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LESSON Talk

Closer Look
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We provide lessons on our horses or yours in the following Disciplines​

  • General Riding and Horsemanship
  • Western Riding / Gaming / Speed events
  • Specific Problems / Tune ups
  • Desensitizing / Ground work / Liberty
  • Building Confidence and overcoming Anxieties
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Wood Panel
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Lesson Talk
and Preparation
with Ryan
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QUick Links

Every good horseback rider had to start with his or her first riding lesson at some point. The right instructor, the right clothing, the right expectations and the right attitude will help beginning riders get the most out of their first lessons. Sometimes the excitement of riding a horse by oneself can be overwhelmed by the apprehension of actually taking the reins. Knowing what a riding lesson will entail is key to being mentally ready, avoiding apprehension, and keeping the excitement which is exactly why we start everyone in our orientation process to ease those anxieties and get you comfortable with us, safe around the horses, and familiar with how we operate.

As part of our lesson program, we feel its important to have the proper key ingredients listed below that will make for a successful experience and keep you safe and we will talk about each of these at a high level.

  • The Right Barn, Culture, and Riding Arena

  • The Right Instructor(s) and Curriculum

  • Safe, Healthy, Well Trained Horses and Equipment

  • Proper Riding Attire, Expectations, and Attitude

So lets talk about each of these for a second.

The Right Barn, Culture, and Riding Arena are such important parts of a students journey and progress in horses. Here at Runaway, we know we may not be the perfect fit for everyone but we focus on being the right western barn for the majority of beginner and intermediate riders, as well as families who just want to enjoy everyday horses, have fun, learn and participate in many different style horse activities that a dedicated show barn may not offer. While we are not a show barn per say, we do offer fun shows for our students to participate in each year that allow our students to try many different activities and clinics. We work hard to drive the culture here to be family friendly, relaxed, and none judgmental for everyone to succeed without the drama often found in other barns. The riding arena is also another big consideration in the success of your journey. Our indoor arena has excellent lighting to avoid shadowing which can often spook horses, has high ceiling space, plenty of room for multiple riders 70'x140', and contains a premium footing of mason sand mixed with recycled playground rubber. We groom and treat the footing regularly to keep the dust low, provide excellent grip for the horses, and offer a soft landing in the event of a mishap. The other benefit of an indoor arena is the ability to ride year round without concern of the weather which offers more consistency in lessons and student progress, as well as having a confined space that gives increased confidence to a new rider by removing the fear of the horse running off with them such as a large open area.

  

The Right Instructor(s) and Curriculum are also very important pieces in the horsemanship puzzle. As with anything, having the right teacher can make or break your experience. Not only should your instructor be knowledgeable and experienced, its just as important, if not more so, that they be someone you feel comfortable talking to and not make you feel intimidated or inferior as you are learning something new. Communication is key and we here at Runaway work very hard to treat everyone with respect, compassion, and help individually tailor everyone's journey based on their uniqueness. As you can imagine, this is a big job, but after 20yrs of teaching and running a lesson program, there isn't much we haven't come across and both Krissy and I are both naturally caring and compassionate Christian people so we whole heartedly care about the people we work with. We constantly find creative ways to overcome emotions and challenge our students without belittling them, and thus creating new found confidence in those riders. We work very hard on our teaching curriculums and talk and strategize non stop, which is why we have such a high success rate of students who truly know horses, know how to stay safe, have a great balanced seat, and have an overall high level of confidence on the ground and in the saddle. It is our core philosophy that learning about horsemanship carries over into life for many people in so many ways such as standing up for yourself, Practicing Patience, Forgiveness (yourself and the horse), Empathy, Courage, Multi tasking, Being a leader, Teamwork, Timing, Feeling (When to be soft and hard) and overall managing your emotions in a relationship with you and the horse. This process is SO AMAZING and the transformations we see are extremely rewarding for Krissy and I to be a part of and we are so blessed to have such an awesome Barn Family to share our experience with. 

 

The Safe, Healthy, Well Trained Horses and Equipment is the next topic and its an important one. Without the right horses and tack, its nearly impossible to cover so many aspects of horsemanship and riding. So many times we have students who come from other barns and tell us about the horse they felt unsafe on, got bucked off, ran away with, or some other horrifying story that makes us cringe. While ANY horse certainly has the ability to act out for a variety of reasons, we find most often they act this way from lack of training, fear, misunderstanding, or incorrect cues from the rider because they may not have been ready for that particular horse. All the horses here at Runaway continue to receive training to help prevent these types of occurrences and we work with horse owners as well as our own personal horses to desensitize and expose them to everything we can think of to allow them to gain experience and create confidence and avoid fear based reactions. We care for a full range of horse personalities from very easy going to highly sensitive horses who love to run and carefully try to match our students to an appropriate horse for the training level they are currently at to keep them challenged. Having this variety of horses is critical to a riders development, confidence, and overall horsemanship journey as EVERY horse has something to teach its rider. Speed is often confused with ability and just because you may be able to go fast and not fall off doesn't always mean you have control, it just means you have good balance and there is so much more involved in overall ability and safety.

Just as important as the horses is the Tack (Horse equipment) we use for them such as the saddles, pads, bridles, bits, etc. This can also make or break a riders experience because the tack MUST fit the horse and be properly adjusted to be comfortable for the horses overall happiness as well as be in a safe condition for its intended purpose. We routinely inspect for structural damage, clean, service, and oil our school tack and while it may not always be the best looking equipment, it does fit the horses and is considered in safe working condition for the intended application. We have a variety of school saddles to fit various size students and do our best to add to our school collection every year through saddle, tack, and monetary donations. We appreciate this greatly !

Proper Riding Attire, Expectations, and Attitude is the last topic of conversation and its an exciting one. If your reading this then that means you are on your way to something that will have a lasting impact on you and is an amazing experience filled with so many wonderful emotions all squished into those cute horsey faces. The excitement and anxiety leading up to your Orientation sessions or Group lessons can often lead to many questions about the first experience so I will help you break it all down to be prepared :)

First thing we need to cover is riding attire and why its important. Most people have what they need to get started for basic Orientations and you can always upgrade as you go or we can help recommend some items from our products page that we've found to be economical, safe, and in western style.

 

Riding Attire:

  • Long pants are the must for horseback riding. Long pants protect a rider’s legs from chafing against the stirrup leathers and seams of the saddle. Jeans are acceptable and very much the norm in the western world, and with todays elastic fabrics, they are much more comfortable to wear and ride in than ever before. Here for some western fashion examples in Mens and Womens.

  • Boots - A hard-soled leather boot is safest against injury in case of being stepped on by the horse, and sturdiest to keep the rider’s foot in the stirrup during riding. A heel of ½ - 1 inch is necessary to keep the boot from sliding through the stirrup and preventing the riders foot from becoming caught in the stirrup. The lower profile roper style heal is the preferred option as its easier to walk in yet is still safe for riding and paired with a squared style toe, is super comfortable over a pointed toe, and is the preferred fashion in the western world for the last 10yrs for everyday use and riding.
    Check out Boot examples in Mens and Womens  

  • Shirts, Coats, Vests - Wear a fitted tee-shirt instead of a tank top in summer, because it allows some protection of the shoulders in case of a fall, and wear non-bulky warm layers in winter. Base layers can be very beneficial for staying warm as well as heated vests and jackets in colder months.  
    Gloves can be worn if its cold but should be tighter fitting. Hand warmers can also be used in your gloves on the top of your hand for warmth without restricting your grip.

  • Helmets - Lastly, We mandate the use of an ASTM/SEI-approved helmets for all riders in our program when on horseback and we offer a decent selection of quality helmets to borrow from, but a dedicated riding student should own a helmet that fits well and comfortably. There are a few models we recommend that are adjustable and inexpensive. Check them out here

Expectations and Attitude

Now that you have you outfit and safety gear all set, lets talk about what is expected from you on the day of your Orientation. Its quite simple and the best thing you can do is:

  • Be on time please

    • Orientations (No early arrival needed, just be here at the scheduled appt time)

    • Group lessons (Arrive 15min early to tack up and prepare your horse)

  • Complete all the waivers online so your paperwork is done (usually sent in an email)

  • Come well rested so you can focus

  • Eat a snack or light healthy meal prior or bring a snack with you if needed

  • Maybe Bring some water or a drink if its Hot out

  • Try to focus on what we are teaching and not trying to show us what you already may know from prior experience. We all do things a bit different and the purpose of the orientation is to show you how WE do things as a barn, and not debate or compare other methods.

  • Be open and discuss your feelings as we go. We want to hear from you and for a relationship

  • Relax and have fun - We are not trying to teach you everything in one day and don't have that expectation of you. This takes time, is a lot to absorb, and isn't just about memorizing knowledge. Its about mastering feel, emotions, safety and managing all of these at one time which can take years to get right consistently.

  • Know that we genuinely want you to succeed and be happy :)

A Quick Note: 

One thing to note is that our Orientations are custom tailored to each student depending on level of horse experience and are designed to get you into the group programs. We understand that some of you may need a full foundation and others may just need to get familiar with things, matched with a horse, and for us to understand where you are and how we can help in your journey. 

 

What will I learn in my Orientation ? 

(For Students with Little or No Horse Experience)

Our program includes learning how to groom and tack up a horse as part of the lesson, which we find very beneficial to the student / rider and horse relationship. The opportunity to learn how to groom a horse offers insight into how the horse reacts to human presence, and also the beginning of a personal relationship with the horse. Having a rapport with the horse is very important because it instills confidence in the rider. Learning how to tack up the horse is also very informative, because the rider learns how the tack works together and how it helps both horse and rider. It is also confidence-building because the rider often learns the names of the equipment, and is therefore better able to understand and communicate with his instructor.

The New Student will learn:

  • How to Approach, Communicate, and Safely be around a Horse

  • How to read the horses body language and vice versa

  • How to Tack up (Dress them for Riding) and untack at the end

  • How to lead a Horse

  • How to Pick up and Clean their feet

  • How to mount and Dismount for Riding

  • How to tell the horse to walk forward, stop, turn, and back up

  • The 4 basic gaits of a horse

  • How to position your legs, heels, torso, head, arms, and hands for the best balance and to best direct the horse.

  • How to use verbal cues along with body language to communicate with your horse.

  • How to Trot and Canter once Rider is balanced enough

  • Routine care for the horse (Nutrition, Vet care, Physical maintenance)

 

A deeper Look