The area of interest for this study is riding school lessons with both group teaching and individual teaching. Researchers have shown an interest in how riders develop the “equestrian feel” when riding, but more research is needed on how riding teachers can make the feeling learnable. The overall aim of the project was to investigate, through collected video material, the situated pedagogical practice during riding lessons. The specific objectives were to study the collaboration and the interaction between the participants during riding lessons in groups, and how the participants make the “equestrian feel” learnable during individual lessons.
Video recordings were conducted at five different riding schools, during ten group lessons and five four individual lessons. The analytical approach is ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. The analysis focuses on the sequential organization of the participants´ actions. A focus was on which actions the participants use, and how the participants orient towards the mobile situation in time and space.
During riding lessons in groups, the analysis shows that there are moments, limited in time and space, when the riding teacher and the individual, collaboratively, by mutual orientation, establish so called “instructional spaces”. Within these sequences, instructions from the teacher and instructed actions by the students are performed. For example; the riding teacher interrupts an ongoing instruction to the group and gives an individual instruction to a student who comes close the riding teacher. The student immediately produces an instructed action. Timing and the participants' interaction in the mobile situation is shown to be important when the participants, in collaboration, create an instructional space. Analysis also shows how the teacher gives instructions to one student repeatedly, regarding the same problem, each time the student choose to ride close to the teacher. The participants work together to make instructions and instructed actions possible and thus co-create instructional spaces within this mobile situation. In another example, the teacher stops one student and walks up close before she gives an instruction reinforced by a practical demonstration.
From the individual riding lessons, the most important knowledge was how the teachers constantly shift focus when they give their instructions or explanations. They change focus between the student's seat and impact, the horse's movements and actions, and finally giving comments on the ”equestrian feel” (the specific font matches the focus rider, horse and “equestrian feel”). Comments on the “equestrian feel” can be done by marking the pace with the voice, using metaphors or by well-timed feedback and instructions during ongoing activity. An example of this shifting focus is the following quote, where the riding teacher switches between all three focuses in one and the same instruction: "don’t let him be long from the beginning sit down yes upward think uphill look up in the roof canter yes good now and so outside rein squeeze squeeze squeeze and then release squeeze squeeze squeeze release and inside leg activate". Further, the participants in collaboration shifted between activity and reflection, as they worked to make the feeling learnable, with the goal to have a shared understanding of the ”equestrian feel”.
The project provides important information about riding lessons at riding schools and the results can thus contribute to further development of riding school activities. This study also contributes to the developing field of coaching in riding, by showing how riding teachers and students collaborate to make the “equestrian feel” learnable.