It's Not Always Easy Giving Advice

It is not always easy to give advice.

It's not always easy to take on unwelcome advice.

This month I want to talk about how to best help others. 

We all find ourselves in a position where we advise others. Either as a coach in a lesson situation, or a volunteer, helping out in your local club. 

As a parent or a friend, we experience situations where we advise our kids, partners or friends about what we can see from the ground. 

It is not always easy to find the right words. Sometimes even with the best intentions, we can say something  that is interpreted by others in a very different way to what we intended. 

So I thought I'd share with you some of what I have learned over the last 20+ years.


When it comes to teaching and generally giving advice, the first rule is always "Wait until you have been asked!"

When you are a coach, that is easy because your student would have booked you for a lesson, so you do have permission to teach them. 

When you are a friend, parent or partner (gulp)....... Wait until you have been asked for feedback, before you start giving it!

Another way you can approach, may be with a gentle "Do you need some help?" before unleashing the onslaught of 'well-meant' advice. And not expecting ramifications for your generous, yet uninvited offerings..

When you have permission to coach, then here are some things to keep in mind.

People tend to NOT do what we ask them to do. So, I tend to ask questions rather than telling riders what to do. This can be something like:

'Where in your body do you feel your breath?'

'Let me know when you are taking a breath out.'

'Do you feel you sit straight or do you feel crooked?'

This is far more effective than saying:

'You are holding your breath.'

'Breathe out.'

'You are crooked.'

Also, the mind does not recognise the words 




If you say "Do NOT stop at the gate" All the rider hears is STOP AT THE GATE.

If you say "DON'T look down" the rider hears LOOK DOWN.

If you say "I WON'T fall off again" all you hear is I FALL OFF AGAIN.

When coaching and helping others make sure you give clear instruction on what you WANT the rider to do. For example:

"Stop in the middle of the arena."

"Look up."

"Stay on your horse, take a big breath out and have fun." 

I also find that when I have to adjust the position of a rider, most of the time when a rider is crooked and I have made them sit straight, they don't feel straight.

Our body has a perception of what 'feels' straight and this is often very different from what IS straight.

So when making positional corrections to riders, ask them how they feel, and get them to describe that feeling in their own words. 

This allows the rider to become clear and confident in their own interpretation, and  will give them a way of exploring this 'new and unfamiliar' position again.

If you use the words the rider used to describe what they feel, you know that you will be understood by the rider. 

And finally, before you coach anyone - make sure you ask that rider, what they want to achieve and what they are working towards. We often start coaching with our intended outcome in mind. If you want to help the rider, then help them to achieve their goals and make sure you are both aligned to the outcome.

Happy riding everyone,



1 comment

Not, Don’t, won’t.
I guess we all know it, that saying those words when one likes to change the outcome next time around, do not work.
One has to constantly remind oneself about this until the " bad " habit has been changed.
Life is a constant challenge, it’s never boring.

Andreas Mueller October 06, 2022

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published