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Clarence
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:07 AM
In the thread about flatwork exercises I ask these questions:

"Isn't part of your trainer's responsibility to teach you how to ride a horse on your own?
I am glad you are taking responsibility for yourself by asking for some exercises on this board, but shouldn't the goal of your lessons be that your trainer says less and less and you become a thinking rider or is that the European in me?"

I thought it deserved its own thread as I am curious what you guys think. I think the questions speak for themselves.

I personally think that a trainer should try to make riders as independent as possible. So basically, a trainer should have to say less and less until, in the end, he or she can just say yes or no and let the rider work on his own.
Does that make any sense?

FolsomBlues
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:13 AM
I understand what you are saying and I totally agree. For me, I start with a trainer that has significantly more knowledge than me. Once we get to the point where they are just saying "yes" or "no" (and there are a lot less "no"'s!) then I look at moving to a trainer with even more knowledge. This usually takes years, or I move before it happens, but that would be my ultimate goal. Learn as much as I can from one person, then move to another person with even more knowledge and start the process over again.

That being said, I have seen people that will need constant instruction. They don't want to think for themselves, they like being given word for word instructions and will most likely stay with that one trainer for the rest of their riding career because they feel that they are still learning.

mvp
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:24 AM
Clarence-- I'm with you. No training that leaves me dependent is worth the money. It's not even safe. The person on the ground can't ride my horse by remote control in all situations.

Some riders want to think and communicate with their horse less than others. But trainers can influence that, and grow independent riders to an extent.

Does the trainer ever stop to ask the rider what she thinks is going on with a horse in a given situation? Does she ask the rider to make a plan to correct a problem and then talk about what she, the pro, might do? Does the pro get on and "narrate the ride," not merely "fix" the horse and hand it back with no explanation?

Trainers can and will take dependent students' money forever. Ironically, these students can end up frustrating the trainer who "teaches" the same thing over and over.

shawneeAcres
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:31 AM
Many of my students progress thru the years with me and as their trainer I feel it is my responsibility to make them more and more proficient and able to figure things out on their own. I teach both children and adults, I find the children are like sponges. Many of my kids have ridden with me for their entire "careers" some starting as young as five year olds. To me it is rewarding to see them progress from beginners on the lungeline to capable young adults. I encourage them, as they progress (both children and adults alike) to ride a variety of horses in a variety of levels of training. Of course, this is as they become capable and with guidance, but they learn so much from this. I do not get on ny students horses very often. Sometimes, if a particular problem needs it I may get on for a few minutes to work thru it or illisutrate what I am trying to say, but I am NOT a trainer who feels that I must ride the horse at every show, do the warmups etc! The rider does that, not me, they learn how to warmup the horse properly. One of my students, who is now a 17 yr old started with me at 9 yrs of age. She rode a very wonderful mare for many years that took her from walk/trot to 3'3". Two years ago she purchased a younger mare, a five year old, that was well started on flat and not really started over fences. Of course, I have assisted her in the horses training to some degree, but pretty much she is doing it on her own with my input and lessons (although her lessons are not terribly frequent). The mare is doing wonderfully now over 2'9". Thru the years she has ridden some of my greenies, plus I helped her to pick out a few "projects" that we bought and she rode and made some money off of. Not all kids are so involved, but many of mine are or have been. My adults are a bit more "difficult" in that as we age,we get more cautious and don't seem to progress as rapidly, so I ahve to work a little harder with most of them, especially ones that came to riding late in life. But they too progress, starting on quiet, reliable mounts and progressing, not always to greenies, but usually to horses that take a bit more "riding" skills. I encourage my students to branch out and try a variety of disciplines. Msot all of them do some dressage, and try doing a low level event or two, trail ride, do some low level jumpers shows. a few play around with western riding, soem show both on hunter circuits and breed shows etc. I feel that is part of waht makes a well rounded horseperson, as you can always learn something from another discipline. Not only do skills grow but confidence does too. Too often, trainers have such a narrow view and only "allow" their students to work in one discipline and I think that does not grow the person at all, and usually makes them "look down on" other discplines, because, frankly, they don't understand that discipline. This is unfortunate and really makes for a narrow minded rider. I like a rider that thinks outside the box when a problem occurs, there are so many ways to solve a problem, not anyone is necessarily "right" or "wrong" but different approaches work with different horses. Anyways, so much for my "lecture" LOL

cajunbelle
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:33 AM
You never stop learning..... if you get to the point where your trainer says less and less, find a new one.
I understand what you are saying about wanting to be independent. We all strive to be closer to that ring of excellence. Even the Best riders need a second set of eyes (aka) a trainer, to help them solve problems that arise... at every new level.

Just a thought.

lcw579
Dec. 5, 2009, 11:39 AM
I'm with you Clarence.

As a kid we were taught independence and given something to work on in between lessons.

My daughter rides with someone who explains why they are doing whatever warm up excercise they do during their weekly lesson and then gives her some ideas to switch it up during the week to make sure nobody gets bored. She has her over fences "homework" too. Whatever they work on in the lesson she is expected to practice on her own. Otherwise, how are you supposed to get any better?

BTW, she just rode with a dressage instructor who also assigned some homework to work on until we schedule another tune up. I guess I should feel lucky to have found trainers that are willing to foster independence in their students.

KateKat
Dec. 5, 2009, 01:20 PM
I agree and as I've progressed, found it beneficial to have someone telling me what to do from the ground but also detrimental at times. Like one trainer I really did love because she taught me a TON would also tell me to do something right as I was going to do it...she didn't really give me much time to think about things. My current trainer though is great, we'll do something first and then stop and talk about it afterwards about what I did wrong, or could have done better. Sometimes along the way she'll shout reminders to me but generally I supposed to be able to figure things out on my own.

superpony123
Dec. 5, 2009, 01:52 PM
remember, almost all good trainers have mentors of some kind, ride in clinics, etc, every once in awhile.

I think it is your trainers job to teach you how to handle a situation ON YOUR OWN. I don't think anyone can ever reach a point of being totally independent in their riding, even the best of trainers. It is their job to teach you to be 'independent' (as in, as close as you can get) via teaching you how to handle different situations without constant instruction. Infact, i think a trainer who has less and less to say about you is not worth the money. There is ALWAYS room for correction. You can always do something better. Riding is not a sport that can be perfected. Trainer will tell ME to make the decisions. "do you think that you should be getting a 4 or a 5 in that line?" BEFORE i do the line. I make my decision. lets say I want to do the five. Because I've known for years what shortening and lengthening is, she does not need to tell me that when I am riding up to my line, if she thinks I am not going to get the five. She's going to say "youd better stick with your decision!" unless it's going to turn into a dangerous situation. Her favorite thing (and one i have found very useful) is MAKE YOUR DECISIONS AND *STICK. WITH. THEM* (unless you find that mid course your pre-course decisions are no longer possible, and so in that case you must very quickly devise a new plan--AND STICK WITH THAT PLAN. only make adjustments to your plan when necessary)

i think that teaching that concept, as simple as it seems, has brought a whole new "independence" to my riding, and i find it very valuable. Because sure, you can say "okay, start up the diagonal 5, down the 4, down the 7, down the 8" etc. but that's not really making a PLAN. if i know my horse has a shorter stride, I'm going to either have to plan to try and really open up the stride and get the numbers, BUT if i don't think that will be as smooth as adding, i will have to add gracefully. but I should choose one or the other. I don't want to add for half the fences and leave out for the other half. That's inconsistent. You need to be consistent.

but yes, the goal is that you should be able to hack alone and be productive without the trainers help for some fair amount of time

IrishDeclan
Dec. 5, 2009, 01:53 PM
I completely agree with you. I event, and my coach gets us to the point where we can work independently. She runs a very busy barn with riders of all ages and sometimes when we go off to an event, there will be 8 of us competing. That means that my coach has 8 dressage times, 8 cross country times, and 8 show jumping times to keep track of. It's impossible for her to be at all of our warmups and keep an eye on all of us at the same time. I'm ok with this though because I know that she has schooled us well and taught us to be independent. It's hard right now because my coach got hurt, and she hasn't been out teaching lessons for a few months. But we're surviving because she has given us the tools and exercises we need to continue on. She's always there to offer feedback, but we don't need constant supervison.

LudgerFan
Dec. 5, 2009, 02:09 PM
I firmly believe much of it comes down to the almighty dollar. Truly educating riders is not in the best interest of the trainer's pocketbook. It's in the best interest of horse and rider. So it's kind of a catch-22...a trainer has to make a living. But the riders really need a thorough education.

A lot of it is about control as well, however.

Lucassb
Dec. 5, 2009, 04:04 PM
I know this is a common topic on this board and it is fashionable to go down the whole, "oh trainers don't want independent students; they keep them under their thumb to milk them for $$$$ forever...." but I just don't see it that way.

It's sometimes a valid criticism of the many so-called JAWs that basically have nothing more to offer than the standard, "eyes up, heels down, elbows in" kind of parroting - most have not accomplished much as riders themselves, and thus have little to offer more advanced students.

But if you are talking about legit professionals... it couldn't be any further from the truth.

There is SO much to learn when it comes to riding. I cannot imagine EVER getting to the point where my trainer just says yes or no... but that has *nothing* to do with being dependent.

I have ridden for more decades than I care to admit, and feel perfectly comfortable riding pretty much anything within reason on my own. I can flat a green horse well, do justice to one that is more made, and leave both types softer and more supple at the end of the ride than they started. I have no issues with hacking out, and I've ridden all sorts - from baby TBs at the racetrack, to some pretty high end polo ponies and lots of hunters and jumpers in between. At this point I am a competent amateur rider ... and pretty darn "independent"... but I am not going to be stepping into the GP ring any time soon, nor could I ride a good FEI level dressage test or be a threat to the good pros riding in the neat new Hunter Derbies.

I still take three lessons a week from a TOP pro and find that I learn something valuable from each and every one.

Riders can be pretty darn "independent" or self sufficient at one level and still not be able to step up to the next level without good assistance. For crying out loud, even the stars in the Olympic games have help on the ground. I've watched GM preparing horses and riders at that level and he's doing a lot more than just saying yes or no, I assure you.

A trainer's responsibility is to teach the student as much as they know, and then if they reach a point where the rider is as competent as the trainer is, to direct the student to another pro who can continue to expand that rider's knowledge and experience (assuming the rider wishes to continue to progress.)

justahorseguy
Dec. 6, 2009, 01:55 PM
I think that sometimes when a trainer is teaching someone and they say less, that could indicate a couple of things, either your improving which can say alot about the quality of instruction, or your not improving and your instructor is getting board with the redundancy of it. This is the case with real professionals, they just don't want the money, they want to teach, not just repeat over and over. I like trainers who are tough and fair, I hate lip service.

SarahandSam
Dec. 6, 2009, 02:16 PM
I like that my trainer takes the time to ask me questions and to explain things to me--it's not just "outside rein there," it's "is he straight there? What do you need to do to straighten him out?" It makes me think independently rather than just operate on a set of instructions. (:

Hauwse
Dec. 7, 2009, 07:14 AM
I know this is a common topic on this board and it is fashionable to go down the whole, "oh trainers don't want independent students; they keep them under their thumb to milk them for $$$$ forever...." but I just don't see it that way.

It's sometimes a valid criticism of the many so-called JAWs that basically have nothing more to offer than the standard, "eyes up, heels down, elbows in" kind of parroting - most have not accomplished much as riders themselves, and thus have little to offer more advanced students.

But if you are talking about legit professionals... it couldn't be any further from the truth.

There is SO much to learn when it comes to riding. I cannot imagine EVER getting to the point where my trainer just says yes or no... but that has *nothing* to do with being dependent.

I have ridden for more decades than I care to admit, and feel perfectly comfortable riding pretty much anything within reason on my own. I can flat a green horse well, do justice to one that is more made, and leave both types softer and more supple at the end of the ride than they started. I have no issues with hacking out, and I've ridden all sorts - from baby TBs at the racetrack, to some pretty high end polo ponies and lots of hunters and jumpers in between. At this point I am a competent amateur rider ... and pretty darn "independent"... but I am not going to be stepping into the GP ring any time soon, nor could I ride a good FEI level dressage test or be a threat to the good pros riding in the neat new Hunter Derbies.

I still take three lessons a week from a TOP pro and find that I learn something valuable from each and every one.

Riders can be pretty darn "independent" or self sufficient at one level and still not be able to step up to the next level without good assistance. For crying out loud, even the stars in the Olympic games have help on the ground. I've watched GM preparing horses and riders at that level and he's doing a lot more than just saying yes or no, I assure you.

A trainer's responsibility is to teach the student as much as they know, and then if they reach a point where the rider is as competent as the trainer is, to direct the student to another pro who can continue to expand that rider's knowledge and experience (assuming the rider wishes to continue to progress.)

Well put!!

I also think that when it comes to learning, and I qualify this in reference to good trainers, that there is always something to learn from a good trainer, and that as students remaining humble is important. As soon as we start down the "I know as much as you path" the learning stops, and while it may be advantageous to learn from different sources, or from trainers who participate at different levels, there is generally little knowledge disparity between really good trainers regardless of the level of participation, or discipline base.

For me a lot of training is less about passing on specific knowledge and more about unlocking understanding in a rider. Once the understanding is accomplished at one level the training begins at the next and so on, and there is no limit.

I have over 30 years in the saddle and the only thing I am sure of when it comes to horses is the more I "learn" the less I actually "know", and consequently I will always desire a trainer/mentor.

I still spend long hours talking all things horse with my trainer, my father, and I dread the day that is no longer possible.

Flash44
Dec. 7, 2009, 08:19 AM
Anyone who has been riding for a number of years should be able to go to a show by themselves and put in a decent round without trainer input.

The value of having a trainer with you will be assessing the finer points of riding the course, and improve your chances of getting a better score.

For most adults, your saddle time decreases as you get older due to work, kids, etc; and you want to make the most of the saddle time you get, so you pay a trainer for enlightenment. Sure, you can ride and show on your own, but if you want to compete at the top level, or just keep yourself and your horse well tuned up, there is usually trainer involvement.

Ozone
Dec. 7, 2009, 09:40 AM
I am not a trainer by any means but I notice that the kids are sponges and the adults seem to want to be dependent on the trainers. Im talking the adults that at 35-40+ that are just learning to ride which I understand.

The kids and the adults that have been riding since kid hood - they all took what they have learned from the trainer and brought along some very nice horses independently. I don't care who you are or what level you ride one thing for sure is everyone needs some one to tell them what they are doing wrong and how to fix it. Come the day when trainer cannot do that for you - then it's time to move on ... which is fair.

kateh
Dec. 7, 2009, 05:17 PM
This is exactly why I stuck with my first trainer for so long. There were issues there, but I stuck with her for as long as I did because she focused on teaching you how to train, not just ride. She would give different game plans to each person based on what horse they were riding. She mixed it up with exercises and always explained how to address different issues. For each exercise she'd tell you why she wanted you to do it, why it worked and when to use it. Even though it had been years since I'd ridden with her, when I was finally "turned loose" and had a free lease (sans instruction) I found myself falling back to things I learned in her lessons. My more recent trainers have been much more equitation based and while that's absolutely helped my position and made me more effective, I miss the training.

findeight
Dec. 8, 2009, 11:25 AM
Good discussion topic.

Trainer cannot hold your hand around the course, they have to teach you to problem solve on your own and fix your messes without having to be screamed at and coached where to put each hoof.

The better trainers do that. Despite what you sometimes read on here.

Now, that does not mean you do not need a pair of eyes on the ground and have a discussion of your round after you come out-and you should be able to tell the trainer what you did right and wrong.

If you feel you know more then the trainer or have outgrown them? Time to find a trainer who knows more.

To quote the late Jimmy Williams "It's only what you learn after you know it all that counts".

sptraining
Dec. 8, 2009, 06:45 PM
I completely agree with the OP and findeight (love the Jimmy William's quote btw). I grew up taking lessons on the weekends and riding a bazillion horses on my own during the week without instruction (jumping even, oh my!). The video cam was my best friend and I went to shows on my own (small ones but still on my own). It's invaluable to ride on your own and to practice what you learn in your lessons. You have to create an inner dialogue and that can only be done when someone isn't talking to you.

I think a lot of trainers don't know how to fix a problem, so they resort to yelling or leaving out bits and pieces of important information. It's okay for a trainer not to have all the information, but it's important that when they don't, they seek the advice of someone who does have the answer. I was having trouble with something on one of my horses once and my trainer at the time told me that she had to think about it and would have an answer the next day as to how to work on it. It was really inspiring to know this person who produces good riders didn't have all the answers. Sometimes knowing what you don't know is more important than knowing what you do know.

A lot of trainers don't realize how much impact they can have on an individual. One bad trainer who yells and belittles can make someone feel inadequate for years. One good one can give that person all the confidence they need for life.

Edit: Also, I think it's sort of a silly thing for trainers to do to keep riders "dependent". I'll relish the day when I can turn to my student and say: "You've learned everything I can teach you, let me find you someone who can take you to the next level."...and then I would also start taking lessons with that person. =D Honesty goes a looonnngggg way and you'll gain much more respect in the long run.

RugBug
Dec. 8, 2009, 07:04 PM
Well said to Lucassb and Hauwse.

pattnic
Dec. 8, 2009, 09:26 PM
but yes, the goal is that you should be able to hack alone and be productive without the trainers help for some fair amount of time

I sincerely hope that the goal is to be able to do more than hack alone