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Coaching and taking imperfect action with Sarah Elebert | Podcast #7

 Podcast show notes episode #7 

In today's episode of the podcast we speak to Sarah Elebert of Elebert Equine, Irish Event Rider and coach. We talk coaching, Sarah’s new online venture Equicoach Online, and how everyone can benefit from coaching, whatever your goals and at whatever level you are riding at. 

It is so easy to keep waiting for that perfect time to start competing or the right time to move up a level, or indeed to be at a certain standard before getting a coach to help you progress, and we talk about the importance of taking ‘Imperfect Action - because done is better than perfect.’

Let’s meet Sarah… 

So many people believe that if they are not competing or riding a higher levels than coaching is not beneficial. However, Sarah is interested in showing the value of coaching from the very beginning and why it is essential to put in place good foundations. The benefits of coaching is both physical, as well as psychological. Whatever your riding goals whether it be hacking out on a certain route or jumping a 90cm course, or even riding internationally everybody needs help to get there. Many of Sarah's clients say that her key strength is helping to instil confidence. “We all need help, whatever our goals” says Sarah. 

 Sarah has a passion for riding and competing in Eventing.

Equestrian life can be very lonely, you can be on the yard for hours everyday and riding on your own - someone you connect with, who can help with your riding is a huge benefit.  Having a coach can be really beneficial to help push you outside of your comfort zone and help you learn new things. We all need a push, and so we often take our horses' fitness and training very seriously and we let ourselves slide down the list of priorities, so focusing on our skills as a rider is something of equal importance. 

Finding the right coach is so important

A coach needs to be someone you can really connect with, everyone has a different personality and you need somebody who really understands you and your goals. There is someone out there for everybody! Just because you friend gets on really well with a certain coach, doesn't necessarily mean that they are the right person for you.  Take time to look around for the right person that you feel understands where you are as a rider and what your needs are.

 

There are no quick fixes with horses, and it takes time to train and educate your horse. Through educating the rider, and through consistent coaching they are investing in their own knowledge which they can utilise not just with their current horse, but with other horses that they may have on the yard or they may come across in the future. Sarah talks about a horse that she struggled with for many years, that she couldn't get the best out of, and how she realised on reflection how she would have done things differently because of the time and effort she has invested in her training.  Being able to take advice and knowledge forward for the rest of your life is extremely important. Good riders will reflect on what they've done - what went well and what didn't go so well. Realising that times of ‘failure’ are actually learning opportunities that help us find ways to improve in the future.  

Both horses and people need time, and riders need to look at the bigger picture of investing in their education and knowledge. Sarah talks about a metaphorical toolbox, with tools to work from that you can pick and choose from in different situations, with different horses. 

 

People in the show jumping and eventing world have a little bit of extra pressure to compete towards age classes. However, Sarah would rather allow a horse to go out and get experience at a younger age, aiming for a level of training and ability in relation to the development of that individual horse, rather than going out only for a win. She explains how she has met a lot of dressage horses who are inevitably good at jumping. She owes this to there having really good flat work. Having built strength, suppleness, and evenness, all good foundations for any discipline, as well as having balance and straightness, and power in the back end. Everything you want in a jumper, you may need a little tweak or two with their technique. In general if you have a horse who you just did flat work for the first four years of his life you could still find you had a seriously good jumper at the same time. Looking at the technical aspects of cross country, horse and rider need to have a really good bond and communicate well to get through the finish line safely. 

 

The happiness of our horse is paramount, and if we have good foundations we have a horse who is sound for longer, but also sound in the mind. We have a happy horse that wants to work and is willing to try for you, and we all come across those horses that don't want to do it.  Those you have to argue with everyday, and it's not fun and it's not right. Through the rider’s education and training ultimately horses will benefit from this. There is so much information out there on the internet for people to educate themselves. Of course, you need the practical side of it and having a coach to help you along your way, but there is an awful lot of information that people can draw on and absorb and educate themselves, and to ultimately have happier horses.

Considering the mental health of the horse also impacts on their physical health such as we discussed in our previous podcast discussion where we talked with Katie from Dengie Horse Feeds about the effects of stress on gastric ulcers. 

It is however key to get information from the right sources and from the experts. So often people listen to the advice of others who may not be qualified and this may be detrimental to them. 

Sarah tells us about her new venture Equicoach Online - she is in the process of getting her new website up and running. But her inspiration has been through feedback from her social media followers not being able to access her coaching services because of location, as well as her current clients who can sometimes find themselves unable to have lessons due to time and other commitments. The service allows clients to send in a video of their riding, which will be critiqued with feedback, notes and exercises provided for improvements. This can be on an ongoing basis. 

Sarah spoke about how much she loves online dressage shows, but through this, she came across her own need for perfection, and although she realised no one would see her performance she felt that her horse was not yet ready to enter. 

So often, through fear of needing perfection before taking action, we put off many of the things that would help us make improvements.

Sarah gives riders the opportunity to get help and support, even when they feel as if they may not have reached a good enough standard to get a coach. It is easily accessible using the online platform and Sarah offers telephone support and will go through horse and rider history and discuss the goals you want to achieve before providing feedback on a rider's performance.

 

Staying motivated at home and especially being motivated when you're riding by yourself, as well as trying to think of new exercises that will help your horse is tough. Creating a training plan and goal setting for whatever you want to achieve can be helped through coaching. 

Sarah aims to add additional coaches to the platform with specialities such as show jumping or dressage. Sarah is passionate about investing in the lower levels of the sport.  If people do want to compete this will be the first step to them going out and doing it. Sarah aims to encourage people into the sport in general and raises the profile of equestrianism and its accessibility. 

We discussed how confidence comes through knowledge, and through improving understanding as well as ability and how simply taking action is key.

‘Done is always better than perfect’. 

Taking imperfect action and getting out there to take the first step on the ladder is so important, and we all have to start somewhere. 

Having access to learning using technology such as through the Equestion app or through online courses means you can simply and easily access information, whenever and wherever you are. For example, when you have 10 minutes whilst your horse is eating their food, you can go onto your phone and use that time effectively and learn something new. We chatted about how useful Equestion is for riders as well as coaches when training clients. 

It doesn't matter what your goal is, it's having the help to get there.

Even if you don't know what your goal is right now, Sarah encourages you to have a conversation and find out what that could be, no matter how big or small.  Focus on doing what you enjoy, riding doesn’t have to be filled with pressure, it's about working with you and your horse and if you don’t want to go to a coach, let the coach come to you... remotely.  

Follow Sarah on Instagram @elebertequine or on Facebook










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