I watched a high-school senior, presumably an expert rider, teaching a 6-year-old to ride a horse. I asked her if she wanted some feedback on her teaching and she said yes, so I’m writing this for her and sharing it in case it is useful to anyone else.
Horse riding for beginners is a bit like flying in that people tend to develop tunnel vision and don’t have a lot of spare mental capacity to listen and process. The instructor thus must limit comments and corrections to only the bare essentials. The inputs to a helicopter are power (collective pitch) and attitude (pitch and bank). It is seldom helpful to say anything except suggestions regarding how to adjust these inputs. I’m not sure what the inputs to a horse in English riding, but it is probably worth figuring out what the most important ones are and limiting one’s corrections/suggestions to those inputs. “Sit up straighter” and “shorter reins,” for example, could be helpful.
While the beginner 6-year-old was on the horse, presumably just barely holding everything together, the teacher started a discussion about what had gone wrong in a previous maneuver (letting the horse turn himself right instead of forcing him to turn left). This probably could have been summarized as “Don’t let the animal win; you’re the boss!” but the real issue was dwelling on the unsuccessful past. Perhaps there is a place for a post-ride debrief but it doesn’t work to try to debrief while still at the controls in a moving aircraft so I don’t think it would work while sitting on a live animal. A deeper issue is positive reinforcement in training, which is equally important for humans and animals. From my “Teaching Flying” article:
I stood in a lift line at the Sante Fe ski resort once. A father and daughter were in front of us. The father said to the child “The reason why you failed…” and was interrupted by a veteran instructor next to me. He said “Don’t tell her why she failed; tell her why she succeeded.”
Perhaps more experience riders can comment with what they consider to be the most important tips for a novice riding instructor.