That will have to wait.
Instead I want to have a little rant about coaching.
In the years I've spent riding I have taken too many lessons from a ton of different coaches that I can't even count them without my eyes starting to cross. Some were fabulous and helped me advance and others made me feel like the SPCA should be called the next time I climbed onto a horse's back.
I've been reading a lot of blogs lately and some of them are about lessons/clinics in which the rider felt worse at the end then better. It upsets me when I read about someone who loves her horses and wants to do the very best she can ends up in tears because of the ego of the instructor. I am amazed at how some horse clinicians will treat their paying students in ways that they would never tolerate if the students were horses.
Here's what I've learned in my 50+ years on the planet:
1. There are stages of learning. I love the Gordon Institute model of the Four_stages_of_competence:
|With Carmen I'm moving into the conscious competence phase for many things but I still fall into the conscious incompetence at times.|
A good coach/teacher/instructor knows how to gauge where their student is in the process and figure out how to help them onto the next phase.
Telling all the other participants in a clinic that one student is doing it badly is not the way to do it.
2. Blaming the student is a cop out. If you think that the student is not trying-talk to them, see if you are correct or just leaping to a conclusion. As soon as you go to the blame place you have stopped trying to figure it out and removed yourself from the team.
If a student is repeated 'failing' a test then it's your fault not theirs.
It's the same attitude we need to have with our horses. If a horse isn't getting it we need to stop and think about what is missing or going awry.
3. No one learns by being yelled at. Ever. They may do it, and it may succeed in the moment but no learning has occurred. If I point Carmen at a fence and beat her with a stick until she goes over it I doubt very much that she will learn to jump. She's very likely to learn that 'holy shit this is scary'
4. It's hard to be a clinician- rarely do you have a long term relationship with the student and so you need to go by what you are seeing in the moment. You can't assume that you know all that there is to know about the horse/rider relationship based on a limited exposure.
Some amazing clinicians I've worked with have been pretty good at analyzing what they see and, through some pointed questions, figure out the big picture.
5. If I end a lesson feeling worse about myself or my horse then that lesson was a failure and probably a waste of money. I say probably because it may help me to think about what's going on and make some changes. One of those changes may be to dump that instructor.
6. It's not helpful to be told to not do something. You need to be told what to do. We all have bad habits when we ride. However, I have never achieved success being told 'don't pull on your inside rein'. I have had success being told 'keep your inside rein quiet and bump with your inside calf to get the bend'. It sounds subtle but when ever I've been told to not do something I feel adrift and unsure of what to do.
7. Every lesson should end with a clear takeaway and a plan. I need to know what I will be working on on my own. An excellent plan is when I also have discussed what could go wrong and what I will do to fix that.
8. As a student you need to be aware of how you learn and be honest with your instructor. You are paying them- that doesn't make them subservient but there's a relationship and you both need to contribute. It's okay to say 'I'm not comfortable with ...." that can lead to a discussion about what you need. A good coach will be open to that dialogue. Not endless dialogue mind you but there should be some.
Making a living in horses is hard and I know that not all horse trainers want to teach- they need to do it for the money. Some times it must be a real grind. But to be honest I don't care. If you decide that you need to teach (for whatever reason) then work to get better at it.