"More Than a Coach"

So it's that time of the year again, "show season" (yeah!). Cleaning out the trailer, making sure I can fit into my show clothes (ouch!) and filling out entry forms (yuck!). Ordinarily, I'm not one for profound philosophical reflections and people who know me would probably say I'm more of a sarcastic quip kind of guy. However, as I am gearing up for this next season, I was looking back at last year. After a big horse show last year, one of my clients said to me, "Thanks for making my kid happy." Never given this particular compliment before, made me think about Laura and myself and our experiences with our three children. Between soccer, baseball, tennis, dance, cheerleading, cross country, lacrosse, volleyball, art classes, and robotics our kids have done a lot. However, I was never compelled to say, "Thanks for making my kid HAPPY," to any of their coaches/instructors. Of course, I had thanked them at the end of the season, but that was it. Apparently, my client's compliment moved me since it has stuck with me through winter. I think it is because all a parent wants is for their kid to be happy... right? I think it's the ultimate compliment! That being said her words led me to reflect on the relationship between a student and coach, and in this case between a rider and their horse trainer/instructor.

Usually, with baseball, soccer or most sports, the coaches work with the students for an hour or two once or twice a week. They make them do drills, bark instructions at them with an occasional "atta boy" and it culminates with a quick game on the weekend. A riding instructor will have those moments with their riders and then some. They build deep and long-term relationships with their students. Why? Well, some students come out every day to see their horse and trainer. Maybe it's the long weekends and 14 hour days at the horse shows? Could it be the late night dinners at Denny's or IHOP after a long hot day at the fairgrounds? Or how about the 5:00 am mornings at Starbucks to start the day off? I know it's a 9-hour road trip to a horse show being sequestered together in the cab of the truck that smells like coffee, Egg Mcmuffins, Hostess pies and b.o. Right now some of you are nodding your heads and saying, "Rich knows my guilty pleasures". It could be those tearful lessons when things aren't working out, and then magically they do! The trainer is there riding every step with the student. When a rider comes out of a class without a ribbon and their trainer is at the gate, it establishes a special bond between the two. Sure it's great to have someone there when you are winning but how about when you can't buy a ribbon. What would you appreciate more? The person that is there in the good times or the one there in the tough times? Then there's the student/trainer confidentiality clause. What's that you wonder. Well, for example, I've known about "crushes" before mom, and as they grow up and become adults, they have asked me for life advice. Hopefully, if I'm lucky one day I'm teaching their kids to ride, and the cycle begins again! Recognize, I am not trying to diminish the value of a sports coach (I've coached my fair share of sports teams, it's hard work), but I want to share my experiences of lifelong friendships I've developed with students. So as you start off this show season filling out entry forms and you see the "coaches signature" line on the entry form appreciate that your trainer is more than coach.

Good Luck this season!


Rich and Laura Doran operate Doran Show Stables in the beautiful country side north of Sacramento in Lincoln, California.


 



2205 Meadow Creek Road • Lincoln, California 95648
Rich's mobile 925-719-1404 • Laura's mobile 925-719-1405
Email: fivedorans@yahoo.com


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