February 23, 2018

It Happened Again…

           I did an evaluation lesson last week.  In case you don’t know, an evaluation lesson (“Eval”) is for those riders who have been riding on their own or taking lessons at another facility prior to coming to CRK Stable. These riders have differing levels of skill so an “eval” is necessary to determine which CRK level, class or program they belong in. Some have been riding for quite some time while others are still in the early stages of their riding careers. Either way, I bring them all in for an “eval”. After 90 minutes or so, I determine what their skill level is, what their goals are and what class would be best for them.

          During the “eval”, I ask loads of questions, watch them handle the horse and ride. Sometimes, I just get to ask questions and request certain things, like posting trot, left lead canter, back-up, side-pass etc. Other times their skills aren’t where they should be for the length of time they have been riding. At those “Evals”, I have to do lots of teaching.  

            At the end of the Eval Ride, I usually talk with the client and the parents involved and inform them of what I have seen, where the gaps in their skills are and why. I then proceed to give them our (the CRK) version of where they will need to go and exactly how I intend to get them there.  Usually several different lesson options are given, so the rider can choose which path they want to go down. Parents and rider alike are usually very appreciative of this process.  Sometimes, it is the first time they have been asked what their goals are. Often, they have no idea that there is a natural progression of the skills they should be learning. No one ever told them about it before. Some of these riders have been riding for many years and still haven’t been able to choose a goal for themselves. They have simply gone along with what they were told by their previous instructor. 

            So that brings me to what happened again. Just last week, I gave an eval lesson to a rider who had been taking lessons for several years. I asked the usual questions and observed the rider attempting several different skills, both on the ground and in the saddle.  Due to their limited skill, I had to do a great deal of teaching during the eval. At the end, I was explaining that despite the fact that the rider had been taking lessons for quite some time, they still lacked many of the basic skills necessary to move into group lessons. I offered them a private lesson program to bring them up to speed in the areas they were lacking. They quickly jumped at the chance. As we completed all the paperwork, they told me…

“I received more instruction during this one lesson than I have the entire time I was taking lessons at (insert facility name here).”

           Unfortunately, I hear this way too often. I think this is very unfair to those riders. They are paying for instruction they just aren’t getting. They don’t know that it should be different. They trust the people they are paying. It is not until they have spent many hours and many hundreds or even thousands of dollars that they figure it out and move on. Some just quit altogether, and that’s really sad. This shoddy way of doing business is bad for the industry. It gives horse people a bad name.

            So, if you are taking riding lessons somewhere, take a moment to think about why you started the lessons in the first place. What was your goal? Now, looking at that goal, are you making consistent progress toward it? Do you feel great after a lesson  because you just learned something new? Or maybe you finally mastered that skill you have been working on for awhile?  Or, are you feeling defeated, unchallenged and uninspired?

            Can your current trainer get you to your goals? If so, great! Hopefully they have the skills and experience to continue your progress. If it’s not going as you envisioned it would, have a chat with your instructor about your goals. Ask them how they intend to help you meet them. Just make sure they know what your goals are and that you are making consistent progress toward them. If not, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. Don’t forget who is paying whom here. Your trainer works for you, not the other way around. You are paying for their advice, instruction, and help. They need to remember that and respect your wishes. Riding lessons are expensive. Make sure you are getting your monies worth.  

            At CRK Training Stable we use the Certified Horsemanship Association Riding program. This Internationally recognized program ensures our riders always know what they need to accomplish to progress to the next level. Written, practical and riding tests keep all our riders and instructors working toward the same goals. As a Certified Master Instructor, I am able to work with all levels of riders from beginners to very advanced. You can rest assured that your goals can and will be met at CRK Training Stable. And we always know who we work for-Our Clients!

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. Cheryl graduated from Rawhide Vocational College and Fullerton College. She is also an AQHA Professional Horsewoman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years, training students from beginner up to world level competition. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article in any format including digital and print are restricted. You must have written permission from the author to use this material.  For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com