Finding the right trainer

  • The right trainer can be inspirational and guide you and your horse towards unprecedented competition success, so it is an important relationship to get right.

    But should we stick with a local trainer who knows us and the horse inside out, try a variety of trainers, or chase opportunities to train with big names to benefit from their expertise?

    We ask the experts what they think is the secret to training success.

    Lucinda Green, former top eventer and cross-country expert:

    “Trust is the most important element between rider, coach and horse. And it’s important for the rider not to feel stupid asking a basic question.

    “Once you find a coach who really makes sense to you and, importantly, your horse, stick with them as a base — but never be frightened to go elsewhere.”

    Major Richard Waygood, coach of the British CIC** event team:

    “Training is not rocket science, it’s common sense with good communication. Find someone with credibility, that you get along with and understand.”

    International coach William Micklem:

    “Look for a genuine coach with real coaching skills rather than a rider who may know how to do something, but not how to teach it. Also, find someone who has solid experience of working with riders of your level.

    “Horses can adapt to a number of aids and exercises, but riders need to develop a partnership with their horse by keeping the training consistent. Within one discipline, lower-level riders should resist the temptation to swap trainers too often as the variety can be confusing.”

    Julian Marczak FABRS, dressage trainer and chairman of the Association of British Riding Schools:

    “Pupils should go to one trainer at one time to avoid confusion. However, as part of one’s development, it is sensible to go on to different trainers to experience other methods.”

    Trainer-finding principles

    • Set your budget so you know who you can afford and how often

    • Tell your trainer if things aren’t working — and don’t be afraid to ditch them

    • Find someone who can read each horse-rider combination and teach accordingly

    • Don’t skimp on cross-country training — many riders think they can just kick on

    • Do you want a trainer prepared to help you at competitions?

    • Are you prepared to travel to your trainer or must it be someone who will come to you?

    This feature was first published in full in Horse & Hound (4 March, ’10)

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