How do you pick a dressage coach?! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 21 Old 04-19-2014, 08:55 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
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I chose my coach based on her credentials, although here in the US, those are less worthwhile to look at than elsewhere, IMO.

Another factor was her students. She only has a few, but all of them are showing successfully and their horses are correct and happy for their level.

She's also ridden competitively and has a show record herself, albeit it was many years ago.

"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein
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post #12 of 21 Old 04-19-2014, 09:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: SW PA
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I'm an older adult and expect to be treated with dignity. No yelling. No insults. I know my many faults and want intelligent help with those faults.

I want someone who encourages me to attend clinics held by other instructors, and to take lessons from another instructor.

I want someone who rides my horse well showing him dignity. Who doesn't get upset or frustrated when he acts, as she says, naughty. She corrects the behavior and calmly moves on.

She encourages me every step of the way.

She has her silver medal. She also takes lessons and goes to clinics all the time.

She has students who show well and all the time. Other students like me that show a few times a year just to see my progress, and some students who don't show at all. Yet she treats us all the same.

If, in between lessons, I'm working on 'homework' and have an issues I can contact her and she will help me with whatever riding issue I am having.

She understands dressage isn't the end all for me. I like the trail; want to work cows; and, want to hunt.

My instructor is great! Can you tell I truly enjoy taking lessons?
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post #13 of 21 Old 04-24-2014, 01:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 387
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Finding an instructor that has shown isn't that big of a deal to me. In fact, I've had incredibly bad luck with instructors around here that HAVE shown, as they seem to rush the horse through its training so it can SHOW, SHOW, SHOW. I do not have the money to show anyway, so quality training is key for me. I don't like shortcuts. I don't like force. I want the classical dressage where you were training a horse so that it'd stay with you during a battle, not high-tail it outta there!

Where the instructor learned their knowledge is important to me. My previous instructor went to Meredith Manor, then rode with the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions. Believe it or not, she did not tell many people about that. She didn't like to toot her own horn. Some of the other dressage riders at my barn looked down on her because she didn't show, didn't have top-notch warmbloods, and didn't rush things. She also didn't go to nearby clinics from "Gold Medal/Olympic worthy/etc." clinicians. She was a single mother trying to make ends meet. She didn't have the money to show, although she did have several horses that she had bred herself for movement and disposition.
Although some of her students showed, many of us did not. We just wanted a good relationship with the horse. Also, she worked extensively on building a good foundation, with the belief that "once a good foundation is built, everything higher up will come easier." Many of the people that showed regularly expected faster results, and they didn't get that with her, so they moved on to another instructor. Of course, these people have already bottomed out at 2nd level, because they didn't put the time and effort into establishing that foundation.

I knew my instructor was a good one. (Unfortunately she's moved now.) Every horse I brought to her acted ornery or had some little problem. After a few months of lessons with her, these same horses would enjoy riding so much more. It used to be that I'd go out to the pasture with a halter, and they'd all run. Now, I go out and they all come up as if saying, "Pick me! Pick me!" It's a good feeling.
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post #14 of 21 Old 04-24-2014, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: SW MO
Posts: 890
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Hopefully not a hijack

I have really enjoyed the comments posted.

I am an adult dressage student who is taking lessons because they are at the barn my horse is kept and it guarantees my horse and I work together at least one hour a week.

The trainer keeps both my horse and me honest.

My question is this: Does your instructor ever physically get on a horse? Demonstrate by doing themselves rather than just telling you what to do?

I was just wondering if you consider the instructor's willingness to saddle a horse and perform the lesson of value or if it indicates an instructor's ability over another.

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post #15 of 21 Old 04-24-2014, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland, OR
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I switched dressage trainers back in December. My previous one was the one who first introduced me to dressage, and I learned a lot from her, but she I didn't feel like I was really learning/improving much anymore. I started riding with her back when I was VERY new to riding (I had maybe 6-8 non-continuous months of lessons under my belt at that point, but at jumping barns) and picked her from the recommendation of a co-worker whose daughter took riding lessons from her.

My first criteria was proximity- I already trailer out to jumping lessons an hour away with a friend twice a month, and it pretty much takes up the whole day. I didn't want the same situation with dressage lessons.

I looked at the USDF list of certified instructors, and that was a bust; only 1 certified instructor in the whole state of Oregon is listed on their website and she wasn't anywhere near me. The Oregon Dressage Society publishes a directory of dressage instructors, which helped me to find names of instructors that were in my vicinity and gave me a little bit of background on their experience, what levels they teach, etc.

I ended up going to meet one who happens to have a USDF gold medal and trained her grand prix horse from the ground up, though I didn't specifically need a trainer who has ridden at that level. My preference was for one who had ridden 4th level or higher (I figure 3rd level is about as high as I'm ever likely to go) She was very friendly on the phone, asked good questions about my goals, experience, horse, etc. So, I went to go watch her teach a lesson and was very pleased with the way she interacted with the student. So I went for a single lesson and felt like my horse and I made improvements even in that single lesson. I've been taking regular lessons with her since.
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post #16 of 21 Old 04-24-2014, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Missouri
Posts: 707
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My trainer does get on my horse during a lesson sometimes. He's green and I'm new to dressage, so sometimes it's easier to show him, then show me. She will also ride him the whole "lesson" for the same rate, so she does also train my horse. I may be personally biased, but I would not be very interested in taking lessons from someone who no longer rode. Possibly if the person was very well established in the field and was old enough for riding to no longer be physically practical, but otherwise I expect to be able to see them on a horse from time to time. If they won't get on my horse, but ride their own, it might depend on why I thought they wouldn't hop on mine. I think it might bother me. Is someone who is afraid of my horse really qualified to teach me?
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Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe.~John Muir
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post #17 of 21 Old 04-25-2014, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Originally Posted by AQHSam View Post
My question is this: Does your instructor ever physically get on a horse? Demonstrate by doing themselves rather than just telling you what to do?

I was just wondering if you consider the instructor's willingness to saddle a horse and perform the lesson of value or if it indicates an instructor's ability over another.
My trainer rides my horse when I'm not there and will get on to show me things when I'm having a lesson. When I first got him she would warm him up for me because he can be a troublemaker and I wasn't confident enough to deal with it yet. I wouldn't ride with someone who couldn't or wouldn't ride my horse.
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post #18 of 21 Old 04-25-2014, 03:03 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Some times Llanelian - North wales, sometimes Hull in East Yorkshire (UK)
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Yes she will get on my horse if she needs to
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post #19 of 21 Old 04-25-2014, 03:27 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Germany- but not German =D
Posts: 5,151
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I've always been at German yards where there is a trainer on site.

My last yard I moved to was BECAUSE of the trainer. She was the trainer, and told me unless I wanted jumping lessons above basic level, and dressage training at S and PSG level, she was the trainer and they don't let other trainers on (for English riders). Fair enough.

So, I walked around the yard, looked at the condition of the horses, looked at the field management and the stables, started conversations with owners and students.

I spoke in depth with Annette. I got her background, her methods and her thoughts on my horse, and we moved in two weeks.

I loved my trainer so much, I gave her my horse!

Gadgets.. as soon as someone mentions a gadget, I'm gone.
As soon as someone starts getting frustrated, or cancelling lessons, I move on.
Someone who is plain nasty.. why bother? I can be coaxed, or shouted at.. not a problem. Whatever pushes me to the maximum. HOWEVER, as soon as it becomes a personal attack, I don't want to hang around.

Annette helped me MASSIVELY. She showed me that my fresh cut gelding should not be treated as a fire breathing dragon. He needed respect, I needed respect, but we needed to enjoy each other.

For me, the beginning work on such a young horse including forward, unrestricted movement and lots of scratches won me over. Getting the horse to gradually build up to where you want him in your hands, and light light light.

I went back to see him in December, and his training path has continued. Apparently now, he looks like a big beast of a horse. The scraggy 3yo stallion is now a beasty 5yo dressage machine.

You have to find what works for you, and the horse. Whether it be your horse, or a school horse.

I want to know why I'm doing something, how it effects the mechanics of the horse and how it benefits the horse and rider.

I don't want to run around on circles.
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post #20 of 21 Old 04-28-2014, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Grant, FL
Posts: 12
• Horses: 1
I like to ride with folks who are always continuing their own education. My one trainer has been to the Olympics and he still rides with others for eyes on the ground. It is a lifetime journey!!
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