After a two-year hiatus, coaches from all over the Netherlands were allowed to reunite for the third edition of the KNHS Teachers’ Conference. The floor was given to experts from various fields in the context of “Coach as Manager”. In the trigonometric relationship between horse, rider and guide, the trainer is central and he or she is in control. How do you optimally fulfill this role as a coach?
Under the inspiring leadership of today’s President Marion Schroeder, the three big speakers Mark Peyerard, Jan Sliver and Vincent Bigelow shed light on the issue.
Mental training for horses
The morning started with a good dose of science but Dr. Marc Pierard ensures by translating it into practice that it never becomes too abstract. “Mental training is becoming increasingly important to human athletes and athletes openly profess it. The horse is also a being with emotions, and therefore benefits equally from this angle.” As a Scientific Member and former Board Member of the International Society for Equality Sciences, he is committed to uniting scientific research in horse behavior with practice.
Berard realizes that reality is complicated. “You start with scientific knowledge and supplement it with your own experience and also take into account the horse and rider you are working with at that moment. It requires a flexible application, because horses are living beings too. Each horse is an individual with its own characteristics and background as you are subject to the circumstances of the day.” It is clear to him that there must be respect for the mental capacity of the horse. “It’s a win-win situation: improving the horse’s welfare, improving performance because the horse understands what we want, and increasing public acceptance.” Because this general acceptance is important, according to d. Mark Pierard: “We can no longer ignore it and the pressure is building. So we have to show that we treat the horse in an ethical manner and keep it safe.”
A horse behavior expert knows better than anyone how a horse actually learns, and the methods associated with it respond to this and prescribe what an optimal training structure looks like. One aspect that is highlighted is the horse’s reward. Pierard immediately refutes an established practice in the equine world. “Stop patting a horse! There is no indication that any horse likes this. In fact, research shows that they are just learning to tolerate it. Instead, scribble them on the withers or give them a pat.”
The idea of 24/7 is outdated
TeamNL sports psychologist Jan Sliver also studies the importance of mental state, in this case the state of the rider. It uses the tried and tested three battery method, which is based on the power of thinking, feeling and body strength. “Most athletes and coaches are familiar with the latter, but forget the other two. The more you advance in competition, the more often you see in athletes that the first two batteries are now so empty that the body battery can no longer compensate. These batteries also need to be recharged. Charging The best way to do this is to distance yourself from the sport So encourage the student to do something in which performance is not expected and where it is preferable to be surrounded by people who do not see or know the athlete as such a great talent The idea that you should participate in sport 24/7 Weekdays are obsolete, but it’s something you see a lot in the horse world.”
The role of the athletic parent
Silver also emphasizes that focusing solely on winning can have many negative consequences and also mentions the role of the athletic parent. “Parents or others around can, sometimes unintentionally, give the impression that winning is the most important thing. And herein lies the danger that the player will develop a fear of failure, which means that he or she wants to avoid losing during the next match. As a result, the jockey begins to Ride more cautiously, not daring to try anything because that could cost you some points, and there is frustration and loss of self-control when gains seem unattainable and it can lead to unsportsmanlike behavior or even cause a halt,” warns Silverer. “The moment you don’t win anymore, it will always come. For example, after you switch from pony to horse or when you measure yourself as a national champion at the international level. Winning is important, being a fanatic is allowed! You go to the point where you loom and my customers go too To the European Championships, the World Cup and the Olympic Games.I tell them: “In the long-term, you can set goals, but the next step for now is to focus on personal growth and recharge the three batteries.”
Dealing with jury verdict
This was followed by a practical session with the judges and coaches at the end of the morning. Using a few combinations, it was checked if both parties were on the same page. Jack Ansems and jury Anita van Os shared their view of the jump system, while Tineke Bartels gave her her perspective on dressage. Tinke concluded by saying, “As coaches we have to teach young people how to deal with jury opinion. You can’t simply ignore that in our sport. You ride for fun and if the jury gives you fewer points, something must be wrong.”
Purpose and result
Comedian Vincent Bigelow was the last speaker to take the stage, he was able to convey an important message in the field of a safe sports climate in a smart way. “The basis of inclusion is that you try to gain insight into the other. Your own perception shouldn’t be the standard here, you have to be open to the other. When you, as a teacher, immerse yourself in the student’s world, you see the student and then the student sees you too. So go on. In communication and always consider the other as equal. And remember one thing: sport is the goal and in the end it becomes the best result!”