Sunday 13 November 2011

Coach's Credo - the customer is always...

What followed next were a few lessons, with a few coaches that were, frankly, a total waste of my time.  I am not even going to pretend that my dressage ignorance had anything to do with them, they were just bad.

Let's face it.  When you are residing in a primarily hunter barn, and are looking for some impossible alignment of an available  outside coach who doesn't suck, a little bit of arena time, and a 20m circle that isn't packed with jumps and assorted other shit, your options are not really that great.

(I am sure at least a few of you are thinking "been there, done that".  Perhaps you still are there.  My condolences).

I will call these lessons - Fun times with Coach Crabby, and Coach Clueless.  Details to follow.

But let's start with an overview.

I think the biggest take home from this short period is just how awful the customer service skills of many coaches out there truly are.  Now, I already knew this from the hunter side, of course.  But at least I do have some sympathy there - these poor people are usually dealing with an arena full of children or teenagers - who are themselves grappling with all of the challenges that children or teenagers face (or whatever it is that makes them act like such a bunch of irritating whiny little ninnies most of the time).  I am sure it is difficult to keep a positive, energy charged attitude when faced with this day after day.  Adopting that naggy "whah-whah-whah-Suzie.  Whah-whah-whah-long spot.  Whah-whah-whah-did you count your strides" version of Charlie Brown's teacher is pretty much inevitable.

However the typical dressage coach is teamed up with one adult, one horse.

One adult who is typically pouring a large part of their disposable income and also their fragile self esteem into this endeavour, which is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable hobby.  Strangely, some coaches appear to think that what we would really light our fires - after a long day of kissing OUR customer's butts to  rake in the money to pay THEM - is to come out and be treated like we are insufferable Epsilon semi-morons.

I know, I know.  It must be very depressing for them.  They thought that after they made the jump from Young Riders to Pro Riders, or became Judges, or rode in the 1932 Olympics, that only the cream of the dressage crop - fit, nubile riders, with big bucks to spend on perfect horses - would come their way.

Instead... they get... the Platypus.  And me.  Honestly, we are doing our very best.

Now maybe somewhere, out there... there is the exception to this rule, and we just haven't met yet.  But as it stands, I don't know of any Adult Ams who are driving to the barn, after their long day at work, ready to spend $50++ on a lesson, who think to themselves..."Hmm, hey, you know what will be fun?  I am going to totally fuck with my coach's mind.  Everything she asks me to do - I am going to do the shittiest job of executing it that I possibly can.  Until she wants to tear her hair out because I seem so stupid and incompetent.  Forward?  How about NO.  Canter transition?  When I am good and ready.  You want some bend eh?  Well, how about a hearty outside shoulder pop to go with that.   Sitting trot?  Wait until you see the action here!  Black eyes coming up, baby".

(If you are actually out there, give me a call and let's do lunch, because I am sure it would be entertaining),

I know, I know, you feel like giving up.  If that is the case, how about you stay home.  Don't bother coming here and pretending you want to teach me, just to get your hands on $50.   And - trust me.  I have had equally depressing jobs - have you ever had to talk at length about pet diarrhea with a screaming cat owner, debating whether or not the company you work for is responsible for footing the bill for any associated carpet cleaning?   No?  Well, maybe if you did, you would have a fresh new attitude towards earning money by helping me to learn to ride.  Really, it is not that bad.

No coach should ever have to sigh deeply and audibly, make a tsk sound, use sarcasm teamed with the drawling know-it-all tone, roll their eyes... etc...etc... Like Mrs. Curmudgeon always told me (and still does today) - if it was all fun and games, they wouldn't call it WORK.  Suck it up.

Or, if you hate it that much - find another job.  Because I know I will find another coach.


  1. All of this is really REALLY making me appreciate my coach.

  2. Yes EXACTLY! Thinking back, it is a miracle I didn't just give up. But don't worry, I find some good ones eventually too... ;)

  3. True! I know you will love this...the worst clinic experience I ever had came from a regular contributor to the UDBB. Complete and utter waste of time!!!!

  4. Anonymous, I seriously wonder if I audited... (was it south of London?).

    Regardless, if we are thinking of the same clinician.. it was so bad, so depressing, (and to top it off..cold) that I can't even think of a way to write about it here that would be funny or interesting. (I want readers to laugh, not have the urge to slit their wrists...).

    It was just sad all around, for people who paid (including me, I think it was $10 or something to audit) and also for the clinician who seemed so washed up, bitchy and miserable. Time for a career change....

    I have tried to wipe it from the neural slate.