What's your preference: group or private lessons? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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What's your preference: group or private lessons?

As an adult I have found that I learn much more in private lessons than group. I do like the social aspect of group lessons, chatting in the center of the arena while one rider is going around the course. But with up to 6 students in a lesson, that means I'm just sitting there ~80% of the time, versus riding 100% of the time.

I also find that in private lessons I get corrected more, which means I improve more. And while you can learn from others I think you learn more by doing and feeling as opposed to watching.

So I read another post that mentioned that as you advance you often go from private to group lessons because you learn more. I'm paraphrasing. In any case if got me wondering, do people actually prefer group or is it a more of an affordability issue. Am I missing the educational value of group lessons?
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post #2 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 03:24 AM
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I am a big fan of private lessons. I like group lessons, and I train with some other ladies for our Christmas show and its great, but it makes me realise 8 big horses in there is way too many! I like the social side of group rides, but you can do that hacking out or cooling down. Its easier to concentrate on the horse and your riding when that's all you have to focus on I find!

However.. bonus of group lessons.. .you can sneak in a break when you're exhausted haha!
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post #3 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 04:03 AM
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Depends. If I need lessons for something very specific, or if it is for jumping or higher level riding, then I think private is better. If I'm going to ride my horse all the time, then private may be better.

If it is for the fundamentals and the trainer keeps us all riding while commenting on specific people, then I prefer group. One of the things you learn in a group is how horses change around other horses, and how to read them and control them. If I'm working on fundamentals, like sitting the trot, then I don't mind the 'quiet' time while I'm practicing while someone else is being looked at. You can also practice formation riding, and controlling your horse so his pace matches someone else.

I can get a lot out of lessons where I ride a different horse each time. For example, I took group lessons this summer. There was a smart, very experienced horse who was always a pain to ride for the first 15 minutes. If you were consistent, however, and always started small to large in the size of your cue inputs, he would start responding to small. By the end of the lesson, he would darn near respond to your thoughts. However, I watched some others riding him, and they ignored the instructor and pretty much 'saved time' by starting their cues at whatever level they thought he needed to get him to respond right away. And at the end of an hour or more, they would have a horse fighting them and causing them difficulty - and yes, they STILL didn't catch on that THEY were the problem.

I also can learn a lot by watching a group lesson, as well. For example, it is amazing how many pay an instructor, and then ignore what the instructor tells them to do...
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post #4 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 07:43 AM
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I ride in group lessons as my instructor only has groups on the weekends, and I can't make private lessons during the week. However, I feel I learn a lot from group lessons.

First of all, there is applying instructions to yourself. The instructor calling out "soften your ankles" to one of the other students reminds all the rest of us to relax them too.

Then you have the modeling. I am not the worst rider in my group, nor am I the best. I can watch what the better riders are doing, and it lets me visualise how I should be doing it. They set an example.

I would love to have private lessons, but as I said, the restriction for me is time. Maybe when the kids move out in twenty years or so lol.

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post #5 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 08:23 AM
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Private all the way. I took both - group and private, and had the best success with the private (when the instructor is concentrating only on you and your horse).

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post #6 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 10:06 AM
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I prefer private to group because I feel I can concentrate more on my riding as opposed to what other riders in the ring are doing. I don't mind group lessons if the riders are of a similar level, any time on a horse is time well spent!
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post #7 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catsandhorses View Post
As an adult I have found that I learn much more in private lessons than group. I do like the social aspect of group lessons, chatting in the center of the arena while one rider is going around the course. But with up to 6 students in a lesson, that means I'm just sitting there ~80% of the time, versus riding 100% of the time...Am I missing the educational value of group lessons?
I am astonished that your teacher is treating a group lesson like mini-private lessons. When I taught (as when I took lessons) the ONLY time that the whole group was not in motion riding through one exercise or another was when we were jumping a course, or working on a single obstacle. I had my students maintain one horse length in between horses while they stretched, rode transitions, etc., and it probably looked like a big, long striped snake in motion. Group lessons like THIS resemble a Cavalry drill, and I did incorporate some of that in some of my lessons, too. We would move from in file to form two's and form 4's sometimes, and this is where you "dress" by touching the outside of your stirrups together. It's great for getting your attention off of how your seat is, to riding the horse for a purpose.
I think when you first start out it can be intimidating to have the focus of a teacher just on you. After all, there are SO many things you are learning that it's difficult to master so much. Therefore, group lessons are perfect to begin. I also studied piano (Music Major, you see) and my private lessons were rigorous, but the weekly studio class was more relaxing, even though we would rotate performances of our recital pieces. If you own your own horse your private lesson instructor will expect you to put in practice time. In a group lesson sometimes instructors just pick up where they left off the previous lesson.
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post #8 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 10:53 AM
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I only give private lessons. I have a lot of young riders and they gain so much more out of the one on one time.

I do have open arena days every other weekend and they all trailer in. I ride with them on those days and do instruct but not nearly as intensely as a private lesson.

I also do an intensive 1 week horsemanship camp prior to county fairs and another one before our state fair for my 4-H kids.
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post #9 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MHFoundation Quarters View Post
I only give private lessons. I have a lot of young riders and they gain so much more out of the one on one time.

I do have open arena days every other weekend and they all trailer in. I ride with them on those days and do instruct but not nearly as intensely as a private lesson.

I also do an intensive 1 week horsemanship camp prior to county fairs and another one before our state fair for my 4-H kids.
This sounds like an ideal program! How many students/lessons do you hold weekly (if you don't mind me asking)?
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post #10 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 11:15 AM
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I have 7 students right now, they ride year round with me. 4 come once a week, 3 come twice. I have a few more that come spring/summer for show prep lessons for breed shows as well.

Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives and if things don't work out, Take another shot.
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