“Coaching from the Grassroots Up” Convention at Moorwards Farm – few reflections

leaflet convention
Hoof is “the Equestrian Legacy brand of the British Equestrian Federation that aims to get more people horse riding and enjoying equestrian sport”

Yesterday I attended the above event and I would like to share with you a few reflections and thoughts because it was probably the first ever CPD kind of day I ever been to that didn’t leave me feeling like I am trying to achieve the impossible with Aspire’s coaching programmes.

I don’t know how it happened that over the years riding school riders stopped spending time with the horses and instead only meet them by the mounting block to get on? How did it happen that not many have the time or opportunity to groom their horse before the lesson any more? I know it has not always been that way as my lessons in the 80’s were all about grooming, tacking up and picking out feet and I do remember that full well since I was terrified of the process at the time 😉 Why is it that in times when everything needs to be now, quick, instant we don’t celebrate the opportunity to slow down and recharge with horses on a larger scale?

Every day I ask myself whether I am wasting my time on trying to forge Aspire courses as they are with emphasis on relationship between horse and rider whilst still enjoying the sport element of training, goal setting, improvement. Every time someone asks me why don’t I do one-ff lessons or why are they 90min and rider gets the horse ready I wonder whether it is a sustainable career – making change happen is scary and daunting. Thankfully, more and more riders who seek training based on trust and relationship with the horse find me and I feel the energy to keep going.

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Ben Hart about changing behaviour: “our nature is to object”, “horses are much easier to train than people[…] as coaches we need to be behavioural detectives”; “always be in a Learner position”


Yesterday’s convention left me hungry for more events of its type, hungry for more training and for asking questions not many want to ask. The two parts I enjoyed the most were the talks/discussions with Ben Hart and Andrew MacFarlane.

Sue Edwards’ presentation left me wanting to hear more from her because what she shared on the day was too basic for me. I do have a feeling she has some great information to share and only touched on her experience and knowledge yesterday. It was almost frustrating!

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Andrew from Lead Change about changing habits and teaching new skills. Language is such a big part of coaching of any sport, I think Lead Change’s workshops would be an amazing part of all Preliminary Teaching Test (PTT) training! Most PTT students teach beginner and novice riders and that’s where clarity, patience and knowledge of how to explain things that are seemingly obvious is paramount…



Margrit Coates session surprised me, I read and enjoyed her book  – Talking Horses – some years ago but the actual presentation didn’t resonate with me. Having said that, the combination of all presenters had a very interesting impact on many thoughts I had afterwards. Combination of scientific and spiritual approaches, not being afraid to mix them a little and stir the paradigms is good I reckon.

I think it was Andrew who said that no learning happens in your comfort zone…you always need to be pushed a little bit, always slightly uncomfortable. It’s something that we remember well as instructors when we teach but perhaps forget that we too need to be learning all the time…I think it’s a skill to know which direction to push and it’s an art to feel how much, and to get better at both we need to keep challenging not only our clients but ourselves in a way we think, plan training, plan horse’s education.

You know, these CPD days for coaches, they tend to be of 2 kinds…One I would liken to being shown how to lunge my horse in a pessoa or other gadget to make him work in a frame/engagement/over the back and the other type of events I would compare to being taught how to watch my horse move so I understand the complex and intricate pattern of motion and then being shown ways to change it for the better through those findings.

Yesterday’s event wasn’t the gadget or quick fix.It wasn’t about teaching a training trick. It was very much an intro to what I hope is a start of changes in grassroots coaching. If you are a coach, rider, instructor, trainer who wants to teach this sport with horse wellness in mind, do send Jodie at Moorwards an email…she is trying to spread the word and make these events into a series that can be taken all around the UK. Make yourself known, maybe you run an equestrian centre who would like to organise the convention? Get in touch: info@moorwardsfarm.co.uk

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