Danny is such a seasoned experienced coach in the Equestrian world, its a real honour to have him share his thoughts here.
Dear [Well Meaning Parent],
My own daughter just turned 30 and married her childhood sweetheart. Did she make it in my sport? I guess not. She just returned to competing and loves it – at such a basic level that your daughter was already winning aged six! Why? Because she loves it.
As you know, I have the highest possible coach qualification in our sport, yet my adult daughter is messing around at Entry Level. “Isn’t that Failure?” I hear you ask. She’s one of the happiest, most well-rounded people I’ve ever met. She plays at our sport just for fun. And that’s my measure of success. Your daughter is amazing: talented, driven, diligent and desperate to win. You support her every inch of the way. You’re there at every competition. You’ve bought her the best equipment (horse) that you could. You’re up at unholy hours to get her to training. You clear up after her so that it doesn’t impact on her school work. You challenge me daily to make sure she’s getting the best possible coaching. You excuse her her mistakes (of course she gets tired/stressed/anxious/frustrated!) I have a confession to make: It doesn’t really matter much to me if your daughter wins. What really matters to me is that she turns up with a smile, that she’s inquisitive, asks me questions, bounces back when things don’t go to plan, thanks you (and me) for the support, helps her peers, is gracious when she does win and is comfortable with failure.
Let’s remind this precious person that we Play sport, even if she does go professional, she’ll still be playing. It’s fun – that’s why I do it. I do for work what most people do for recreation. Let’s keep touching base and check that, win or lose, your daughter is still having fun. Why? Because my ambition is to help form well-rounded, empathetic, kind and happy adults. If they have a medal round their neck, that’s a huge bonus…. Providing she wears it with humility.
There, I’ve put my cards on the table. I’m afraid you’re probably going to find another coach, because her ambition is to win and that’s what you want for her. So, if winning isn’t my priority, I’m probably history. If I’m right, could we at least agree to meet again in 15 years and see how she’s doing? No, not whether she got to the Olympics, but what sort of person she turned out to be. Not to judge, by the way, just because I’m inquisitive to find out if I was right. If you do decide to stick with me, Thank You. That proves to me what I already thought: that you’re an amazing parent. With no instruction manual you’ve worked out what parenting is meant to look like. Now, let’s let her go and watch her fly.
Best wishes from
Your dedicated coach
Danny Anholt FBHS (BE Accredited) Fellow of the British Horse Society Director of Equestrian Sports at Millfield British Eventing Accredited Trainer British Horse Society Chief Assessor In twenty one years at Millfield Danny has trained many young riders in eventing, show jumping and dressage. Quite a number have gone on to become professional riders and successful competitors, in many areas of equestrianism, from eventing to dressage; racing to sports psych; para equestrian to show jumping. Millfield Equestrian has become the model for equestrian sports facilities in schools under Danny’s management A successful event rider, running his own training centre in Devon and later in Somerset. Chief Riding Instructor for the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, managing the 200 horse Beas River Centre. Millfield Equestrian normally employs almost 30 full time staff and we train about 100 young riders, so coach development plays a major role in our commitment. Danny is renowned in the British equine industry in this field.