I never thought that I would be a "floater" when it came to having a trainer/taking lessons, but for the last few years that's exactly what I've been. I've had a few trainers in my riding "career" but for the last few years all I've done was two-three lessons or clinics for the whole year. A far cry from my weekly lesson days. And while there are certainly times I wish I had someone I could go to anytime I needed, not having a designated trainer has definitely taught me to be a better rider.
Over the course of all my lessons I've heard thousands of times to sit up. Well when I'm riding by myself day in and day out I have to rely on myself to remember to sit up. Turns out, I'm perfectly capable of making myself sit up, as long as I remain present and disciplined. I love that about having to rely on myself to make things happen. I like being able to assess what the problem is, decide how I need to fix it, and then applying the changes and seeing results.
Riding without a trainer has also taught me to really trust my gut. Sometimes I'm not 100% clear on what a problem with Mollie (or any horse) may be, and I need to rely on what I know to figure things out. I like that I hardly second guess myself when it comes to my horse. Not to say I'm perfect or always make the right call, but I like being able to answer questions myself. It really baffles me when people who have been riding for decades call their trainer over every single thing. I like knowing that I know my horse better than anyone, and I have what it takes to make decisions about her health and training.
With all of that being said, there is absolute no way that I would be able to do all the abovementioned things without the trainers that have come into my life, and taught me so much.
The first "trainer" I had who really influenced me about all things dressage is Holly Mason. You can read more about her here. She is an absolutely wonderful instructor and I highly recommend riding with her if you ever have the chance. She is based in New England but does clinics all over, and has presented several times at Equine Affair.
|When I was riding with Holly this guy, Rinze, was her main mount.|
The man that I ride with the most now ("most" being 2-3 times a year) is named Jean Luc Cornille. You can learn more about him and his program here. He is an amazing thinker and teacher and despite the lessons making my wallet cry, I really think they're worth every penny. I come away learning so much from every single lesson. He has incredible success working with horses with a myriad of medical issues from kissing spine, to navicular, to "mystery lameness". I seriously recommend him to anyone who suspects their horse has pain related behaviors or issues. His youtube channel can be found here. Hopefully you can get past the heavy French accent ;)
|Jean Luc at the World Eventing Championships in the 1970s|