What makes a good trainer?

oldie48

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I'm still trying to find the right one if I'm honest. I've had some good instructors, and some not so good (I got off in the middle of a lesson as she was shouting at me saying I should be up in trot but my mare was about to bronc me off because a child on a pony was cantering around at full pelt for no reason other than she wanted to canter. Worst group lesson ever!).

Its so hard especially now as I have an extremely green little coblet that I want to make sure I do right by
I know group lessons are cheaper but I'd rather have fewer and go for an individual one. I will go to RC group lessons but we have a max of three riders and I know the trainer, tbh I need to ride in company as I have a bit of a "thing" about it so I go for that experience as much as anything else. The RC also does flatwork lessons where you warm up prior to the lesson and then have a half hour slot, that keeps the cost down and you have the benefit of 30mins individual. Why not give us an idea of where you are based, people might vbe able to recommend trainers to you?
 

milliepops

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yes I only use group lessons for the horse's benefit now, to learn how to work with others.
especially with a young or green horse, a shorter session which is entirely focussed on you would probably be more useful.
 

Dyllymoo

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I know group lessons are cheaper but I'd rather have fewer and go for an individual one. I will go to RC group lessons but we have a max of three riders and I know the trainer, tbh I need to ride in company as I have a bit of a "thing" about it so I go for that experience as much as anything else. The RC also does flatwork lessons where you warm up prior to the lesson and then have a half hour slot, that keeps the cost down and you have the benefit of 30mins individual. Why not give us an idea of where you are based, people might vbe able to recommend trainers to you?
Oh it wasn't a riding school one, and honestly I didn't realise it was a group one I thought it was 1:1 but it was organised through my RC at the time, I got there and there was another nervous lady, me and a small child on small pony came in about 15 mins late and proceeded to canter around the school whilst I was trying to settle my mare and not let her join in!

I'm in Kent, but honestly I have tried so many instructors over the years and just find I don't really understand how they teach or they don't understand my horse. It can be quite frustrating. I prefer individual lessons if I am honest as I feel I get the instructors full attention from start to finish which really helps with my concentration as well :)
 

Auslander

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I haven't had a lesson in living memory, as Alf isn't up to it, but I've had some amazing trainers (one of them being MP's trainer). I like trainers who work me hard, make me think, and have a sense of humour. I don't enjoy being barked at, but I like being pushed out of my comfort zone.
MY favourite trainer ever used to tell me to go away and do a bit of XXX, and if i said "I don't know how to do that", he used to grin and say "You have 7 days to figure it out, and if you still can't, I'll tell you next time". Theory being that every aid has a specific response, and we just need to figure out the sequence to get the outcome we're after.
 

Dyllymoo

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yes I only use group lessons for the horse's benefit now, to learn how to work with others.
especially with a young or green horse, a shorter session which is entirely focussed on you would probably be more useful.
Thank you, I don't have group lessons, unfortunately this was around 2.5 years ago with my mare and I wasn't advised by my RC who organised it that it was a shared lesson. Just one of those things in life I guess!
 

spacefaer

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I've been lucky enough that I have had training from some incredibly talented trainers over the years. I get the most out of lessons from people I respect (or in some cases, am in awe of) and who have excellent communication skills. I like being challenged but I also need the trainer to respect me and my horse.

One of the challenges I love when I am training someone myself is the art of communications - saying something in such a way that the rider understands it. You can say the same hing until you are blue in the face, but if it doesn't resonate with your pupil, it's a complete waste of breath. By altering the words, or phrasing, the pupil can have the proverbial lightbulb moment, and it is such a good feeling, as a trainer, when it works!

I also love the mentoring aspect - working with the client for longterm goals, as well as homework for the next lesson. There is however nothing more dispiriting than teaching someone who doesn't practice and who doesn't want to learn. I find them impossible to teach - we're both just going through the motions and I won't take money from them.
 

daffy44

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Yes, I'd like to hear more from daffy about good students, because I reckon there's more stuff I can work on to be easier going forward. (Shutting up occasionally and not correcting my own grammar in real time are probably up there)

I reckon you are probably a fantastic pupil JFTD-WS, teaching someone who wants to succeed, and has opinions and a sense of humour, makes for great lessons! I would agree that shutting up occasionally is also good, but grammar corrections are fine.

Really there are loads of details and descriptions that we can all give, but at the heart of it, the person every trainer wants to teach is the person who really wants to learn and is prepared to work hard, and change some things if necessary to make it happen.
 

sportsmansB

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My trainer is fantastic. He pushes me just enough (I'm not so brave) supports me, helps me look for horses, gets on mine if I need him to, helps me warm up at competitions, and understands how to overcome my lack of self belief so that I can keep making progress.
Sometimes he is nice, some times he shouts, some times he shows me by doing it himself, some times he explains step by step and some times he tells me to work it out myself. He pretty much always chooses the approach which works the best for me and my horse.
He is 100% in my corner and as pleased as I am when things go well and we make a plan to fix it when it doesn't.

I'm super lucky
 

ycbm

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yes I only use group lessons for the horse's benefit now, to learn how to work with others.
especially with a young or green horse, a shorter session which is entirely focussed on you would probably be more useful.

I use one every two weeks for a fun outing. I've no ambitions for Muffin but a group of friends has a lesson together every two weeks and because there are always five or six of us it's cheap and fun. The young horse we have high hopes for gets one on one attention with a different trainer, I think its essential for him and me.
.
 

JFTDWS

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I reckon you are probably a fantastic pupil JFTD-WS, teaching someone who wants to succeed, and has opinions and a sense of humour, makes for great lessons! I would agree that shutting up occasionally is also good, but grammar corrections are fine.

Really there are loads of details and descriptions that we can all give, but at the heart of it, the person every trainer wants to teach is the person who really wants to learn and is prepared to work hard, and change some things if necessary to make it happen.
Hey I wasn't fishing for compliments, honest! I'm under no illusions that I'm "easy" - I'm intense and a bit neurotic at times. But I do try and I do work hard - or, at least, I try to work hard! I also try really hard to listen, not only to what's being said, but also what's not being said, and to take on board stuff that I might not always want to hear. I'm not sure how good I am at that, but I try. The not shutting up thing is a nervous tic - not because of horses, but people(!), but it's a work in progress.

Good to know I'm generally working in the right direction anyway though :)
 

Ambers Echo

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Being a good student is probably more important that having a good trainer. Accepting responsibility for your own learning. I think I am quite a good student. I try hard, I practice in between lessons and I am very keen to learn. I also think it is important to be open to what the person is trying to teach even if later on I decide it isn't for me. I think some people have a clear idea of 'right' and 'wrong' and close themselves off from stuff before really understanding it. Obviously there are limits to what I would do - when someone at PC camp told Izzy to give Jenny a smack I was pleased she ignored her!

I was giving Jenny's new rider some tips to slow her down. I was really struck by how she did EVERYTHING I asked her. She really, really followed instructions closely even when it felt counter-intuitive to her. I liked that.
 

McFluff

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I love my lessons. Genuine highlight of my week. I’d give up competing before training any day. And I do enjoy competing.
I try to be a good pupil. On time, clean (sometimes ish), pay promptly and fully participate in the lesson. I really try to learn the feel of what works - and I do practice. I’d rather be told I’m causing the issues as that way I can do something about it.
My instructor knows me well and seems to judge just how far to push me and my horse. It’s very rare for me not to do what she’s suggested (Only if I suspect that my feel doesn’t look the same from the ground).
Personally I just love the progress, the small glimpses of better and feeling that my horse is happier as a result.
I also seem to manage to get something from most instructors. I’ve only had one instance where I thought it wasn’t working. He just didn’t like me and my cob. On reflection we were scheduled between WB doing elementary on one side and adv med on the other. We were just playing in novice. I also found out after that he was hungover! I’ve since been to lectures by him that were good so may try again.
 

Pmf27

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I don't really know whether or not I can comment on what makes a good trainer in a general sense, as I left my last lesson feeling brilliantly accomplished but with the sudden realisation that I don't actually know the 'why' behind the 'what'. It was one of those "I can comfortably ride a horse, but I don't know the theory behind riding a horse" moments - which was quite sobering given that I've been riding horses on and off for 16 years.

However, I think this means that I've found good instructors for me because, in the 3ish months I've been going to this school, I've learned more and done more than I ever did in years at other schools. And what really strikes me about my current instructors is they DON'T SHOUT - they're so nice! My first instructor was an absolute banshee and would scream at you the entire lesson; I was being screamed at as a 10 year old who'd never even been on a horse before and it never got any better.

I've witnessed other instructors at other schools shrieking and wailing at students and so I grew up believing the same as my dad believed - that 'horsey people' just shout a lot. But both my current instructors are patient, informative and LAUGH when things go (safely) wrong instead of going into a frenzied panic, which helps a lot. I've no doubt if something went VERY WRONG they'd not laugh, but I've had moments where everything has just gone to sh*t and it's been a "whoops!" moment all around, whereas with previous instructors it would have been a "WHAT ARE YOU F*CKING DOING YOU IDIOT" type moment.

There will be people that don't mind that approach, but I think being able to calmly assist when something hasn't gone to plan is far superior to shouting, screaming and putting the fear of God into a student.
 

oldie48

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I don't really know whether or not I can comment on what makes a good trainer in a general sense, as I left my last lesson feeling brilliantly accomplished but with the sudden realisation that I don't actually know the 'why' behind the 'what'. It was one of those "I can comfortably ride a horse, but I don't know the theory behind riding a horse" moments - which was quite sobering given that I've been riding horses on and off for 16 years.

However, I think this means that I've found good instructors for me because, in the 3ish months I've been going to this school, I've learned more and done more than I ever did in years at other schools. And what really strikes me about my current instructors is they DON'T SHOUT - they're so nice! My first instructor was an absolute banshee and would scream at you the entire lesson; I was being screamed at as a 10 year old who'd never even been on a horse before and it never got any better.

I've witnessed other instructors at other schools shrieking and wailing at students and so I grew up believing the same as my dad believed - that 'horsey people' just shout a lot. But both my current instructors are patient, informative and LAUGH when things go (safely) wrong instead of going into a frenzied panic, which helps a lot. I've no doubt if something went VERY WRONG they'd not laugh, but I've had moments where everything has just gone to sh*t and it's been a "whoops!" moment all around, whereas with previous instructors it would have been a "WHAT ARE YOU F*CKING DOING YOU IDIOT" type moment.

There will be people that don't mind that approach, but I think being able to calmly assist when something hasn't gone to plan is far superior to shouting, screaming and putting the fear of God into a student.
I have never had a trainer shout at me like that and I would never tolerate it! I've had trainers who when teaching in a long arena have had to speak very loudly to be heard, especially if out of doors or in an indoor with another trainer but generally I find they will use headsets. I certainly don't mind a trainer being blunt but screaming like a banshee is completely out of order.
 

milliepops

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definitely lots of laughing going on in my lessons :p trainer, me, spectators, you name it... my horses are jokers. It breaks the tension too. You can't be tight or tense if you are laughing :D We work hard on Proper Things but sometimes you just have to chuckle when things go wrong!
 

Pmf27

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I have never had a trainer shout at me like that and I would never tolerate it! I've had trainers who when teaching in a long arena have had to speak very loudly to be heard, especially if out of doors or in an indoor with another trainer but generally I find they will use headsets. I certainly don't mind a trainer being blunt but screaming like a banshee is completely out of order.
I absolutely wouldn't tolerate it now, if an instructor treated me like my very first instructor did I'd never go back. But when you're a horsey-mad kid and said instructor lets you spend the entire day at the stables helping with the horses in exchange for a cheap ride, you put up with a lot.

Though to be fair, the instructor I had before the two I am with currently was absolutely lovely too, she never shouted. But the screaming like a banshee is something I've witnessed a lot of, as has my dad who spent a lot of time around horses on account of my mum. I'm glad to hear it isn't as widespread as I'd originally thought, though!

definitely lots of laughing going on in my lessons :p trainer, me, spectators, you name it... my horses are jokers. It breaks the tension too. You can't be tight or tense if you are laughing :D We work hard on Proper Things but sometimes you just have to chuckle when things go wrong!
Absolutely, couldn't agree more. Myself and my instructor fell about laughing the other day, because I crashed my horse - that was a new one! No harm done though, as I'd only crashed her into a cone. Poor thing was darting around like "are you absolutely sure this is the direction you want me to be going in? I'm sure you want me to side step this..." but it had all gone to pot and I sent her straight into and over it, doh haha.
 

GinaGeo

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I've had some very good instructors, I've had some less good ones too.

Competing is no longer the most important thing for me. It's the culmination of my training, but I want a happy, strong horse that I enjoy riding and having around above all else. I want to get the most out of my horse. Who is an ordinary sort, who is not built for high level work, but has a good brain and who suits my life. I muddled along for a long time because I couldn't find somebody I liked. And we didn't go backwards but progress was slow and I made mistakes that I have needed to correct since.

I spent a year working for a very good rider, having lessons but having to stop to ask questions - because I just didn't understand. The horse eventually broke down because we were asking him to do work he just wasn't ready for. The horses that she was used to riding were born capable, mine needed a lot more time to strengthen. I learned a lot - some of it - what I wanted to avoid doing again.

I've had trainers who have taught me a lot, but sent us spiralling backwards because they didn't help the mental side of it all. The impending sense of doom of jumping is finally starting to subside two years on. I learnt a lot with that trainer, but I also had my confidence destroyed, along with the horse's. I have abandoned any dreams of Eventing again following that. We are back to playing over fences at home, but the thought of a jump lesson makes me feel sick to the stomach.

The most important thing for me is having somebody that can really explain things to me. I have to understand, the how's, why's, where's and what's. How one thing will lead to the next.

My current trainer is super. Completely different to anything I've had in the past. A completely different school. French not German. And he has really helped me to fill in the gaps, in mine and the horses education. Where previous trainer's answers would have been to just buy a better horse. We spend a lot of the session discussing theories and bio-mechanics.

I can say that I am feeling X. He will pause, think about it, and then explain why I am feeling that. And then give me an exercise to work on to get Y. He can demonstrate a lot from the ground. He can take the reins whilst I am on board, and put the horse into the right position - so I know what feeling I am aiming for.

I have learned that I am my horse's voice. That I know what he is capable of, and when he is reaching bubbling point. He loves to learn, but push him too hard and he will bubble over to anxiety and the session is lost. These days I am confident enough in myself to walk away from a session if I don't feel we are going in the right direction, or ask to work on something different.

I try hard to be a good pupil - I love to learn and am very open to feedback and criticism (constructive). I don't want someone who will tell me I am marvellous - when I am acutely aware that I am not. Equally, I don't take being told I'm useless, being kicked off said horse, and being shown how it's done - well either. Great that they can do it. But I want to understand what I need to do.

I don't find having lessons too regularly beneficial either - I find I need at least a month, to play, find the buttons myself, make the mistakes and correct them. If I get stuck, I will ring, have a chat and probably book something in sooner. But too soon and I find the sessions move on, before I have solidified the new knowledge with myself.

That was a lot. But I've Yo-yo'd through it all. For me a good trainer is invaluable. A poor or ill-suited one is harmful and I can mediocrely bob along on my own through trial and error making small amounts of progress. I think we're all grateful we've found the current one. Although he is two hours away, it is well worth the journey.

We've taught the horse, who had no idea changing the order of his legs was possible, to change correctly on an aid and are now working on advancing that. Something various previous instructors, hadn't got the tools to teach.
 

milliepops

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Where previous trainer's answers would have been to just buy a better horse.
.
^^this makes me furious on your behalf.
I have had a trainer who thought like that. I was there for lessons to improve myself and the horse I had. It wasn't like I had said that I wanted to ride at the nationals (when the answer might well be, you need a different horse). but she just basically told me I had the wrong horse full stop.
a. that's not very helpful when you can't afford a better horse
b. i actually loved that horse to bits so didn't want to change anyway!
c. even with a better horse you still need training as a rider :p

I had a great lesson yesterday. It reminded me how much of riding and training horses is a mental game and made me even more grateful to have someone that I click with on that level :)
 

AML

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That makes for quite sad reading GinaGeo, but I'm glad you have found a trainer now that works for you and the horse.
 

YorkshireLady

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You are all discussing lessons with instructors as being something that happens in an arena of some sort (inside/outside/grass area.) Surely the best instructor/teacher you ever had was the person who made you fall in love with riding ponies or horses in the first place!
For me this happened out on the New Forest on a little bay NF pony called Velvet, starting on a lead rein and then progressing to riding out with the lady off the lead rein. I was probably about 7 - 8 years old, I could not have been happier. When ever I have the opportunity to introduce a young person to riding I would love to think they would be on the first steps to a lifelong journey, it may only take them holiday hacking or it could take them as far as they would like to go. The journey with horses is endless.

SO that is a yes! the person who taught me to ride, is the best and she was all in. I was taken to shows...we watched xc videos. she lent me Dressage books....I was hooked. I also got to ride her very well trained advanced mare later on and would have had her on loan if her navicular had not kickend in massively... When she moved back to the USA she sent me letters with horses she was working with.

I have a super trainer now....but she is the one that fired up the total horse obsession. Its her I thought about when i got on the Uni team, when I did first BD and when I did a BE. She was always so upset i wasn't keen on eventing when I was a teen!

so she did the inspiring part...which others have had to follow!

on another note I am open as a pupil and will try new things etc however with Jumping I really do need to trust the person on the floor!
 

ApolloStorm

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I’ve never really been a big one for lessons as such, until the YO starting doing Thursday night lessons and I thought I’d give it a shot with my baby horse ( who she loved) I’ve never developed so much in a short time as I did taking weekly lessons with her, We taught the baby LY, SI and our confidence jumping just soared. I even remember early on the few strides of real self carriage in canter and it felt amazing! But then I used her with the TB, and it just didn’t work quite so well, yes we improved but I never got that “ moment” with him even though in theory he should have more ability than the baby cob! I think it’s just horses for courses as of all the RI I had when I was learning only one stuck with me and felt like I really learnt anything.
 

oldie48

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Absolutely. The "just get another horse" mentality is a surefire way to get me never to come back :eek:
I totally agree with this although my present trainer had the honesty to tell me to sell a horse that I had struggled with for 5 years because it didn't want to do the job and she was absolutely right, whereas other people had let me struggle on whilst taking my money. It is essential to have trust in the relationship as well as honesty and that only comes from building a partnership. I know my trainer would tell me if she thought a horse was unsuitable for me but she does it from a baseline of knowing me well as a person as well as a rider so when I struggle, as I often do, I am confident with her guidance I can work through the problem.
 

milliepops

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i think it's different if either ambitions or horse/personalities don't match up. In that case being told you have the wrong horse is correct and may be the "excuse" (for want of a better word) that the client needed to sell up and get a new partner.

For me that's different to a trainer that probably either doesn't have the skillset to train a lowly horse or CBA with a client that is never going to set the world on fire ;)
 
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