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Better Education for the Lower Levels

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  • Better Education for the Lower Levels

    I would love to have a discussion about education, specifically at the lower levels and it's availablity to up and coming professionals.

    At the 2009 USDF Convention in the Region II meeting, this topic was briefly discussed and I remember Maryal Barnett talking about the Instructor Certification program being extended to include a Lower Level Certification (currently, it starts with 2nd Level and below).

    I thought this was a great idea and have really been looking forward to this becoming available.

    As a coach, I often get horses and riders coming over from other trainers or barns with a lot of bad habits and misonceptions about the goals of Dressage. For the last time, it's not about a "head set"!!! hahah

    Seriously though, when a student (or parent) is looking to get into this or any equine sport, they often have NO idea what to look for in a coach. Often they google it and decide on a trainer based on location or by [cheapest] price.

    Many of these riders eventually decide to get more serious and often learn that what they've been taught is fundamentally incorrect. (i.e. see-saw to get the head down Don't laugh, I've actually had students tell me that is how they were taught!)

    How many years (not to mention money!) do these riders waste having to re-learn the basics?

    I think quality of education is important from the beginning. Good training shouldn't be reserved for the few that are lucky enough to get into the right hands from the beginning.

    I hope that the USDF will eventually do us all (riders and professionals) a favor and roll out a program to certify lower level coaches/instructors soon. Hopefully, this will reduce the amount of riders who fall into the hands of uneducated "professionals" and allow us to improve the quality of the sport from the ground up.

    Lets discuss!

    BTW, I do realize that there are other organizations that offer lower level certifications in Dressage, but I've read through the criteria for many of them and I just don't believe they are really up to par.... (disclaimer: not saying that anyone with these certifications is necessarily unqualified!)
    Concordia means "Harmony" in Latin.
    Full Time Dressage Addict

  • #2
    I do not think it is, or ever has been, a very good idea for anyone to teach anyone anything unless they have a very good understanding of what it is they are teaching.

    It takes quite a bit of hands on experience to teach well ... one must be able to explain why something works, not just "do it because I was taught that that is the way to do *it*".


    • #3
      I agree. A certification system at the lower levels would hopefully standardize some of the training, and make it easier for new students to learn good basics. For most people, finding a good first instructor is completely hit or miss (I know it was for me) and certified teachers might take out some of the guesswork. I am not an instructor, so I can only imagine the retraining you have to do with new students who never learned the basics.

      In some ways the "stuff" that makes up the foundation of dressage is the easiest to learn (though they somehow take the longest to "get"), but those same aspects are the things that you use year after year, horse after horse, no matter how advanced you get. Things like:

      1. A good, balanced, independent seat... including over low fences

      2. Quiet, tactful hands and aids

      3. Learning to feel what the horse is doing beneath you

      4. Horses are to be ridden back to front

      I was incredibly lucky when I began taking lessons. The local trainer taught excellent basics (I've never gone wrong with them), and has since gone on to bigger and better things overseas. However, it's a great foundation that make a good rider... the rest, in my opinion, is icing on the cake.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
        I do not think it is, or ever has been, a very good idea for anyone to teach anyone anything unless they have a very good understanding of what it is they are teaching.

        It takes quite a bit of hands on experience to teach well ... one must be able to explain why something works, not just "do it because I was taught that that is the way to do *it*".
        Well obviously, but the reality is there are a LOT of people who do anyway....
        Concordia means "Harmony" in Latin.
        Full Time Dressage Addict