There are a lot of social media and forum discussions about the state of coaching and teaching of riding in this country, and around the world. A lot of what is discussed is often very negative and sometimes defeatist. In the last year we have seen fatal accidents, welfare debates, as well as the wider discussions around the sustainability of the various disciplines not just at the Olympic level, but locally as well. The Greyhound racing debate raised serious questions about the implications to the equine industry as a whole, and animal welfare discussions move more towards animal rights.
The security and sustainability of the sports we love, and the horses we love, hinges on the basic tenement of education. Education of us the riders, who in turn educate and train our horses ethically, taught by good coaches, who in turn are seeking to further their own education and professional development.
We all do the best we can with what we have.
The important thing is to keep learning, to keep questioning, to keep looking for answers when something “doesn’t feel right” in the way we train and teach.
It starts with taking responsibility for your own self.
In November, the Monday after Equitana in Melbourne, a small group of dedicated, passionate and committed professional coaches from around the country got together for a unique 3 day seminar, the Coaching Excellence Alliance Workshop.
The purpose of the event was education and professional development, but also to foster collaboration, community and encourage a wider discussion around what we teach what we do, and why, as well as what we can do better as coaches.
This was an intensive 3 days, covering topics such as product and business development, marketing skills, advertising, sales. Guest speakers presented sessions such as Curtiss Bayliss sharing techniques and methods to protect and use your voice correctly when teaching in outdoor, windy, dusty environments. Trudi Pavlovksy shared a half day session looking at the ways we as people learn, and how a coach, as an educator, can teach more effectively. Dr Andrew McLean shared an outline of the science of learning theory, and how that ties into equine biomechanics, and therefore, how we teach riding, which had everyone’s minds racing for hours afterwards.
The participants were open, encouraging, questioning, and most of all excited to be able to participate in discussions that will directly influence their work and their business. One outcome from the 3 days was that each participant had not only defined their niche, but developed a product specifically to help that niche and importantly, now has the tools to be able to promote and sell their services.
A lot of coaches feel like they are not taken seriously by their clients, or even by their friends. Many feel like this can never be more than a serious hobby for them.
If as coaches, you want to be taken seriously, as a profession that is respected, it needs to come from you first. Too many coaches have had their passion for what they do leaked out of them, simply by not feeling supported, feeling alone, and not knowing how to run what they do as a proper business.
We do the best we can with what we have.
It’s time that the coaches working in the industry now took responsibility for doing what they can to do better.
As a coach, you have a massive responsibility to your clients. You can choose to be the kind of coach who disables and enables their clients, the kind of coach who doesn’t ask why the rider isn’t following their instructions or progressing like they should be. Or you can choose to be the kind of coach who empowers their students, no matter their age, encouraging them to learn, to test, to question, to make good decisions that are based on not only their safety, but also the welfare of their horse.
You can choose to hang onto a client who has outgrown your skill set, or you can encourage them to seek out their next teacher so they can keep learning.
You can deliver your service in the same way as everyone else does, simply because that’s the way it’s “always been done”, or you can look to what your clients really need, how they want to be taught, and what outcomes they are looking for and tailor your service to better suit that.
You can continue to undervalue and undercharge for your skill set, and grow to hate what you do, or you can choose to not only respect yourself, but your clients as well, and deliver the very best education and training you can.
The Coaching Excellence Alliance is not here as an alternative to the very good instructing qualifications that are already available. CEA is a professional development community, treating riding coaches and educators as the highly skilled professionals that they are. It is called an “alliance” for a reason, this is about the people, the community, within the space looking at what we have now and asking the question what can we do better? How do we do better?
This workshop was an experiment, and the result far surpassed my expectations. The plan is to continue with these events bi-annually, with guest speakers and more opportunities for support and collaboration between professional coaches. The people I had the absolute privilage to work with- the presenters and the participants- absolutely blew me away with their commitment, their passion, their openess to learn and their drive. Most of all, their love for the horses and their clients, the work that they did, brought tears to my eyes.
We do the best we can with what we have. Let’s work out together how we can make what we have even better.
If you want to find out more about what the Coaching Excellence Alliance is all about, and how the workshops can help your business AND your clients, click the big yellow button-