Six tips to find the right coach

Not every coach is suited to every rider, just like not all horses are suitable for every rider. Some people make better coaches than others. Depending on your level and expectations as a rider, perhaps one coach that works wonders for someone may not be the ideal coach for you. As a rider you may not necessarily ‘outgrow’ your coach, but sometimes after a certain number of years riding with someone it may be wise to consider a change. A fresh perspective on your riding and being able to learn new ways of doing things, can help you grow as a rider on and off the your horse.

To help you find the right coach, you might want to consider these six tips:

1. Decide what your current riding goals are. Do you want to win a medal at NAJYRC? Do you need help training your new unbroken 3-year-old? Perhaps you want to do a few local events this year and have a really fun time?

You need to decide what your goals are, so you can choose the coach that is the most likely to help you accomplish them. If you want a medal, find a coach who has a list of students with medals. If you want lessons while you train a young horse, find a coach who has success training young horses. If you want to learn to ride effectively at your own pace and have a ton of fun doing so, find a coach who has an organized show team and always seems to be having a lot of fun on the side.

No matter what your goals are, look for a coach who has students with similar goals to you.

2. Find a good coach, not necessarily a good rider. A person’s riding ability is not a direct reflection of their coaching ability. Look for a coach who has taught a number of SUCCESSFUL students. Again this success does not have to be measured by how many CCI3* events they have competed at. Find a coach with students who are doing what you want to be doing. There are a lot of riders with medals and top results who simply do not make good coaches. If you want to ride like someone, do not get lessons with them, find out who they were/are coached by. That might be the person you need to ride with.

3. A coach is not supposed to make you feel horrible about yourself. If you finish your lesson feeling like you want to quit on a regular basis, you need a different coach. Coaches are supposed to point out your flaws and help you fix them. You should not be left feeling worthless and dreading your next lesson. No one intentionally rides badly. If your coach does not realize this and treats you poorly during your lesson, stop riding with him or her. You are the client. Spend your money and time with someone who makes you feel positive and motivated to ride better.

4. Find a coach who is willing to work with the horse you have, not constantly trying to steer you towards a new mount. Obviously, some horses are not suited for everyone. But if you are happy and feel safe on your horse, it is your coach’s job to teach you the best they can on that horse. Feel free to question a coach’s motives if they were constantly telling you your horse is no good, and encouraging you to buy a new one. Lets face it, many coaches make money off of their students purchasing horses. Coaches sell students one of their horses or they get cut in on a commission of usually 10% if they are involved in helping the student buy a new horse. I understand some students have delusional ideas about their horses abilities, however, if you make it clear to a coach that you are content with the horse you are on, they need to help you ride that particular horse the best that you can.

5. A coach should be financially fair. If your coach is running behind and your one-hour lesson is cut short, and ends up being a 30 minute lesson, the price of the lesson should reflect this. It is hard for coaches to always be on schedule because horses have a variety of ways of making this difficult. However, have the conversation with your coach to ensure you both feel that the lessons are priced fairly. Usually, it is a give and take because sometimes your horse will not go near a jump and your lesson ends up running longer than planned. Bottom line is, if you always feel like you are getting financially taken advantage of, find a coach who is fair.

6. Coaches should be professional and appropriate. Sexual harassment in the horse world is a real thing. There is a fine line to walk when making inappropriate jokes and comments. If you feel like your coach is crossing the line, move on. There are a lot of good people in the horse world, and you do not have to put yourself in an awkward situation when you show up for a lesson. If this sounds familiar with your current coach, leave.

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