Three years ago at the first ever Riding Instructor’s WorkShop Annual Seminar, a very young lady, I don’t remember exactly how old she was—but I know she hadn’t yet graduated from high school—joined our group of instructors. I knew her dad and stepmom from showing on the southern circuit, but I had never met her.
This being the first ever WorkShop Seminar, I wasn’t so sure how any of it was going to “go”—but we had a good turn-out of twenty plus instructors and trainers. Most of the attendees were experienced instructors, looking for inspiration and ways to enhance their own programs. These instructors had both small lesson programs and large lesson programs. And here was this very young instructor—while she had grown up in a horse training and breeding family, she had just started (only a few months before the Seminar) teaching riding lessons.
This instructor looked young—but she immediately introduced herself, and simply said, “I need help.”.
She asked many questions—the same questions we all still have, no matter how long your teaching career has so far been—“How to get more lessons?”, “How to handle parents?”, “How to get more lesson horse?”. After listening to her, I thought this young woman—may be young, but she’s really “got it going”. She was friendly, outgoing and personable.
As Jo Cornell, trainer of many World and National Champions, was one of the guest speakers for the seminar, even described her as exactly the type of instructor she would want to hire and see her as part of her own riding lesson program. This young instructor simply needed experience, and she was feeling “beat down” by the pressures of building a brand new program. And from the WorkShop Seminar she came away with a lot of good advice and encouragement.
It’s time for me to introduce this young instructor. Her name is Jenny Leech and she has built up the riding lesson program in the stable that her dad and stepmom have been managing for many years. Winsalot Stables is located in Guenthersville, Alabama. Since the Seminar I have seen Jenny around at the shows, and I noticed she had several riders at an early show this year. They all rode well, were turned out well, the horses performed admirably—and just as importantly everyone seemed to be having a really good time.
At last week-end’s horse show, I had a group of riders and their families join me and my training staff, in between show sessions for a late lunch at the local Cracker Barrel (and as everyone knows I love Cracker Barrel—while I do like this restaurant, this is one of the best places to show up with a large crowd). As we sat down, I noticed another large group seated near us—parents, kids, all laughing and having a great time. And guess what—there was Jenny!
In my last post, “The Whole Enchilada”, I discussed the importance of the entire experience. And as an instructor you need to use this to your advantage.
The Winsalot show family was re-living the day’s fun and excitement. And you know what will happen the next time Jenny talks about attending a horse show—they’ll sign up, they’ll take more lessons so they can get closer to that elusive blue ribbon. And it will continue—they’ll keep riding, they’ll bring a casserole to the barn party, they’ll talk about purchasing their own horse, and possibly even more importantly, they’ll tell their friends what a great experience they have a the stable.
Don’t forget “the Whole Enchilada”.
P.S. Jenny I’m thrilled by your success!