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Ever taken a sabbatical from your primary trainer?(long)

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  • Ever taken a sabbatical from your primary trainer?(long)

    Just as the title says - I'm considering taking a brief (hopefully) hiatus from my primary trainer. This will be long, so I apologize in advance.

    I've been with her (let's call her "Coach") for three years. She is an UL rider and is quite well known in this area. I have searched long and hard for someone of her quality, and she has improved my riding by A TON. I love her, and I want to continue working with her.

    Lately, I've been taking lessons with an UL dressage rider and she has helped me immensely. I bring this up because Coach knows this, and I don't think it's sitting well with her, but she is classy enough to not say anything about it (to me, anyway). I'm afraid that if I bring up the idea of taking a brief break from her to work on some confidence issues, she REALLY won't take this well due to the dressage situation.

    To summarize, I've been having confidence issues that will. not. go. away. I will have a lesson coming, get apprehensive about it and start looking (subconsciously) for excuses to cancel, suck it up and go, get pushed and then feel wonderful about accomplishing it, and then go right back to where I was before for the next lesson. I feel like I'm having the same lesson over and over again, with little to no discernible (sp?) progress. I have talked about this with Coach, even asking her to lower the heights of the fences or simplify the exercise to start, and her answer is, "No. Just go do it." She says that I need to be pushed beyond my comfort zone and she wouldn't ask me to do something that she didn't think I could do. I trust her, and she's right, and I know that both my horse and I are fully capable, but it's a mental block and this method of "just doing it" ain't workin' for me. I'm an older ammy rider, and my confidence, flexibility, and ability to heal is not what it used to be, and I think my brain knows this. My horse is willing, talented, and very quiet, but is also very sensitive and does exactly what I tell him to do with my body. Coach says that I should put him in training with her for a month. For many reasons that I won't get into, this is not possible or palatable for me. Plus, it doesn't address the MENTAL block I am having. Coach says that everybody deals with fear issues, and that we just learn to deal with them on our own. She knows I want to move up, but hasn't come up with ways to help me address the fear/apprehension.

    I have found a wonderful trainer through a hunter friend of mine - let's call her M. M is mostly a hunter trainer, and a GOOD one (none of this hunter-perch floppy rein thing). She does have a few eventing clients and has gone XC herself, but isn't the UL rider that Coach is. She and I have talked in depth about my mental block and she knows about Coach and that I am unwilling to leave her. M specializes in working through anxiety and fear issues, and in the three lessons I have had with her (she comes to my barn - I trailer out to Coach's place), we have made HUGE strides. I used to not be able to jump a course at home because of the problems I would cause. Coach told me not to jump without her. I can only afford one lesson a week, so if I don't jump in a lesson, I can't practice at all - hence, why I am not making progress. After the 2nd lesson with M, I was able to jump around a course the same size as the ones I was working through with Coach all by myself, successfully, and have fun dong it. What's more, I find myself actually looking forward to these lessons with her and not looking for excuses to cancel, because even though I get pushed slightly beyond my comfort zone, it's in a very progressive way and I leave feeling like I have a few more tools in my box to handle the times when things don't go right.

    I feel like if I can tackle these issues and address the mental thing, I can go back to Coach within the year and start doing the things she wanted me to do and actually grow. I would still like to take from M occasionally after this, because I think that every eventer could stand to finesse his/her jumping, and M knows all of this. How do I address it with Coach without hurting her feelings? I don't want to burn any bridges. I truly respect and admire Coach - I just don't think that she knows how to address this, because she doesn't understand where it is coming from, since she is an extremely talented, gutsy rider and it's been a looooong time since she has been in my shoes.

    What would you do? I appreciate it if you've stuck through this saga with me and read 'til the end. PM me if you'd like, but I'm not going to give out any more details (names, etc.) that could get back to Coach until I am ready to address this myself with her. Thanks so much!

  • #2
    I don't know how old you are but would guess "old enough to stick up for yourself" and that's how I would look at this. I see nothing on earth wrong with what you're proposing. You've clearly thought it through and are not just making decisions with on impulse here.

    A coach with whom you have a good working relationship deserves a fair explanation of your short-term goals, and although her feelings might be hurt on some level, she is a professional and it would be no reflection on YOU if she acted like an adolescent about this. ALL OF US take pride in what we do and it stings a little to face the reality that someone else may do it slightlly better, or even just differently, wherein the client/customer likes the other person's way better or it works better for them.

    Being an adult means not pouting about this. If we are all confident in our professional qualifications and comfortable in our own skins, we can handle this sort of tiny little "sting". It doesn't mean your trainer needs to change HER style, or that you need to become a different person for her. You've just found a means of tackling a training problem that is working better for you.

    The reality is that most of us do not have unlimited time and resources to spend on lessons, schooling, training or shows. Heck, if I did ALL my horses would be in full training and I'd find time to ride all of them, every day, when I wasn't hauling them all over the country for shows week after week!

    It may seem scary, but I would suggest you put your thoughts as stated above together and have a sit-down with your regular trainer and spell out what your plans are. She works for you, but I get it that you have a relationship that goes beyond that. If you are friendly, professional, appreciative but honest, you will get your point across.

    Sometimes it takes a different voice or technique to get something to happen. No professional would take this personally to the point where it ought to ruin an otherwise good relationship.

    Good luck.
    Click here before you buy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by alternating_alter View Post
      .... How do I address it with Coach without hurting her feelings?....
      I am sorry to say that I do not know a way to do what you need to do without hurting her feelings at least a little bit. I mean wouldn't it hurt your feeling a little bit too if someone told you that you were not helping with a problem and they needed to get help elsewhere? You clearly know that your issues are not getting any better and need to make a change. It is OK to make the change, even if it hurts your current coaches feelings. If she is a mature adult, she will get over the hurt feelings.

      Originally posted by alternating_alter View Post
      ...What would you do?...!
      Be honest with her, she deserves that as she has been a good coach to you, and tell her that your fear issues are not getting better and you need a different program to get over them. Tell her that when you get over your fear issues, you will be back. Maybe that will help smooth things over a bit until you are ready to come back.


      Best of luck to you. Fear issues are not fun at all!!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Been there, Doing that (longish)

        I agree with DW and find that in the end, talking it through is the healthy choice mentally and emotionally. By holding in your thoughts and feelings you build up, little by little a wall that the longer this goes on, it gets bigger and bigger till one day you discover there is little connecting you but momentum.

        This happened to me as I began to learn. I am also an adult starter, not having ridden before 45. While my early issues were not related to fear, they were related to feeling set aside when "better" riders would join a group lesson, or at shows when better riders got more attention while I struggled with starting out. Some...much of that was me, but I never addressed my feelings to my "coach". Over time the feelings turned to resentment, suppressed anger, and a general unhappy approach to riding.

        When my horse and I fell I was "forced" out of eventing for at least a year to heal. At some point I finally decided I needed my own wings (so to speak), my own space and I bought a farm, moved my horse there and looked for my next eventing horse. When I bought him I quickly realized that (1) quality trainers are few and far between, (2) I thought I could train on my own with a strange horse and that was becoming a disaster. My SO had been taking lessons with my "coach", I think telling her my trials, and slowly worked on me to seek her help.

        There came a show where "coach" was going to be there with her gaggle of students and so was I. I peeked over that "wall" and asked if she would mind coaching me for the simple CT course I was registered for. She said yes and thank goodness. I did dressage on my own and my guy bucked 5 times during the test, at least 3 in warm up. I was on the edge when I got to jumping warmup. "Coach" took one look at us, pulled down the cross rails and within 15 mins had us relaxed and at the least going over poles. That moment I decided I'd work with her again and started to bash down the wall I had created. Since then she has taken us from nervous and most likely to buck, to calm and jumping two novice jumps.

        I mention this story, because like what DW says, there may be a sting, but if a coach cannot solve a problem, they understand that the best and safest step is to find someone who can. If you took off then came back feeling better, more confident, that means your "coach" can now focus on riding, and not so much doubt. If she balks and says "you went away, stay away" then you don't have a professional or one with your best interest in mind. From what you described, a break wont hurt your relationship in the long run. I am grateful to be back with my coach and I am much more willing to talk about my needs.

        Now, you opened up about your doubt/fear issue and I have to say, you mirror my own. I can jump home fences up to 2'6, but I look at a coop I made at that height and my heart twists. I visualize riding a course, something I love to do, and even in my mind I see a stop (sigh). I'd love to know what the other trainer is doing to help reenforce confidence. Like your horse, mine is a willing partner, but not experienced in cross country. He jumps well, but is sensitive to my thoughts (body language). I have talked with my coach about this issue. We're still working on approaches to handling doubt. Anything you may pass? Feel free to PM if you want.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think the biggest thing for you to understand, and you probably already know this, is that everyone learns differently. Also, everyone "needs" something different out of their lessons. If it's obvious that this other trainer teaches you in a way that helps you to improve (how you learn) and gives you confidence (what you need), I think you've found your new "coach". Have a talk with your current coach, let her know it's not personal (this is after all a business transaction) and go have some fun!

          Comment


          • #6
            After riding with one trainer and one trainer only for almost 10 years (from the time I was 8) I decided that I was going to ride with whom ever I want from then on out.

            I take lessons with my good friend who is great, I take lessons with a local ULR who is great, I do clinics with BNT who are great, and sometimes I just take random lessons with people (which are.. you guessed it.. great!).

            I will never commit myself to one trainer only, there's so much to learn from other people.
            http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

            Comment


            • #7
              I switched trainers and while it was uncomfortable, it was the best move I ever made. There are two different trainers at my barn and I had been riding with one trainer and had my horse in training with her. My confidence, which wasn't great to begin with, kept going lower and lower and my trainer kept telling me I just needed to ride stronger, faster, etc. etc. I got to the point where I thought seriously about selling my horse. I told my trainer that I was going to try a lesson with the other trainer because I needed to try something different and that it wasn't anything personal.

              Do I think she took it personally? Sure. I think it's hard to lose a client and even harder since we're still at the same barn, but she has remained mostly friendly and professional. But after three months of lesson with the other trainer, my confidence is starting to show up again. I still get anxious before a lesson sometimes, but mostly I'm just excited because I am actually making tangible progress.

              So, switch. Now. Don't spend another dime on a coach who isn't right for you at this time. Horses are expensive, dangerous and time consuming. It's not worth riding with someone who isn't a good fit for you and though your coach might have been a perfect fit in the past, it definitely sounds like you need a different approach.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by alternating_alter View Post
                I have talked about this with Coach, even asking her to lower the heights of the fences or simplify the exercise to start, and her answer is, "No. Just go do it." She says that I need to be pushed beyond my comfort zone and she wouldn't ask me to do something that she didn't think I could do. I trust her, and she's right, and I know that both my horse and I are fully capable, but it's a mental block and this method of "just doing it" ain't workin' for me.
                ........

                Coach says that everybody deals with fear issues, and that we just learn to deal with them on our own. She knows I want to move up, but hasn't come up with ways to help me address the fear/apprehension.

                ....

                I feel like if I can tackle these issues and address the mental thing, I can go back to Coach within the year and start doing the things she wanted me to do and actually grow.

                ....

                I truly respect and admire Coach - I just don't think that she knows how to address this, because she doesn't understand where it is coming from, since she is an extremely talented, gutsy rider and it's been a looooong time since she has been in my shoes.

                I would take the four excerpts above and compose them into a short 'speech'. I'd avoid anything that sounds like blame, fault or failure.

                Dear coach, I really respect and admire you a lot. The "just do it" approach isn't working for me right now and seems to exacerbate the mental blocks I've been having, which are holding me back from progressing. I'm going to take some time to address my confidence issues and work on my mental game and once I've accomplished that, I look forward to working with you again to achieve our goals.

                Comment


                • #9
                  As others have said, if you need someone else to help you progress then use that person.

                  I'd suspect part of the current coach's problem with understanding your issue is that you are doing what she asks and then you are happy about the results after the lessons. Perhaps she feels that if she lets you jump lower you will get stuck there. IDK, but I think if you talk with her about the level of your fear she might offer an explaination. Even if it doesn't make her happy to hear this, you have given her the chance to understand how you feel and perhaps a chance to acknowledge your need for someone else right now.

                  Best thing to do is be honest with your current coach. Horses are a small world and she'll find out you are working with someone else eventually. Better to be upfront and have it come from you now. Honestly, if she doesn't understand then it really is her problem and not yours. I went through that with a trainer last year and in the end I accepted that she really wasn't a friend if she didn't understand my needs. If being their student is all about them instead of about you, your riding won't progress.

                  Good luck!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    JP60 - I would love to share this new trainer's thoughts with you, but you are not set up to receive private messages. If you can change your settings, i'd be happy to share them with you!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Go work with M!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If her methods are working for you, you need to follow this.

                      Good luck.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I actually intended to take a break from my dressage trainer; ended up changing trainers completely! I will always be grateful for the start she gave my mare, but it was just.not.working any more. In the end I realized that this trainer, plus my horse, plus me, were just not a good combination. I'm with a different trainer who has a different focus, and my horse has never gone as well as she does now...
                        "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                          I would take the four excerpts above and compose them into a short 'speech'. I'd avoid anything that sounds like blame, fault or failure.

                          Dear coach, I really respect and admire you a lot. The "just do it" approach isn't working for me right now and seems to exacerbate the mental blocks I've been having, which are holding me back from progressing. I'm going to take some time to address my confidence issues and work on my mental game and once I've accomplished that, I look forward to working with you again to achieve our goals.
                          Second this!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It sounds like you respect and admire your coach, and you have built a history working together. The crucial element that is missing is that your coach is no longer effective with you, for whatever reason. Do not stay with her because you don't want to hurt her feelings, she is well known and respected, and you've been with her for a while. Your gut has led you to find something else that does work for you. Great! As my husband told me when I was in a similar situation recently, this should be fun, and your stomach shouldn't be in knots before each lesson!
                            It's a hard situation to be in because you are obviously a kind person and don't want her to feel bad or be mad at you. Your riding and enjoyment are much more important, so trust your gut.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It sounds like it would help BOTH you and Coach if you worked with MM for awhile. Put it that way to Coach. This is something you need to do to work through the block, so that you can be the rider you want to be when you go back to Coach.

                              Student-teacher relationships are complex, and horse instructor-student relationships are even more complex, imo. Probably every long-term rider-instructor pair need a break from each other from time to time. People get into a pattern and it becomes hard to break, but the pattern can start to block progress to a different place.

                              This isn't a marriage and you aren't proposing divorce. You are not severing the relationship, and it doesn't sound as if Coach will think you are. Get some perspective on the horse part of your life, and where it fits in your whole life. Then do what is best for ***you*** and don't worry about anyone else - they will be fine.

                              Don't lock yourself into something that isn't less than it should/could be for both you and Coach. That does not help either one of you. Think about what you will wish you had done a couple of years from now.

                              Don't be over-protective of this relationship (you & Coach as instructor & student) to the ultimate detriment of the relationship. Allow Coach to have a break as well. Allow something new to happen in her program while you are schooling with MM.

                              This sport is not worth doing unless you feel personally strong enough to do what you need to do, and to be the rider that you want to be.

                              (btw Are you trying to be the rider you want to be, or the rider Coach thinks you should be? That can really skew the confidence build. Once you are working with MM, think about what goals you want, not what someone else thinks you should want. It could be that deep down you and Coach are not on the same page.)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Any trainer/instructor worth their salt would encourage you to broaden your knowledge base.
                                her insecurities are not your responsibility
                                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                  Dear coach, I really respect and admire you a lot. The "just do it" approach isn't working for me right now and seems to exacerbate the mental blocks I've been having, which are holding me back from progressing. I'm going to take some time to address my confidence issues and work on my mental game and once I've accomplished that, I look forward to working with you again to achieve our goals.
                                  Perfect.

                                  If Coach has a problem with that, it may be time to move on. But it sounds like Coach will understand. If not, no matter how much regard you have for her, she may just not be the right choice for you. That does *not* make you a bad rider or a bad person. Nor does it make her a bad coach. Just not the best one for you.

                                  But ... not there yet ... could be you spend some time with MM, and go back to Coach for a splendid wonderful future.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    So, they teach the same thing, but your comfort level is better with the new one?
                                    I.D.E.A. yoda

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks for all the support. Now, do I wrrite her an email or say these things in person or over the phone? She's pretty busy and it's hard to pin her down.

                                      Ideayoda - they are sort of teaching the same thing, but presenting it in a different way - different means to the same end. And yes, I am definitely more comfortable with the progressive way that M is teaching it, rather than Coach's "get it done" atttitude.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I love my hunter trainer. He also has a way of getting me to do things easily.
                                        I would not email. I personally don't get to my email sometimes until late at night and it would upset me to get one, no matter how nicely worded.
                                        I would call or do it in person.
                                        I would LOVE to hear what what M has told you that helps you so much.
                                        www.ncsporthorse.com

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