On finding the right trainer

I wrote a post a few days ago about good trainers, but after another mini-lesson with our new trainer, I cannot stress enough the importance of finding the right trainer. I’ve had the fabulous fortune of riding with some really great trainers, and I’ve gotten some good results from them. But, after only two short lessons with Andrea, I’ve realized that no matter how good the trainer is, you must have a good match in order to get excellent results. I don’t think Andrea yet realizes I’ve assigned her to trainer status, but I promise I’ll break that news to her soon.
So, what makes her such a good trainer? Of course she has a rich history of riding, and she hails from Germany (the dressage motherland). But what really makes her great for us is that even with few words, she makes such a dramatic impact on Johnny’s way of going. It’s the timeliness of “now outside half-halt,” “sit down!” “keep your leg on,” and “don’t give to that, hold him.” And instead of focusing on our shortcomings (I bounce around helplessly on his back in downward transitions), she focuses on improving what can be fixed. And Johnny is loving it. I’m seeing him relax and feeling him start to really use his engine. During one walk to trot transition, he offered so much upward movement that with a little stronger leg and seat aid, he could have jumped into a beautiful, balanced canter. Instead of feeling him fall forward, I’m feeling him rock his weight back and pushing from behind. It’s a truly amazing feeling, especially since we came from the nose-in-the-air, hollow, inverted-back transitions not very long ago. She keeps lessons short enough to keep his (and my) full concentration on the work, but long enough to make progress. We leave the arena feeling worked but not exhausted. And, she offers fluent praise for all the things we do right. Her positive attitude and encouraging spirit keep me motivated, which translates to better riding on my behalf. I look forward to further progress under her tutelage!
Until next time, Go Eventing! (And, hey, Go Dressaging!)

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