Guest column of this week comes from Danish born U.S. Grand Prix rider Charlotte Jorst, who recently took to Facebook and wrote about the insights she has gained over the years about trainers and being coached.
Charlotte’s success story is one of earnest dedication, persistent optimism and unabashed hard work. An avid horse lover from day one, she rode in her youth but never received any formal instruction. As an adult, she successfully developed and sold her watch brand Skagen to Fossil and since then has been able to focus more on horses. Charlotte only began training and riding with the focus of competition at age 35. By 2015 ended the year with the highest adult amateur score in the US and has competed at numerous international Grand Prix shows. She is the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix Champion.
On the Pitfalls of the Trainer - Student Relationship
A coach, a trainer, eyes on the ground. This is the question I get asked the most. How do you find someone to really help you? It’s by nature a very difficult relationship. Usually I get asked by adult women because they are the ones that need the help. They are usually very successful as they have made money somehow and now want to get good at dressage. They start working with someone and it’s very difficult.
Usually the relationship becomes that of a child pony rider and the trainer. Only this time it’s an adult being treated like a child and feeling like a child because they don’t know as much about horses. Usually that goes wrong. No adult wants to feel like a disobedient child. The horse feels something is up, starts also behaving like a disobedient child, so now the trainer starts riding it.
Another pitfall is that the owner of the horse outgrows the trainer because they get better. Usually that ends badly as well. Insecurity about whether the owner will leave and, therefore, the trainer becoming super possessive is something you hear about all the time. Or the crazy horse owner who never thinks anything the trainer does is good enough. The list of things that can go wrong is endless.
So how do you find someone you can work with? I think from the get go you need to stop thinking that it’s going to be easy. It’s so much better than easy. It’s like everything else : complex, challenging, humbling and something that needs to be worked on every single day. Stop thinking that everybody’s else’s relationship is perfect. Trust me it’s not!
You need to find out about yourself how much criticism you can take, how much praise you want, and go from there. It’s extremely hard to take a lesson every day as you are really subjecting yourself to critique every day. Some days you just need to think you are good.
So my advice: take a lesson 2-3 times a week, select a horse you can ride, stop thinking the relationship will be easy, be realistic about your own ability to take criticism. Be ready to be in a relationship that sometimes is challenging but extremely rewarding. I sometimes forget to thank my trainer enough. It’s hard to train others so thank you Marie Meyers for everything you do!
Just know it’s hard for everyone. So just keep at it!
Finding the Right Trainer for You
Swedish Innovation Ridesum Launches in English - Smarter Training Available for Everyone
Bernard Maurel: "Can Scientist, Riders and Trainers Understand Each Other?"
2017 French Dressage Trainers' Meeting at Lamotte-Beuvron
International Dressage Trainers Club and FEI Sign Memorandum of Understanding