The coaches that first introduce people to horses are often the most underrated, but they are the ones that can make or break a riders future.
Do you remember the first coach who put you on a horse? Sure he/she may not have been the one to take you to your first Prix St. George or 1.40m, but they did have a great deal of responsibility on their shoulders. After all, it’s up to them to make the experience both safe and great, so that the rider develops a sense of confidence and most importantly wants to continue riding horses. Trainers which give novice lessons are also fundamental to instilling the correct basics in the rider. This starts with balance which is often developed on the lunge. Balance enables the rider to have an independent seat which allows them to use their aids efficiently. Yet what exact qualities does a great beginner lesson coach possess?
Patience. Great things come with time, and the best coaches know that. The coach is quick to correct mistakes and yet keeps the lesson simple and to the point. In addition, a great coach values and emphasizes great horsemanship throughout all of the levels. They teach the rider all around.
Motivation. The coach makes the rider feel as if they can by believing in her and pushing them bit by bit. They set up the rider for success in each session. Before letting them canter off the lunge, they get them comfortable to canter without hands on the lunge. How do they do this? Ride without hands in walk and trot. A good seat equal good security and thus efficient transmission of the aids. The goal is to instill this knowledge into the rider to the point where the riders have little to think about when they take over the reins themselves.
Honesty. A good coach is honest about the rider’s mistakes and timelines. If the rider comes once a week then of course it will take longer for them to be off the lunge (generally speaking). In addition, good coaches stand their ground yet stay humble and realize that they still have lots to learn. Thus, they are open to new methods and communications with their rider. They learn from every rider they teach and listen to what they have to say (sometimes that means reading the rider’s body language).
The qualities we touched on above are surface level and great coaching for all levels is an art. Yet if you happen to find a coach (novice or advanced level) which possesses the above qualities and more, you have truly found a gem that you should appreciate.