“Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes”: How to Get the Most Out of Your Lessons

USHJA certified trainer & instructor Jasmin Stair of Jasmin Stair Stables at Fortuna Del Charro in Rancho Santa Fe, California is back to give us some of her best tips on how riders can really get the most out their riding time.

My goal as a trainer is to help my riders grow and improve with each and every ride. But as they say, it takes two to tango. Their part as a student is to put in the work so they can reach their goals and succeed with their horse. Horse shows are fun, but as you all know, the real work is done behind the scenes at home. Here are some of my tips that can help you get the most out of your valuable lesson time.

Tip #1: Leave work outside the ring

Probably the most challenging thing for adult riders to do is leave their stress about work at the mounting block. Bringing all that overwhelming work stress can be really put a damper on your riding time. Come into your lesson with a clear head. If you are a working rider who only has a few hours a week to ride, make that time count. If you know you have a busy day ahead of you after your lesson, try to separate that from your lesson and precious time on your horse. A helpful tip to prevent you from getting distracted from work is switching your phone to silent and putting away in your tack trunk.

Tip #2: Take Your Time

Another thing amateurs tend to struggle with is giving themselves plenty of time to get ready for their lesson. What’s the rush? Arrive at the barn with plenty of time and get on a couple of minutes before your lesson starts for some extra walking time. This will not only help your horse loosen up but will get your mindset ready for the lesson.

Tip #3: Reflect on what you need to work on

Take the time to focus on the different things you want to work on in your lesson. Was there something specific you were working on in your last lesson that you were having a hard time with? What were some of the good outcomes from your last lesson? Look back on the last show you competed in and reflect on what you need to focus on more so you come back better and stronger for your next show.

Tip #4: Learning from other Riders

I mostly put my riders in group lessons depending on what height and level my they are at. The great thing about group lessons is that you can watch and learn from your fellow riders. Watch how they execute the course. Take note where they did well and where they made some mistakes. You can take that and apply it to your own execution. Keep in mind that no two riders ride exactly alike, but by watching others, you can learn how the different exercises and courses are being ridden.

Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

The most frustrating thing I see my riders go through is not being able to accept the fact that making mistakes at home is ok. That is the whole point of taking lessons, to learn and grow from your mistakes. That is the only way you are going to get better.

Tip #6: Ask Your Trainer

Don’t be shy to ask your trainer questions. It may feel more comfortable to ask your fellow riders, but they are also trying to focus on their own riding. If you don’t understand or are confused about something during your lesson, speak out and be open about it to your trainer. 

Tip #7: Go in with a Positive Attitude

If you don’t have a positive attitude going into your lesson, then you are already setting yourself up for a rough ride. All we want as trainers is for you to have fun and give it your best shot, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you will not see results. Keep a positive attitude and just enjoy the ride.

Photo courtesy of Anasofia Vazquez Photography

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