You’ve been riding long enough that some of your novice horse friends look to you for advice and tips. Maybe you’ve been asked to help at a riding clinic, or maybe you’re seriously considering giving horsemanship lessons, either on the side or as your full-time day job.
If any of that rings true, then one of the first things you should do is read Teaching Safe Horsemanship: A Guide to English and Western Instruction, by Jan Dawson, a certified instructor and teaching clinician who trains and certifies riding instructors throughout the United States. In this book, Dawson lays out a step-by-step program for instructing beginning riders, providing lesson plans, emergency and stable procedures, and even information on liability, accidents and lawsuits.
Teaching Safe Horsemanship is so comprehensive that it would also be a great resource for a beginning rider to follow on her own, especially the sections on how to introduce the trot and then the canter. Teaching Safe Horsemanship is offered on HorseBooksEtc.com for $19.95.
Dawson developed the Secure Seat® method of teaching riding, the first step-by-step, systematic method specifically designed for safely teaching beginners to ride and for teaching others to become more secure on their horses.
In this book, she also explains how to assess a horse’s particular characteristics in order to weed out potentially dangerous animals. She offers guidelines for assessing instructors and students, including what makes a good instructor and what attitudes can get in the way of learning proper horsemanship.
Since 80 percent of all accidents involve falls due to loss of balance, Dawson identifies the techniques that ensure that a horse and rider are in proper balance.
Finally, since she is a lawyer as well as a riding instructor, Dawson includes a chapter on securing useful liability forms, what insurance coverage does and does not do, and how to handle accidents and lawsuits.
Dawson has been involved with horses for over 50 years, on a cattle ranch in the flint hills of Kansas, in the hunt country of Virginia, and in Texas and Mexico. She has experience teaching and training in seven western and English disciplines. She and her students have won several championships, as have horses she has trained.
She is also the founder and president of the non-profit, tax exempt American Association for Horsemanship Safety, Inc. The Association boasts the most extensive website in America featuring horsemanship liability laws and safety guidance.
And safety is certainly emphasized in this book–it’s no coincidence that term is in the title. Here’s what included in Teaching Safe Horsemanship:
Chapter 1: A Foundation for Teaching Safe Horsemanship
Chapter 2: The Nature of the Horse: The Foundation of the Program
Chapter 3: Qualities and Goals of an Effective Instructor
Chapter 4: Class Management Guidelines
Chapter 5: Horsemanship Across Disciplines
Chapter 6: The Foundation for Teaching Safely
Chapter 7: Introducing Lessons and Plans: Establish Rider Balance
Chapter 8: Lesson Plans for the Trot
Chapter 9: Introducing Canter Lessons
Chapter 10: Teaching High-Risk Activities
Chapter 11: The Safe School Horse
Chapter 12: Control Issues: On the Trail and in the Arena
Chapter 13: Emergency and Stable Procedures
Appendix A: Dealing with Accidents and Lawsuits
Appendix B: Sample Procedures Manual
Appendix C: About the AAHS
Appendix D: Sample Facility Rules for Staff, Students, and Boarders
Teaching Safe Horsemanship is so thorough in covering every aspect of horsemanship that it deserves a spot in every horseman’s library.