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Do you ever find yourself wondering how some riders are able to achieve far out goals in short periods of time? What’s the secret? Why do they seem to learn faster and accelerate their riding careers more quickly?

Most successful riders have something in common – good working relationships with their trainers where both coach and rider have learned how to create a positive working relationship. If you’re struggling to achieve your riding goals, it may be time to take a look at how you’re communicating your needs and desires with your trainer.

What Are Your Goals?

If you’re feeling like your riding isn’t getting to a place you’d like, it might be time to have a chat with your trainer. Stating clear goals and communicating your dreams to your trainer is a great first step. Don’t expect your trainer to read your mind. They can only help you if they know what you’re thinking.

Remember that goals are only stations on the path to your dream. I like using a system called SMART. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Once you’ve stated your goals, regular feedback before, during and after training rides can help maintain open lines of communication between you and your trainer. If a rider can openly communicate how they experience the training and a coach can reflect on how they’re feeling, both can improve and accelerate the learning process.

We can’t forget that we’re all human beings, subject to emotional challenges in our everyday lives. Riders and coaches have to remember to put these emotions and personal problems aside while training. With every horse and rider the situation is different and the coach, as well as the rider, must be able to fully focus mentally as well as physically on the training. Don’t forget that life, health and personal situations are subject to change and therefore, goals and objectives will have to adapt to these transitions accordingly.

Trust in your Coach’s Expertise

A coach is a professional in his/her field. To learn the maximum from that knowhow and make as much progress as possible, the rider has to be able to trust his/hers coach’s expertise. It’s always important that you respect your coach as a human, a professional and a horseman / horsewoman and not to just see their coaching ability as a paid service. Yes, you might pay a lot of money for coaching, but you actually pay for expertise. As a rider, you expect to be treated with respect as well, so think of your coach as a team-partner. You may not always agree, but talking through situations will create a better relationship.

I’ve had the chance to train with several top trainers in our sport and I didn’t always feel confident about the exercise they asked me to perform. It was usually because a particular exercise forced me out of my usual comfort zone and this is where I felt insecure. But by pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I was able to take my riding to the next level. This is when you realize that there is much more possible than you thought and sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to get thrown in the proverbial deep end which forces you to react and step up. Not being able to organize and control everything uncovers weaknesses and, this is where your coach can teach you and help take you to the next level.

Open Communication

Don’t rule out the importance of open communication between coach and rider. It is crucial that both sides are able to openly express their feelings, experiences and problems without being afraid of the consequences of being honest and straightforward. A rider has to be able to express goals as well as fears openly in order to create good teamwork. And your coach should to be able to talk freely about their perspective on a particular situation. Only by communicating openly will it be possible to create a positive learning environment and a safe place to resolve issues and challenges.

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