Opinion

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Most riders need to coach to earn a living. Sometimes I hear, “I don’t want to teach, I just want to ride”, and there’s nothing wrong with that — if you can afford it! But I think that those that don’t coach miss out. There is no downside — riding can be emotionally tough — and the good news is that coaching can keep you sane (ish!).

If you coach as well as ride, you always have two chances in a competition — if you don’t go well, your pupil might.

Helping people achieve their dreams has a huge feel-good factor. The interaction with horses and riders means you learn every day, so it’s never boring. I am inspired by my pupils’ progress and that motivates me to ride better.

There is an exciting career path at the top end of the sport, with the chance to go to major championships and share the excitement and joy of being part of many teams along the way.

There is some discontent regarding the teaching qualifications required to be an official British Dressage (BD) trainer as it is now essential to have the UKCC certificate to hold regional training. Some are upset existing experience and British Horse Society qualifications cannot be used to meet criteria.

Standardising experience

I have long thought there should be more standardisation of a rider’s experience.

I see people advertising as “international” riders or trainers and often cringe, as this is unregulated. Teaching a clinic, riding in a national class or instructing holidaymakers on the beach in another country does not make one an international trainer or rider. Being selected to represent your country in a CDI or CDIO does.

If riders and trainers were categorised by BD as: group A (ridden or trained to international grand prix); group B (ridden at international small tour level with five scores over 65%); and group C (ridden or trained internationally), everyone would know where they stood.

There are many good trainers out there who don’t have access to high-level competition and those would need to go through the exam system to prove their skills. You have to put your money where your mouth is somewhere. This would give opportunities for all.

Carl Hester recently suggested that some young professionals should get out there and showcase themselves (opinion, 2 November), and one was listening! Levi Hunt has stepped up and is running a lecture demo at Hartpury College on 17 December. From what I’ve seen of Levi (and no, he hasn’t paid me to do this), he’s talented, engaging and funny. It will be worth a visit.

Trot on

Winter is here and with it plenty of fresh, cold horses. My advice if you are riding a fresh horse is to go straight into a gentle trot rather than walking round and reciting the classical principles before you go visit the astronauts.

I’ve seen many more horses injured by broncing their brains out, depositing their riders and then galloping around, than I have horses pull a muscle from being trotted without walking first. Following another horse can bring security, too. Our just-backed three-year-olds often pick up a lead from the grand prix horses. Never be too proud to “hitch a lift”.

Ref Horse & Hound; 23 November 2017