Changing coaches is never easy. No matter how good the coach, different is scary and scary is bad! So how do we make the switch as painless as possible and get the most out of our new relationship? Well, for starters you might want to stop saying “But, my old coach always told me to…”
Developing trust can take time, both for the coach and the rider. One of the fastest ways to sabotage a new coaching relationship is by constantly referring to your old coaching relationship. It might help if you try to view your first sessions with your new coach as a weird kinda date. The kind where you try really hard NOT to mention your ex coach every time your new coach makes a suggestion. Even if you think your old coach’s principals are sound and truly apply to the situation, there are times when listening and acknowledging a fresh perspective is the better option, mainly because it helps build trust with your new coach and that keeps you from committing relationship suicide.
Another important thing to remember when switching coaches is that a new perspective was something you hoped to gain by making a change so…pulling your horse up in the middle of the ring, in the middle of your lesson, in an attempt to convince your new coach of the many reasons that you or your horse couldn’t possibly do (insert impossible task here), can actually hinder to your progress. Of course, everyone knows that discussions are a great way gain perspective and increase rider awareness but, horses, riders and coaches, tend to lose their grove when too much of the lesson gets interrupted. Sometimes saving the debate until after your lesson actually helps to keep your progress on track during the lesson.
And speaking of lessons, if your planning on changing things up make sure you take the time to check out a lesson or two wherever your planning to sign up. Knowing that you’re totally comfortable with a coach’s problem solving techniques and teaching style will go a long way to insuring a successful working relationship with them. And watching a lesson will give you a feel for how they interact with their current clients. If nothing else doing your homework might help you remember, in moments of utter panic and extreme frustration, why you chose this person to help keep you on your horse, and on the right track, for meeting your riding goals in the first place.
Relationships tend to work the best if there’s an underlying trust and respect for the talents that both parties bring to the ring, and riders who are flexible mentally and physically, are more likely to embrace and benefit from any new concepts or ideas their new coach might have. At end of the day, a rider’s success is a reflection of their coach’s ability to interpret and solve riding problems. But, and perhaps most importantly, a rider’s success is based on their coach’s ability to convince them that as the coach, their interpretation and, therefore, their solution to those problems is not only correct, but worth making changes to achieve. For a new coach that’s the real test of a successful relationship.