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  • Marilyn Bassett-Coffey

“…Can you hear me now…?”

Updated: May 2, 2019


For those of us who are riding instructors, we have ALL asked this question to our riders at some point in our career... “Can you hear me now?” For some, it might be a daily battle; for others, its hardly an issue. For those that teach on a regular basis, I am sure many of you can recall a particular occasion (such as a windy day, you are just coming back from being sick, perhaps there is another noise near the arena competing with your voice, etc.), when you notice your rider is looking at you with a blank look in their eyes, or maybe even a mime impression with hands and lips moving, trying to form the word “WHAT!?”


It’s ok we have all been there…


There are several different solutions to this problem, but before I get into that, let’s discuss WHY a rider having trouble hearing you (as the instructor) could be a possible problem.


Reason #1

SAFETY! If a rider has difficulty, or worse, cannot hear your guidance, this can turn into a safety problem very quickly. Depending upon the level of rider, of course, the rider may need your help in a sticky situation, and if your voice cannot be heard / understood clearly and efficiently, it can be problematic.


Reason #2

Let’s face it, if we are in the “horse world” as professionals, it is because we LOVE our job! And if we love what we do, we throw our voice out to the furthest corner of the large arena EVERY day over, and over, and over, again, and all the while, we will do it with a smile! But if we are not properly projecting our voice, it can become VERY strained, or in many cases, DAMAGED permanently! Which may mean an early stop in a career of teaching.


Reason # 3

Put yourself in their boots… If you are like me (an instructor / professional who also takes lessons), it can be very frustrating when you (as a rider) cannot hear your coach. You turn your head around hoping desperately that maybe you can somehow read their lips or follow their hand jesters, but as your body is bent around like a pretzel, your horse is beneath you thinking, “Why is my rider twisting like that? Does he/she want me to turn?” It’s frustrating for both parties. Riders who cannot understand what you are saying can loose interest in you and your teaching style, no matter what level.


I could go on, but I think you get my point...

Voice straining = BAD!

Voice clear and understood by the rider = GOOD!



Now… possible SOLUTIONS for this problem!



Solution #1


My absolute favorite “teaching tool” is my “CeeCoach!” Yes, it was an $$$ investment but so worth the expense in the long run! My current instructor introduced me to her CeeCoach at my 1st lesson with her, and I was AMAZED at the difference it made. Not only did it help in my ability to hear her while riding but also RETAIN what I learned in my lessons! That’s right. I truly believe that by being able to hear guidance directly in my ear, it allowed me to focus more on what I was doing and FEELING so that my body could actually retain what I learned better! When I ride on my own, it’s as though I can still hear her soft words going in my ear helping me feel what I need to try next.

For those that teach private lessons or simi-private lessons, I HIGHLY recommend getting a CeeCoach or something similar! (By the way, I will include a link to the website where you can read more about or purchase a CeeCoach. There are other “off shoot brands” out there that are cheaper, just remember, you get what you pay for usually).


www.CeeCoach-us.com

(This product, and similar products, can be found on other sites at various prices)


Pros:

  • “Two Way system” so your rider can hear you AND they can speak directly to you (in private lessons).

  • Easy to use

  • Range / distance is very reasonable

  • Private conversation so very handy in a show setting

  • Indoor or outdoor (don’t get it wet)


Cons:

  • Expensive

  • If you add additional units to a group (more than one rider) the “Two Way system” feature turns into just a “One Way system” (in other words they can hear you, but you can’t hear them).

  • Can be delicate and needs to be treated with care.



Solution #2


Voice amplifier / projector!

Broke / Poor instructors or group riding instructors, you will LOVE this! There are lots of affordable voice amplifiers / projectors out there that are easy to use and won’t break the bank! (I will include a link to the website where my two favorites can be purchased). These devices work GREAT if you are teaching a group or don’t wish to spend money on a “Two Way system.” They basically it is a small "handheld device" that can make your voice LOUDER so it can be heard at a greater distance. (This one pictured also lets you play music via a USB drive)

www.voicebooster.com

(This product, and similar products, can be found on other sites at various prices)


Pros:

  • Easy to use

  • For the most part inexpensive / affordable

  • Range / distance is very reasonable

  • Indoor or outdoor (don’t get it wet)

Cons:

  • Voice amplifiers / projectors are a “One Way system” (in other words they can hear you, but you can’t hear them).

  • Can be inappropriate in *some settings* if there are other riders who are in the arena that are not in your lesson


Solution #3


This one is simple, easy, and best of all… FREE! It’s not a device, it’s a technique. When you are teaching, think of SINGING what you want to say next. Have your voice reach from your diagram and project from there, thus making your voice come from deep within your lower chest and not your vocal cords. This takes practice, and even after you discover this helpful tip, your voice can still fatigue over time. But doing this will greatly improve the longevity of your voice. Also remember to drink lots of fluids. Take a deep breath, and think, “SINGING” your words to your riders, and watch them succeed!



As a young instructor who hopes to do this for MANY more years, I am VERY grateful for the wise words of my mentors (most of whom have some voice damage) advising me to have tools to help me teach clearly so that my voice can be used for the years to come. Thank you for your wisdom my marvelous mentors!


My name is Marilyn Coffey with MC Equestrian LLC and I hope this article helps you in some way.


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