IMG_0380Hiring a new coach is a scary thing. What if you don’t get along with them, if their ideas and expectations of progress are different from your own, if they approach and solve problems using methods that challenge you in new ways or their lessons are structured emphasizing different objectives than your accustomed to? No matter what prompts a rider to seek out new advice and no matter how warranted making a switch is, you can count on one thing for sure if you do decide to switch things up – change is never easy!

Most riders switch coaches because they have an underlying sense that something’s missing from their current lesson program. They don’t know what that something is, but they feel it. I call this “The Matrix Effect.” Once a rider starts to feel there’s something missing it’s only a matter of time before they make a switch. But, for many riders, embracing new ideas can be difficult and frustrating.

Often during times of increased stress a rider will fall back on familiar concepts and techniques even when they know they’re largely ineffective, because embracing new concepts requires a rider to “free their mind” long enough to try problem solving in a new way. And let’s face it, that’s a tough thing to do, especially when things are going wrong! If they can manage it however, riders open themselves up to a wide, wide world of equestrian possibilities and it gives a new coach the freedom to impart an alternative riding reality which can actually help a rider to change the way they perceive their time in the saddle. And let’s face it, isn’t that why they decided to make a change in the first place.

So, how do you make a change successful?

Well, TRUST is key – in your decision to make a change and in your belief that the change you’ve made is the correct one. Although trust is critical to a rider’s success, it’s difficult to come by, especially in the beginning of a new coaching relationship. Riders rely on coaches for many things. A horse/rider relationship can be tenuous and usually there are so many forces combining and colliding at any given moment during a ride that for most coaches an advanced degree in chaos theory would be more useful than a coaching certificate! It requires a lot of juggling to keep riders and their horses happy and let’s face it, keeping riders happy helps coaches keep their jobs.

But, ultimately, a rider’s coach is there to help them interpret and solve riding challenges that are beyond their scope to either identify or correct by themselves. Unfortunately, confusion and conflict can arise and put a strain on a new relationship when a rider and their coach disagree about the root cause of a problem and feel different solutions are in order…and that’s where the trust comes in.

Ultimately, a rider needs to trust their decision –both to make a change and to accept that change is scary. They also need to trust that new advice and new solutions could also mean new success!

And because I’ve got a little more to say on this topic, I hope you’ll join me next week.