Ask an EM Instructor: Are There Alternatives to Having a Trainer If the Relationship Isn't Working?
The rider/trainer relationship is a crucial relationship in the enjoyment and success of riding horses. So what happens when it's just not working?
Sometimes problems arise when riders rely on their trainers more than they should. While a trainer serves as the ultimate supporter, teacher and mentor (and should be appreciated as such), when is it time to consider alternative options? Equestrian Masterclass instructor Dr. Jenny Susser provides her insight on the issue after a masterclass member, Alice, participated in our weekly Mainstay Instructor Q+A:
Question: I am an experienced rider and my horses also are, but my relationship with my trainer is not good anymore. Sometimes I feel the attitude is putting me down or making me doubt myself. I have tried to communicate, but it did not work out. I don’t want to insist and prefer to follow my path even if it means that I need to find other ways to improve by myself. Do we necessarily need a trainer to achieve performance? What could best replace a regular trainer? I have my husband to support me. I am very motivated and determined. However, I am not confident enough to raise my current level by myself as I want my horses to be comfortable and I am worried about any mistake. Should I go for it? I can get advice from outside, but not as regularly as on a weekly basis.
Dr. Jenny Susser: "One of the problems in the horse world is that we are governed by geography. When I was swimming, if I didn't like my coach, I could throw my goggles and my suit in my bag and take off and go anywhere I wanted. It's not quite as easy with a horse... and that's the problem.
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The piece that I like is that you're willing to stand up for yourself and willing to take a look further to determine what is better for you. Eyes on the ground is always important. Motivation and determination can lead to many different things. With all the advances in technology these days, you can do virtual lessons. You can travel and go to clinics. You can even host clinics.
Do I think you should go for it? I think you should put you and your horse in the best situation to feel the most confident and to cultivate the parts of your riding that you feel are the most important to you. And it sounds like if your trainers bad for you, then that's going to prevent you from being able to do that. You may advance further along in terms of your technical or tactical goals with a trainer, but if it's going to set you further back mentally, it will eventually disregard or displace any of the work you've done physically.
Why don't you give it a try? See how it works out and make sure you are continuing to get regular help, whether it be virtual or traveling to a clinic or your husbands eyes on the ground, or even having clinicians in to your own barn. Good for you for taking a stand for yourself. Many of us are not brave enough to do that so, I appreciate your courage. Let us know how it goes!"
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