At my last lesson, we worked hard on our canter departure and then our transition back to trot. And since Speedy is so reluctant to soften his neck and jaw, we also worked on that, as usual. As a little something new, my coach also threw in a bit of the stretchy trot on the circle.
I guess I should talk a little bit about my coach and why I call her my coach and not my trainer. There's really a difference. Training is teaching a particular skill through practice and instruction over a period of time. Coaching is ... different. It's athletic, it's private teaching, it's prompting with instructions, it's ... personal! And she's very good at what she does. Yes, she's ridden and shown for MANY years. And yes, she's worked at "big" barns with "big" names. But those things aren't what make her so good as a coach. Well, I am sure they help. But what makes her such an excellent instructor is actually her agenda, or lack of one.
What? I know ... sounds odd.
I worked with several other trainers before I found her, but she was the first one to recognize, and more importantly, embrace MY goals. She saw what I wanted to do and was happy to help me get there. It has never been about what she thinks I should do. Now don't get me wrong. She makes me do stuff ... hard stuff ... stuff that makes me sweat. But from the very beginning she listened to what I wanted to do and then helped me do it.
I wanted to have fun, show at schooling and rated shows, and improve to the best of my ability, in that order.
I took lessons here and there for a year or so before I met my coach. I had actually just met a new trainer that I was hopeful about. She was a very accomplished rider, but seemed hesitant to work with a beginner. When I told her that I would be showing in the next few weeks, she wasn't very encouraging and in fact, predicted pretty low scores for the tests that I would be riding.
The problem was that the trainer didn't understand that my goals were not to win or score high. I simply wanted to experience a show and see if I even liked showing.
In the meantime, I had also met another trainer who did seem to want to work with beginners, Jack's mom. We met a few times, talked about my experiences and what I wanted to do, and she gave me a lesson. When she realized that I had no trainer going with me to my first show, she volunteered to come with me, coach me through my warm-up, and even offered to read the tests for me. With her encouragement and acceptance of my goals, she helped me earn scores of 63.5%. The other trainer's prediction? 36% ...
So that's my dressage coach. I like coaching better than training ...