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How did you find a coach to help with your disability?

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  • How did you find a coach to help with your disability?

    Curious how others found a riding coach that could empathize and adapt around their disabilities?

    I realize that the coach I was working with, and who I liked when I was fully able bodied, is unable to adapt her teaching style to my varying symtoms...which suprises me as she is so adaptable otherwise (to different breeds and builds of riders).

    Fortunately my horses are both very understanding.

    Or are their useful books?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    I was in a horrible rollover truck accident 6 years ago and suffer from neck and back issues. I take Morphine along with Vicodin everyday but still have days when I have pain. I have been able to continue to ride but I have changed as a rider. Because I am always trying to protect my back I kind of hunch up and lean forward. I have struggled to over come it but have not found a solution or trainer to help me.

    I ride reining horses and have rode with 3 different trainers over the last 6 years. Until recently they have all been able bodied...........my horses trainer got hurt several months ago and now has a ruptured disc. I have noticed that now that he suffers the same pain and issues that he is able to put himself in my shoes. No trainer I have rode with has been able to help me get over my leaning issue.....they just tell me I am leaning and I try to straighten up. I wish they could give me some tools to permanetly overcome it.
    RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
    May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
    RIP San Lena Peppy
    May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


    • #3
      A trainer that understands the biomechanics of both horse an rider would be my pick. Most middle age riders have some ailment that will prevent them from doing everything on the back of the horse - be it a bad back, knee, ankle, or hip.

      A mature and patient trainer understands that at some point, we don't lose our desire to ride and make up for our weaknesses. Horses have weaknesses also, that's why I think a trainer who is student of biomechanics is the best choice.


      • Original Poster

        But how do you find that?

        "Hi, I see your teach dressage. Do suffer from any chronic pain? Any loss of fine motor skills? How are you on your empathy and adaptive skills?"

        I didn't have to be in pain to be able to listen to a client and try to help them, but seems harder to find a highish level dressage trainer in the small pool to select from with the ability to adapt.

        Maybe trying to find someone aged? Although then their ability to get here may be more complicated....

        Can you think of any non-riding therapies that may be useful to help me help myself?
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • #5
          I got very lucky with my driving trainer--she totally understood my limitations and worked with me to find ways around them. I had called and interviewed several driving trainers who came highly recommended but wanted no part of me. I was at my wits' end, and then someone recommended this wonderful woman in a horse forum, of all places. I called her and knew I'd found the right person.

          My first lesson, and I could not get into her cart. We'd already harnessed her schooling horse and he was all ready to go, and I just couldn't get up there. She and a friend got me there, and then for the rest of my lessons, she switched to a buggy that was more accessible.

          I am glad no one had a video recorder going during that first lesson. She and her friend are both elderly, I was in my 40's at the time, and they had to help me!



          • #6
            Be honest with yourself. What are your needs that are different from any other rider. Call around be up front and watch many lessons. Don't be afraid to do one lesson and say"thank you but I don't think this is going to work." It is a lot of trial and error Any theraputic plaes near you that you could ask for recommendations? It may take some time but a good trainer is worth it.
            Communication is the big thing. If you are having trouble with something due to a disabilty speak up. If it is not something the trainer is used to they may not be seeing it.A good trainer should be able to adapt. They just may need a little help in doing so. One of my old trainers (now retired) had me doing a jumper course. She was calling the colors of the fences. I have a vision problem with slight color blindness. Everything was going well until a reddish brown fence came up. Well the red and reddish brown look the same to me. I got totally lost on course. Trainer stopped me and then walked me through the course Slight bobble on the trainers part but she adapted easy.


            • #7
              I was just very upfront when I went looking. I said, look, I used to be good, I am not anymore. I have neck, back, knee and hand issues. I still want instruction and to do the best I can, but I no longer have show ambitions per se. I want to be safe and comfortable on my horse, and I want him to be as comfortable as possible. Is this something that would interest you? Would it be ok if we did a couple of test lessons? So I tried out a few and found my current trainer. I have made progress but it has been over a period of several years and I still have ways to go. She has been patient and persistent and tunes my horse up for me a couple of days a week. That way he stays in shape and gets his proper carriage reinforced while I continue my progress.


              • #8
                If you are looking for a high-level dressage trainer, perhaps you can reach out to some of Canada's Paralympians (once they get home from London; they're a bit busy now!) and network or get referrals? Canada has some excellent paradressage riders -- find out who is coaching them or who might be close enough to you and has both upper level experience and experience coaching people with disabilities.
                I evented just for the Halibut.


                • Original Poster

                  Yes, I was thinking along those lines too NeverTime. I think they are mostly in BC though. But may find one worth bringing up to do clinics in the area. Wondering if I could find someone to offer online lessons when I have a specific body issue that I need help/idea with...not sure if that would work though.
                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CHT View Post
                    Yes, I was thinking along those lines too NeverTime. I think they are mostly in BC though. But may find one worth bringing up to do clinics in the area. Wondering if I could find someone to offer online lessons when I have a specific body issue that I need help/idea with...not sure if that would work though.
                    They can't have all started in BC, though, can they? So there might be folks in your area who aren't big names but still have the skill to help you out with your specific problems, possibly in combination with another trainer who does have more high level experience?


                    • #11
                      There must be some para equestrians in the Alberta dressage scene?

                      Are you involved in the Alberta dressage associations? Someone there must know who the paraequestrians are and who they ride with.

                      Andrea Taylor is the national coach of the Canadian para team. Maybe try to get her out for a clinic or see if she can recommend a trainer for you.

                      She has a website:


                      • Original Poster

                        I know of ONE local rider with MS, and she was refered to trainers in BC. I don't know of any other para riders...but then I am not a para rider, just one with special needs/considerations (neuro issues don't count as para)

                        It isn't just being able to adapt my abilities to be able to ride, but also to a certain extent how my horses (both are green) are worked with. I just cannot use force to train them as I cannot count on having force available to me.

                        For example at a recent schooling show, my young horse panicked at her first intro to cows. She could not handle the cows, and anytime she got the cows in her line of sight she would rear. ..a very new habit for her. The judge (also a coach) thought I should kick/whip her forward, but the risk of her going further up and over is too high...and I would not be able to get off soon enough. Plus...I can neither kick nor carry a dressage whip. We I gave up showing, got a few circles in shoulder fore so she could not look at cows, and called it a day.

                        I think I HAVE found a local coach who can help with my body awareness issues once the season is over (she sounds like she would enjoy the challenge) Would really help if DH would let me buy a trailer I can load/unload by myself so I CAN actually haul to her...but that is a seperate issue.
                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!