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Ringside coaching, love it or hate it?

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  • Ringside coaching, love it or hate it?

    So we've all seen it, coaches yelling at students while they are on course at a show, or in a flat class. Ranging from the whispered "hands down" as the rider passes the in gate to full fledged yelling, "PUT YOUR LEG ON HIM!!! I SAID LEG!!!!!"

    Does this bother you?
    I've talked to some judges that absolutely despise it.

    It gets to me a bit because they receive coaching while in the arena, which gives them an advantage over someone like me. I don't get coaching while I'm showing, my coach is considerate. Since he is considerate, we are at a disadvantage. How does that work? I know it doesn't make a huge difference, but it still gets old. In the jumper ring especially, since it isn't being judged, some don't hold back, I've heard trainers calling out the course to their riders. Silly me, taking the time and effort to memorize and walk the course...

    Anyone else dislike it? Anyone who has judged have some input? Do you take off for it? Would you if you were judging?
    "The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die!"
    ----> Pre

  • #2
    I hate it, UNLESS it's a safety issue. Like a horse running away with a petrified newbie.


    • #3
      Being told something doesn't necessarily make them ride better. You don't know the situation for most, if not all, people in the ring. Maybe someone gets extremely nervous and freezes up. Maybe someone is just starting to do that level.

      If it's not loud and obnoxious and there are no rules against it, it's not my concern.
      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


      • #4
        I'm going to weigh in as a coach. I admit I coach from the rail. It's really hard not to for me! I'm a railcoach and I have a problem.....

        The toughest part about coaching is that once the rider hits the ring, it's out of our hands and that is so brutal for a really serious and dedicated coach. We want so much for our students to do well. but yes, it's not the best thing to do because it does draw attention to your rider. The judge often can see you doing it or hear you and it's like pointing a big neon sign to your rider that they are not capable of riding the class on their own.

        but the other tough side of it is that the client is paying me to coach them! And I would feel awful if the rider went right by me on the rail and I could have given them a quick tip that would have helped them and I didn't. I guess it really is situational for me particularly. It depends on what's happening and how intrusive my coaching would be.

        I've even been known to "coach" another rider on the rail just out of habit and because of my sense for all riders to do well. For example, if it is a junior class and a rider is on the wrong canter lead and doesn't know it, I might let them know as they go by. More than once, a rider has thanked me after the class for helping them along even though they weren't my client.
        ...don't sh** where you eat...


        • #5
          NO clucking. LOL a friend used to hit me every time I would cluck from the rail, especially since he said half the time I was pushing the rider through a distance.

          At local level shows it is tolerated. Not A circuit behavior.


          • #6
            Depends on the situation. Schooling shows? Absolutely fine. To me schooling shows are "learning how to ride at shows". It shouldn't go on forever tho, and isn't appropriate at a rated show.
            "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."


            • #7
              I hate it! Just IMO, but I think that if a rider needs real coaching in the show ring, then they shouldn't be in there. I'm not talking about every since instance (my coach will occasionally yell a word or two if a rider is really having trouble) but I'm talking about the trainers that coach a rider through the entire course, saying things like "release! use your stick!"


              • #8
                You can "coach" them in between rounds. To me, a show is a test for the horse/rider combo to see if all the hard work at home is paying off. Getting instruction while in the middle of the round is like having the teacher whisper the answer in your ear.


                • #9
                  I personally do not have a problem with it as long as it quietly past the in-gate. After that it is a little irritating and I personally would be embarrassed if my trainer were to yell at me from the in-gate while I am on course. I do get nervous though while showing, so I do need those little reminders (mostly to breathe) while going past the in-gate sometimes.


                  • #10
                    I have mixed feelings about this. I am by no means a coach but, I have given a few tips when a fellow rider from my barn was in the ring and I was on the rail.

                    In my situation, my coach only says something right as I pass her which generally is something that is said quietly such as "eyes" and she is usually near the in-gate which is a good distance from the judge.

                    I do have a serious problem when coaches are all out yelling across the ring to lets say a rider who picked up the wrong lead or diagnol. I agree with the OP, it annoys me to no end when I hear a coach yelling out a course in the jumpers and I have even come across it in the hunters or eq when a student is about to go off course. If the student doesn't know these skills, why on earth are they paying money to "show off" to the judge their knowledge?

                    I find it only acceptable if a horse starts to run off, misbehave etc and the rider doesn't know what to do in that situation.


                    • #11
                      I don't think it is such an advantage to have that kind of coach. A smooth quiet round with nice clapping at the end looks more professional and prepared than someone who has a railbird yelling "Get the F-ING LEAD CHANGE ALREADY! YOU ARE ON THE WRONG DIAGONAL!!! SHOULDERS BACK!" at them. JMHO.

                      A discreet cluck when going past the in-gate? No big deal. That's not coaching, my mom does that to me when I'm failing to perform to motherly expectations.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rye View Post
                        You can "coach" them in between rounds. To me, a show is a test for the horse/rider combo to see if all the hard work at home is paying off. Getting instruction while in the middle of the round is like having the teacher whisper the answer in your ear.
                        This exactly! Paying a coaching fee doesn't necessarily have to mean a play-by-play in the ring - to warm up/ review/walk course & critique afterwards is part of coaching. Once a rider enters the ring it should be a closed book test... and I feel that way whether is a AA or local schooling... unless the rider is dangerous..


                        • #13
                          A quiet, inconspicuous word or two or signal as a rider goes by the gate does not bother me. Outright yelling out the course, clucking or coaching through the entire course/class is something that detracts from a round and, I think, should be considered when scoring a trip. Sometimes that coaching is necessary to help prevent a bad situation from happening. I don't think it means a horse/rider shouldn't be at the show, it just means they aren't ready to be considered for top ribbons.


                          • #14
                            A brief, quiet comment as their rider passes by doesn't bother me, but anything more is obnoxious and out of place IMO. Its okay at a schooling show which is more of a learning experience but by the time you are competing in rated shows I think a rider should be able to manage without their trainer for the 2-5 minutes it takes to jump a course or hack.


                            • #15
                              I'm with Rye. Funny a judge friend of mine posted about his pet peeves when he judged and rail bird coaching is one of mine. It's a contest to show off what you've learned, not who has the loudest lungs.

                              You can give your client as much bang for their buck by coaching them before they hit the ring and after they come out. When I coached I would ask my kids "Ok, what are you going to think about this round? Great, now go show us what you've learned!"

                              But screaming 'CHANGE YOUR LEAD, CHECK YOU POSTING DIAGNOL, YELLOW JUMP TO WHITE JUMP!' Unacceptable to me at any level. I don't care if it's a schooling show in a back yard. Your job was to teach them how to handle themselves. Stop tainting their rounds by pointing out their obvious flaws.


                              • #16
                                There was a female coach at the Washington International on Wednesday this year who was coaching a kid on her big, chestnut TB-looking jumper. The girl made it to the jump-off, and when she went in to do her round, after the first 2-3 jumps, her coach was yelling at her from the rail, "Faster, faster, FASTER!!!!" She had been doing really well at that point, and then as soon as her coach started yelling, she sped up and started making a lot of mistakes. She pulled 3-4 rails total after that, IIRC. It was horrible and I felt bad for her, because she had been doing very well and just might have won the class. That coach was really, really obnoxious.

                                Normally I don't mind some coaching from the rail. On the rare occasion, I have done it for people at schooling shows who I don't even know well who appear to be anxious or nervous. Nothing major, but just little reminders here and there such as to sit back, relax, or just to tell them that they're doing a good job, etc. I've even helped random people by giving them a leg up at shows, helping them with nervous or spooky horses, holding their horse while they mount, etc., because it just seems like the decent thing to do, especially for riders who might be showing without a coach or who lack confidence or experience. But yeah, if you're a loud and obnoxious coach screaming/yelling at your student from across the arena, that's pretty annoying and unpleasant.
                                "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by see u at x View Post
                                  . . . I've even helped random people by giving them a leg up at shows, helping them with nervous or spooky horses, holding their horse while they mount, etc., because it just seems like the decent thing to do, especially for riders who might be showing without a coach or who lack confidence or experience.
                                  I think most of us have probably done this on more than one occasion, because it is the decent thing to do, but I certainly don't consider it coaching.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Rye View Post
                                    You can "coach" them in between rounds. To me, a show is a test for the horse/rider combo to see if all the hard work at home is paying off. Getting instruction while in the middle of the round is like having the teacher whisper the answer in your ear.
                                    Yes, ma'am.

                                    Speaking as a client, I also find that I can't hear or respond to what the railbirds say.

                                    Also, when I come out of the ring and my trainer wants to do post-game analysis, I have a hard time remembering what happened where and what I did to cause it until I have a couple of minutes to replay the course in my mind.

                                    What I'm aiming toward, in the ring or for that helpful coaching afterwards is the ability to think, feel and change my ride on course. TMI while I'm on course really doesn't help me get to that "thinking ride" that the pros do. I figure that my little pea brain was full by the time I went into the ring.

                                    If coaching from the side actually helped, that would be one thing. If it prevents me from learning to give a good ride in the show ring, it should be taken out of my trainer's style.

                                    Thankfully, the trainers I have chosen are pretty professional and discrete. We agree that "learning to ride" means learning to make autonomous decisions.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat


                                    • #19
                                      My daughter had a catch ride the other day at a schooling show in the mini stirrup (silly, i know, but the wanted the division to fill.) I was so proud of her, as she went around on a strange pony and checked for her diagonals herself. The other 2 coaches were shouting across the ring for their kids to change. Now, she had no chance to win as the filler, but I couldn't have had a prouder moment. All I did as she came past the in-gate was give her a thumbs up and a smile.

                                      Ok, i digress..I agree with the posters who say an inconspicuous word passing the in-gate is ok by me.


                                      • #20
                                        I appreciate my trainer saying things to me when I go by the in gate. But only by the in gate. If I'm having a really bad round, I'll look to him as we pass and he'll reassure me. One or two words is all it ever is, such as "keep your canter." Sometimes he will just say "good" and that is encouraging as well. It is only loud enough for me to hear.