Randos watching lesson - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Randos watching lesson

So I just recently posted in law about waivers but I have a separate question. I don't entirely know where to post this question but it's regarding an English instructor and English lessons soo English riding? Lol. Back story: I've had an interesting time with stables, some great, some not. I've started at a new stable recently, great find I think but also one of the last decent options within an hour drive. I'm an awkward long time rider with no great instructors. The instructor was actually surprised with how long I've been riding after my assessment (that bad, not that good lol). So I'm an experienced rider who's somewhat back at the beginning. Sensitive spot to be in, self esteem wise.

As I've said, new barn. The day I went out to visit initially, I was shown to the indoor arena where the instructor was giving a lesson and talking with, I presume, the rider's mother. I dont know because I wasn't introduced. I didn't drop in either, the meeting was planned and I was expected. The instructor was really friendly, open and seemed to be a good instructor/what I'm looking for. It went fairly well. Took a little while between the instructor giving instructions and talking to the mom (?) to get started. I think that was to allow me to experience the lesson, arena, etc, before details. Might be positive/naive thinking as well. Someone dropped in partway through my discussion with the instructor, started talking to the instructor and the other woman. Didn't know her from Jane doe either when I left.

My first lesson/assessment was great. It was me and the instructor in the arena. For the most part. The barn assistant dropped in briefly. But it was fun, I clicked with the instructor (problem at last barn among others), learned and improved a little bit.

Second lesson. There's a woman talking with the instructor at the beginning of the lesson. Not introduced, not a clue who she is, she's just there. Start lesson. The other woman is watching and talking quietly with the instructor. Little bit into my lesson, another woman comes in and talks with the instructor. Didn't realize till the end of the lesson that this woman is actually the owner of the horse I was riding (it was allowed, nothing shady, but still). Little bit after this, another woman comes in. For most of my lesson there were three extra people in the arena, didn't know any of them or why they were there. Not to mention the owner of the horse went in and out of the arena three time, though after the first time it was because she was grabbing her helmet and crop. Still that's people going in and out of doors throughout my lesson.

If I was a different person, this would be fine. But I have some anxiety/social/esteem issues. I was nervous and tense the entire lesson. No fun. I emailed the instructor afterwards with some general questions. I also asked about the extra people. Explained the nerves, not the anxiety issues. Her response was that she didn't close her facilities to her clients (aka boarders/leasers), so it was open to other riders to use and watch but they have to give way/be respectful to the one taking the lesson. She apologized for my discomfort but said she was unable to exclude use of facilities to clients. Now I don't give a **** about other people riding, especially if they aren't in the way. They're doing their own thing. I do have a problem with other people watching me being one of the things they do most in the arena, especially a) people I haven't a clue who they are and b) when there's more than one excess person.

So essentially what my questions are 1) Am I being unreasonable to not want people around during my lesson? It's a popular barn and I can understand busy times, but I'm paying, not a small/worked off/discounted price, to be taught and have time riding.
2) How exactly should I approach this if it continues to be a problem? I feel that since I brought it up, she might make an effort to not have as many people in the area during my lessons. But if this continues, I'm not going to have fun/relax during my lessons, especially if its rotating people I don't know. I'm tired of searchig for barns and this is one of the last options to ride at a decent place, it is the last option to advance with riding. Is this a suck it up or leave it issue that Im not going to win either way? Is there some way to solve this without uprooting again or feeling like a zoo animal every lesson? I've paid a months lessons so I'm kind of screwed if this goes badly.
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 01:19 AM
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Unless you're a millionaire and able to lease out the arena completely for every lesson or taking lessons from someone out in the middle of BFE where nobody else would WANT to go.... you're just going to have to deal with spectators.

Heck, even IN BFE, the one time my horse completely wigged out and intentionally flung me, there were spectators! I've had lessons with random people, random trainers, random riders and godonlyknows who watching.

Boarders/Leasers PAY for the right to use her facility. Be it to ride, sit around and watch other people ride or whatever. There is no barn that I know of that will tell people that are quietly sitting outside of an arena that they need to get lost. What do you expect her to do? Scream "Hey you.... she doesn't like being watched so SCRAM!" every time someone walks in? My trainer comes out to my barn and you better believe that everyone who has a lesson that day watches all the other lessons. You learn a lot listening to the trainer help other riders.

Last edited by Delfina; 06-08-2013 at 01:24 AM.
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post #3 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 01:29 AM
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If this is a busy barn you probably won't be able to ride with no one else around. However, there are some things you can do to make it work. Explain again to your instructor just how uncomfortable you are with the situation and see how willing she is to work with you. Maybe she could ask anyone else who comes in to ride to stay in the back half of the arena and kind of do their own thing while you stay in the front. There might also be a different time of day that you could ride that is less busy. I used to be very uncomfortable riding while anyone else watched, but as my riding has improved it no longer bothers me. This may happen with you too as you progress with lessons. Something that helped me is to either completely ignore them, or convince myself that they are admiring my skills, even if that is entirely untrue. It just seemed to help me get in a better, more positive frame of mind and concentrate just on me and my horse. Hopefully you can get something worked out soon. =)
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post #4 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for replying peeps :)
I guess it's a bit me being unnervy and not used to busy barns that's the situation here. I think that's a good thing? Lol. Means it can be solved/dealt with on some level with minimum difficulty.
The set up going on at the arena I ride in is I think a little different than most? Maybe? I'm not saying I want people to be entirely off the premises whenever I'm there lol, in fact there's barely been people around when I'm not in the arena, interestingly enough. So far the only people I've seen before/after lessons are barn employees. In the arena, there's a little strip sectioned off from the arena for people to sit in. This isn't the viewing area, there is actually a lovely viewing room with coffee machine and things. The strip is where the instructor is for all my lessons (so far), so whenever I look to her for instructions/tips/whatever, I'm seeing four faces staring at me or feel like I'm interrupting their conversation. I know boarders and leasers pay for the use of facilities. But it's not like I'm riding for free. I'm paying for the use of facilitiy and instructor, theoretically. So I'm paying for the right as well.
The instructor suggested earlier times in the day as well, Paintlover17. It's something I thought of and prefer generally, early riding times, but the way scheduling has been going so far, I didn't think she had availability. But now it seems like it might be a possibility since she's suggesting it?
Hopefully that'll work out :)

I would like to bring up the issue of my anxiety with her but I get the feeling that'd do more harm than good? When I was asking questions about the barn, she was adamant about no drama and that what she taught and her methods were what I wanted. I feel like if I tell her, it'll lead to her saying this isn't th barn for me and that I should move on.
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 07:52 PM
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I think you're being unreasonable in not wanting people around you while you're having your lessons. You also have to understand that what you're paying in lesson fees is probably a fraction to what the boarders are paying and even still, that doesn't entitle you to an arena to yourself and that's pretty typical at every barn.

I know it's easier said than done but only focus on what you, the horse and your instructor are doing - ignore everything else going on unless it's other horses in the ring then be aware but not focused on them. Even if there are random people watching your every move, no one is (probably) judging you. If you feel like the random people are distracting your instructor, then call out to her/him to pay attention. Yes, I am serious! Where I ride, this happens occasionally and I have no problem yelling at my instructor or the people distracting her/him to knock it off. :)

The hardest part isn't finding what we need to be, it's being content with who we are.
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 08:00 PM
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it's unreasonable to expect people not to watch, however, it's not unreasonable to expect your instructor to minimize any conversations with anyone other than you when you are getting your paid for time.
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post #7 of 13 Old 06-08-2013, 11:24 PM
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I know how you feel. When I first started riding at my current barn I had never had a bunch of people just standing there watching me ride before and I thought it was very unnerving. Especially if I was have a hard time. But now I don't even notice it anymore and I find that watching my stablemates train is very fun - we notice each other's progress and can encourage each other. If we didn't watch each other ride we would not be able to do this. Plus, watching someone else's lesson can be just as good as having a lesson yourself (which is why we audit clinics). Maybe with time it will become a good thing for you?
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post #8 of 13 Old 06-11-2013, 09:46 AM
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I think it's reasonable to assume that there will be times when you'll be watched. I've been both the watcher and the watched; I feel like it's part of shared-barn life. If you're uncomfortable with the fact that they're strangers, why can't you introduce yourself to them? It seems like you might be making an assumption about how the instructor will react. You owe it to yourself to be honest with her about what you want. You may not get exactly what it is, but she might be able to help you feel more comfortable if she knows what's going on. But you'll never get what you want if you don't ask for it.

I've often found that if I tell her what's bothering me, the instructor and I are usually able to correct whatever it is. Riding should be fun and joyful, not full of anxiety! Good luck!
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-11-2013, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
it's unreasonable to expect people not to watch, however, it's not unreasonable to expect your instructor to minimize any conversations with anyone other than you when you are getting your paid for time.
This is what I was thinking. At a large or busy barn there will almost always be other people there watching, standing around, etc. However, your instructor should be focusing most of her attention on you during your lesson, not chatting with other students or boarders. A quick question from one of them here or there, not a problem, but sustained conversations? No way.
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-11-2013, 09:37 PM
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I can understand where you are coming from. I don't like people watching me when I ride, but at the same time I know that at large barns that is just how it is. For the last while I have kept my horse at small places, so if I schedule lessons during "work hours" chances are I'm the only one there, which helps.

What would really bother me is if the instructor is talking to others while I am riding. You're paying for their time and that's it. In my experience most instructors situate themselves in the middle of the arena, rather than at the edge with other people, and that is what I would expect. Them standing (or sitting) there, full attention on you. No calls, no quick chats, nothing. And if they're in the middle of the arena it's obvious that they're busy, and only urgent things would be brought to them.
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