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  • Writer's pictureKristie Cotton

"Success is the feeling that we can succeed"

Coaching is a cycle; the job doesn’t end after instruction. Coaches begin by teaching students, they then observe how and what the students learn and then re-evaluate the teaching approach to provide a better understanding. In conclusion, our roles today are defined by our actions. What we do can change who we are. As individuals that are a part of a greater community, it would do us no harm to invest a bit of our time for the success of another. A teacher today can be a coach tomorrow. - Sharma Mukesh

I have been teaching riding lessons for most of my adult life. Lately, I have been coaching more than teaching and I never thought about the difference until now. Coaching is a later step in a rider’s skills, where you begin to teach the Student the art of Dressage. The student becomes an extension of the trainer, being somewhat molded into a perfect picture of strength, balance and unity. There are certain characteristics of a rider that can be transferred to being “ coached “ instead of “taught.”

The core of coaching is different from both training and mentoring. There is no hierarchy in this informal, safe and confidential space. The student has to want to do the work, step in, and challenge themselves, while the coach partners with the student to deepen their self-awareness in areas of growth or strength, working through “blind spots” along the way. The coach then helps the student design powerful, intentional actions to move them towards their goals. (“Coaching vs Training vs Mentoring | Ezra”)

Positive Characteristics of Coach/ Rider:

  • The rider being coached has to have a teachable attitude, if the coach suggests a tactic, the rider should positively try the advice and learn the various tools needed for each horse. Tools of training have an outline to follow but are never set for each horse or can even change moment to moment.

  • The student should have faith in the coach they have chosen, giving them the chance to educate you and your horse as a team, especially when there are setbacks or improper training methods that have previously been a common way of riding.

  • The rider should be free of stress, anger, impatience and impractical goals if the horse is emotionally detached from the lesson. The rider needs to accept that the horse comes first and will always need reassurance or to revisit basics. This may or may not mean the horse or coach are not qualified for the task at hand. Which leads to the next “characteristic” of good coaching.

Coaches should always be looking out for the well being of the horse and whether it is ready to move up to more advanced movements. Oxford Definition- Piaffe - a movement performed in advanced Dressage and classical riding, in which the horse executes a slow elevated trot without moving forward. Videos of Dressage riders are everywhere on social media. These days the Piaffe is popular, dramatized images of the rider's movement showing more energy than the horse. Piaffe should not be practiced until the horse understands true collection. I use the word true because collection cannot be disguised as the horse's head forced in while spurring forward.

Coaches should be improving rider’s goals with positive affirmation and empowerment to do what is best for the well being of horse and rider. Transitioning from Teaching to Coaching overcomes the riders challenges, especially when showing which helps them not only develop ideal relationships with their horse, but reach their athletic goals.

"In short, coaching is not about telling people what to do; it is giving them an opportunity to examine what they are doing in light of their intentions.- Timothy Gallwey

Works Cited

Sharma, Mukesh. “Teaching vs coaching; a difference in nature.” Hindustan Times, 17 October 2019,

nature/story-JhPC7baQAIjgu3NMF7uejP.html. Accessed 20 February 2022.

(“Coaching vs Training vs Mentoring | Ezra”)

Title Quote Excerpt- Nelson Boswell


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