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Trainer Selectivity

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  • Trainer Selectivity

    Why do some trainers only teach students who ride Training Level thru Grand Prix, for example, or First Level thru Grand Prix? Of course, it is their right to teach whomever they please. I'm just wondering whether or not they expect the beginner or novice rider to receive their training elsewhere before they are approached for lessons? Are beginner or novice riders really so difficult to teach? Also, are Training Level riders considered novice riders? I'd appreciate any positive thoughts. Thanks.
    You either go to the hospital or you get back on.
    -George Morris

  • #2
    I honestly feel bad for the people training people here to start intro dressage.

    When I switched from AQHA to dressage, my friend helped me rather than a trainer. I was clueless about most everything as far as contact. I'd been throwing horses away my entire life!

    The last two group lessons I watched of very new dressage riders, they were struggling with the same thing I had and the poor instructor was confused and trying to get them to STOP jerking on the mouth to "drop their head" or "get a headset"

    UGH its such a hard transition that I dont blame some from not wanting to mess with it.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


    • Original Poster

      You're right, it is a hard transition, but learning to ride is hard. I just feel that every dressage rider was a beginner once. It seems that if a trainer is not good or patient with a beginner, that's one thing. However, if it is about not wanting to "stoop" to such low levels, that's another. I would love to hear from trainers who do not teach anyone under training or first level. I'm just curious. I'm one of those "Why is the sky blue?" people. This topic has made me realize I should hug my trainer for the patience, sweat, and tears she showed me when I came to her after being in the H/J world for only 3 years before deciding to switch to dressage. Come to think of it, those trainers deserve hugs, also.
      You either go to the hospital or you get back on.
      -George Morris


      • #4
        Another thought is just how difficult it can be to make money as a pro, so you have to be selective.

        If a brand new beginner shows up and says she is transitioning or just starting or whatever but wants to spend a LOT of money to get where she can, the trainer might make an exception.

        Otherwise, if the trainer has a relatively full barn, they need to get the most money they can from that stall. Riders with upper level horses are often more likely to spend more money on shows and on more horses. Trainers make a lot of money from shows and from sales, so that's important.

        As far as haul-in lessons go, there are only so many hours in a day, and for a pro to get their name out there (or maintain an already good reputation), it's best to have upper level riders out there showing and basically advertising for you.

        I've always managed to find people that will work with me, but I grew up riding as a trainer's kid, so when I was making the transition to dressage, I had a lot of experience already.

        Also, money aside, from personal experience, I really preferred for someone else to work with beginners (except for the rare, really exceptional talent) because I preferred the more advanced riders, especially those with their own horses that I was training (much more interesting to school them together). Again, since there are only so many hours in a day, I felt my expertise was better spent on more advanced riders if there were other instructors available that were perfectly capable with the beginners.

        But there are people out there that love to work with beginners, it can just be hard to sort out the good beginner trainers from those that can only teach beginners because they are basically beginners themselves.


        • #5
          It could be a money-based decision: If your student is competing at x level, you can assume they're planning on continuing to move up th levels, that they're serious about it to a somewhat measurable degree. You can also look forward to things like show-day fees, etc.

          It can also be simply an issue of suitability. Just as it takes a special kind of person to effectively teach at the Grand Prix level, it takes a special kind of person to effectively teach beginners. Of course, someone who is capable of teaching the higher levels obviously knows the basics-- but maybe it isn't their strength to convey them to someone just starting out. Or, maybe they just don't enjoy teaching to beginners. If they've got enough students to be able to pick and choose, more power to them.


          • #6
            If I had the choice and the availability of clientele to have my choice, I'd never teach another beginner again. It takes a level of patience that I don't have readily available I've been told that I teach beginners and young children well, but it is an incredible mental strain for me.


            • #7
              I really like teaching beginners and most of my students are novice to intermediate (intro-first levelish). Some of my trainer friends don't teach novices, though. I've never really seen it be because of elitism. Most people who I would want to associate with are aware that everyone needs to start somewhere. I'm sure there are some people somewhere who think it is beneath them but they're probably pretty nasty people anyway.

              Usually, like others have said, it's an issue of a lack of patience/ability or a money issue. It takes a very different skill set to teach beginners. If you have been riding so long it all comes naturally, it can be hard to break things down into the little pieces you need to teach it to a beginner. I know when I first started teaching, it was difficult to explain things like how to post, or how to sit a canter, just because I hadn't had to think about it for years. Requiring a certain level of competence ensures that you're speaking the same language, as it were. Progress can also be very slow with beginners, and they may not be ready to or may not want to compete.

              For a trainer running a show barn, their money and focus is in having horses in training with them and taking their clients to shows as well as lessons. A beginner rider isn't going to put a horse in training if it's suitable for someone at their level, and they're not going to be showing often if at all or doing well when they do show. It's also a matter of focus--there are a few barns that are a little bit of everything, but most have a relatively narrow subset of clients so that they can meet everyone's needs, if that makes sense. It is harder to juggle having riders of all different levels in your barn.
              exploring the relationship between horse and human


              • #8
                CosMonster, I admire you for your ability and willingness to teach beginners. When I was teaching, I rarely taught the more advanced students in a formal lesson setting - that was the head trainer's job. You bring up a great point about having to completely break down your knowledge into the most basic elements. Despite it being frustrating and somewhat taxing, it REALLY taught me a lot and made me rethink my own riding, even the most simple things that I rarely ever considered. I really appreciate that part of it, and I do love the young'uns I taught


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for your responses. I can certainly understand some of the points made for not wanting to teach beginners. It never occurred to me look at the money side of things, in that upper level riders bring more money to a barn than beginner/intermediate riders. I just assumed that novice riders were like me in that they would want their horses in full training and would want to show when ready. Thanks for being candid, as several of the responses have brought "aha" moments to me.
                  You either go to the hospital or you get back on.
                  -George Morris


                  • #10
                    i would think that it would be more fun to teach upper level dressage riders and talented horses than teach beginners on beginner type horses. and i agree that it takes patience that some trainers with talent just do not have for beginner type riders that cant master feel.
                    hey if someone doesnt want to teach beginners, wouldnt you rather know up front than take lessons from someone uninterested and just collecting your check?


                    • #11
                      I have a friend 'on the dark side' (h/j world) who's been a trainer for decades. He is one of the best, even though his name isn't readily recognizable. He's qualified kids for Medal/Maclay finals and won at WEF. He'll take any rider and any horse with the "want to" and make both better than they ever dreamed of being. Never liked the 'up-downers' - (patience/temperament thing more than anything else).

                      Well, he moved to AL and started working out of a barn that had a lot of kids. Many showing at short stirrup level. Most cross-rails and falling on their heads/getting run off with a lot. That was two years ago.

                      His kids have been moving up the divisions in leaps. One (who spent the most time falling on her head and getting run off with) was USEF Green Medium Pony CH and Green Pony Grand CH in 2009. Others, who could barely post, are showing at 3' - 3'6" levels.

                      He's still not STARTING kids (the whole idea makes him shake) - but once they come to him, they learn to be horsemen and really RIDE. 10 year olds who come out of the ring and are asked "Well - what about that round?" And answer "I forgot to put my leg on him through that one combination - I knew it the minute I didn't."

                      The trainers who have the ability to START riders are invaluable. Just like the packer-lesson horses who do their share. It's not a place for everyone. And those trainers/instructors may not have the skill - or the drive - or the experience to take those riders to the middle-upper levels.

                      The FEI trainers who have the experience and the ability to share their knowledge with others to bring riders and horses along into the middle-upper levels are invaluable - where would our young riders be without them?

                      Where would they be without EITHER ONE? And the best instructors/trainers know what they're good at and don't let their egos spoil their students' chances.

                      The smart trainers pick and choose based on what THEY have to offer.
                      Equine Photography in the Northeast


                      • #12
                        for me, it's the enjoyability factor. think of it this way. you are a calculus professor at Yale, and you've been hired to help a second grader with their math homework. How many margaritas will you want at the end of the night?
                        teaching "up down" lessons takes a totally different set of communication tools, patience, technique than teaching someone a canter pirouette.

                        That said, once someone can WTC safely and not haul on their horse's mouths I love to teach them at any level. I particularly enjoy teaching effective equitation. when someone uses their leg properly for the first time, their horse glides over with little effort, and the rider's face lights up.... seriously that makes it all worth it.
                        chaque pas est fait ensemble