As horseback riders, we need to find the right person to help us in our riding journey. We need them to mentor us along the way so that we can grow and succeed and meet our goals. I have had many experiences with many different mentors. You could say I was on a journey myself, to find the right mentor…
When I first started looking for a mentor, I really didn’t know my goals or what I wanted to accomplish in my riding. I really needed a mentor that could help me determine what my goals were and ways to achieve those goals. I visited about three barns before finding the right one. It was definitely a long road to get there, but I DID eventually get there. I have now found a mentor that has really helped me succeed and do well at my riding. His riding style is very calm and collected, but also direct. I have grown immensely under his instructions and excited to see where it will take me!
So, today I am giving you five steps to finding the right mentor to help you reach your goals.
I once read a quote that said, “A truly great mentor is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget.” This is the mentor that every horseback rider should strive to find. I hope this tips will help you find yours!
Step #1 – Word of Mouth and Research
The first step to looking for the right mentor is talking to horse-loving friends, researching on the internet within your local area or simply by word of mouth. If you listen carefully, you will hear the good and the bad about local barns and trainers. When you have a friend who loves her barn and has the same interests as you, it might be a good idea to go check it out. Research is also a very good tool to use as well. You can look at specific horse barns in your area and check out their websites. Both of these options are great to use to find the right mentor!
Step #2 – Watch The Mentor Teach
Once you have found the barn that you feel may be a good fit for you, ask if it would be possible to watch the mentor teach a lesson. It is very helpful when you see the person teach because it gives you an idea of what their teaching style is like. When you watch them teach, you can also see how they act as well. This helps you discover their character and who they are, not only as a mentor, but as a person. We want our mentors to lift us up, not tear us down. I once experienced a trainer that would yell at me as a way to motivate me, but I quickly realized that she was not a good fit for me. I responded much better to the direct, but calm trainer. So, you may have to keep looking to recognize which type of trainer best suits you (and your horse).
Step #3 – Take a “Test Drive”
What I mean by a “test drive” is to take a “test lesson” with the mentor. When you take a lesson, you can really see how the mentor reacts to all aspects of your riding and how you are handling the horse. This is really helpful for figuring out if the mentor is right for you. You can also see how they communicate with you and if they give you tips along the way. You also have to note that when you are looking for a mentor that not all mentors are going to teach exactly in the same way. That is definitely what I have learned in riding is that all mentors have different styles of teaching. Keep that in mind while you are looking!
Step #4 – The RIGHT Horse
Not only is it important to find the right person to teach you, but it is also important to make sure that if you don’t have a horse, that the barn has suitable horses for your riding style. If you love to jump, but all of the horses at the barn are reining horses then you should probably look somewhere else. I have had the opportunity to try out a few horses and it has really helped me to discover my riding style. When I first talked to my trainer, he asked me what goals I had for the future. When you set out your goals it is easier for the trainer to place you with the right horses. You need to be able to find the right horse that will help you achieve your goals. But note, that riding different horses will help you develop as a rider.
Step #5 – Talk to the Mentor
When we communicate with others we can understand what they are like as a person. When you are looking for a mentor make sure to sit down and TALK to them. It is so important to talk to them and get a feel for what they like to teach and how long they have been teaching for. You also want to see if the mentor will help you reach your goals and help you advance in your riding career. If the mentor is too busy to sit down and answer some questions you have for him then it may reveal they are not the right mentor for you. You have to feel comfortable at any time, while on the ground or on the horse, to be able to ask questions. No question is a silly question should always be your motto. Asking questions is how we learn.
So there you have it… 5 steps to finding the right mentor. I hope that you have found these steps helpful! I have been riding for 6 years now and although every trainer I had along the way helped me in many ways, I am very thankful to have found a mentor that not only pushes me to be the best rider I can be, but also pushes me to be the best leader in all areas of my life. Gary, thank you for all you do!
Let’s chat! Let me know in the comments below if you have a mentor and if they have helped you significantly in your riding journey. I would love to hear all of your stories!