Components of a Great Lesson

The following is a great list of what makes a great lesson! We use something similar at my barn for evaluating new instructors.

For new instructors: use this list to evaluate yourself after you teach a lesson! If you do this enough, you’ll start remembering the components during your lessons and improve your teaching!

For old instructors: use this list to evaluate your teaching and determine what to work on. If I’ve left anything out, please leave a comment!

Components of a Great Lesson

From the NARHA Mentor Training Manual Lesson Observation Form and PALS Lesson Plan Feedback.

The Lesson Plan

  • Complete and appropriate for the class. No missing parts.
  • Clearly written. Not confusing.
  • Has the potential to fit in the time frame. Not overscheduled or underscheduled.
  • Objectives are measurable, realistic, clear, concise, well written.
  • Activities were appropriate.
  • Lesson plan was followed, adapted when necessary, deviations were warranted.
  • Showed progression.

Mounting

  • Type of mount chosen is suitable to participants & disabilities. Not awkward or contraindicated.
  • Fosters independence. Gives participant dignity.
  • Appropriate technique & body mechanics. No inappropriate hand positioning (touching armpits, butt, etc.). No discomfort to horse or participant.
  • Safety
  • Horse positioned correctly. Correct management of horse’s behavior. Monitors horse handling and positioning.
  • Good Use of Volunteer/s: number, use, techniques, management, positioned correctly. Rider says hello to volunteers and introductions are made.
  • Pre-lesson Activity – warm up given to engage mounted riders while waiting for other riders to mount.

Equipment /Tack

  • Equipment/Tack Appropriate to Horse in selection, balance, type, adjustment and fit. Not: uneven, to far back/forward, pads ruffled or ill fitting, causing discomfort, inappropriate, unsafe or broken. Safety stirrups are the correct size, and on correctly not backward.
  • Equipment/Tack Appropriate to Rider in suitability, fit, and adjustment. Not causing discomfort.
  • Helmet – ASTM/SEI certified, 2 fingers fit between eyebrows and helmet brim,
  • Clothing – appropriate to riding, jackets zipped so nothing can flap or catch on the tack, proper footwear.
  • Safety Check Before Mount each item of tack – saddle location, pads smooth, girth, stirrups, bridle fit, extra leathers in keepers, horse is comfortable.
  • Safety Check During Lesson – once after mounting, once again during the lesson, before trotting and cantering.
  • Arena Set Up – appropriate, no extra items in the arena, gates closed

Lesson Instruction

  • Introduction
  • Exercises – warm ups related to rider goals, opportunity for transition for riders
  • Riding Skill/s – actual riding skill is taught by indentifying what, why, how and where.
  • Activity
  • Progression – evident and demonstrated
  • Class Organization – followed lesson plan
  • Cool Down – opportunity for transition for riders and to teach care of horse
  • Conclusion – review of what taught in lesson an what to expect next lesson
  • Thank Yous – to volunteers and horses

Volunteers

  • Appropriate Utilization – correct number, positioning, and support given to rider.
  • Appropriate Position – Sidewalkers stay close to rider’s leg at all times, correctly executing support, not leaning on horse or digging an elbow in; Leaders focus on horse not student, hold lead rope correctly, stay by horse’s head so sidewalker doesn’t step on their heels. No extra petting.
  • Appropriate Management & Communication – give directions, feedback, and praise. Correct as needed. Volunteers are not: out of position, overprotective, inattentive, unclear of duties, unsafe, or inappropriate.
  • Safety
  • Constantly check: volunteers in the right position, correctly helping rider, correctly giving support, and whether you can take any support away to allow rider progression.

Teaching Techniques

  • Audible – riders can hear you, evaluators could hear you (if you are certifying)
  • Central Positioning in to rider – you stay in the middle of the arena at all times, if tack adjustments needs to be made or rider behavior needs to be dealt with they come to you in the middle (you don’t walk out to them) so you can keep an eye on the rest of the class while you handle it
  • Check rider symmetry from behind – checks shoulders, hips and heel alignment
  • Class Control
  • Continuity – from warm-ups, to skill, to progression, to cool down, to life lessons
  • Enthusiastic
  • Flexible
  • Gives appropriate processing time
  • Good rapport
  • Knowledge of subject
  • Organized
  • Postural corrections – constantly checks pelvis angle and alignment
  • Prepare students for tasks
  • Professional
  • Promotes Success
  • Rider Spacing – you can see all riders at all times, kept 2 horse lengths apart, any further/closer and you ask the riders to adjust
  • Ring presence
  • Safety – compliance with PATH Intl standards
  • Skill progression – fosters independence, appropriate, safe, challenging
  • Specific Feedback/Corrections – constructive criticism
  • Specific Praise – ex) “Great work keeping your heels under your hips!” vs. “Great job! Good posture!”
  • Teaches – vs. directing or being a traffic cop
  • Use of hows/what/whys – as much as possible! Every time a what/instruction/feedback is given it is followed by a how and a why.

Dismounting

  • Type of dismount chosen is suitable to participants & disabilities. Not awkward or contraindicated.
  • Fosters independence. Gives participant dignity.
  • Appropriate technique & body mechanics. No inappropriate hand positioning (touching armpits, butt, etc.). No discomfort to horse or participant. Smooth.
  • Safety
  • Horse positioned correctly. Correct management of horse’s behavior. Monitors horse handling and positioning.
  • Good Use of Volunteer/s: number, use, techniques, management, positioned correctly. Volunteers are not doing two jobs at once.

Do you have anything to add?

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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!

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One thought on “Components of a Great Lesson

  1. Excellent post! I love how you mentioned the equipment and tack. In my opinion, the proper equipment has to be in place in order for any lesson to be successful and safe. Thanks for sharing your article!

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