Everyone around horses, no matter if they are a professional or amateur, will find themselves in the position of teaching others. The equestrian world was founded on principles of apprenticeship and passing centuries of knowledge onto others. These are some key ways mentoring others has (perhaps selfishly) improved my own knowledge base and writing skills.

You have to break down a complex process into simple, actionable steps. Those of us who have been around horses for a lifetime tend to go into autopilot around certain tasks. Sometimes, we may leave out key details or when riding, let our aids get muddled and confused.

Remember how intentionally you had to learn how to post? And then many years later an instructor tells you to use your seat in your post and you’re back to bringing mindfulness to that aid?

Whether it’s how to wrap a polo wrap or ride a proper canter depart, when you teach another person you need to boil everything down to basic steps and you highlight only the most important points. I find myself bringing this intentionality back to my own riding and horse care, which means I make less preventable mistakes. 

Watching. Watching. Watching. To a certain extent, learning how to ride is about just putting time in the saddle. More riding = better riding. However, this simple equation overlooks the fact that many of us benefit from watching others ride.

Auditing clinics is a great, cost-effective learning tool, but have you ever tried spectating when someone else isn’t narrating? If you watch another rider you can start to analyze what they did, what was the result, and what you would have done differently.

Perfecting the art of asking questions. I’ve found asking questions helps students explain their reactions, solidify their learning, and at times shows me holes in their understanding. Also, the more questions you ask, the better you get at the art of asking questions. Many don’t realize that crafting the right questions is a skill in itself.

When you ask higher quality questions, you get higher quality answers. By constantly practicing my question craft, I now have a skill that helps me get more out of my own lessons and clinics. It’s an age old adage – teaching can make you a better learner.