A riding coach is a mirror

More thoughts on coaching “spurred” by National Coaches’ Week…

Coaching, training, judging –I’ve made my living observing horses and riders. I’ve learned so much about horse behaviour by watching them. (And human behaviour, I guess!)

Riding coaches act as a mirrors -eyes circling from the rider’s signals to the horse’s responses. Then we reflect to the rider what we see – choosing words as descriptively and simply as we can.

 I’ll ask a rider to consider the cues she sends to her horse – to describe them in words, reflecting them back to me.  For example,  what’s your signal to ask your horse to accelerate?  Or your aid for a canter departure?  Pretend you’re describing to  a non-horsey friend.  Be precise – what’s  the location, technique and amount of your aid? If my student struggles to put it into words, she may be sending a fuzzy message to her equine partner.

Teaching has made has made me more intentional in my own riding.  Carefully thinking through and verbalizing (without horse-trainer jargon), exactly HOW I ask a horse to do this or that – that kind of reflection brings clarity to both horse …and human.