Three Essential Attributes Of A Riding Coach

When you go into a teaching exam, or an assessment – one of the first things the Assessor asks you is – what are some key attributes of a coach… and man it is hard to think of them on the spot – ‘fun/interesting/learning styles adaptable/active/driven/helpful/smartly turned out… you know the drill. But even after listing all of those, it is a tricky one to manage, every individual likes different attributes in their coach or instructor – and I have come to learn that there are three key or essential attributes that are necessary in a coach, whatever personality or teaching method you might want and/or need.

  • An interest

A coach should be interested in their client, their goals, and them as a person. Regardless of how many lessons you may have together, or how long you need their help – you should have an interest in your client. And in your coach. An interest in the same things motivates, and is invigorating. It makes you want to find solutions, makes you want to be on the same team – makes you want to work for each other. Gives stimulation and gives drive. And completes goals… It is not essential that you enjoy the same television show, or the same subject at school – but that you are both interested in the a) the horse, and b) having an actual lesson, with a purpose.

  • The term ‘fine’

‘Fine’/’good enough’/’perfect’/”great’ – all words that I think that you should refrain from saying, as a coach, – sure, you need to strike a good balance because some people can be unmotivated with a lack of positivity (myself included), but I don’t want to be good enough, I don’t want to be fine, I don’t want to be great – when I get to this stage I won’t need to invest in lessons, and I will pass all exams..I find that I loose motivation to spend money on lessons, and try and grow if I am good enough – maybe I am lazy – maybe I am 1 in a million with this thought process – I don’t know.Quite honestly though, I have recently changed coach, and neither of my new coaches use the word ‘fine’, or ‘good’ or even ‘OK’ – they say things like ‘that is better’, ‘that looks professional’, ‘that is more like it’ and I have never felt so motivated. Never felt so keen to please. Never felt so determined. More please!

  • Confidence

One would imagine that it is a given, but it is not always the case, a coach should have confidence, knowledge and understanding – but in my humble opinion it should be mostly confidence. How can you teach something if you’re not confident about it, confident that it works or will work? Sure, you need to understand it, but the way that you understand it, may not be the same as anyone else – so that needs to be adaptable all the same. But confidence is just there. You are either confident or not. Am I right? As a rider, you get confident in what you are doing, confident that you know your horse, more confident in how you ride and so on, and you should be able to be confident in a confident coach.I find myself, with my job, constantly judging myself on how I teach, on how I talk and how I portray myself – but I would love to be able to say these are my traits!

I would love to hear what you think.

Are there any that I have missed off?



  1. October 16, 2017 / 9:25 am

    I can’t agree with you more! I don’t think my coach says “fine” either. She’s always pushing me to the next level and I trust she knows when I’m ready to move up.

  2. October 20, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    Interesting! I can totally relate to the first and last point not so sure about the second though. I love being told when we are doing something good, because what this actually means is that we are improving. I thrive on the feeling of progress and as such an happy to be told when something is not correct or can be improved, but equally I want to hear the other part as well.Thanks for sharing!

    • October 20, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      Thank you! Yeah it is very true. It’s a tricky situation to be in – I think I’ve been told that I’m good enough when clearly I wasn’t – that’s masked my experiences. I like to be told I’m progressing though! It’s good to know how you learn and get better!