Thursday, September 15, 2016

What do you want to work on today?

At my last lesson with Dumbledore he asked, "what do you want to work on today? What are you hoping to come away with?"

I bit back my first response, which resembled a less-eloquent version of, 'please just tell me what to do, I'm too tired, I'm paying you so I can feel confident I'm being led in the right direction,' but then thought about it a bit longer and asked to work on better balance in the downward out of the canter.

Unrelated: Chente is totally adorable.

I've been thinking about this a lot. It is reasonable for my trainers to have a lot of autonomy over what my goals are with my horses, after all, I am also a trainer. It is reasonable for me to have that ownership over my daily rides. I probably could not say what my goal is every day before I get on: I try to ride the horse I'm sitting on and not my preconceived notions for what the horse brings to the table. Generally they have a standard deviation of training/behavior and overall holes, but still.

Which brings me to my students. I have a number of students who own horses, and I have many more who don't own but are serious about their riding nonetheless.

I have a plan for each of my students, based on goals that they have given me (or we've developed together), and I know all the things we need to accomplish within those plans for moving toward the goals. Some days, sure, we abandon ship and play around or tackle some new questions or I re-teach the lessons I'm getting from Tracey because I don't fully understand it yet and breaking it down helps me.

Deviations notwithstanding, I generally have a good plan for my students.

At what point do I pass more ownership to their riding on to them?

Here are some arguments I'm having with myself.

1) When a student owns their own horse, it's not necessarily a given that they've ridden a better-schooled horse than the one they are sitting on.
2) It's possible that the biggest problem a student will be aware of is one that I've already started helping them to solve.
3) They have chosen to ride with me because of my track record with training riders (or my proximity or because their friends ride with me or their parents like me, but that's a business discussion, not a training one) so they must inherently trust the plan I've laid out for them.

I love my mountains.

Is it then my responsibility to encourage students to take more thoughtful ownership of their riding by posing them these questions and expecting them to have a realistic response?

I think so.


  1. Yes it is a good goal. I have seen too many people passively doing what their instructor said with no real understanding. Which is of minimal harm if that person is knowledgeable and kind to horse and rider. But then they never really take ownership of their horse and the training. In the end that does not make us good horse people.

  2. Yes please! My first trainer never really got into much for me (sure I only got up to 2'3 but still!) besides heels down, eyes up. And tbh it kills me. At the walk trot level, yeah that is all I really needed. But knowing that I did't have a point and shoot horse and that basically was her only method of teaching me kinda sucks. She is still a trainer and I believe she teaches differently now but god I am so upset I didn't get a stronger education in horses until the past few years