I started coaching novice riders at my barn in October of 2015. It was terrifying for the first bit, knowing that I was laying the groundwork for their riding careers. I did not want to be a bore in their lessons, but I always wanted to emphasize the importance of safety and solid equitation. The more I taught, the less daunting it became. I grew more comfortable teaching and I can credit my students, my coach and the school ponies for that.
The students grew more and more confident while in the saddle and at the barn in general. My coach would always give me a hand when I felt that my lesson plans were going dull. Often I would find myself teaching a skill or a version of the exercise that I had worked on in my own lessons. Of course, the school ponies have been great.
Whether they were on a different horse/pony or trying a new class, all of my riders always made me proud. As they were all riding around, I realized how much I genuinely liked teaching these students. Many students do not know each other outside of the barn, however, their lessons have become a weekly event. They all chat while they groom their ponies, laugh when I say something silly in their lesson and applaud each other after a good ride. I see so much rivalry and bitterness across social media, so seeing this level of camaraderie from such young people make me confident that we can all get along.
Finally, how could you not love coaching? The level of energy and excitement with young riders is limitless. The kids that I coach are a riot in their lessons, so naturally having them at a horse show was just as fun. Sure, there were LOTS of horse show butterflies, but that did not stop them from cheering each other on, and always have a witty comment about their ride.
Although away at school, I got to come home for the weekend and teach some familiar kids along with some new ones. They all rode great and everyone came home with some great ribbons, but when you ask them what the highlight of their day as they say it was “riding without stirrups”, or “the jumping chute”. They are not driven by winning or perfection, but by the love of horses and enjoyment. I think this is something we all, myself included, need to believe in. Ribbons fade, but memories do not.