One of the first things that students of riding lessons should learn is how to control their horse while walking beside it. While many of your students will be keen on getting into the saddle, this will come — once they're more comfortable around the horse and have shown an aptitude for controlling it. It's generally a good practice to have your riding students lead their horses in a variety of patterns. As they do, both the riding and horse will develop a relationship that will extend to when the student is perched atop the animal. Here are three distinct patterns that your students should be able to accomplish early on.
In And Out Of The Stall
Perhaps the first leading exercise to teach your students is how to lead their horses out of their stalls, through the barn, and then out to the riding area. Different horses can show different levels of enthusiasm about leaving their stalls and going outside, so this is a good opportunity for your students to become aware of how the horse can react. Once each student has led his or her horse outside, he or she can practice leading the horse back in through the barn and into its stall.
In A Circle
Students should also be able to lead their horses in circles of varying sizes. Doing so demonstrates an ability to control the animal, even if it has its mind set on moving in a different way. Have your students go out into the middle of the riding area and practice taking clockwise and counter-clockwise turns with their animals. Start with large circles and work toward smaller circles. You want to see the student using an authoritative presence and the animal following his or her head.
In A Straight Line
It's also important to be able to walk a horse in a straight line, so teach your novice students how to do so. Use the rails along the riding area as a guide and show your students how to walk with the horse right beside them. Some horses will want to turn toward the center of the ring, while others may wish to change directions entirely. The student should be able to confidently keep the horse parallel with the rail along its entire length, and then make a 90-degree turn at the end to follow the next rail. He or she can continue this pattern to complete one big lap of the perimeter of the ring.