From Facebook: It’s Not The Student’s Job
This post was originally made on my personal Facebook page on December 17, 2019. It has reached over 2,100 shares and 2,200 likes in the past few weeks since its original posting, a response I wasn’t expecting but am thrilled it has received.
This past weekend at a show, I overheard so many cruel words from trainers to students. “That was embarrassing,” one snarled without even looking at the student. “So we waited 8 hours today for you to go in and do THAT,” another said after a less than stellar round. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard things like this from trainers. I actually hear it a lot. At the TIP Championships this summer, I overheard a trainer growl at her pre-teen student, “We did not come all this way, your parents did not spend all this money, for you to go in and blow it.” My rider and I looked at each other in horror. I’ve had kids and parents come to me with a form of PTSD after years of being belittled by former trainers, being told “you’ll never be as good as Sally,” or “why can’t you just ride like Suzy?” It’s sad, and it’s pathetic.
Look, my kids don’t lay it down every time. No one does. Each of my riders made mistakes this weekend, some big and some small. I had one rider come out of the ring in tears after a trip that was going great until all of a sudden it wasn’t. And what did I do? Give her a hug, tell her it’s no big deal, and assure her that she’ll just get right back on and try again tomorrow. Which she did, and she had a beautiful round.
No one is trying to make a mistake. No one wants to mess up. These kids show up day in and day out, try to get it right, and sometimes it just doesn’t go according to plan. They’re learning, for Pete’s sake! As professionals, they look up to us. They admire us, they want to please us, and they want our approval. As a professional, it is completely inappropriate to ever belittle a student, to embarrass them in front of their peers, to compare them to others, to make them feel even worse than they already do walking out of a messy round.
It is not the student’s responsibility to justify their trainer’s legitimacy. It is not the student’s responsibility to make their trainer “look good”. It’s their job to try their best to employ the training they’ve received, and that’s it. If you as a trainer can't handle children making mistakes, then you need to do something else. Yelling at them isn’t productive. It isn’t constructive. It will not make them better. It will make them quit.
If you’re a professional, please try to be patient and considerate with your riders. Teach them, encourage them, and improve them.
If you’re a parent, please do not pay people to verbally abuse your children. Find someone who cares about your kid and wants them to grow, not someone who holds your child accountable for proving their validity as a professional.
Stepping off my soapbox now.