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Jan Vinckier is a well-known rider, trainer, and horseman. Competing on the highest level from a young age, Jan has now chosen the path of a trainer, and although he still rides, most of his energy is spent on coaching. In the interview today, Jan spills the biggest challenges of teaching riders and how EQUIMO helps him overcome these challenges.
Your name is very well known, but could you give away a bit about yourself nonetheless?
When I was in Belgium, I was mainly riding and competing on different levels depending on my horses. I was riding the Nations Cup for team Belgium from a young age. Later on, when I came to Poland some six years ago, I started to help people get training and follow-up mainly. I still have some horses on my own just to keep it running a bit, not to give up shows completely, but it’s not my main point anymore.
As a successful trainer, do you also make clinics, or do you prefer to work with long-term clients?
I prefer long-term clients more, but sometimes I still give lessons only for one occasion, just to help people a little bit. I’m always happy to help someone’s case, it’s not always necessary to follow up a long time, but I think it’s nice to see people growing over time and getting better and better.
Where do you see the advantages of working with long-term clients?
The advantage is that you slowly see as people get better and get to the level where you think it’s starting to be really nice and professional. I’m really happy when my students are good at what they do, they progress and win some classes, they start to jump high, and I give them motivation and build them up. That’s what gives you satisfaction.
In these clients' cases, are you interested in what they do with their horses in between sessions with you?
It's really important to watch everything they do at home. It's the main thing to do when you train with someone long-term, not only one session. It's about following them up at home, seeing how the horses go, how they progress, and if things start to get better. If the horses don't progress enough at a show, you can look where the problem is, if they need to be checked by a vet or need to be in a better condition, build more muscles, or what's wrong. Long-term training is necessary to watch, and it's part of full cooperation.
Do you use EQUIMO to see the analyses of your students even though you are not with them, then?
Let's not say I’m using it all the time, but I do use it, and it’s nice to have some background and see what we are building up to, and it’s nice to have a tool to gain extra help. I think more will be covered this way in the future, and I can get my students under the same program so I will be able to follow them more easily.
Do you have students far away from you, or are all your students at a relative distance from your home?
Everything is far. Poland is big, and I have students in the Czech Republic, so everything is far. It’s not like in Belgium where you drive for one hour, and you get somewhere. So I’m often driving five or six hours, but that’s a part of the job. It’s a far distance, but I don’t care so much. I start early in the morning, so I can do my job and then come back, so I don’t have a problem.
What are the biggest challenges in coaching different groups of people; juniors, seniors, professionals, amateurs…?
Everything is different. The motivation and the follow-up are different; the teaching is different. I have different clients, too. Like I have one who lives fairly close, whom I've been teaching for five years. He got the Olympics qualification. He's been a Champion of Poland for two years in a row. And then, there's an entirely different way of building up a young student who needs to grow up to the level, and both ways are quite interesting. I like to work like this.
With what issues do these groups of riders deal every day? How could EQUIMO possibly help every one of them?
The young riders need to build up and to gain more knowledge. I try to teach them to get the knowledge by themselves and slowly get the feeling of how it should be done. It's about showing them as much as I can of my knowledge to give them information.
Once riders are a little older, they have a certain system, so I don't want to completely change the system. It's hard to get a different system, so I try to follow what this combination or the rider likes, get a little bit done, and then see what the horses need. How can we develop them, what can be done better? How can their condition be improved? But I don't try to change the rider's system, just to help, and discuss the present problems more.
Then we also look into the future and shows. Making the planning and looking for shows that best fit the horses is the same with young riders and the older ones.
Anytime I work with these groups of riders, they need their horses to be as fit as possible. We also need to know how the horses are working. With EQUIMO, we can look at it all later to see if the results are satisfying and if the program they make for the horses, such as the timing of riding and the movement to the left and right, are okay. We build up the condition and get a little bit more information to see the best way forward. And that doesn't change from young riders to the old ones, because all of them try to get the horses out as much as possible during the day, build their condition up, and then they can look at it later with the app, see how it all developed.
If the condition is not good enough, we can look at EQUIMO and see what's wrong. Or when we give the horses a little lighter work because of a resting period, we then build them up to their level for the best results, and we can control this period with the app. It's about having all the information so you can use it later.
Could you see the possible use of EQUIMO for a beginner rider, or do you think it's only for the more experienced ones?
I never really start with a real beginner, so that's not my thing entirely. But if we use EQUIMO with people who start doing the shows, it's always helpful because then they start to think already of horses as athletes. They watch their progress, their condition, and everything. We want our athletes to be and stay in the best shape, and that's the same for all the riders, for young and the older ones.
Where do you see the biggest advantage of EQUIMO from a trainer’s point of view?
The biggest advantage is that you have all the information in your view. You can look at your horse’s sessions, at the times, see if the horse is getting fit or not. And those are the things I want to look at.