic

Time-bound

Don’t compare yourself to others in a negative context. Sure, watch someone who you aspire to ride like and dissect what makes them so good, but comparing your score at prelim to Joe Bloggs you don’t know probably won’t be as beneficial.

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