Firstly, you may have noticed that the title riding instructor is gradually becoming replaced with, or perhaps interchangeable with, equestrian coach. Within the British Horse Society, one of the main providers of instructing/coaching qualifications in the UK, both terms are in use, whilst the newer UKCC framework prefers the term coach. Google instructor v. coach and you'll find a multitude of sports, from skiing to acting discussing the difference between the two.
When I consider how the two figures, instructor and coach, might differ, I imagine a riding lesson from the 1950s. Six or eight horses and riders are trotting around a menage in a drill ride, and middle-aged man of military bearing and disposition is bellowing instructions from the middle. There are no discussions, only the imparting of instructions and exhortations to work harder. This is how I imagine an instructor. Indeed, when I first started training for my BHS exams back in the 90s, we were told that the rationale for giving terse directions during the lessons, eg, “whole ride track left” etc, was for safety. We were advised not to ever say please, or ask our pupils to do something, but always to give instructions. I can see that a good riding instructor (and coach) is best placed in the arena to see if a group of riders is about to collide or similar, and issue avoidance instructions if so, but without a doubt that kind of drill riding behaviour, (whilst it still has a place), feels a bit dated nowadays.
Fast forward to now, and before the lesson begins, a coach would discuss the rider’s aims and help them set mutually agreed and achievable goals for the session. Throughout the session, there would of course be elements of instruction - the imparting of knowledge that will enable the pupil to progress - but also periods of discussion and feedback.
Essentially an instructor only gives instructions, whereas a coach is more holistic and guides the rider through more than that one lesson, towards a higher goal.
Anyway, I digress slightly. There are lots of definitions of instructors, coaches and teachers out there, and it's a fascinating topic which I daresay will run and run. What I want to talk about today is how to ensure that you are having a lesson (notice my cunning avoidance of “being taught/instructed/coached by” ) with the right person for you. (And for the purposes of this blog, I’ll continue to use the two terms interchangeably!).
Points to consider