What are you trying to achieve – is it about your horse’s way of going, improving bend, suppleness, etc.? Or are you trying to improve at Prelim to move up to Novice . . . stuck at Medium and dreaming about that pretty tail coat?
Where Do You Start?
Word of Mouth is very important . . . but make sure your recommendations come from people who are already on their way to achieving the same aspirations as you. Don’t be afraid to approach good riders and ask them who they train with, wherever they are (competition venues, friends’ yards, forums, FB clips, YouTube, blogs, etc.) – they will take it as a compliment.
Do Some Groundwork
Ring them, have a conversation – find out about their journey – are there things in their history you can relate to and build on or that interest you. Be open and honest with them about what it is you are trying to achieve. This is about all three of you. Is there a relationship worth building?. If there’s an instant connection – go with it, book a lesson. If you’re still unsure, ask if you can come and watch them ride at home – in short, find ways to observe them in their training environment so you can decide if you are going to make a good team.
I would recommend giving a trainer at least three sessions to decide if they are for you or not. How many dates would you give a man? The first session will purely be a chance for the three of you to assess each other. The second session will be the first proper opportunity all three of you have to begin to work as a team and develop a training plan. By lesson three you should be on a path to incremental improvement – Rome wasn’t built in a day. If, however, after three lessons there’s no chemistry and little improvement, it might be time to have a grown-up discussion about moving on. Your trainer will thank you for being honest.
There are some incredible riders and trainers out there - you will find the right match for you and your horse – remember, it’s a three way relationship that must work for all.