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What Does it Mean to Teach Riding? A Snapshot of Contemporary Practices in England and Western Australia

Maw, Susan Jane (2012) What Does it Mean to Teach Riding? A Snapshot of Contemporary Practices in England and Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Equestrian pursuits now largely focus on competitive riding, with the focus of most riders’ being, on competing at some level. As a result teaching riding has changed from an instructional approach to a coaching model, with the associated language and paradigms being adopted. This study was undertaken to understand how these changes are being implemented by equestrian teachers working within six syllabi (the two used in England and Australia for formal accreditation and the four alternative syllabi that were used by my participants to supplement their formal qualifications). Qualitative methodology was used and data gathered through observations of a single, or multiple lessons, and the recording of an open-ended interview with each participant (based around six key questions). Forty-one participants, all involved in coaching equestrianism in England and Western Australia, were involved. The focus of participants’ teaching practice was three disciplines: dressage, show jumping and horse trials (eventing). Participants held the first, second and third levels of mainstream accreditation to teach equestrianism and some were elite riders who coached. It was found that some participants also followed an alternative teaching practice to augment the mainstream accreditations and therefore, these syllabi also became part of the study. Research began by considering the theories that underpinned the six syllabi and consideration of the historical perspective of equestrianism to reveal that changes are taking place in the accreditation of teaching riding, with teachers adopting a coaching style. Further, participants developed personal curricula based upon their own riding skills and on replication of how they were taught. While the data indicated that it was widely believed that a good rider does not necessarily make a good teacher the accreditation bodies, who create the syllabi, assume that to be the case and offer teachers little support or information on teaching and learning theories. This means that the riding teacher is often reliant on their riding skills rather than on their theoretical understanding to inform their teaching practice, which can result in an impoverished riding curriculum.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Supervisor(s): Pearce, Jane and Thiele, Beverly
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