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June 20, 2023
"I'm the professional, so I always know best." NOT!
I do know a lot but, I never want to transfer my goals onto you. I'm here to transfer my experience and technical information to inspire you to reach your own goals. Instructors have to be careful about this.
Recently I met a fellow horse riding instructor on my travels who described how she was disappointed in her student for not really striving to get better. She described how she laid everything out for her student, in a simple, step by step plan and she's noticed how it doesn't seem to matter. Her student just takes her own time doing meaningless things. All that makes her lesson time seem meaningless. "If she's not going to work to improve, why am I teaching her what to do?"
I can understand this problem. For many years I taught with a specific program. I knew every step and how to progress to the top. I knew exactly what a student needed to become as good as me and reach their goals quicker. But here is where I went wrong, and where my fellow instructor is falling short... I was teaching my students to reach my goals, not their own. I was always showing them how to be like me, instead of how to be a progressive version of themselves and strive for their own goals. The irony is, I didn't even really know their goals. Either I never took the time to learn them, or they didn't know for themselves. Naturally, if a student doesn't know what they want, we start showing them a path. Maybe that's what happened to my fellow instructor. Perhaps she found her student's lack of clarity as a signal to promote and impose her own goals onto the student. Regardless, as instructors, we need to dig deeper.
It's true, many people aren't clear on what they want. But with a little digging, it shows up pretty quick. I met my fellow instructor's student a few hours later. Within a few minutes, it became clear she wasn't interested in jumping or dressage like she'd been doing in her lessons. She was solely interested in trail riding with her friends on a safe horse. She described how it was challenging taking lessons from her other instructor because no matter what she wanted, the lessons always bent toward jumping instead of ground work and safety preparation. I commend her on finding her clarity. I'm certain her path will open up and include many exciting endeavors in the future too. For now, it's clear on what needs to happen for her, and all it took was a little more digging, an open mind to work on the important things instead of the fun things only, and a desire to help her succeed in her own goals.
For those horse instructors reading this, ask more questions. Check in, ask your students about their goals. Ask them often, you might be surprised how they shift. Be open to that shift, we are here to serve. Don't assume you know best because you are the professional. Support your student at their level with their goals. This means you might have to expand your horizon. I don't love driving horses from a cart, but I have students who dream of it. I had to learn how to support them. I had to continue my education. It's worth doing. Continuing education is a must for me and my colleagues who don't want to rest on their laurels.
For those students who are reading, stop the cycle. Be bold, tell your instructor you want to try new things. Don't buy into the idea that just because you are paying them, they know everything. Trust me... we don't know everything. "A master, is always and forever, a student first." If you notice your teacher is not a student of progress and adaptive to change, be open to finding a new teacher. There are many great horse trainers and teachers out there. You, your horse, and your happiness on your journey depend on you being bold. So be bold. And in case you feel like you need some communication tools to become that bold, clear, diplomatic person. Call me. I can help you develop those skills. Click here to get a free strategy session with Don Jessop https://calendly.com/horsemastery/15min
Believe it or not, your horse's happiness depends on you. If you're not doing something you feel is fun, safe, progressive and enriching, then you are doing a disservice to your wonderful horse. Take a new path and remember what you're here to do. Follow your dream and always, let other people follow theirs.
Thanks for reading.
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