We use the following scheme on courses in the UK, and also on the courses in Toronto. The courses in California are taught jointly with Sandy and Anne Howard, have a much more varied content and structure, and are a lot less hands-on.

9 am -11am. In the workshop room, session on biomechanics, learning, and/or the communication skills of coaching. These are usually highly interactive, and often ammusing as well as informative.

11am -1pm. In the arena. Everyone gets at least one chance to ride in one of these morning sessions, probably for about 20 minutes. We usually have three horses, and if possible use the same horses all three days. We hope to get three riders on each horse each day, so over the entire course we see the same horse ridden by nine riders. This can prove extremely interesting! The session is primarily for the coaches watching rather than for the riders: so we watch and ask ourselves ‘What are the issues here? What are this rider’s strengths and weaknesses? What is ripe for change? What patterns are causes and what are symptoms? How is the rider impacting on the horse? How is the horse impacting on the rider? How could we most help this rider?’

We may or may not work with those issues. If not, we may suggest that they form the ‘meat’ of that rider’s afternoon lesson.

As we compare our perceptions, the coaches’ ability to see and diagnose biomechanical patterns gets a huge boost!

2 pm -4 pm. In the arena, in 3s where each group has one horse, and rotates between the roles of teacher, pupil, and consultant to the teacher. Consultants may be given a set role in observation, or may just be there as back-up for the coach. They are not allowed to take over the lesson! Several more seniour coaches are available to help these groups and keep them on track. This is learning by doing – in a supportive environment, where it is OK to flounder and make mistakes. To bottom line for a coach who feels out of her depth (perhaps when teaching a more skilled rider than herself) is the question ‘What can I say that will help you the most?’. ‘Show me what you look like when you get it, and how me what you look like when you loose it.’

4 pm – 5 pm. In the workshop room, to debrief, give feedback, and find out what was learnt (in all roles). Where were the problems? What coaching tactics were most successful? What did people need more of?

This session leads us into the next day….