Three ways to improve your experience with a new trainer


Three ways to improve your experience with a new trainer with Stephen Hayes

Well my UK dressage clinic tour is well and truly in full swing, I’m so happy that it’s going so well. I’m so pleased with all the feedback from my riders, and how well they are taking all the instruction and putting it into effect. It’s even better for me to watch them come back numerous times and see the vast improvement each time. I love that!


stephen hayes

The most important thing for me about my lessons is knowing that the rider walks out the arena having learned numerous tools to get their horse going better, and knowing they got a much better feeling than what they usually get. I aim to have my riders feeling uplifted and definitely more positive than when they first walked into the lesson.

This month my article is a little related to my tour and focuses on how to set the horse and rider up best to get the most out of any clinic they attend. Three ways to improve your experience with a new trainer.

  1. Punctuality – Plan to get to the venue way in advance, I don’t think the riders realize just how grateful we are if you arrive early to the clinic and when they are on board walking 10/15 mins before their lesson time, that little bit of time before your lesson is essential for you and your horse to relax, stretch and release any tension you may have from traveling to the venue.
  2. Ride the way you know how – I see many riders looking nervous when they first enter the arena on their clinic, this I completely understand I too still get a little nervy when riding in front of top judges and trainers at clinics. But sometimes I feel like the riders do one of two things, either they go a little blank when they start to ride, and almost fall into what I call ‘puppet mode’ they end up waiting for me to tell them how to ride. When ideally we want you to come in and ride your horse like the way you know how. You know your horse much better than us, and you’ll get much quicker through the warm up phase actually riding him instead of being your trainers puppet. Another thing I see many times is the rider putting a lot of pressure on themselves to get it looking ‘perfect’ way too soon, we want you to take your time, work through the warm up calmly, that in itself will make the warm up quicker that becoming tense and rushing.
  3. Don’t worry if things get a little messy – don’t be afraid to take a risk or make a mistake. Many times while training you will have to take yourself and your horse out of your comfort zone, and take a chance. You may succeed, and in that case you make sure your horse knows he did a great job; in other cases some things don’t always work the way you’d like, but you pick yourselves back up and try again. It won’t always look pretty and it won’t always look clean, and that’s ok. Just like athletes/gymnasts, who have to take themselves into new areas and learn movements in order to strengthen and teach their body how to cope, you and your horse will do the same too.

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