What is coaching? What makes it different from other equestrian teaching? The answer is it may not be very different at all, or it may be wildly different, depending on your previous experience.
My coaching approach is based on human psychology, equine learning theory, natural horsemanship and classical training and riding, and is strongly informed by the principles of Mary Wanless’ Ride With Your Mind and horse and rider biomechanics (I am a student coach in her method). Anything I use in my teaching and my riding I have practised and studied in depth.
Whatever your goals, whether your aim is to develop a great relationship with your horse, or whether you are competitive, together we will delve into and expand your tool kit as a rider and ground handler, and develop your horse’s skill base.
I am an Associate Trainer with the World Bitless Association. The WBA represents ordinary riders, non-riders, competition riders, trainers, behaviourists and all equestrians bitless or bitted, who want to see evidence based ethical training and riding increase in acceptance and popularity for the sustainable well being of the horse both mentally and physically.
In recent years the acronym LIMA (Least Invasive Minimally Aversive) has come to the fore in horse training. My approach will always take a LIMA route, which may involve more thought and practice time but is a more ethical approach than force or gadgetry. I encourage all my clients to give their horses ‘bit-less literacy’ – i.e to train them to be ridden without a bit, and to consider the use of bitless bridles in everyday riding.
If you are practised in clicker training I am also ‘clicker friendly’. I understand and practice equine learning theory and can help you learn to integrate ethical training approaches into your thinking, riding, groundwork and training.
My first aim is to establish a calm and safe place for you and your horse to learn, and agree a starting point (for both of you – this may not be the same place if the horse has fewer tools in their tool kit than you do or vice versa). This process is very reflective, so there will be lots of chat and questions (lots from you too I hope!).
I will always prioritise you and your horse’s welfare, and I need you to be prepared to observe yourself, to practise, and be ready to think outside the box and have fun. My clients frequently say ‘we keep going back to basics’ – in a good way! Being an equestrian is an internal art, and progress always means returning to the basics and peeling off another layer.
We will include on and off horse exercises, groundwork and riding, away from horse exercises and definitely homework practice. We will laugh a lot, experiment and explore how our thinking and emotions affect our and our horse’s behaviour.
Most of my clients have one to one, or small group lessons, and I run regular small group clinics in Aberdeenshire and Fife. After your lesson we will discuss learning points and I will provide you with coaching notes to help guide your practice.
I can also offer ethical groundwork and ridden schooling for your horse (dependent on the horse) if you are out of action or are needing this service.
Coaching Fees – Within 30 mile radius of my home (Dinnet, Aberdeenshire) £30 per coaching session (one hour). For sessions further away I will require travel costs but I will do my best to find other clients in your area so I can keep these down. Use the contact form to send your details and I will get in touch for a chat.
Clinic fees – Local clinics are similar but include school hire and may be higher if we include a dismounted workshop. I am available to travel for clinics – contact me for a chat about a clinic date or what we could include.
Video coaching – I am currently trialling video coaching, which will include an assessment of fifteen minutes of video which you can send to me, and a 30 minute skype or phone coaching session.
If you would like to book a lesson or discuss anything about coaching or training I would love to hear from you, you can contact me here.