So, I've still not truly found my (dressage) trainer. And I'm currently in a very hard spot...
I've had a lesson with a Philippe Karl proponent. It's been very intersting week following that. My horse is obviously travelling better, and lighter to all his aids (including some that I had dulled inadvertedly) and this is following one lesson (I can feel his back rising underneath me in a way I hadn't felt with him before with my old coach). Not only that, the group that rides with this trainer are super nice and I actually feel like maybe I'm part of a community that wants me, and that I have help... However, it's a very unconventional method and most people in my barn really do not approve of this method. I wouldn't care, but the thing is, my barn does have some drama and I have no wish to isolate myself from the rest of the barn just because of the crowd that hangs around this trainer.
Ok, so that wouldn't be a problem... if I was fully convinced of this method. I like some parts, I like how super relaxed my horse is, even when doing things that are hard (and they are, he never usually gets this exhausted!). But I feel like this method falls apart in the higher movements, from what I've studied. So I don't feel comfortable with switching my allegience, in other words. This may not be super important, but I might as well add that this trainer is an eventer at heart.
So, who else is there, you ask? Well, the majority of the barn seems to recommend a couple of specific trainers. These are both honest dressage trainers. One is too advanced for me yet (she comes with a warning that she can be tough... which I can take, but since my basics are still shaky, I'd rather wait, but this trainer is my goal eventually) and there's the other. Now, this other one is decent enough, but there are things I don't like about her.
I've watched her with the two horses she has in this barn. Both horses carry themselves well, are round and (properly) collected. What don't I like? Well, she rides with draw reins with one of the horses, all the times I've seen. I understand sometimes you need tools, but all the time...? And I've seen her teach sometimes, and I swear I've heard her teach the old 'bring down your hands real low'. Don't know if she was trying to make the student set the head down or what, but she doesn't seem to do it with her own horses (except for the draw reins).
The other thing I've noticed is that she and her students' horses all seem... rushed, tense. You watch her riding and it doesn't look easy, like so many others I've watched in my own barn. In fact, there's another trainer here that I love love love to watch. She rides so effortlessly, no gadgets ever, and I saw with my own eyes how she transformed a fat, lazy, grumpy Curly cross mare into a wow forward dressage horse. But I also saw her teach once and it doesn't seem like she transfers her riding into teaching well... I wasn't very much impressed, anyways.
So don't know what to do. I don't think I want to go with the PK trainer simply because: A) I'm isolating myself b) not a proven method and I have doubts. But the second trainer I'm not impressed with either... Plus, she's a bit cold and very very very professional, so I'd have my lessons and help, but I'd be on my own most of the time, which is what it was with my old coach and it was unnerving sometimes. On the other hand, her students do very well in shows...
Well, that's my rant. Don't know what to do. Sigh.
Do you have the option of trying a trainer from another barn? If you can't go to them perhaps they can come to you.
Have you tried asking around your barn? Perhaps someone would know a trainer they recommend. Everyone had to start somewhere.
If your horse is improving in his work with the first trainer and you like the group, why not stick with them for now? That doesn't mean you have to make it a permanent arrangement. I don't know anything about the method being taught, but you said you need to improve basics - it sounds like this class is helping you with that.
From your description it seems lessons under the second trainer would not be very enjoyable, personally I'd avoid her.
You could watch a few more lessons given by the trainer you did like. Talk to a few of her students about the way she teaches and give her a try. Maybe it's something you could work with.
You should also try to attend clinics in your area if you can, talk to the other attendees, maybe you will run across some additional options that way.
As far as barn drama, just don't be a part of it. If you're friendly to everyone and don't get sucked into it, it shouldn't be an issue.
If clinician backs up your results then you'll get less flack - especially if DQ's attend the clinic at the same time. :D
just out of curiosity, how do you see PK's method diffserening from other methods and how does it "fall apart" in the upper movements? and does this happen to all the horses, or just yours?
Does PK claim these methods as "his" or does he attribute them to training philosophies from well known equestrianes of the past?
Yep, there's three instructors that (the good riders) tend to recommend. One doesn't come anymore really, the other is the one I don't really like, and the last is one that maybe is too advanced for me.
My trainer is using PK's methods as he teaches them; she is one of the instructors that is part of his 'teaching teachers' program, taught by PK himself. In fact, going to the next part of the course this week in Chase, BC. As far as I can see (I've not seen his DVDs or attended his clinics, so I'm only getting second-hand stuff), he is interpreting a lot of old collection of equestrian works... so I don't know what he claims is his or what, but he calls it 'his' school of lightness.
It's hard to explain what I mean by falling apart, but it almost feels like his methods are unfinished, especially by the time it gets transfered down to a student like me. I think PK is amazing with his horses, they look happy and relaxed, but then he teaches his methods to a coach who teaches it to me. I feel that with a method that still working out kinks, it won't neccessarily transfer true to ME.
Then there's the fact that some of this trainer's students were saying how it'd be fun to teach my horse piaffe one of these days, that to me is a red flag. There's a certain order to things, and if they think of piaffe as a trick to teach...? That doesn't say anything of PK, but it does say something (perhaps) of the trainer I'm considering.
EDIT: I forgot to mention. I made a non decision almost, lol. I'm going to try a lesson with the one that is maybe too advanced for me. I love this instructor's riding, heard good things of her teaching, and maybe she's willing to take a student that's not quite high level yet, so I figure I might as well give it a go!
good luck with the potential new trainer! sounds like the lower level trainer at your barn isn't a good option, so hopefully the trainer that was your goal will be good to work with for you now rather than wait! looking forward to hearing updates.
Well, the other's not exactly low level herself. She's definitely schooling her horses PSG. But from the times I've talked with her, the chemistry doesn't feel right either.
I talked to the other coach today (this one regularly trains FEI level horses). Said she teaches all levels, and her only requirement is a willingness to learn. (I think I've got that, lol) She was super nice and she didn't feel cold at all like the other one does. So even if she is fairly tough when instructing, it shouldn't bother me at all. In fact, I like it when they don't let things slide by!
The only bad thing is that during the summer, she's only coming by more or less every other week. I understand that, she's actively showing too. But still, I figure, I'd rather have quality instruction... even if less often. Learn it right the first time.
EDIT: Oh! Forgot to mention. Remember the rider that I said is just lovely to watch, but she just doesn't teach the way she rides? Guess who her trainer is? That's right, this one, haha.
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