I've been meaning for a while to write a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use Pivo Meet for virtual lessons and Michelle finally spurred me to do it, so thank you!
I've been doing weekly virtual lessons since the beginning of March and have only had it fail once, so this system is pretty solid. Now that said, the one big caveat is that like anything with Pivo, success or failure is VERY dependent on your phone, and Pivo Meet in particular will also be dependent on how good your cell or WiFi signal is at the barn.
|No WiFi at our barn, and cell signal inside the indoor isn't quite as good as it is outside, but it's still plenty good enough for Pivo Meet lessons. FWIW this area is still on 4G, too.|
For reference, my phone is a top-of-the-line five-month-old Samsung S21 Ultra. I mention that to point out that some of my success with it might be because it's one of the most powerful phones you can currently buy. If you have trouble with Pivo Meet and you're using an older phone, know that it may be the phone's fault and not Pivo's. I do know some of my GP trainer's other students have more trouble with it than I do.
Supply list for virtual lessons:
- Pivo Silver
- Pivo AND Pivo Meet apps installed on your phone
- Either decent cell signal or WiFi at your barn
- If you're using cell signal, make sure your data plan has enough data for a long video call. Pivo Meet has been using 1-1.5GB per month for me, and I've been getting 3-4 30-45 minute lessons per month.
- Bluetooth wireless earbuds - I use these. I recommend getting ones that are Bluetooth 5.0+ as that standard allows for the best range.
- An empty arena with no horses in the background. My barn is small and accommodating enough that I have my lesson time on the calendar in the feed room and everyone knows I need one arena to myself at that time.
1. Set up tripod and Pivo in arena - I personally like mine just off-center of X for lessons, because my trainer will often have me on a 20m circle around the camera.
2. Put one wireless earbud in your ear and confirm that it's connected to the phone - I don't like riding with two earbuds in for safety reasons, and I choose to use the left one because on my earbuds, that's the side that has the microphone. If you have a spectator, they can use the other one to listen in on the lesson.
3. Make sure the phone is NOT in Do Not Disturb mode - I set Pivo Meet up and then get on my horse before my trainer connects. If she's unable to enter the Pivo Meet room for some reason and has to call me over the regular phone, I need to be able to hear that call.
|DND is off|
4. With the Pivo robot on, open the Pivo Meet app, make sure "Guest control" is checked, and hit the "Share" button next to the meeting URL before you hit "Start Call" - A couple of important points here: that URL is unique for every Pivo Meet call you hold, so you must send a new one every lesson. Also, while you do also have the ability to share the URL after you hit "Start Call", I've found that if I leave the Pivo Meet call to send the URL, the video image is flipped when I re-enter the meeting room, and can you imagine trying to virtually teach a Dressage lesson when left and right are flipped on you?! So do it the way I show you here. Hopefully that's a bug that they'll fix in the future.
|'Guest control' allows your trainer to manually move the robot using controls on their end if it loses you, so you don't have to get off the horse|
5. Click the app you'd like to share the URL with (for me, that's my end-to-end encrypted texting app, Signal #privacymatters)
|Sorry iPhone folks, you're on your own for screenshots.|
6. Text the URL to your trainer - Because I set all this up before my warm-up, which I do without her, I also send a reminder of my lesson time so she doesn't see the text and think she has to jump into the room immediately.
|Note that I sent this text at 6:28, then got on Connor, and then she joined me at 6:45|
7. Go back into the Pivo Meet app, click "Start Call" and check all settings once you're into the room - The settings in Pivo Meet (exposure, zoom, etc) work just like in the regular Pivo app, so double check them. Also, there's a mute button inside the call, which occasionally after an app update will be inexplicably enabled and then my trainer can't hear me, so check that as well if you're having audio issues.
That's it. After step 7, I get on Connor and do my warmup, and about 15 minutes later her voice magically appears in my ear, and we have what feels to my brain like a normal, everyday lesson. Except she's 112 miles away from me!
Hit me with any questions you have, I'm happy to help.