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AA Coaching/Instruction for Novice Riders?

I’m 19 years old. I’ve been riding for close to a decade, mostly on the AQHA circuit. I’ve ridden AQHA and APHA World Champions and Congress Champs, but I’ve never done anything over fences. My parents always forbid me from jumping: no H/J, no eventing. Now that I’m an adult (haha), I want to start taking jumping lessons!

I know that I’m a novice, obviously, and I want to form a solid foundation by starting with and mastering the basics… but am I delusional in wanting to start lessons under someone who is at or near the top levels of the sport? Does anyone know of an AA barns/coaches that are willing to take on novices (not beginners)? I’m located in FL, so I imagine it shouldn’t be too difficult. I’m also willing to travel.

Would I have better luck applying for working student positions? (Or do I need more experience over fences, first?)

I like to think myself a serious rider and, if possible, I’d like to avoid having to unlearn mediocre/problematic instruction later on down the road (like I’ve had to do in the past), by starting out on the right foot.

You will possibly find that if you sign up with one of the top trainers programs you will more than likely be working with an assistant. These people are generally pretty good themselves so still a good choice. As a complete over fences beginner, you can probably find a number of not BNT in your area that can give you the basics and a great start so don’t count them out just because they are not BNT. Do your research by watching lessons and asking questions. Working student positions can be tricky because in many cases you are a barn slave and don’t get the riding time you desire. Again, research and talk to others who have had the experience.

I agree - no reason not to contact top barns, just be aware that they will put you in with their assistant trainers to start. You need the baiscs, so there’s nothing wrong with that. Being at the top barn, though, will give you something to watch, and work towards - getting your lessons moved up to the BNT! At that barn, you can sneak in and watch some of the more advanced riders’ lessons.

Good luck. You’ll love it!

Take your time picking an instructor. The advantage of starting in the barn of a BNT is that you can be sure that what you learn will be correct, and those that are their assistant are there because they are good too.

Many BNTs and even more MNTs run beginner and novice programs as well to develop future riders, kind of a no brainer for most of them however most no longer have true school horses. You need to do some kind of lease or part lease, not just pay by lesson for their use. It’s something to ask about.

You may be able to do some barn chores for lesson credit but real WS positions are very hard to come by and for those with much more experience jumping and understanding flatwork and basic Dressage theory-and teach novices. its doing more work you already know how to do and less being taught anything new then most seem to think even in the best barns, its nothing but grunt work in not so great barns.

Best way is to pay for lessons and work hard if you seek additional opportunity. Reputation is everything especially if you dont have a fat wallet.