Trainer Tuesday: What is one non-riding assignment you have given your students recently?

Welcome to Trainer Tuesday! Each week we ask trainers a question and gather their answers for you. These trainers have a range of experience, backgrounds, and focus points of their programs, so the answers have as much variation as you would expect and also probably much more similarity. 

This week’s question posed is: What is one non-riding assignment you have given your students recently?

Here are their answers: 

“I have told my students to look up YouTube videos of top riders- past and present – that I want them to emulate. I have told my riders to listen to podcasts from excellent riders and trainers and veterinarians to further their education. I have also told my students to watch the best riders in the warm-up area and at the show ring at the shows we are at because there are free clinics going on every day at the show, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open and be a sponge!” -Michael Tokaruk
Listen to Michael on the Plaidcast here.

“I have them do one thing, excluding riding, every week that teaches them something about a horse. It can be vet related, training, watching videos online of some of the top riders, etc. When they’re walking in the lesson I’ll ask, ‘what did you do, outside of lessons, to make yourself a better rider/horse person this week?’ At first, I got a blank stare from them. I explained, ‘there is NO WAY on earth that I can teach you everything you need to know about horses, showing, vet care, etc. If you want to become good, you need to educate yourself!’

Then I explained how I got to be ‘the smartest person in the world’ (a running barn joke) by reading everything (and that was before Google), going to every symposium, joining 4H, watching horse shows, asking my vets questions, etc.” -Jennifer Pigue
Read about Jennifer’s students winning the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge stable challenge here.

“Watch your own riding videos, and those of riders you admire. Consider it homework!” -Traci Brooks
Listen to Traci’s book With Purpose: The Balmoral Standard.

“Over the course of the last year, our students have been tasked with seeking novel solutions to issues they see currently affecting the equestrian ecosystem at large. It’s one thing to point out problems, but it’s entirely another story to start ideation and implement action to make a personal, positive change in the sport you love.

It’s been a real challenge for our entire multi-generational team to work through the process of bringing the riders’ ideas to life, but we have the support of an amazing entrepreneurial coach and are overwhelmingly proud that our equestrian entrepreneurial advertising campaigns will be featured in a local museum of history this summer!

The next challenge is a big pitch competition coming up in the start of the new school year. Public speaking is the number one fear of humans and we figure if we can overcome that now — there’s no showjumping course or dressage test in our future that can phase us!” -McKrell Baier
Read McKrell’s article here.

“I often encourage my riders to look up and know the specifications and rules for the different classes they compete in. I also want them to know what tests are available if they are showing in the equitation classes. This is all free information that’s available and helps to make sure my riders are prepared.” -Troy Hendricks
Listen to Troy on The Plaidcast here.

“I have strongly urged my students that say they want to do and be better to join a gym. We are athletes and should train like athletes.” -Mary Mielenz

“One thing I encourage my juniors to do is to study riders of the past and today. Having people you look up to is crucial especially in a sport where there’s more lessons on a day to day than success. YouTube is an incredible tool to research professionals you respect. Learn how they manage their horses and which mounts they work best as a team with.

Whose style do you admire and could you mimic some of it? Developing your knowledge of our sport’s history and keeping that insatiable hunger for knowledge alive is the best way to stay inspired. This helps your relationship with your horse, with competition, and with the other people in our community. It’s the easiest way to widen your lens of understanding show jumping and why people dedicate their lives to this sport.” -Nicholas Latina

“Besides reading my books The Athletic Equestrian and Equicize, I always suggest my student try Pilates in order to cross-train! Pilates is one of the few workouts that actually targets those riding specific muscles!” -Sally Batton
Read Sally’s book The Athletic Equestrian: Over 40 Exercises for Good Hands, Power Legs, and Superior Seat Awareness.

“An example of a non-riding assignment I have given students is to design a course of 10 jumps on paper. It can be a derby style course, an equitation style course or something we may see in the jumper ring.” -Rob Van Jacobs
Listen to Rob on The Plaidcast here.