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Coaches Corner

This is a group for all certified Coaches to share ideas, techniques, insights, frustrations... or anything else that comes to mind!

Members: 111
Latest Activity: Feb 23, 2016

Discussion Forum

Salary expectations for Level One Coach? 4 Replies

Started by Sarah at Last reply by Faye Fox Feb 11, 2011.

Ground manners- The increasing importance as the horse gets fitter 18 Replies

Started by Geoffrey Pannell. Last reply by Geoffrey Pannell Feb 3, 2010.

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Comment by Elaine Flintoff on June 24, 2010 at 9:06pm
Thanks for your comments about the Centered Riding - your thoughts are appreciated and parallel my own.
Comment by Jan Jollymour on June 24, 2010 at 3:22pm
I understand, Elaine. Sometimes I feel the same way.

With regard to your query about centered riding: I think that every good coach's toolbox contains centered riding principles, among others. I am very leery of any methodology which claims to be the only way. My understanding of centered riding does not include that philosophy, rather it tries to make classical riding principles accessible to different learners. There are good and bad practitioners within any approach, and that goes for centered riding as well, which is why I'd be careful with a move to make work within the centered riding principles equal to a coaching certificate. I think that coaches need more than just one approach in order to be effective with varying types of learners. I also think that adherence to classical principles first and foremost is essential, regardless of what types of coaching and teaching approaches are explored.

Dressage seems to attract personalities which easily become obsessive about specific approaches or concepts, so I think we need to be careful within the sport to include different modalities, so long as they are humane and supportable physiologically and psychologically, both for horses and for riders.
Comment by Elaine Flintoff on June 24, 2010 at 10:23am
Just to clarify my comments - those were obviously made out of frustration.....please understand that and take them for what they are. I fully understand what "show" nerves can do to riders, even professionals. And of course we are working with a live, thinking, powerful animal. There are so many wonderful coaches in so many disciplines.....I was lucky to enjoy a variety of riding disciplines: barrel racing; jumping; halter classes and flat classes on the quarer horse circuit, and now dressage. I am thankful each and every day that I am still able to get up every morning and know the barn animals are waiting for me, and that another wonderful day is here. I am in my 60's now, and still look forward to learning new things. I am however, curious about what your thoughts are on "centered riding" .
Comment by Jan Jollymour on June 23, 2010 at 8:06pm
Hi, Elaine:

Mary's right, it happens everywhere, but some areas are worse than others. I judged a couple of weeks ago in an area only 3.5 hours from my home, and was positively gob-smacked with the awful dressage I had to look at. The coaching in the area is very poor, but I could say that about a lot of Canada, and somehow we mostly produce better rides than those I had to judge. However, those people have to start somewhere, and they laid themselves on the line in a public setting to find out where they are in their training.

There's no doubt that we have a huge coaching deficiency in Canada, but I also have to agree with Mary in that competitive situations are not always the best guage of a coach's abilities. Tension, fear, and adrenalin all play their parts in decreasing the quality of performance, and a rider and horse may look quite competent at home but just as incompetent at their first few competitions.

I too try to ensure that my clients are really well prepared for competition, but I coach adults in the main, and they do make their own decisions about the levels at which they compete. I might feel that they are ready to ride a good First Level test, but they will insist on competing at Third because the horse has a flying change. While I wish they'd take my advice, I also have to respect the fact that it's their time and money that they're spending, and they have the right to do that however they wish.

I'm also on the same page with Mary with regard to offering advice or services at a competition unless specifically requested to do so.

You are right, Elaine. Schooling shows are for people to start competing, or for their horses to begin competition, and lots goes wrong. Judges in the main are prepared for that at schooling shows (take a look at the videos from Hong Kong in 2008, lots went wrong there for many Olympic riders), and take it all with good grace, as do most coaches.

I think it's very easy to be critical of the efforts of others when one is not on the line oneself! Riding down the centreline yourself does a lot for your tolerance. Also, I think that it's hard for amateurs/juniors to immediately implement what they know to be true when they're under pressure in a competitive situation. While they may be able to comfortably execute a movement without that pressure the show circumstances may completely de-rail their usual effectiveness. Once they have trouble with one movement, they often panic, and the rest of the test loses quality. That's a problem which is best solved with sympathetic and effective coaching, yes, but also time and exposure, and schooling shows provide just those possibilities.
Comment by Elaine Flintoff on June 22, 2010 at 10:15pm
Yes, I guess I did imply that I was judging a trainer's ability at the show - I consider the students as a reflection of their coaches I guess.....when I am saying that the riding was poor, I mean REALLY poor - like a walk/trot would have been more suitable.....on the other hand, that is what schooling shows are all about arent' they? You have to start somewhere.
Comment by Mary McGuire Smith on June 22, 2010 at 12:31pm
Hi Elaine,
I understand your frustration. I don't know what are you are in, and there is some of what you describe in all areas, but I don't quite see it to the degree you are describing in my area. I also take into account (at shows) that horses (and students) who may be much more "mannerly" at home, are under stress at horseshows, and may be a bit stronger/more tense than the rider is used to dealing with. It is difficult to make a fair assessment unless you know the ordinary circumstances of the pair. That said, I have a tendency to become a bit "near-sighted" and don't want to judge too much at a horse show, but I do try to lead by example. In other words, my students and their horses are prepared for the show, the horses are trained at home, and are shown below the level at which they are working, so shows aren't as stressful for them (students and horses). Also, I try to guide my students to buy horses who have a lot of show experience already, so we don't have the green horse/green rider syndrome, but that is not always possible, since students often come to me with a horse in tow. Also, I try to advise students as to when they are ready to be successful at a show, and not have them go before they are prepared...but that doesn't always happen, either.
I am as demanding of myself and my peers (other trainers) as anyone, but judging a trainer's ability solely on the performance of their students at any given show can be misleading at best and is often unfair, in my opinion. My self-comments are usually along the lines of (I admire their grit and determination, and I could really help that person!)--BUT, I never offer my services or give advice to any rider at a show, unless they specifically approach me and ask for help.
Comment by Elaine Flintoff on June 22, 2010 at 10:00am
Hi everyone! I really enjoy the comments on this site. I have a question: I've been with horses for 30+ years now - I am so concerned about today's coaching....was just reading comments about ground manners - importance of it as the horse gets fitter and I am so in agreement that so many coaches coach only the student, and forget about the horse. To me, it should be an "all round" package.....they should go together. Many of the coaches I hear and watch never comment on the horse's way of going at all, but instead shout out instructions to the rider that anyone can find in a "how to ride" book at any bookstore. One of the coaches that I find particularly interesting, can't even mount, or have her students mount, with the horse backing up 3 or 4 times.....the problem is that they ask the horse to stand, and then their body language asks the horse to back up and so they can't get on....I attended the local dressage show on Sunday - very poorly attended. I knew a couple of people riding First Level, and after watching the first 3 tests I had to leave......I was actually talking to myself with comments such "get off that poor horse"!, and "where is your coach?" and "how could your coach possibly think you are ready for that test"! was not only appalling but terrribly disappointing to think that some of our coaches are so blind to the needs of their students and their horses. While on this topic, I also wonder if anyone has an opinion of "Centered Riding" as a "coaching" certificate. I have always maintained that a knowledgeable coach incorporates centered riding in their teaching.....kind of like "imprinting" their foals (many books published now on this marvelous idea), which we have been doing for the past 30 years, without a book to tell how this new discovery works. Sorry to sound like sour grapes.....I just wonder where our students and horses are headed with this lack of knowledge from their coaches......
Comment by Aimee Coslovich on May 23, 2010 at 10:01am
Thanks for the feedback Mary!
Comment by Mary McGuire Smith on May 23, 2010 at 8:43am
Hi Aimee! I really like your site! Very well thought out, lots of information, and lots of photos (which everyone likes to see). I have a lesson in 15 minutes, but I will revisit later. Good luck with it! Mary
Comment by Aimee Coslovich on May 23, 2010 at 8:31am
Just tried to set up my new website... hope it's working!Figured it was about time as everyone uses the web so much. Have a look and let me know what you think! http//

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