Help with student - realistic goals
Hoping I found a forum that my student doesn't come to. But if this situation sounds familiar to anyone, please read with an open mind.....
I have a student that started riding about a year ago as an adult. They did not ride with me until a few months ago, and then not regularly until about two months ago. This rider wants to event. NOW.
They simply are not ready to jump yet. Nor is their horse. I don't think that they understand how much time/effort and money is going to be involved. They have a choice of horses, but all need training for various reasons.
A couple of weeks ago the rider fell off while practicing sitting trot without stirrups on their own.
This rider has come a long way, but has a long way to go. They need to lose some weight, get into better shape, and get some training on their horse. i think that they feel 1 weekly lesson is enough, and then they can "train" their horse(s) from what they learned in the one lesson. It simply is not going to happen.
I had suggested a while ago that they trim down on the number of horses, and save their money for a been there done that type of mount, or be prepared to pay to train the horses they have now.
I feel like I am not being to the point enough, but don't want to hurt their feelings.
At this point my student is disappointed because they are not jumping after riding for a year.
Suggestions on how to deal with this?
I can't really give a specific answer without knowing the student and more of the situation but I can off you this...
At the barn I give lessons at, students cannot canter until that can perform a perfect figure eight at the trot. This shows their control of the horse and their own body etc. Maybe you could think of a similar test for this rider? Inform them they cannot begin jumping until she can do some sort of course first. Just a random idea being, trot a figure eight while being on the correct diagonal and do the same thing at the canter while being on the correct lead? Maybe introduce the idea of working over ground poles at a walk trot and canter as a small intro to jumping while telling the student they must become good at these before progressing.
It's hard typing on my phone but if I come up with more I will reply again.
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I am not an instructor, but I am a mom, so I kinda know about setting limits.
The first thing to do is say something positive. I get the feeling that you ARE one of those intstructors who keep to the positive, and maybe that's why you are finding it hard to be frank with them (by the way, you said "them", is it more than one person?).
So, you start out one lesson pointing out the progress that they have made and how hard they worked to get that far. And then mention how with time and work, they can look forward to even more progress, (kind of emphasizing the road ahead). Assure them that they can get there, but only by going "through", cannot go around. Can't learn riding by osmosis, only be doing over and over again, as it's a lot about body memory.
So, when they mention their intention to event soon, you can say something like, "Wow! That is a really grand idea and I know that you will one day be capable of doing that, but to be honest, if you try this now, I will be very worried about your safety. And pushing your horses into that level of competition at this point is not fair to them and might compromise their long term health or success. I think we should keep the goal of eventing but consider all that comes in between where we are now and where you'll be after some more hard training."
Sound supportive and concerned. NEVER mention that she should lose weight,. She knows that, I would bet.
I have seen how the careful use of compliments can bend a person to the direction the are being trained. Sounds cunning, but it's just the old "positive reinforcement over negative". Good luck, and I really respect your concern for the well being of your student. It demonstrates your integrity.
I agree with both Zeke and tinyliny.
While it's very exciting to be faced with the possibility of "Oh wow, I might be able to start eventing! That's such an awesome sport I have to start right away," (Hey, we all know it's pretty amazing.) it sounds like she doesn't fully comprehend how much time and effort goes into the sport, as well as skill. Might I also suggest perhaps finding a local event near you and going with her to simply be spectators? It would be great for her to really see the eventing world from the ground up and you could show her things that other riders are doing and talk to her about how you're going to be incorporating similar things into her lessons to help her practice specific skills. That way she'll understand the applications behind different riding techniques in a way that applies to something she wants to do.
I remember as a student sometimes getting frustrated because I really had no idea WHY my trainer wanted me to try something and practice it. She didn't always realize that I was confused so she didn't explain it. I've found, especially with adult riders, they are far more interested in the why's and wherefore's of the things they are being asked to do. It comes with being more mentally mature and capable of putting two and two together. Sometimes young students don't really want to know/don't really care about the intimate, technical details that exercises encompass. I know that, now that I'm somewhat older (I use the term older lightly, more in the sense that I've been riding for a while/have mentally matured some) I really like to know the benefits of things I'm asked to do in a lesson. I'm sure if you explained things to her like that she might be more willing to slow down a bit and take things step by step, so when the time comes to get to that first horse trial she's really ready for it.
you did a great job helping..all I wanted to say.
I dont have much to add to the other responses, but maybe introduce the student to lower lever dressage comps. Just local walk/trot/canter stuff, that way they may feel more like the hard work is paying off. Plus, competing against others may make the student realise just how far they have to go.
Thanks for the advice guys. It is great!
I used the word "they" as not to say the gender of the student (sorry for the incorrect grammar).
I have had this student do a local dressage show. They were disappointed that they didn't win because their horse had been doing so well. They had a very respectable test, especially for a first show - scored in the high 50's, low 60's.
I always explain the "whys", so I don't think that is a problem.
I do find that this rider wants to know the exact time that everything will happen. they seek information from people that are not necessarily qualified - ie the barn manager who gives some beginner lessons, but does not sit on a horse herself let alone jump or event!
I have encouraged the student to go volunteer as a jump judge, but there are not many close events around.
I need to find a delicate way to suggest this person get into shape off of the horse as well. Part of the reason they fell I am guessing is that they started gripping with their legs, and could not move to regain balance. But I wasn't there.
I am worried that I will lose this person as a student to someone who will glorify everything, let her move faster, and then disaster will happen. Or that they will decide they can do it all on their own and will have the same result. I am thinking that they don't understand how dangerous the sport is.
I would approach it like this-
Pull the student aside, say "Let's sit down and talk about your riding goals."
"You have been telling me for a while that you want to compete in eventing. What timeline are you thinking of? What level of competition do you aspire to?How are you going to do this?"
*listen to reponse* (May provide insight to their thinking, they might have their own doubts about how they are going to do it)
"If you are interested in eventing sooner, here are the steps you need to take.
1. Sell some of your horses. The more money you pour into the other horses, the less you can spend on yourself. This is a team activity, and you have to be at the top of your game. You can also invest more in your one partner, so he can be the best he can be.
2. Increase your balance and flexiblity. This will enable you to be much more competitive, and if you want to win, you need to be competitive."
Then discuss their goals in detail. Make one big goal (Compete at XXX show in 6 months) and figure out mini goals to reach it.
1. End of the month, do a course of ground poles in 2-point at the trot.
2. End of second month, canter a ground pole course
3. End of third month, jump 18"
etc. (whatever goals make sense, these are just examples)
The point would be for this rider to see that you acknowledge the goals they are interested in, and that you do want them to acomplish their goals. They will also see a definite timeline to aim for, so they won't feel like they are just doing things aimlessly. People like a sense of direction. Knowing these things will help prevent the rider from being frustrated. They will be unlikely to leave you if they feel like they are making progress.
I'd also suggest schooling shows. No reason not to do them.
Everyone gave great advice, and I cannot add to what has already been given - other than, let her see the "dark side" of the sport as well, and impliment that into your explanation of you not wanting her to become another statistic, and how important it is you to that she needs to be fully prepared to take on this massive responsiblity, for herself and the safety of her horse.
This is a dangerous sport, and a sport to not "piss around" with and to jump in free willy nilly without being mentally and physically prepared - both horse and rider.
There are many articles written on the dangers of the sport, and the statistics and the plain truth - you can find them in the Practicle Horseman Magazine Archives. Many written by Top Level Eventers like David O'Connor and Jim Wofford - the two TOPS of this sport.
And my 2nd piece of advice is - get her into clinics, taught by Upper Level Eventers - where she can get advice and bits of skills from them, and they will give her, their honest opinion.
In my area, luckily, there are many Clinics a year here. Where Leslie Law comes, David O'Connor, Dorothy Crowell, Bill Hoos and some other great names, not only 4* Eventers but even 3* Eventers. My advice is, to get her in as many as you can. Sign her up for the level she is - and allow her to take in all she can from them.
I promise you, she will hear the truth from these exceptional riders, who are already deeply involved in this sport.
I do have a question though lessonhorse - do you event yourself?
Thanks everyone for the advice.
MIEventer. I am not competing now - have in the past, and do work with an event trainer to pass them onto when they are ready. There are no event trainers in my area however, so even when the time comes she can not get weekly cross country lessons from anyone. My job is to teach Dressage, and Jumping, recommend good clinicians etc - She isn't ready to go over a cross rail yet, let alone look at a cross country course. I feel that the rider needs to be doing stadium courses well before they can even think about cross country, and stadium I can ride and teach. A rider needs to be able to answer questions of a stadium course before questions on a CC course.
Incidently I lined up an unmounted education day with a current eventer for my dressage/CT students. This student left the session half way through because they had "read it all and it was just review".
I just wanted to clarify that I know my limitations as a trainer. I have been out of the event world for a long time. But I do not feel that is making me too cautious with this student or holding her back. They are simply not ready to jump. If you fall off at the sitting trot you certainly do not have the balance or flexibility to jump.
I put this rider on my bee there done that school horse a while ago and let her trot over a crossrail (very low crossrail), he didn't jump it, just trotted over it with a little more susspension and she almost fell - that usually makes a student take a step back and realize their limitations. Not in this case. Just found out toninght that they attemtepted to jump their horse (who has never jumped) over a crossrail a couple of weeks ago. Should I really send this student to an eventing clinic yet?????????????? I am thinking NO.
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