The use of reflective practice to support mentoring of elite equestrian instructors

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In the UK, many equestrian instructors are self-employed and receive no formal support for further self-development after completion of their lead body coaching qualification. However, continuing professional development (CPD) is essential to enable equestrian coaches to retain professional currency to promote both rider and equine welfare. Mentoring strategies routinely employed within the health and education spheres to promote staff development could have potential transfer to the Equine Industry to facilitate CPD. Three elite full-time instructors were selected through purposive sampling; all were BHS Instructors equivalent of UKCC Level IV standard with extensive prior teaching experience). The purpose of research was to assess cognitive awareness and behaviour of Instructors through analysis of qualitative data, therefore the methods adopted gave responses not suitable for inferential statistical analysis. Over a four-week period, weekly telephone conversations and a concluding focus group meeting were transcribed; the following transcripts were verified by the participants. The transcripts were subsequently investigated using inductive (emanation of new themes) and deductive (themes modeled on those in previous literature) content analysis. Pertinent quotations were grouped to create higher order themes which were then grouped to formulate emerging themes. Four reflective aspects (conscious awareness, image as professional, benefit to self and practical use of sheets) and four mentoring themes (refreshed and inspired, confidence in self, self-mentoring as coach and weekly support) emerged during qualitative analysis of participant transcripts. During this process instructors felt a positive cognitive awareness of their own ability allowing them to take ownership of their own practices developed. All considered the mentoring process supportive in aiding development of self-reflection. The results suggest that the use of a mentor supports the development of elite equestrian coaches. Limitations include the small population size and the use of a single investigator which could have introduced bias and influenced objectivity. However, the study serves as a pilot for adaption to produce a viable model for active integration into the equestrian coaching industry. Further research is warranted with reference to age, geographical location and experience of coaches. LP: Elite equestrian coaches in the UK are often isolated in their practice post qualification. Development of a remote mentoring scheme could enhance motivation and increase integration of current practices to promote improvements in horse and rider performance.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
EventInternational Society for Equitation Science Conference - Hooge Mierde, Netherlands
Duration: 26 Oct 201129 Oct 2011
Conference number: 7


ConferenceInternational Society for Equitation Science Conference
Abbreviated titleISES


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