1. There's safety in numbers
This is a fact. The more people there are riding with you, the less time the instructor has to notice your niggley bad habits. Let’s say there are 5 of you in the group and you’re riding for an hour. That means that the they can only have eyes on you for a maximum of 10 minutes! Result! For fifty minutes, you can do your own thing without any annoying interference. You can slack off, get your heels up, let the reins go – even do your rising trot out of rhythm and all without fear of discovery.
If you have one to one lessons, every singled darned minute that know-it-all can see what you're doing.
2. There's plenty of time to relax
In a group lesson, there’s lots of chances to have some down time. This is particularly true of jumping lessons, but often in flat lessons too.
In a group, you have to wait your turn to do things and this gives an excellent chance to sit and chat to your fellow riders, wave at mums and dads or pose for pictures.
In an hour’s jump lesson, with 5 other riders, you could spend at least 20 minutes not actually moving and that gives ample time to spend on these activities.
Whereas, in a one to one lesson, it’s all “go, go, go” and “me, me, me”. This is, of course, not only tiring but very selfish.
3. You don't have to think too much
Thinking is tiring and the last thing we want is to have to exercise our minds when riding. After all, we do that ALL the time at work or school. In a group, we can switch off and let the horse do the thinking for us. All we have to do is stay on – they do everything else.
This is especially advantageous when doing complex things such as canter transitions or jumping grids. All the horse needs to know is what exercise the group is doing – be that lead file cantering to the back of the ride or following on through a set of jumps – and the automatic pilot kicks in!
It’s like flying an aeroplane. What pilot ever said, “I really want to know how to do this rather than the computer doing it all for me?” None!
4. You don't have to take responsibility
This is a real doozy. There’s nothing worse than sitting up there having to make your own decisions – especially if the horse has other ideas.
Who would want to master the art of controlling a half ton horse with just a few signals from your legs and hands without another horse to lead the way? Far too much like hard work, I should say!
And the worst thing of all is that everything that happens is down to you. Even the most simple of exercises like going from walk to trot can become exhausting because only your aids are going to make the horse go.
5. You don't have to set your own pace
The good thing about being in a group is that there is always someone worse than you and always someone better than you. This is great because, depending on the know-it-all on the ground, you either progress at a snail’s pace (fantastic for not having to do much – see 2 and 3 above) or you are pushed out of your comfort zone, which is even better! Fear is a great “energiser” and after having such a lesson, you will feel thoroughly invigorated and simply glad to be alive!
However, if you have one to one lessons, you experience neither of those wonderful situations. Instead, you progress at the speed you’re meant to, which invariably means that if you’re struggling with something, you have ample time to do it again and again until you get it right. Tedious.
6. One to one lessons may lead to having your own horse
If you've been stupid and gone for one to one sessions, if it wasn’t bad enough that you have had to learn how to do everything yourself with the know-it-all on the ground watching your every move, you may suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to buy one of the darling creatures for your very own. Why? Because you've suddenly realised that you have the skills to ride independently, solve your own problems and even understand how the beasts "tick".
And then, well, competitions? Hacks out? Trips to beach? When will it ever end? You’ll find yourself skipping work, school or college and abandoning your family just to get on the blessed thing. Not to mention the disruption to your daily life. No more weekend lie-ins, never being able to go on holiday again (unless your horse comes with you), tan-lines in the Summer, chilblains in the Winter and muscles that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of from all that mucking out.
Is this what society really needs? Lots of people enjoying themselves, getting out in the fresh air and doing what they love rather than working or sitting in front of the TV with their families?
So, my advice to you is simple. Do not, under any circumstances contemplate having one to one lessons. Instead, take a group lesson, pay the same amount of money for an hour of “sitting on” that you would for half an hour one to one lesson where you are nurtured, perfected and encouraged. It’s simply not worth it, especially when the risk is that you'll end up with your own horse - and be broke for the rest of your life!