Being recognised as a talented and gifted rider does not necessarily go hand in hand with being acknowledged as a great trainer… But what qualities are required to shine as a coach?
Essentially, you have to really want to train. Many people train because it is a means to an end. For me personally, being a good trainer ranks as highly as being a successful rider, and I derive as much satisfaction from training as I do from competing.
Experienced riders no longer think about what they do because it becomes automatic: you react to the horse in a way that has become a learnt behaviour. As a trainer, you need to explain what to do in such a way that the rider finds it easy to understand. You should help the rider recognise what they are looking for from their horse, how to achieve it and how to work through barriers to success. You also have to teach your pupil to ride in a way that benefits their horse’s development.
Mutual respect between pupil and trainer is essential. We have all worked with trainers whom we have not necessarily viewed as a natural fit with our personality, but for whom we have huge respect given their achievements as a professional rider.
A good trainer is there to explain how to improve and, in my opinion, there is never a need to shout or belittle pupils. If I ever found myself shouting at one of my charges, I would see that as a failing in myself as a trainer. Equally, making insulting comments is unforgivable, and is just lazy teaching.
In dressage, we constantly strive for perfection, so there is always something that needs to be improved, but if you focus on the negatives and fail to encourage, your pupils will never reach their learning potential.
My approach is simple. If something goes wrong in a training session, we stop and we talk about it. We identify what caused the problem and precisely what needs to be done to remedy the situation. Then we start again.
Ref: H&H 7 May, 2015