Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Even riding instructors need instructors

Occasionally Ill get the question: "Why do you take lessons when you yourself teach lessons?"

The answer is one I am sure both professionals and amateurs can relate to: Because there is always room for improvement. That sounds so simple, but for some reason it still doesn't seem to satisfy the questioner or give them the answer they are looking for.

So lets delve into this a little deeper.

We commonly throw around terms like, Coach, instructor or trainer. Each mean very different things to me.

  • Instructor or coach: I put both terms together because their definitions quite literally are the same when looking it up - Someone who instructs; teacher.
  • Trainer: One who trains, particularly animals. 

So not really a huge different in those definitions is there? But for the horse industry, the difference is much more pronounced. See if you can follow me:

A trainer can be an instructor and an instructor can be a trainer. A trainer is one that can improve a horse's skills and install buttons or cues the horse clearly understands, thereby being able to recreate it with another rider that also knows the cues.  An instructor is one that can improve a rider's skills so they can recreate what they learned independently.
Tillie and I in a lesson with one of the trainers I use
The beauty being both in the horse world is that horses are their own living, thinking and breathing animal in addition to the student. Teaching is not as simple as it is in a classroom explaining a theory and it works every single time. Horses evade, outsmart us and constantly change the game on us requiring slight tweaks in a theory. There are so many different methods to achieve the same outcome or answer. 

 The bolded sentence above is more specifically why I still take lessons.

Tillie and I in a lesson with one of the trainers I use

While I don't consider myself a professional in the same regard 4* riders do, I technically do accept compensation in exchange for teaching one how to ride. I have passed on students that I felt like would better flourish under someone that has accomplished more than I have, but I am confident I have expertise to offer and offer it in such a way it makes sense that the lesson student could recreate what I taught without me in the ear or even without me present.

Riding is an art. There are so many different approaches no one will ever be "finished" and all knowing. The more well rounded I am, the more I can help my horse or my students find the easiest path to their solution. Why fight so hard to stay on one road when there are so many others?

Even my trainers and instructors all have their own professionals they pay to continue to improve upon....even their trainers and instructors do too. As we grow as instructors and trainers we rely less and less on needing others and paying for those services, BUT we will always need help at some point when we get stuck. Everyone gets stuck.

I imagine in my head top 4* riders calling up one another or having one come to their farm asking advice  one's  knowledge to educate another?

I often do that now...bounce ideas back and forth with fellow riders. When I have a hard time implementing those or still feel stuck, I set up a lesson. Each instructor offers me something different and has their own style of teaching. After all, the more knowledge I obtain, the more tools I have in my toolbox for when I need them.


  1. I wouldn't take lessons from someone who did further their own education! :) Everyone has their own unique approach to problems.

  2. i'm right there with ya - always more to learn, and i find that working with a variety of professionals who all seek to get me to the same place, but perhaps have slightly different (yet not contradictory!!) approaches really helps!