ethical learning opportunities & experiences
Brought To You By East Devon Riding Academy
We provide horsemanship and riding lessons for all ages, our youngest rider has been 15 months, our eldest is in her 70's. Our lessons are mainly on an individual basis, or small groups of family and friends (maximum 3 riders). We do not put groups together, who you book for is who the lesson will be with. This is to avoid the 'one size fits all' style of lesson and ensure quality of learning and better value for money. Six riders in an hour's lesson is only 10 minutes individual attention each, meaning you could be riding for five times as long, either badly or not as well as you could whilst the instructor is helping someone else. This is unproductive, often a waste of money and can result in reduced safety, it is also harder on the horses.
We will happily do a group of up to 3 riders, where we can still provide individual attention by having teaching assistants alongside the main instructor if required. Many families like this option, we teach several siblings and parent/child combinations who wish to share their lessons and we also have some friends who enjoy riding together.
Because we treat our horses as individuals, they are not expected to do every job, we therefore unfortunately cannot help every size and type of rider or we would have 100's of horses! If you are looking for adult lessons, please contact us with your height, weight and previous experience (if any) and we can see if we can help you. Our horses each have a strict weight limit depending on their level of training and conformation, please do not be offended if you are too heavy, we need to have limits in place to protect their welfare. We teach many types of rider, from complete beginners to those with their own horses. Just some of the people we have helped include-
All our horses and ponies have a home for life, we see them as part of our team and not just tools. We do not shut them down, ignore their communication and turn them into robots in order to make it easier for people to learn to ride. Neither do we use gadgets to provide short cuts for lack of experience either. We strongly believe in building a good foundation of knowledge and skill prior to doing 'more' (faster/longer/harder riding), this is to protect both the safety of our riders and prevent our horses from (even accidentally) being pulled or bumped about on. We teach people to understand how to communicate kindly and appropriately with the horses, explaining why they are getting certain results, good and bad. We are supportive and non judgmental, always working to help our riders enjoy their lessons and progress but never at the expense of the horse.
We are a rare riding school that offers riding lessons for 2, 3 and 4 year olds as well as older children. We teach following an active learning approach, which has been proven to enhance learning and achievement and keeps children engaged and enjoying their lessons. Lessons often include age appropriate games and activities so children are learning without realising it. For example, there is a huge amount of repetition required to learn certain skills. It would be incredibly boring and uninspiring for a child to just constantly repeat the same action by going around in circles. Incredibly dull for the poor ponies too! So we often select from our large number of carefully created interactive games, which achieves the same repetition but in a much more child-friendly and successful way. More about us-
We are happy to provide one off lessons for people on holiday and to those who live more locally to us. During the school holidays we do get fully booked, so please contact us with plenty of time if you have a specific date in mind. It is always worth asking at short notice in case we have a cancellation space, however we can't always fit people in.
We teach riders aged from walking age upwards and offer lessons to people of varying ability and confidence level. We are a small school and so do not have horses available to suit every rider. Please do not be offended if you are too heavy to ride our current horses, this is for your own safety and for the welfare of our horses. Nervous riders are welcome, we are very experienced in improving confidence in riders of all ages. Please telephone for a friendly chat to see if we can help you.
Jodhpurs are the most comfortable but other trousers, such as jogging bottoms or leggings are also acceptable. We do not recommend jeans as they can rub. Riding boots or a boot/shoe with a small heel are required and trainers or flat soles are not allowed. Hair should be tied back and no jewellery apart from a watch and/or a wedding ring should be worn. Riding hats are compulsory and are available to borrow for no extra charge; regular riders are welcome to bring their own hat but it must conform to British safety regulations (PAS015 1998 or Snell E2001 AND BSI Kitemarked). Body protectors are compulsory for jumping and strongly recommended for all other riding activities but they must conform to safety standard BETA 2000 or 2009 level 3. Childrens body protectors are available to hire for a small extra charge. Upper body clothing should be appropriate for the weather but gloves and long sleeves are recommended all year round.
We are located in Branscombe, East Devon. Due to our rural location and no road names, you cannot follow a sat nav. Directions are included in your confirmation email following booking. Please check your emails and read and follow the directions. We are not difficult to find as long as you follow the directions and not your sat nav!
If it is blowing a gale and torrential rain then this does not give the best learning environment and safety can be reduced. It's also not much fun for riders or the horses. The lesson may therefore take place dismounted, in the arena or stables, learning about groundwork, horse behaviour, riding theory and horse care instead of riding. Riding will carry on in light rain. Riders will be expected to attend for their booked lesson and on the day a decision about whether to ride or not will be made by the instructor based on several factors, including severity of the weather, rider age, rider experience, etc. Rider safety and horse welfare is of the upmost importance. If considered acceptable, we will always try to ride, even if just for part of the lesson.
We believe that riding is exactly that- riding- rather than someone just being a passenger. Learning to ride a horse is also a journey, not a destination. We therefore keep riders on the lead rein for a lot longer than most riding schools because it takes time to build the strength and skill needed to be safer and in control. If a rider doesn’t know what they are doing, nor have the ability to communicate kindly, appropriately and effectively with the horse then they are more of a passenger and this can be dangerous. There is no set time for a child or adult to be on the lead rein, it depends on age, ability, confidence and learning rate. We will always support riders to achieve within these boundaries but they will not be allowed off the lead rein until we consider them less of a passenger and more of a rider. Safety first! We will also not allow our horses to suffer in the pursuit of fun or milestones, therefore we do not participate in the 'hold on and hope for the best' style of riding that can be very punishing on the horses.
All bookings are non transferable and non refundable. As much notice as possible is appreciated if you have to cancel for any reason.
For lessons only, if we receive a minimum of 7 days notice the lesson can be re-arranged to another time within the next 2 months, subject to availability. If we are given less than 7 days notice, the lesson cannot be changed to another date. Please note we cannot guarantee a replacement date. It is much appreciated if you could please always let us know if you cannot make a lesson or event, even at the last minute. Our terms and conditions are available on our booking site prior to taking payment.
Horse riding is rightly recognised as a ‘risk sport’ and it is important to be aware that horses and ponies are large, sensitive animals that can behave unpredictably at any time. We take safety very seriously and you can be assured that we take many precautions to reduce the risk of accidents, however it is probable that most riders will fall off at some time. Despite this, falling off doesn’t always result in injury and riders often jump straight back on again unhurt. Our ethos, high standards of horse and pony care and teaching methods help to improve the safety of riders and we have an excellent safety record with a very low fall rate.
Prior to a first visit it is advisable to arrive 10 minutes early to allow time for checking the information form and hat fitting, if required. For regular lessons we recommend that you arrive at least 5 minutes before your lesson time. Please note that the lesson time includes mounting and dismounting and if you are late you will not receive the full time paid for as lessons have to finish at the allocated time and a pro rata discount will not be given. If we are running late then your full session time will still be given.
For Pony Playgroup, Pony Mornings and other activities arriving 5-10 minutes before the session start time is sufficient. Please do not arrive too early, as excited children can become frustrated by waiting in the car!
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