One of our instructors in training used stations in her lesson the other day, and it reminded me of how useful they are.
When you have several riders, it can help to make stations in the arena where they work on something, either until finished then find another station, or until you ask them to switch stations, or until you call “rotate”.
This is what she did for direct rein steering:
The 3 stations:
1) Steer square between ground poles
2) Steer a square around upright poles
3) Steer a cones and barrel pattern
She gave each rider a few minutes at each station, then asked them to switch.
- Preferably each station would relate to the skill you taught and practiced and offer some sort of progression. In her example, the two squares are nicely related because the ground poles offer more visual support and the upright poles offer less visual support, while the cones and barrel pattern is unrelated to the right angles of the square.
- Instead of patterns, you could incorporate games or horse behavior at each station. The possibilities are endless!
- Remember to teach to the group as a whole. Stations make it tempting to teach individual lessons to each rider. Explain the stations to everyone at the same time, then spend the rest of your time giving feedback on skills, constantly evaluating and talking to each rider.
I liked the use of ground poles. The cones helped riders not cut the corners.
Here you can see all 3 patterns in the arena.
Instructors in training, here’s a quick quiz for you! What’s wrong in the photo above? What’s right?
What’s wrong: 1) the instructor (in the middle) has her back turned to one of the riders, 2) the sidewalker with the horse on the left is too far away from her rider (if anything happened she could not do a thigh hold fast enough)
What’s right: 2) the instructor is staying in the middle of the arena 2) pretty much everything else
Do you incorporate stations into your lessons? What kinds?
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgment!