I stumbled across Chloe Spencer’s blog – and a post she’d written here about training and how important it it. It really got me thinking about the training I have, that others have and the impact of it.
She quite rightly points out that nobody does it by themselves, the top riders all have a fantastic support network that without they quite probably wouldn’t be the great riders that they are. Talent obviously helps, however, without harnessing that and channeling it in the right way – who knows where those riders would be now? Mary King. Laura B, Maria Eilberg, Mathias Rath, Carl, Anky… the list goes on. Who’s to say Charlotte would be the success she is today without Carl Hester behind her? No one can argue she isn’t exceptionally talented but is talent enough?
Carl watching Charlotte warm up at Hagen
When Diddles first came home, I spent many many months searching for the right trainer. I wasn’t sure what ‘right’ looked like, but I knew I’d know when I found it. I had lesson after lesson where I didn’t really come away feeling like I’d made headway or improved much and eventually started to blame myself.
I had lessons with BD trainers, PC instructors, people recommended by people on the yard and finally last year had some lessons with someone who was so highly recommended it was untrue. None of them really worked for me.
I’d end a lesson feeling like I could ride, I’d try to replicate it at home and it’d fall to bits – I’d end a session in tears (..who hasn’t?) and feel like I really couldn’t ride without someone yelling instruction across the arena constantly. I regressed, stopped pushing myself and spent sessions doing the bits I *could* do and never improving.
Eventually, I found the right trainer(s). They’re sympathetic to my issues, but have answers and provide me with a toolkit to help me when I’m alone. No one had EVER pointed out simple things like if my whip is pointing towards her outside ear, my hands are in the correct position before so how was I supposed to know if I was right with no guideline or benchmark? I’m pushed, but not so far I struggle. Just outside of my comfort zone and I’m left with a million and one things to work on.
Think about what you struggle with at home? Is it your position? Do you just not get half pass? Is your centre line more of a squiggle? Look at your test sheet – what do the comments suggest you work on? Suppleness? Contact?
Lessons are expensive, I don’t doubt that for a second. Not all can budget for a lesson with Anky or Emile. However, once you find the right trainer who’s within your budget, a lesson a month where you come away with homework is suddenly attributable to that 10% score increase, or the clear round over the 1m course that’d been your bug bear for the past 6 months.
For me, the right trainer is the one who’s voice you hear as you come down the centre line. The one who’s instructions echo in your mind as you ride to that oxer. The one who’s there to support you and give you the tools to work through things when they don’t go quite right. The one who’s genuinely pleased with your achievements, however small in comparison to theirs. Above all – they never make you feel you can’t do something.
What makes your trainer great?