While some coaches will specialise in working with one particular participant group, others will work across several different groups over the course of their coaching. The coaches featured on this page are just some of those who are working with performance development riders, who have been identified for the talent pathway programme and squads, working towards senior high-performance.
BHS Level 4, British Dressage Accredited Coach, British Equestrian Para Mentor Coach for Podium Potential Pathway
It started because I was always being asked to help people with their horses, although at the time I was concentrating more on my own riding. This slowly grew into a career that I found I could grow with and be challenged by.
Most often, it's when a rider grasps a difficult exercise that I have been helping them with. Most of these moments occur at home and are the product of a good coach and rider interaction – transfer of knowledge is the core reason to coach for me. Of course it is also great when your pupil calls after a competition to tell you of their successful result!
I strive to be an effective communicator so that my pupils have an easy system to follow. The goal is for them to become capable and effective in between our lessons.
I think the current situation has slowed me down! However, it's great to be getting back to full speed now and everyone seems keen and ready to go, so I think we're all a bit refreshed and invigorated! During lockdown, I did a few coaching video analysis sessions, and that showed me that technology is now playing a very important part in our modern way of interacting and training.
Run your own race! It's easy to get distracted by other people’s apparent success, but your goals are different or at a different stage to someone else’s. Learning to be confident and keep to your own path is a good skill to develop.
Qualifications and experience are important, but you also need to find someone you can relate to. Find a coach who is interested in developing you, for whatever level you are aiming for.
UKCC Level 4, PGDip Professional Practice in Sports Coaching, MSc Professional Practice in Sports Coaching
I particularly enjoy working with young performance development riders, nurturing their talent through coaching and ensuring that we adopt a team approach in those early development phases.
I've always wanted to work with horses and was lucky enough to do that. However, as a student I was frustrated by my experiences in that I wasn’t coached but told what to do, without being asked how I felt. I wanted to find a better way to aid, inspire and develop riders, and that was what really underpinned and inspired me to start coaching. Even now, that experience drives my motivation to seize every opportunity to continue to develop as a coach.
It would be difficult to pinpoint my proudest coach moment because there are too many to choose from. For me, it's not necessarily about a rider being selected for a team opportunity or even qualifying for a championship – I feel proud every time a rider has a lightbulb moment and their partnership with their horse or pony progresses, and to witness that increased confidence and motivation makes my role worthwhile.
My approach to coaching is athlete-centered and built on a humanistic philosophy of treating each athlete as an individual, building a strong triadic relationship between myself, the rider and their support team.
I think every coach has had to adapt over the last six months and I'm certainly no different. The goals of the young and developing performers I coach have had to be revised – for some, it has been their last year in a particular age group, so adaptions have been around redefining the goals and targets for the year and helping them deal with uncertainty. This has also included helping them overcome losses in confidence and motivation, and helping them redefine the year as one of development, seeing the current situation as an opportunity for growth. We’ve done more unmounted and planning work, and technology was important at the beginning so we could keep in touch.
Reflecting over the last six months, I would definitely say I have become a better coach because you learn from every situation and can always grow from that. Dealing with uncertainty, helping riders manage their expectations and talking through the challenges they have faced has reminded me of the need to continue to reflect personally, and to ensure that I remain open-minded and am able to adapt to the changing landscape that we're in.
I think there are three pieces of advice or pearls of wisdom all riders could benefit from:
Most importantly, ensure that the coach is qualified and insured. Ask if they coach riders of a similar level and standard to you, and if you could observe a coaching session. It’s a good idea to have a chat with them before attending a session so you can ensure that their approach and style fits with what you want. It’s also important to remember that finding the right coach is like finding the right gloves – it is what fits you that matters, not just what everyone else is wearing.