Whatever your goals, having the right instructor makes all the difference when it comes to how well you and your horse work together and understand each other. So how can you get the most out of your lessons?
1. Be a good pupil
“For me, a great student is someone who is open-minded, imaginative and willing to persevere,” says Olympic dressage medallist Spencer Wilton.
“It’s also important to have faith in your trainer. Sometimes the path to reach your desired result is a hard one, and it’s the trust you have in your trainer that helps you get through it.”
2. Arrive on time
“It’s very common for people to arrive literally 10 minutes before the lesson and feel stressed. They’ll never be in as good a frame of mind as if they’d left earlier or arrived with plenty of time to warm up,” says Spencer.
3. Discuss what you want to focus on
Before your lesson starts, eventer-turned-coach Caroline Moore suggests you “talk to your trainer about what sort of session it will be. Will it be for fitness, training to practise previous skills or just fun?”
4. Ask plenty of questions
A pupil that asks questions will reap the most benefit.
“You get out what you put in – when a rider comes in with questions, it shows they want to progress,” says Caroline.
5. Have a short recap
When ending a session, ask your trainer to take a couple of minutes to recap what you’ve done.
“Get them to highlight things you need to work on at home and identify what you’ll be looking at next,” says Spencer.
“Sometimes this may mean you leave what you worked on in the lesson for now and go back a few steps to consolidate the basics.”
6. Do your homework between lessons
“It’s really important that a rider understands what to work on between sessions so they come back excited to show what they have learned,” says Caroline.
A proactive approach applies out of the saddle too.
“Younger riders especially can tend to think their coach will tell them everything,” adds Caroline.
“Instead I say go home and look on YouTube for different methods to teach something, then ask them to tell me how we’re going to teach it to their horse, so they learn to see things from different perspectives.”
7. Find the right coach
It can take time to find the right trainer for you and your horse. If you don’t feel as if you are getting the most out of your lessons, speak to your coach to see what you can do, or look for a new trainer.
Meet the experts: Spencer Wilton is an international dressage rider who has represented Great Britain at European Championships, the World Equestrian Games and the Olympics.
Caroline Moore is a former five-star event rider and current British Eventing Youth Performance Coach.