In general, therapeutic riding lessons can be taught in two formats - group or individual. Understanding the key differences between the two is important for determining the best type of lesson for each rider.
I think there is often a perception that group lessons are simply designed to fit more lessons into one time frame. While we do strive to serve as many clients as possible, we would never do that at the expense of the quality of our service. Group lessons are both enriching and engaging to our riders, despite of (and often because of) sharing the lesson with another rider.
Riders are always placed in groups that the instructor believes will foster a healthy environment for growth and learning for all parties involved. Often this means the riders in a group will have similar goals and skill sets to succeed. Because of this, all riders are taught to their level and ability. Often times, each rider may even have different objectives in a lesson that are suited to their individual skill level, regardless of another rider's riding level.
Having a group of riders in a lesson cultivates an environment that promotes teamwork, modeling of skills, and some friendly competition. All of these things often help to motivate riders to work hard and have fun at the same time. In addition to this, many of our riders benefit from facilitated social interaction with a peer group. What better way to bond than over horseback riding?
Individual lessons involve one-on-one attention between instructor and rider. This is sometimes preferred when a rider needs direct intervention from the instructor for much of the lesson for postural or behavioral corrections. Often, individual lessons are chosen by an instructor for a few weeks until the rider becomes comfortable with their role as an equestrian, and the sidewalkers and horse leader are comfortable with the level of guidance that they need to provide. This could also be a chosen lesson format for a rider who is training for a riding event, such as a horse show.
Whether riding in group or individual lessons, every riding center and every instructor has the well being and success of their riders in mind when selecting a lesson format.