Saturday, February 18, 2012

Should You Show Without a Coach?

The question of whether a junior or amateur rider should compete without a coach present can be quite polarizing. Some insist that not having a coach at shows can be anything from dangerous to certain failure.

There are, however, some valid reasons why one might decide to attend a show without a coach. These include (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Your coach is attending another show on the same day(s)
  • Your coach becomes unexpectedly incapacitated
  • You do not have a suitable coach in your area so you take clinics instead and therefore don't have a regular coach to show with
  • You cannot afford both showing and paying the daily coaching fees
Some of these can be overcome by finding a replacement coach at the horse show (or arranging a replacement ahead of time). For some people, however, using another coach means added stress because of the unknown, and it could be a risk to change your horse's warm-up routine. If you are considering attending a show without a coach, here are some things to keep in mind:
  1. Who will set jumps for you? It is difficult to share warm-up jumps with other riders, and can be annoying to their grooms as well (especially if you knock them down). If you plan on bringing a friend or family member to set for you, make sure that they know the rules of the warm-up ring ahead of time and are comfortable setting jumps quickly and safely.
  2. Where will you keep your tack and equipment? Attending a show without a coach usually means attending without a barn. If you do not share a tack stall, where will you keep your things if you don't pay for an entire tack stall for yourself?
  3. Do you have someone who can videotape your rounds for you so that you can see what might have gone wrong (or well)? Not having a coach there means not having immediate feedback.
  4. Who will help you if an accident occurs?
  5. Who will hold your horse if you need to walk a course (if the show uses posted order, you can't always allow yourself time to get your horse from its stall)?
  6. How will you make decisions about how to ride the course if you are unsure? You can occasionally listen to other coaches walking or discussing courses with their students but eavesdropping on a coach for very long can be rude (others are paying for that information).
Attending horse shows without a coach is not a guarantee of failure if you are organized, confident and arrive with a plan. It is certainly not for everyone but it most definitely can be done.


  1. Thank you very much for this. I am heading into a show season without a coach and I'm glad you don't have the strong opinion that means no coach equals a guaranteed failure. I believe I am a strong independent, confident rider and I have friends and family that can help me. Really appreciated!

    1. I'm glad to have helped. It's definitely not easy to show without a coach but I know that it's doable because I have been doing it myself for a couple of years now. There are times when you will wish you had a coach to consult with or help you but if you're prepared and confident in yourself, you can make do in those situations.

      Good luck!