What's your preference: group or private lessons? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
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.
Oops! I wasn't clear but we were waiting in the center when we took turns jumping the course - typically 7 jump hunter course. But waiting for five students..that's a lot of waiting!

For the flatwork in the beginning of the class we all rode at the same time. Not in line however. I did that in one class and felt like I was being treated like a child. Certainly I can transition my horse between walk, trot and canter without having to follow the horse in front of me. Apologies if this goes against your style of teaching but that was my experience. Haven't ever tried the cavalry thing - could be fun? Some of the people where I ride will jump jumps simultaneously. Looks very cool! And fun. In fact someone asked yesterday if I wanted to jump a hedge at same time as him and I adamantly declined!! Too afraid! (But secretly flattered....in the competence sense...not the romantic sense...) But I digress...

You won't believe the coincidence but I was a music major too! Oh but I prefer horse riding SO much more! (I stopped playing piano once I no longer "had" to.) Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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post #12 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 11:30 AM
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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.

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?
I used to take group lessons, and I hated them. I found that I was in the same situation, you do your thing, get told "Good job" and then they move onto the next rider, while you stand around waiting for your turn again.

I greatly prefer my private or semi private - no more than 3 or 4 in a lesson. I cannot hand anything bigger than that. I take home far much more and obtain far much more in my private lessons.

I wont spend my money on group lessons.

I see far too many young riders in group lessons, not learning much of anything. I can observe them a year later, and they'd still be at the same skill level as they were previously.

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post #13 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 11:55 AM
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catsandhorses, YOU are the customer. If you don't like something about your lessons, and the instructor isn't willing to change it, I encourage you to either go private or change instructors. MY money means a lot to me, and I think it does to you, too! =D
The ULTIMATE for me was when DH and our small Cavalry group went to the spring warmups that were held in March by this huge group. Fortunately, they were located only about 2 hours away from us. We could only attend the first days of the 2-day schools--small children at home at the time, you see. Riding in-file, but maintaining proper distance resembled your description, but believe me, maintaining the distance was an imperative since we were riding our own horses, and NOT the lesson horse herd that can (maybe) tolerate somebody riding up on another's horse's back side. Nobody bites and nobody gets kicked maintaining the distance, but you have to ride and be aware at all times, and ASSUME somebody else's horse WILL kick yours, miss and hit you, instead. (There was a "Practical Horseman" article about an international rider getting kicked in the leg while schooling her mannerbly horse, in an indoor arena, and she was off her horse for 6 months recovering.) I tried to teach defensive riding bc of such things.
Anyway, we rode walk, trot and canter, in two's, in four's, and moving back to in-file. We rode obliques, we rallied, we rode left and right turns with about 25 horses on the turns--the horse in the apex barely turns, while the horse on the outside gallops to get around, and everyone maintains dress next to each other. I am teaching my 5 yo geldings to dress now, but we aren't riding them right next to each other--THAT will come. We also practiced dismount-and-fight-on-foot, while one rider held the lead of horse#2, horse #'s3&#4 are linked to each other and #2, the mounted rider circles under the soldiers return to mount. We rode with pistol, sabre and carbine. When you mount with a carbine you must "choke" yourself with the strap so that the carbine doesn't whip past you, hit your horse and possibly frighten him or just make him move off while you are mounting. Similarly, you must remove the carbine from the leather "boot" before dismounting, else you can be hanging, hooked to the saddle, another dangerous position. There is SO much to do that you forget to check your seat, your feet, etc., and just make your horse go where you want him to! The IL 7th Cavalry, the group that sponsered the event has dissolved, but THEY spent the time studying the Army Manual, and had puzzled through sections where the language and customs of the time made the manual difficult. They were quite a resource. Learning these things really whetted my appetite for Dressage, which is, of course based on European Horse Cavalry, along with 3-Day Eventing.
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post #14 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 01:30 PM
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I think that both private and group lessons have their place. I currently take private lessons with both of my horses. I NEED private lessons with my youngster, Echo, because he is still in training and I've only gotten on him 3 times. I take private lessons with my other horse, Shamado, and it is very beneficial to have all of my fabulous instructor's attention on me. It, however, doesn't bother me to have 2 or 3 people in a lesson because there is still enough attention placed on each rider.

I, personally, find that I prefer to take jumping lessons with more people. I am relatively inexperienced in jumping, and when I have somebody with me who is more experienced, then I can "see how it's done". I am a very visual person and if I can see how I should be riding to the fence, for example, rather than just hearing it, then chances are I'll better be able to accomplish riding to the fence correctly.
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post #15 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 01:41 PM
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I prefer group. I haven't been to a lesson in months, but I'm not riding to show, and I get a bit of an awkward feeling with one on one things. I enjoy watching the other folks jump their courses and such.
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post #16 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 02:06 PM
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I really love my private lessons, and my instructor comes to my barn, which is awesome. However I have noticed that sometimes, I want to get him into group lessons. After all at a show, you are in a ring with a bunch of other horses. I am lucky that my guy is good most of the time and is young, but I still like to get him into some traffic every now and then. Not just on show days.
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post #17 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 02:20 PM
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I've done both group and private in the past, and will only do private lessons now (I might consider semi-private depending on the other student). I like having the full attention of my instructor without her being distracted by what others are doing.

The main advantage of group lessons is getting to watch other people's mistakes - but I do that just by watching other people's private lessons. I ask to make sure they won't mind (and always let them watch mine if they're interested, as well).
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post #18 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MIEventer View Post
...I see far too many young riders in group lessons, not learning much of anything. I can observe them a year later, and they'd still be at the same skill level as they were previously.
IMHO, this is a fault of the student more so than having a group.

I took 4 months of group lessons while my daughter took private lessons on our horse from a different instructor. We recently switched, with the private instructor agreeing that my daughter needed to experience other horses and riding near other horses.

She hadn't seen me ride since several months before I started group lessons, and her first comment was "Wow! I'm really impressed at how much better you've become so quickly!"

But at 53, and aware that I wasn't safe riding my mare, I took my lessons very seriously. Now that I'm getting private lessons, I'm finding that what each instructor emphasizes is different, but complementary. And I'm still making very good progress, because I'll ride 5 times between my weekly lessons, and I leave each lesson with a plan of 2-3 things I need to emphasize during the next week.

No, I haven't arrived. I'm still very much a beginner rider. But I'm probably 10 times better than I was last January.

Meanwhile, I watched a clinic with my daughter riding along with 8 others. I would listen to the instructor tell someone to shorten their reins, or to lift their toes and settle back - and then I would watch to see if there was any reasonable attempt at complying. And in many cases, the answer was no - which is why some of the riders seem to be riding at the same level they were when I took my first lesson there.

There are things that can be taught in a group that cannot be taught individually, and vice-versa. But no one can be taught if they won't listen.
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post #19 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 06:30 PM
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Semi-private :p I love having most of the arena to myself, but I like having someone else to ride with. I love when I get to the barn and find that I've only got like, one other person riding with me.

But, I mean...at my barn, the lessons max out at 4 people so it's not like it's ever SUPER crowded.

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
John Lennon

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post #20 of 59 Old 10-18-2011, 06:37 PM
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It depends on what mood I'm in to be honest.

I love group lessons, I always found my instructor had time to focus on all of us. And when we had to wait for others to do a jumping course, I always found it really useful to watch someone else and see how they were riding. They're also pretty fun as well.

But sometimes it's nice to have a private lesson and have all the attention on you. I never found them as fun, but I know I focused more on my areas for improvement in private lessons.

Mount up and leave your troubles behind on the ground.
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