As riders, we work with a lot of different people and animals. We have our horses that are our teammates and partners, grooms, working students, fellow riders, and perhaps one of the most important, our trainers. (I know some equestrians choose not to work with trainers, and that’s fine. I personally feel having a trainer is beneficial so I have always had one).
I’ve gone through my fair share of trainers, and after finally finding one that supports me no matter what but still kicks my ass in lessons and is honest with me about my riding rather than telling me how awesome I am every lesson, I’ve found that my riding, confidence, and overall morale have improved exponentially.
Having a trainer that truly cares about you, your horse, and your riding can make the difference between being successful and loving riding and not being so successful.
They believe in you. A supportive, caring trainer will believe in you and your skill set. I can’t tell you how many times my trainer has told me she sees me doing something, and I’ve been completely shocked by that. For example, though I am unable to ride right now, my trainer thinks that once I get back into the swing of things, she sees me moving up to the 3′ divisions by next year. I was shocked, but I also believed her and was so grateful that I had someone who believed in me and my riding that much.
They tell you when you’re wrong. It’s important to know when you’re doing something wrong, whether it’s in your riding or in real life. My trainer and I have a relationship where we talk about pretty much everything, and my trainer isn’t afraid to give me a good reality check when I need it – whether we are talking about something that happened in my personal life or if I am riding particularly bad in a lesson.
They treat you with respect. Respect is hugely important, and after having trainers and barn managers that have treated me with zero respect, I know just how much it can make or break your riding. There is a way to tell someone they’re getting something wrong without completely degrading them. My trainer is able to tell me when I am getting something wrong when I ride or when I am making the same mistake over and over again without degrading me. Sure, she gets tough with me, but she has never once disrespected me.
You will have someone to confide in. While it’s imperative you and your trainer have a line between personal and professional, there are some individuals that are able to be friends with their clients while still keeping that business relationship in tact and addressing it when need be without impacting the personal relationship. I consider my trainer to be one of my closest friends, and I can talk to her about things going on in my personal life, and the same goes for her. Having a trainer like this is like having another best friend. You can seek advice, get told when you’re wrong, have laughs until your stomachs hurt (or was that all the core work you did in your lesson that day?), and have another person in your life that you can trust no matter what.
They will always have your back. A supportive trainer will always have your back, whether it’s with barn drama or another situation with which you are dealing. Of course, as I’ve said a few times, your trainer will also have your best interest in mind in that he or she will tell you if you’re wrong – but, if something is going on, you can count on them to take your side and not back down in the face of adversity.
You know their compliments about your riding are genuine. My trainer is a tough cookie, and she is 100 percent honest about how you are doing in your riding, which I absolutely adore and appreciate. The first time she told me I had real talent as a rider, I was floored. As many of you know, I used to (and sometimes still do) suffer from riding confidence issues. When you have a supportive trainer who is always honest with you and wants the best for you, a compliment from them will mean the world – and you will know it’s a genuine compliment. They don’t have to tell you that you’re naturally talented or that they see you becoming a professional rider one day, but they do because they love you, support you, and want you to succeed in this sport.