You know that the perfect coach could turn around your season, you’re just not sure how to find one. H&H finds out...

Like the vehicle, a “coach” should take his pupil from one place to a particular destination. Whether that’s from nervous beginner to their first BE90, or young pro to grand prix debut, the sense of progress is the same. So how do we find a coach that will help us “go places”?

The discipline associations have databases of registered coaches, but how can a rider pick from 80-odd names? And how do you know what kind of style will suit you?

1. “Speak to people, watch how the trainer rides, and how their clients ride,” suggests grand prix rider and coach Sharon Edwards.

2. “Attend shows, and see whose riding style you like — then do some research,” advises dressage rider and coach David Rumsey. “Talk to those riders after the show and see if they are someone you’d like to work with. Possibly even ask to visit their yard to watch them teach so that you can gain an insight into their methods. I certainly have no objection to this”

3. “Word of mouth works well,” says eventer and Lucy Thompson, “as you will listen to the people who know you best, who are likely to suggest someone who will suit you.”

4. When it comes to finding the right style of coach, Sharon adds: “I can happily take being pushed hard or quietly, I am so interested in the process the style doesn’t worry me. I find I have a huge variety in my teaching style. I love working out the best way for each individual rider and horse. Some people need that rocket behind them; others blossom with a more gentle approach.”

5. “I don’t like being shouted at,” says David. “Sometimes I train people and they say, ‘you can shout at me, I can take it’. I don’t believe in this. If I need to shout I feel I’ve already failed to notice something way before in the session. This doesn’t mean I’m soft. I just feel communication where the rider remains calm and open to learning is key.”

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6. “Ask yourself how you learn best,” says Lucy. “Do you need pushing, or are you quick to lose confidence? We learn better when at ease and when we fully trust the person guiding us. A good teacher will recognise this and adapt their style accordingly. Reading and adapting to horses’ and riders’ reactions is what makes training so fascinating for me.”

Read the full feature about how to find the perfect coach for you in this week’s bumper SHOW GUIDE issue of Horse & Hound magazine (23 February 2017)