I have been teaching riding for over 35 years and through those years my teaching style has changed and improved but there has been a consistent thread. I have always been an instructor who looks at the broader details of riding and training instead of focusing on smaller positional issues in a student. I think that perspective aligns with my general mindset where I am able to look at the big picture and I don’t get stuck on the details. That does not mean I don’t think details are important, as they are. It is just that I look at them as how they work in the whole picture of what I am looking at. I think that is part of what has led me to my career as an equestrian performance coach.
The changes in my teaching that have happened are that I have connected even more to teaching from that broader perspective. It works best for me. I really enjoy peeling away the layers around a riding problem, whether it be because of a positional issue, a lack of mental focus or a combination of both. An example might be that a rider says they want to fix a problem they have with leaning forward too much. Often, their focus is only on sitting up and not on why they are leaning forward. The problem often stems from a high center of gravity and tightness in the hips, thighs and knees. That would be one layer peeled away. Then a deeper layer could be that tightness is a result from a rider feeling nervous and not breathing. This could cause the tension in the hips and thighs. One layer deeper than that could be finding out what is causing the rider to be nervous. Could it be fear of making a mistake or fear of falling off? There are many possibilities for why a rider would be nervous. If I can peel away those layers and discover what is causing the nerves I can help support a rider to find tools to conquer their nerves. As the nerves are conquered the tight hips and thighs should relax, the center of gravity will lower and the rider will sit up better.
The more I peel away the layers that lie beneath different riding problems, the more I realize that the roots of the problems usually are based on an issue that stems from a rider’s mind. That is why I have become an equestrian performance coach. Looking at the broader picture and trying to understand better the sources of a rider’s problems has allowed me to help my students so much more. You can apply this yourself as a rider or trainer. Look beneath the obvious problem. Broaden your mind and the way you observe what is happening. Discover the roots of a problem and work to fix that first. Look to see what in your thoughts or beliefs might be connected to what you want to fix. Then lay out a plan to work on fixing things from the deepest layers. The rest will follow!