Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association

How to be a Good Student by Kerri Sweet

03/27/2024 9:29 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

Most of us have spent time finding the right trainer. We check their show records, their students show records, we scrutinize their horsemanship and check their reputations. We then spend our money and time so we can progress, but do we practice being good students? A good student sets realistic goals, actively listens, does their homework, works to find positivity in the negative and is honest with themselves and their trainer.

Setting realistic goals varies from person to person and horse to horse. Lets be honest, these goals can change from day to day. Openly discuss these goals with your trainer and come up with a plan to achieve them. Planning lessons are just as valuable as under saddle. Take the time to sit down and have an open conversation with your trainer. It will better help them to get you where you want to be.

Once you have your goals set you can begin working with your trainer to achieve them. In your planning lesson make a list of steps to achieve your goal. At your next under saddle lesson you should be actively listening. Don’t just assume they said “add more leg.” Don’t feel dumb asking how, or why, or saying can you repeat that. Our trainers want us to succeed and progress. If we don’t say we don’t understand or ask questions we are not providing our trainers with feedback to help them help us.

Do your homework. Trainers don’t give us exercises to entertain themselves! After your lesson you can write down a quick recap and what you and your horse need to work on. We spend a lot of time working on making our horses better, don’t skimp on your own mental and physical fitness.

Don’t forget to check in. Be proactive and honest. Where are you in your journey? Where are you doing well? Where are you struggling? What can you do to continue to make your weaknesses better? If something isn’t going right, say something. You may need to go back and retrain, or fill in knowledge that wasn’t solidified.

No one is perfect. As horse people we have our fair share of setbacks. Learn from them! Mistakes, injuries and other setbacks are wonderful opportunities to still learn. 

Discuss your errors with your trainer. What will you do differently next time? How will it look in the future? How will you take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Injury and rehab are great opportunities to audit lessons, read rules, volunteer, work on your mental game. It takes a positive attitude to find an opportunity within a setback, but it will help you achieve your end goal faster.

Practice these steps and you will not only help your trainer help you, but you will make yourself more self-sufficient and achieve your goals more efficiently. Don’t forget that success isn’t linear. It’s helpful to look back on where you were a month, 6 months or even a year ago and see your progress.

Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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