Saturday, December 6, 2014

panning for gold

For anybody who has been following along (or just read our November review), it's pretty clear that I take a LOT of lessons with a variety of trainers. 

I kind of love it and believe that each trainer is moving us closer to the same goal. But they go about it differently, using different techniques and descriptions. 




Sometimes this allows for serious 'AHA' moments, like when one trainer's wording suddenly makes clear a majorly confusing concept (it actually reminds me of when I took latin and spanish simultaneously in high school - very complementary subjects). But sometimes, there's contradiction or conflicting directives.



long suffering mare is long suffering

I see this particularly in comparing the bio-mechanics work with P and Dan's eventing-geared lessons. 


An example: Isabel and I recently had a break-through bio-mechanics lesson that will be the bedrock of our flat work this winter. We've been working on the themes from that ride ever since, and see distinct improvement. Both P and Dan noted that Isabel was very improved from when they last saw her (a week for P, about a month for Dan). 

we're not the blue horse yet, but we're not quite the red horse anymore either

But when I described the concepts to them, they were quick to dismiss. Or say, 'ok that's nice, but you really need to be focusing on X.' Except didn't they just note that we were looking markedly better?



'hooman you are confusing me' - isabel

I'm not particularly worried about this specific example, tho. As a fundamentally practical girl, I will give every new tool an honest try, and will ultimately use the tools that work. (And I also trust and respect P & Dan's teaching methods)


The main concept from our bio-mechanics lesson (side to side balance *before* front to back balance) is perhaps 'step 0' in creating a solid dressage ride, and is very complementary to the more advanced work I do with P and Dan. (I actually suspect that most trainers (including P and Dan) address lateral balance in their own riding - perhaps subconsciously - but just don't think to teach it.)

'hooman stahp!' - isabel

But this is only one example. I would love to eventually go to some clinics - but expect similar (or more strongly conflicting) issues can arise with them too.

So for those of you who ride with multiple trainers or do a lot of clinics, how do you sift through or reconcile varying pieces of advice? Have you ever had a trainer straight up tell you that something you learned elsewhere is wrong?

19 comments:

  1. I only work with one trainer, are audit her trainer's clinics. So, they teach very similarly. That said, I read voraciously, and bring my ideas to my trainer. I also only have a lesson about once a month, so she usually has to sift through my explanations of what we've been doing and how I've been fixing issues.

    Oddly, the biggest thing my trainer tells me is when I've taken her teaching too far, or far enough. For example "inside rein was working for you to get flexion here, but now he's past that, you need to pull him out with the outside rein now." Or, "you're done using your leg aid here. He's learned that lesson, it's time to work on refining all of those aids with your seat."

    It's not telling me things are "wrong" just that now there's a better way to do them. If I come to her with something that she doesn't agree with, she hasn't completely discounted it, but often just shown me a different way to get the same result. At the same time, sometimes we stick with what works for us.

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    1. that's really interesting about being told when to move on to the next training phase. my busy little mind is always asking trainers: 'ok, then what will come after this?' or 'ok, how will i know we're good with this?' and they pretty much tell me to slow down and stop over thinking lol.

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  2. I think going out and getting a variety of opinions isn't necessarily a bad thing - you just need to find out what works for your horse and you the best. If you find you clash 80% of the time with Trainer A, but clash only 15% of the time with Trainer B, you need to make a choice if the 20% of "good" from Trainer A is worth it.

    I think every trainer has something beneficial to add, and I have had trainers tell me that a certain way of doing things was wrong (ie. "cheating" to get a correct lead, etc). If Trainer B finds a BETTER/more effective way to get that lead (for example), I will choose that option. And I noticed that once Trainer B fixed the issue and I went back to Trainer A, Trainer A didn't even realize I had solved the problem the other way ;) "WOW! You look good at that lead now!"

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    1. yea i kinda love variety. and thankfully i clash pretty close to 0% of the time with my current trainers (not sure i'd ride with trainers i didn't see eye to eye with at this point in my riding life, actually). but i agree - i tend to stick with directives that *work*

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  3. I have never ridden with multiple trainers at once; it's possible my brain would explode. Having said that, I think it's a good idea! With horses, I don't think there is just one correct way.
    I've also always been afraid of trainer backlash - you don't experience that?

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    1. Just to clarify - trainer backlash being a trainer getting mad that you're riding with another trainer.

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    2. haha i totally understand the exploding brains feeling. the only reason i escape that is bc only one trainer is weekly - the others are more like once a month or every few months (almost clinic-style, really). and my weekly trainer P is SUPER supportive of riding with multiple people and i'm always filling her in on whatever lesson i recently did. so no backlash, thankfully!

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  4. I've seen good and bad with both riding with solely one person and riding with multiple people. Personally, I want to ride with one trainer (per discipline if I were eventing) and clinic occasionally. I feel like riding with one person gives me a straight shot to whatever goal I have (for example, my Gold this past season). I make sure that the trainer has not only achieved the goal themselves (both Heidi and Tracey had their Golds) but their students have achieved those goals under their tutelage (true of both of the trainers).

    I've seen riding with only one trainer backfire when a rider finds the wrong trainer and the trainer has them convinced that they're getting better when they really aren't. But I think this is less a one-trainer problem and more a wrong-trainer problem. I've seen it work okay in pony club settings, where the expectations are relatively low and most of the trainers are quite qualified to bring kids up the level in an organization the trainer knows so much about.

    I dunno, I know it works well for others, but I feel like some techniques take a while to work, and switching techniques and picking what works in the moment is sometimes rejecting techniques that are the kind that are bad before they are good. My first lessons with Tracey were NOT pretty and the techniques seemed to just send Rico off the deep end. A few months later sticking to it, he was going better than ever. Same thing with Heidi- my first lessons were full of random bouts of galloping and a lot of hard transitions to get him forward but we stuck with it and it paid off.

    That being said, if you have a team of trainers who work well together (as in, not conflicting 90% of the time), have similar theories, and respect your goals... I can see it working out marvelously. I've just never found two or more high enough level trainers that were similar enough to each other for me to want to ride with both of them regularly. I can imagine it happens more at the lower levels than at the FEI levels. FEI trainers are harder to come by.

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    1. lots of excellent points here - thanks! my first few years of riding was with a very very isolationist trainer, and i only learnedd one very narrow riding philosophy. ever since, i've been hungry to go explore and see what else is out there.

      a bonus is that my own personal goals at this point don't really require super-specialist trainers. i want to ride all three phases at the lowest of low eventing levels with confidence and competence. obvi these goals will change over time, and i will eventually need to reconsider my training program...

      but also - as you say, we need to be careful of the 'quick fixes' and band aids - always racing around trying different things but never giving anything enough time to actually succeed. that's probably my biggest vulnerability in my current training regimen... so i'm hoping this is where my trust in my trainers will pay off - with them keeping me honest lol

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  5. I probably take advice from more people than I should, but I work towards the same goal no matter what horse I am on, and I what I do is a combination of things that I've been taught both in lessons, clinics, and from reading.

    I think what advice you listen to is highly dependent on the horse. If the horse responds well to "this", then do "this" and not "that". I've never heard a trainer tell me that something I learned somewhere else is wrong, but I have had one of them say that to someone else, right after that "wrong" thing worked wonders on the pony. Just do what works and adjust as time goes on.

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    1. i think you and i might have pretty similar philosophies here lol. and i definitely agree - it's critical to ride the horse you have under you first and foremost!

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  6. Taking the jump into two different seats has been a bit of a headache for me. I don't ride with an eventing trainer currently, but take weekly Saddle Seat lessons. Their use of the horse and ideas of how the horse should use themselves is 180 degrees from what I've been taught.

    That being said, I've noticed I'm a better rider for swapping back and forth. I'm learning to take what I need and quietly leave what I don't. :-) its a little bit different than your two trainer scenario, but thought I would weigh in a little. I've ridden with multiple trainers before, and you'd be surprised at how similar the two are sometimes. ;-)

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    1. i still think it's soo cool that you take saddle seat lessons! also - love your point about taking what i need and *quietly* leaving what i don't. that sums it up pretty well, i think :)

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  7. I like taking lessons from different trainers. The more tools in your toolbox the better! As long as there are consistent ideas and you don't confuse your horse, no worries :)

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    1. that's pretty much my hope (and experience) at this point. i think it also teaches me to think more critically about the directions i'm receiving - and the actual purpose and function of my aids. in other words - helps me be more self aware by hearing how different people describe the same things

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  8. I think getting out there and soaking up all the knowledge you can get your hands on is fabulous--as long as you are confident in your ability to see how it works for you and your horse, and discard what doesn't.

    Most good horse people recognise the need for flexibility when it comes to horses and the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better off you are at working your way through an issue.

    Keep up the great work with your girl! Isabel is just gorgeous!

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    1. thanks - and that's kinda my thought too. i really like flexibility in my training bc things are never going to go exactly perfectly anyway, and i need to know that my mare will still respond appropriately even when things are a little different...

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  9. This is really interesting. I only ride with one trainer. I would get too confused switching around I think. My trainer is really good about rephrasing things until she finds one that makes sense though. She won't keep saying the same thing when it's obvious it makes no sense to me. I love that about her!!

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    1. that's a really great quality in a trainer - nothing is more frustrating than a trainer telling you the same thing over and over when you just don't get it or it doesn't make sense lol.

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