The Science of how Horses Think & Learn Coaching vs. teaching. What’s the difference? Part 2

By Lindsay Grice Eques- trian Canada coach and judge.

Last month, I sug-

gested 6 ingredients of a good coach. In a nutshell: 1. A good coach has an ana- lytical eye. Eyes circling from watching the rider’s signals and timing to the horse’s response. 2. A good coach gets to the source of the issue. Often the “glitch” is deeper than a simple equitation-fix and rooted in a communication issue. 3. A good coach has a tool kit of solutions. Having a plan B or C in their pockets, if correction A doesn’t solve the problem. 4. A good coach asks ques- tions. Seeking to under- stand before seeking to be understood. 5. A good coach is always learning. 6. A good coach helps riders enjoy the process as much as the result. Research indi- cates that rider burn out comes from too much show- ing without soaking in enough practice in between.

So here are my last two qualities of good coaches:

7. A good coach fosters in- dependence in riders. As coaches we’re

tempted to fill each part of a lesson with instruction. To talk a rider through each leg of a course, even coach from the rail. We’re diligent and want to give our clients good value for their time! My coach never took the training wheels off. I never learned to be an independ- ent rider - to think by my- self. Until I became a professional and had sink or swim. Practice that requires some form of problem solv- ing, known as “decision training,” may not produce early results, but leads to deeper learning, Independent riders: • combine skills, and facts making decisions appropri- ate to the moment • make judgement calls without waiting for precise direction from their instruc- tors • retain what they learn and more naturally transfer those skills to a competitive environment. • See mistakes as learning opportunities

8. A good coach is a men- tor.

A good coach knows -

It’s more than horse shows. Our students may take away a ribbon, year-end title and “Congratulations!” from peers as they exit the ring. But if they don’t take away

What a privilege is coaching! Helping riders understand the technical skills, when and why to use them.

life lessons learned from the pressure cooker of competition, we’ve failed as coaches. In 25 years of coaching, I

smile as I look back at the clients who’ve been transformed through riding and showing. Negative character qualities bub- ble up in the process and are skimmed off, leaving the good stuff that was hiding underneath! For example… • A selfish teen girl learns to pick up a broom to help out in the barn, empathize with her horse, fellow riders and even thank her

parents. • The timid middle age woman develops confidence to risk fail- ing in the fishbowl of the show ring. (Even the self-esteem to wear “nowhere to hide” riding pants!) • The competitive boy who sees his horse mainly as a vehicle for his sport, begins to consider his horse’s perspective. He learns to slow down and deliver his cues thoughtfully and sympatheti- cally.

Creative problem solving, humility, humour, life perspec-

About Lindsay Grice. A horse show judge and certified riding coach with a spe-

cial interest in equine behaviour. After 25 years as a competitor and horse trainer, Lindsay enjoys teaching clinics and travelling to Ontario farms as a freelance instructor. She’s taught the sci- ence of equine behaviour and learning for horse associations, courses for University of Guelph and therapeutic riding facili- ties.

Lindsay judges many disciplines and breeds and serves on an EC judging committee

Why do horses do what they do? “In the horse world, our traditions and evidence sometimes col- lide – I love to help riders solve their horse puzzles with logic, patience and equitation science.”

tive (“this too shall pass”). Good coaches teach life lessons alongside with riding with- out stirrups! Be- cause its’ more than horse shows.

Independent riders have learned to problem-solve in the warm up or show ring.

OFA Commentary

Water regulations drown out simple rule-making

By Mark Wales, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

by nearly every ministry. We answer to provincial and federal regulations, most provincial ministries and our local municipalities. We take regula- tions seriously because producing food takes serious attention to detail – from the ingredients we feed our an- imals to how we manage pests in our crops.

are two of the most regulated areas. Water systems run through many Ontario farms, making water quality and water management an on-farm priority. There are three federal and 18 provincial acts that currently govern water across Ontario. Farmers must answer to a lot of legislation and the regula- tions that flow from these laws, from source water protection and drinking water to drainage and fisheries. A key priority for the Ontario

Our environment and our water Farmers in Ontario are governed

As we prepare to work with the new provincial government, we’re review- ing the existing water legislation that impacts Ontario farmers. Regulatory simplification will involve the identi- fication of overlapping or conflicting legislation. From this, we can work with the new provincial government to simplify, modify or even eliminate regulations that may serve no purpose other than to confuse. OFA is no stranger to water

quality management. Our recent provincial election campaign – Pro- ducing Prosperity in Ontario, in- cluded key elements that addressed environmental sustainability and water quality. Much of Ontario’s water legis-

Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has long been to recognize and reduce the burden of regulations.

lation falls under two main ministries – Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Environment and Climate Change. OFA will be working closely with these two ministries – and the newly named provincial ministers and their staff – to build effective working relationships as we advocate for a policy review and recommended leg- islative revisions. Watch our website (

for information and updates on our water policy review.

Horse Shows

2018 ●

For more information please visit

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