This morning was a lovely reminder of why I teach and train instead of "just ride". I had the opportunity to speak with one of my former riding students who I haven't seen in several years. It seemed like just yesterday she was this young teenager just starting high school who wasn't as outwardly confident in her riding as some of her peers but certainly had the natural talent and drive to learn. She is now in college riding for her school and has continued her equestrian education. I took a moment to watch her as she did some ground work with a particularly overbearing paint mare that is boarded at a client's facility. She has developed her own style, a quiet confidence exudes from her as she quietly without a word spoken gets this horses attention. Her summers are now spent working and training other peoples horses and teaching lessons to young beginners with the same thirst for knowledge she had when we first met. This young lady is one of many former students that have gone to make their mark in the equestrian world.
It has always been my goal as a trainer/instructor to give my students the core skills they need to succeed. To build their confidence in the saddle to help them achieve their goal. It doesn't matter if that goal is being comfortable out of the ring on a trail or competing at the national level. As an instructor I will take a student as far as I can in their training. When they are ready for the next level I will find them an instructor that will help them achieve their ultimate goal. As a trainer nothing brings me more joy than to see a former student go on to further their equestrian career and do well. I will be the first one to cheer them on from the ringside, to say "job well done". I have had students go on to compete at Regional and National levels, training their own horses, riding with the Royal Lippizzan Troup, and to most importantly pass on what they have learned to the next generation of equestrians.
Students learn so much more in the world of horses than just "how to ride"... They learn core values, compassion, decision making skills, to put something or someone else before yourself, inherent knowledge of what is right and wrong, the camaraderie of others who share their passion, and finally the most important is a Sense of Self. In the horse world you never stop learning. Good and Bad you see and meet people from every walk of life. You take away from each encounter something useful. It may be an new piece of equipment you have never seen before that will be beneficial to you or someone in your circle, or it may be a training method you have never seen. Watch closely and listen carefully, there is huge world of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into.
Every time a person comes to my farm to ask for lessons or training I feel very blessed that in some small way I will be able to share the knowledge I have gained over the last 30+ years that will allow them to safely and confidently learn to ride and be comfortable around horses. It may be the adult rider who has waited all their life to ride or the next generation of equestrians, either way I have shared my passion, this is what drives me to continue.