I have a serious belief that teamwork applies to equestrians just like athletes of team sports. I genuinely think riders who compete should offer to help one another – one of my favorite training tools for students is learning to criticize one another. This can happen in group lessons, at shows or when riding together for fun! Always, always, always point out what a horse and rider is doing well together so they can take that as their base and build on it. But seriously, think about how much you can improve for the sake of yourself and for your horse. You could go leaps and bounds by getting positive criticism!
There is also teamwork in regards to the care of your horse! It does not matter if you own your own barn or board your horse – you, your barn manager and caregivers (if this applies), your vet, your farrier (or barefoot trimmer) and even your trainer should be in agreement and understanding of the care and needs of your horse or horses as individuals. I pride myself in continuing my education and I never even considered what I heard this past weekend – you should be willing to pay your farrier to be at any pre-purchase exam for a horse you are considering! Now granted my personal vet is amazing and does well on his own looking at the hooves, but both of them would be AMAZING! I have always thought about it in regards to lameness or if we are having issues so my vet and farrier can be on the same page, but it blew my mind and made me feel like a bit of an idiot that I never thought of it for a pre-purchase. More importantly having all the caregivers for your horse on the same page, which I know it can be hard to get them together at the same time, but try, if not ask to record the conversation so you can have everyone on the same page. Your horse’s care should be of the upmost importance no matter your discipline.
If getting help can be difficult from your trainer, or if your trainer does not want you seeking outside help then again, think of your horse, and think of yourself. While too many perspectives could be an issue, continue your own education and wanting to improve yourself or your horse should never be an issue. To me a good trainer is willing and shows more confidence by letting you seek other advise. But another rider under your trainer should not be an issue – no matter if you are at the same riding level or not they will more than likely have something to offer and riding together practicing patterns or transitions can be beneficial. Having someone video yourself and seeking help is never a bad thing either. Just think about it!
A great way to give back to your barn team is to give them tips – possibly quarterly or when you see fit, the same goes with your farrier. Even cards or small tokens of appreciation such as baked goods seriously go a long way. In regards to both your vet and farrier you should considering asking them what you could do to make their visits with you and your horse easier, say your horse is shy of needles then you can ask how to help! Trainers seriously deserve more appreciation than many get! I do not care if they are your horse trainer, your lesson giver, your show coach or just a general riding instructor, they are genuinely trying to make your relationship with your horse better and better. As a trainer myself I am constantly thinking of what I need and want for my students and how to help them, sometimes I will reach out to other trainers or even get inspiration from other riders in my program. But seriously, thank the good ones, the ones who care about you and your horse, they work hard.