When we admire and respect our riding teachers, we want to please and impress them. I know I am not alone in wanting to be a good student, and make it worth the investment of their time in my progress.

In every riding instructors program there are the talented students, the students with amazingly talented horses, the hard working students, and the other bucket of students. We will call them “bad”; but this could entail a host of the following characteristics that we will explore.

A huge disclaimer as we dig in deeper. What is Bad for one instructor, may not be for another. If you get nothing else from this article, then just do this. Go to your riding teacher tomorrow, and ask; “How can I be a better student for YOU”.

That is how you go from good to great. The added benefit is that your instructor will be more invested because you have shown that you care about their experience of teaching you.

But enough of all this positive stuff, let’s get back to being Bad.


The Late n Flake

You know who she is. You dread when she has the lesson before yours. She is always running late, which makes you, and everyone else late too. There is always a reason, an excuse.  Don’t get me wrong, we have all been on the wrong side of the clock every now and then, it’s just that this particular student has made it an art form.  There is a lack of awareness about her lack of time sense and the effect on others.

The Slob

This one is subjective because Instructors have different expectations. The key here is to know what your Instructor expects – and meet that expectation as a sign of respect.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I made a change to a competitive show barn. It was explained to me that I needed to have my collared shirt tucked in, with a belt, horse clean, tail brushed, and my audio ear bud in my ear ready to go at least 10 minutes before the lesson started. This may seem rigid for some of you – but I can assure you that your instructor has expectations and ways you can honor their teaching with your turnout.

The Back-Talker

Instructor gives instruction, and student responds with why they can’t, shouldn’t, or wont. Painful to listen to (Oh no she didn’t!) and very frustrating for instructors. For them, it starts to sound like you don’t trust their direction or their assessment of your capabilities.

The Know It All

I think this one is self-explanatory. If you know it all, then why do you need Instruction? Similar to the Back-Talker, except they know more, already know how to do it, heard it from someone better, and have already done it. Be humble. Shut your mouth, and RIDE.

The Overly Competitive

If you compare yourself to someone, you will always be either vain or bitter’ – Some wise man.

I call this the ‘prickly pear’.  Nothing is ever good enough.  They can express this in the form of envy or gossip, outright demonstrations of distain in the arena, comments about the correct saddle or gear.  It’s good to be competitive…with yourself.  To avoid this I try to remember that everyone in the arena is fighting their own private battle, and save my criticism for myself.

The Chatterbox

They can’t, they don’t and they won’t stop…talking.   Of course, I understand that we are social creatures and I think within the bounds of their lesson, it’s fine.  But when the 30 follow-up questions start to take over the time slot following their lesson or distract the instructor from attending to their next student while that student is riding, that is not respectful.

What do you think? Are you BAD? I think we have all been late once or twice, not wanted to do what our Instructor asked, been a light on the grooming, or given “feedback”. The absolute best way to be a great student, is to ask your Instructor what BAD is in their book, because ultimately it’s how we can be our very best in our relationship with them.

Be Great, Haute Riders. Learn Great!

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