Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Good Things

The weather is so stinky. On the radio this morning, they mentioned on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst , our air quality is rated '10 plus'. Makes sense because my lungs are like 'Is this even air anymore?' So, due to not being able to breathe, I cancelled my Audrey lesson tonite. Sad face. It's now been 8 days since I rode last and 2 weeks since a lesson. Even sadder face.

Cute sad face courtesy of Ginger. Random (and usually unrelated to the blog content ) media, brought to you by me, as always.

To turn this post positive, I thought this might be an excellent time to delve into why I am am so sad to miss my lessons. Not to dwell on the negative of missing them, but to focus on why I love my weekly lessons so much. You know I love Audrey and I know you're probably sick of hearing how wonderful she is, so we won't go there. Rest assured she's still Best Pony Ever.

Sophie = Future Best Pony Ever. Sophie also = Pony who is so golden and shiny my cell phone camera can't cope. She's the fuzzy glowing thing in my photos that makes Bridget disappear :)

It's been quite a while though since I mentioned the other part of the equation - the coaching itself. So, let's do a good old top ten list of the things I most appreciate about my coach (and good coaches in general!)

1. Has my back. She's running her own business, and no, that business does not revolve around my riding goals or needs/wants. But she's excellent at listening to my (often rambling/incoherent) thoughts and suggesting real world goals and milestones I might want to work towards. No matter how unrealistic my goals or how poorly I ride, she's always able to find a positive way to move forward. I put in the work, she's going to 110% match my effort and help me get where I want to be.

2. Professional. Does not tolerate negative barn gossip, riders who bully or mistreat their horses (or other riders). Ditto for other trainers - no negativity is welcome! I appreciate that the rare time something needs to be addressed, it's done so in a quiet and effective way. Is normally punctual for lessons, and even things like bills are timely and easily understandable.

3. Honest. Doesn't sugar coat anything, but doesn't beat you (or your horse) up over it either. If feedback is negative, always follows up by suggesting a positive action you can take to make steps towards improving.

4. Rides and Competes. This is not a deal breaker for me, but I do appreciate someone who can get on my horse and problem solve if need be. I also like that she's competing and riding with her own coach and bringing back fresh ideas and experiences to share. Bonus points for being active in more than one discipline.

 5. Assertive/Confident. OK, I need to fess up here that I REALLY don't like being told what to do, and this quality can rub me the wrong way with some people. In a riding coach though, it works super well for me because I have someone pushing my boundaries and challenging me to meet their expectations of me. I find people who are confident in themselves also generally don't feel the need to play some of the power games other coaches might.

My two enjoying their vacation last week.

6. Qualified. This matters to me - I always look for someone who has not just the riding and training credentials, but someone who has put in the time to get an education in coaching or is certified through our national organization. Riding instruction doesn't come cheap, so I might as well pay for someone with a professional qualification in coaching AND riding.

7. Positive. This ties into a lot of my points, but I think it deserves it's own. Riding is HARD, so I really, really appreciate someone who approaches it from a positive, hard working mindset. Someone that can encourage me a little and find ways to keep me positive and motivated.

8. Good Communication. Happy to stop mid lesson to explain a concept, and able to break it down into tiny steps if need be. Equally good at explaining the how and the why of what she's asking and presenting alternate explanations or options if need be. On the same general topic - I appreciate coaches who take the time to send out emails or texts about goings on at the barn - everything from schedule updates to links to useful online articles to reminders for show entries, etc.

9. Flexible. Look at me -  middle aged rider on a not dressage pony living a ferry ride away from anything, who has dreams of upper level dressage. And yet, she's provided me with plenty of ideas and options to help me get there.

10. Open Minded. I like having a coach who encourages me to learn outside of her teaching - whether it's reading books or taking clinics with other people. Discussion of the whys and hows of riding and training is always welcome and I always feel like I am free to ask questions or use her as a sounding board for ideas or decisions.

And, my particular coach gets a bonus thing I really appreciate, because I'd never expect this of anyone:

11. Gives Me Lessons On Her (Very Nice) Horse.  You knew I couldn't make a list without including Audrey! In all seriousness though, I don't know too many people who are so generous with ride time on their upper level horse, especially one who is still learning and moving up the levels.

Bridget, the other Best Pony, has a new field to mow while we wait out the weather. She's happy (and shiny!)

What's your favorite thing about your coach or trainer?
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18 comments

  1. You have definitely not only found a great horse to learn on, but one gem of a coach. I really hope the fires get more under control in B.C. and you can get back to all the fun!!

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    1. Fingers crossed, there is a teeny bit of rain forecasted for Saturday!

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  2. That's a great list!

    Also, holy has the Banana Pony grown!!

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    1. Banana Pony is taller than Bridget now!

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  3. So many pieces go into a successful coaching relationship - E sounds like such a great fit!

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    1. A very good match for me and my learning style, for sure.

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  4. I love your list and really like the sound of your coach.

    I don't really have a trainer/easy access to one, but my list would be pretty damn similar if I did. =)

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    1. Probably my actual wish list would have been for someone a little bit kinder/gentler...not that she's not nice enough, but she can be tougher than I though I'd be OK with. What I apparently needed all this time was someone to tell it like it is and kick my butt now and then :)

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  5. Wow has your yellow pony grown! She looks so wonderful! YAY and great list. Sorry about the air quality that sucks!! Feel better!

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    1. Thank you! I swear the Banana Ponyis getting bigger every day!

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  6. Such a great list! It's so funny how even though you and I are hundreds (thousands?) of miles apart, riding in different sports, what we appreciate about our trainers is so, remarkably similar

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    1. Good coaching is good coaching! I'm happy you've got someone so excellent on your side!

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  7. Wow! I can tell why you wanted to keep taking lessons with her even though you moved your pony away, that's a pretty phenomenal combination of a coach! I've never had a trainer who is even half of those things (which may explain the Autonomous part of my dressage identity ;) )

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    1. I was so intimidated of her (and her credentials) at first, I was nervous to even call. I'm so glad I took the chance and stuck with it.

      I was autonomous for many many years prior (like my entire life) - I think that teaches us all kinds of great strengths and skills too!

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  8. Honestly, your trainer sounds awesome and I can see why you would miss lessons with her

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