Those who have participated in my clinics have often heard me say, “It is my job to teach in a way that is understood. It is your job to learn. If you can’t understand what I am telling you, then it is my responsibility to explain it in a way that you can receive the information.” If no one is learning, then how can I be teaching?
My approach to teaching and training was born out of my personal frustration with not understanding and not having questions answered. I was not satisfied with someone being unable to explain something; I did not find it amusing to have a legitimate desire to understand brushed aside. Every rider, at every level, is a student.
As a pedagogue, a trainer has a responsibility to her students to be honest and deliver the information she has. No one can reasonably expect a trainer to know everything. If a client or student receives the information and chooses to dismiss the trainer’s advice, the trainer has done her job the best that she can. If the trainer does not know something, she must tell her student directly, “I don’t really know.”
Sometimes this type of discussion leads to answers or at least plausible theories. Most importantly, I have found that my time spent studying physics, dance, equine anatomy and physiology has served me well. I wish I had known that understanding these things earlier in my journey would be as valuable as time spent in the saddle.
I love my job, but back when I started teaching, I had no idea I would love it so much because I took the time to understand. I thank my mentor, Sweden’s Bo Jenå, who patiently answered my questions and, when he couldn’t, reminded me how to curse in Swedish.
Kari Garber is an FEI rider, trainer and popular clinician. She is a well-known long-lining expert and with her mentor, Bo Jenå, is co-designer and producer of the Garber–Jenå Long-Lining System. She is based in the Wellington, Florida, area.