Riding is a constant learning curve and at some point most of us reach for the help and support of a coach. But how do you go about choosing the right one for you?
Now, with the winter approaching and summer competitions finishing, the horses may be having a
break before begining their preparations for next year. It’s a good time to pause and think about your coach – or to find yourself one. But where to start?
1 – Check the qualifications
Any coach should have some sort of qualification, usually through the British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Schools, UK Coaching or The Pony Club to name a few. Any of these societies require the coach to have a Disclosure & Barring Services (DBS) check, a Safeguarding Certificate and a First Aid Certificate all completed or updated every 3 years.
Almost as important is the Continual Professional Development (CPD) courses being done regularly. The BHS require 6hrs every year, The Pony Club require attendance at a CPD every 2 years. This is to show that the Coach is keeping up to date with modern and new ideas in the industry.
During Covid there have been many online courses of great interest, which has been a saving on travel time!
There are also courses on a variety of subjects including working with riders with autism and disabilities.
If you’re hoping to compete in a specific discipline, British Dressage (BD), British Eventing (BE) and British Showjumping (BS) all have coaching development and grading programmes to ensure their coaches have the highest standards of professionalism.
2 – what’s your style?
Would you prefer to join a group, or have private sessions? There are benefits to both – group sessions take the pressure off, are a great environment for both you and your horse and allow you to watch and learn from others.
Individual training sessions are often more intense and really good for working on specific areas. Private sessions allow the coach to work on a weakness in a highly individual, targeted way.
3 – Find the right coach for you
The most important thing is that the coach suits the rider and the horse, making training fun as well as informative, regardless of whether it is for competition. There should becomes a bond between coach and rider, with the coach leading the rider to become confident and independent.
Together the coach and rider should be looking for tiny attainable tickable targets. Many riders have no intention of competing but love training to improve their riding and their horse. Many riders are competitive, but still need to learn the basics.
Think of building a house. Each brick is a tiny target, and when you have built your house you reach your main goal. But if you missed a brick or two, the house will fall down – and in the same vein the rider missing a few ‘bricks’ will have a problem later. Please choose an accredited coach, and enjoy riding your horse.
Sara Greenwood BHS AI, UKCC L2 PC Area 14 Centre Co-ordinator PC Assessor E-AH test RDA Coach