I’ve talked about how important a good support network and the right trainer is when you are riding, but how do you find the right person to teach, train and support you? It’s a bit of a minefield, and I know I struggled to find the right trainer for a long time.
There are literally hundreds of ways to find a trainer, and only you can decide who’s right for you and your horse. The only way you will know that is by watching them teach or being taught by them. I’ve found trainers online, through word of mouth, from watching them teach at my yard and sometimes I’ve been driven by who will travel to me. It seems impossible at the beginning!
You can find local riding schools through the telephone directory, or places online like Yell. I learned to ride at a school locally, and still popped back for a lesson here and there once I had a horse of my own. Depending on the riding school, you may find that the level you need to be taught at isn’t catered for, and one of the more specialist places like Talland School of Equitation may be more useful.
Speak to people. Who do you see ride that rides well? Who do the people on your yard train with? Who comes recommended? I tell everyone who asks me how fab my trainers are with the caveat that they may not be right for them but it’s worth a try if they’re looking for one. Events like clinics, camps such as Active Rider and riding club training sessions will give you a chance to try an instructor without the pressure of feeling you need to have them again. Pony Clubs also use lots of different instructors and may be able to suggest someone or let you attend a training session to try a trainer.
Organisations keep directories of accredited trainers, both of my flatwork trainers are accredited through British Dressage and judge to a fairly high level. The find a trainer search on the BD website proved invaluable and in my search I think I contacted around 20 different trainers before I found people who would travel. British Eventing and British Showjumping run similar schemes and directories. The BHS also keep a list of registered instructors in the UK and will be able to direct you to an instructor in your area.
You may even find there are videos of trainers teaching online on YouTube?
Above all, don’t be afraid to try different people and say that they’re not for you. How are you going to know if you haven’t tried someone? Don’t be afraid to change if your long term instructor isn’t working for you any more – you might need some help with a specific movement, or be struggling with an issue they are out of ideas with! Maybe you’ve simply outgrown the teaching?