Changing Trainers

The comments from the discussion about finding the right trainer brought up some really great points- including having a trainer that understands your beastie’s brain, trusting your trainer to make good decisions for your development/safety, the trainer’s education, and more. Amanda also addressed the reality of having to change trainers, a really interesting topic that I’ve thought about a lot myself.

I don’t consider myself a trainer-jumper, but I have worked with lots of different folks for all sorts of reasons. In high school, I tried out a couple programs for a couple years before moving on. In that case, one program was so lax as to barely constitute riding lessons. The other was with a ULR whose occasionally drill sergeant ways didn’t jive with my then-fragile nerves. I eventually found a trainer who was the right match, and though that program didn’t really benefit me from an equitation perspective, I learned the most and still appreciate her guidance in those formative years.

Shameful photo of me jumping Merry in a dressage saddle circa 2007, very much not equitating

Since college, my focus has shifted. After getting Foster I worked with a trainer who was very-very supportive, but eventually I felt that I needed a more rigorous program than her style afforded. I remembered Eliza from my working-student interview with her (a post for another time), and set up a lesson. Since then, when it comes to dressage, I haven’t looked back, and that was roughly 7 years ago.

The fun days with Foster and [sort of] attempting piaffe

Finding the right jumping coach has been a completely different journey. There aren’t so many eventing trainers in our area, and I found that some of the local H/J trainers had a hard time empathizing with either my dressage-theory discussions, or I didn’t trust them to advise me in a safe way that translated to XC. I got lucky in having access to Doug Payne for a while, who is brilliant, but sadly he hasn’t come back from Aiken for some time. Since his departure, I bounced around from trainer to trainer desperately.

Rare moment of having my ish together in 2015

Since Smitty didn’t end up doing a lot of jumping while I had him, and obviously Foster hardly jumped at the end of his career, I was all out of sorts trying to get a professional opinion by the time I was horse searching again. But I knew I needed help, and I was finally able to find a trainer who met all of the requirements. She’s been around Rolex on multiple occasions, finishing as high as 8th place. She’s tough, which I need to get me through my years and years of lost and misguided attempts at equitation. And she gets Jack’s occasionally squirrely brain, and has the balls to help the hamsters get back on the wheel when needed (see below).

Right now, I feel like I have the perfect team to support Jack and I in our attempts at greatness.

What has prompted you to change trainers? Have you ever gone down a road with someone and realized you needed to about face? What is it about your current trainer that you appreciate most?