I used to...not any more. Even if you have a private lesson at my barn, you rarely have the arena to yourself. My lessons are Friday afternoons so the barn is very busy and people always come and hack their horses during my lesson. We just ride around each other *shrug* I never really thought much of it.
Personally, I don't really care, I don't even care if they want to critique me in their own minds. I ride how I ride, I am taking lessons and getting better. People have never really bothered me that much :P haha at shows we PAY PEOPLE to watch us!! That's pretty much what judges and shows are for, so why not at home too? Lol
I don't really mind people watching quietly. However, the barn I ride at is located near a preschool and this can cause problems. Children will run into the arena as well as dogs and cause all sorts of ruckus. I can tolerate distraction, but if I feel it is putting myself or my horse in danger I will ask them to leave. For example, I once asked a six year old who found an old lunge whip by the arena and was whipping it around to leave. I would not have asked him to leave if he stood quietly just to watch. If a rider I respect as a higher peer is watching me, I feel flattered.
I actually do not like people watching me. Not that I feel they are judging me, it's just that I like the private time between my horse and I. I find it annoying having someone glued to the fence. I actually prefer going up on off hours, having the whole barn to myself is very relaxing. I tend to do my own thing. Now I am at a smaller private farm so it works out well, however I have been to many places and it hasn't anyways been like that. I would try to just stay focused on what I was doing and it didn't bother me as much.
I guess I'm speaking of riding in general, not so much lessons.
I feel self-conscious at first, but like others, I zone it all out because I'm busy trying to do the 5 things at once that my instructor is asking of me. I certainly imagine them critiquing me, but I'm sure I do that same of them when they ride. I also like to be able to watch others ride with my instructor - I learn much that way as well. It is encouraged to watch when my instructor teaches anyone - and it's always free.
Of note, my barn (~35 horses) is all adult with like 2 teens. So when people watch, they are often very respectful and quietly whisper should they speak at all - so at least I don't have to worry about wayward children. (But I know that sometimes there are much better horsekids then horsewomen ;)
I mind because I'm a beginner and I'm already horribly emberassed when Cade has to watch my bump on Khamie with her bumpy trot
I really don't need other people to see my failure attempts at sitting it through haha
Bugs the poop out of me. I appreciate that J needs to learn to listen to me when there are distractions around and that's fine he can do that when we school alone, that's when I have no objections. However, I am paying money for a lesson and the last thing I want is people gawping and whispering at the side of the school, I do have to admit I am an extremely self concious person and I am aware that I can easily transmit this to J.
If I want to watch anyone else school (Outside of a lesson) I always approach the school and ask permission to watch.
Theres one guy in particular o our yard who has a fantastic relationship with his horse, they have both worked hard at their relationship and watching them you would think they could read each others minds, its amazing and, luckily enough he more than often doesnt mind me watching so I can try and glean some knowlege.
Any way my point is I think if someone has paid for a lesson they should be allowed to enjoy it (or not!) in peace