Excerpt from the July issue of Heels Down Magazine.
Stand by the warm-up at a horse show and you’re sure to see a spectrum of coaching styles. Some coaches speak methodically and gently. Others shout a stream of orders at their students, who seem frantic to get it right.
“I grew up in an environment where I think my coach’s goal was to make me cry,” said Kasey Mueller, an eventer and the president and founder of KCM Consulting, a human resources consulting firm. “We kept going back because they were at the top of the sport so they must know what they’re doing.”
Coaching style isn’t a frequent topic of conversation in horse sports, and not all coaches spend much time thinking about it. Many coaches are riders foremost, and coaching students is simply a way to finance their riding goals. Also, riding is inherently an individual sport instead of a team sport, so you don’t often see a coach rallying a team to greatness. And most riders train alone the majority of the time, working with their coach maybe once or twice a week.
Nonetheless, understanding coaching style can have a big payoff for both coaches and students. There’s one priority that trumps the rest when considering a coach, according to Kasey: communication.