Who's Right? Feeling a Bit Frustrated... - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 31 Old 08-12-2012, 12:06 AM
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Location: Missouri
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While I initially didn't like your instructor by how she was coaching you at that last lesson, what really bothered me was that you brought an "out of shape" horse to a jumping lesson? That wasn't really fair to Knight IMOP and no wonder you had problems. Did your trainer KNOW that Knight was out of shape and not this wonder horse? Because if she didn't, then I suspect if she knew the lesson would have been different.

I'm not scolding you, just wondering why you would put that much pressure to be perfect on Knight when what he really needed was a conditioning ride IMOP regardless of his age but just the fact he hadn't been ridden in awhile.

Also it sounds like you need to work on your legs on but also OFF the horse. A few sets of proper squats would help you a lot, as would toe lifts on the bottom of a stair. And if you have an exercise ball, doing thigh presses with it between your knees would also help.

That's to combat the endurance part of you not having energy. NOT about the horse ignoring your leg.

The horse ignored your leg because he didn't have motivation to listen and thought "oh I'm not being corrected for giving a half ass response" so IMOP you needed to really get after him. I would have carried a crop; sometimes just holding it is the motivation the horse needs. Or if you move your legs back an inch and gently squeeze, that is called "breezing" your legs and the horse is slightly more sensitive back there. Or last resort is over and under smack on their shoulder for ignoring your leg.

But as he was out of shape, again.. I wouldn't have brought him to a full blown lesson without doing some conditioning rides first to bring him back into work.

As for you getting tired, maybe you need to start listening to your body. Don't pick out your riding flaws.. those get better with time and with focus. But the big one is you tire easily. You need to be aware of that; you cannot do anything well when your body is exhausted. So start winding down some days when your body feels tired, and pushing a little further when you start to get tired to increase your 'threshold/capacity" before you begin to feel tired. <---- All of that is called, conditioning. Both YOU and YOUR HORSE need it.

But again, this is advice not commands. You decide what to do with it.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 08-12-2012 at 12:09 AM.
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post #22 of 31 Old 08-12-2012, 12:46 AM
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I didn't read every response, but I can tell you that our entire first YEAR of showing felt a lot like this. Everything felt rushed, nobody knew quite what was expected, and as the person in charge, I'd say one thing once, and then change it on the poor kids (bad on me, I know). The second year was MUCH better, and now, in our third year, shows are easy. I mean downright EASY.

One thing I noticed in your original post is that you said your trainer said your fitness had improved, and yet by the end of the day, you were worn out. Try to keep in mind that a lesson is about as long as 2-3 classes. So the fact that you're in good enough shape for a lesson, does NOT mean you're in good enough shape to ride 6 classes in a day without getting tired. If its possible, try riding twice a day for maybe 3 days a week, so you're putting in that extra time before hand, and getting used to it. Another idea is to go for a long trail ride where you work on your position, your half passes, yields, etc etc. during the ride. An average (for us) 3 hour trail ride will approximate the amount of time you'd spend in the saddle on a show day, and if you ride correctly for the entire ride, you'll have a pretty good idea of how you're going to hold up when every muscle movement counts.

Another thing that might help you is to keep in mind that your trainer is human, and possibly even more stressed than you are. The 'smile and nod' strategy works wonders. When she says something that seems snippy, no matter how much you want to snap back (or cry, depending on your personality), just smile, nod, and say ok. The show is never the place to discuss things, so keep a mental list (as you did) and possibly a paper list of things that didn't work for you at the show, and things that bothered you. After you've all had a week or so of normalcy, approach the trainer and ask her how you can do better in these situations. Explain that she seemed upset with you, and you don't want to cause her stress, and ask her advice. (This doesn't mean I think you were wrong, because from what you've said, I certainly don't, but it does mean that if you think your trainer is a good trainer who has helped you, you owe them respect in your dealings, even when they're wrong.) I know that as the person in charge of our club for shows, if somebody explains what happened and asks how they can do better, it often lets me see that I was wrong, without feeling attacked.

Once you know exactly how long it takes you to tack up and get ready to warm up, talk to your trainer BEFORE the show, and say something along these lines: "It takes me x minutes to tack up and be ready to warm up. If my class starts at 4 p.m., what time would you want me in the warm up, so I can know what time to begin to groom and tack?" Make sure you take a notebook with you when you ask the question, and when she answers, write it down, thank her, and assure her that you'll be ready on time. If the other riders who ride for her are your friends, talk to them about doing the same thing, so the trainer isn't stressed about everybody being ready in time, because everybody knows just when she'll want them, knows how long it will take them to get ready, and has written it down so they won't forget.

The first few shows are always stressful, but they do get easier. Having fun should be less about whether everything goes just the way you expect, (or the way your trainer expected) and more about knowing you and your horse are doing your absolute best! If after a few (several) shows, things aren't getting easier and you still feel stressed, try either finding a different trainer, or going without one, if you can.

One last thing, just because your horse has a naturally willing nature, and its possible that anybody could have taught him to jump, doesn't mean anything. Nobody but you taught the horse to jump. You should be very proud of yourself AND him. You did a great thing, regardless of what anybody else could have done. Don't go doubting yourself now!!
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post #23 of 31 Old 08-12-2012, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: North central Iowa
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Ahh okay, I have a little bit of explaining to do.

I brought Knight to a lesson just to get him a workout. I wasn't planning on having a total perfectionist lesson for him. I just wanted to work more on me and let him get some exercise. I hadn't planned on any hardcore jumping, just some simple x's where I could practice my position. I told my trainer he was out of shape, and he looks out of shape, so I was wishing, mid-lesson, that I hadn't brought him. A lot of girls bring up their horses sometimes that just need to get moving, so I thought it would be a good thing for Knight - I thought we'd do a lot of basic trotting, a little bit of cantering, and a little bit of jumping. I thought wrong. I just wanted to point out that I wasn't trying to throw him into something he couldn't do, I just didn't know our trainer would work him that hard.

Okay, with Knight, I totally understood him ignoring my leg. I'm in no way blaming him because I know he was getting asked too much (again, didn't know my trainer would make the lesson that intense or I wouldn't have brought him - my bad for not knowing), and I know he was tired.

With Rusty, he probably needs to be in better shape too. I did carry a crop and smack him with it when he got lazy, and while usually I don't even need a crop, and if I carry one, he gets way motivated, nothing inspired him at the show to speed up. 100 degree weather...yeah, I can see why. Also, the breezing technique I tried, and it was working, but then my trainer told me not to do that because I'd lose my stirrup and your squeezing/kicks are supposed to be right at the girth. So ditto on that.

All I can say is that I need to start running or doing something else that requires stamina and working with my thighs and legs. I heard bicycling was a good one to do, since I hate running but wouldn't mind bicycling too much. Any other cross training ideas?

Calicokatt - I have half of the smile and nod. The nod. Lol it's hard to smile when you want to burst into tears! :) I'd never get snippy back at my trainer, but I do wish she wasn't so snippy in the first place. Oh, well, people are people. I will try your ideas, and will try another show. I was really wishing I had known that six classes a day took a lot more fitness. I would have tried to be better prepared then. The writing down responses is a really good idea, by the way. And I think most of us felt a little uncomfortable about our trainer being snippy. But again, heat can do weird things to people!

I guess I have a lot to be proud of, don't I? Rusty jumped, he behaved, he was better behaved than most of the lesson horses... I just wish my own riding could live up to the way he acts!

Rusty - a miracle horse Knight - my golden oldie
Vlogging about Midwest trail riding here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_u...tIjwnOxjKzOfjA
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post #24 of 31 Old 08-12-2012, 01:03 PM
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I had to double check to see if you lived in our area, as your coach sounds like my old coach and how she treated the "newby's" to the show scene.

Do you pay this person to coach you... the answer is likely yes.... would you pay anyone else to treat you like this, if it wasn't horse related... nope... are your goals the Olympics or a National Circuit Champion? If not then your coach needs to appreciate that you are there to have fun, and if your lucky win some ribbons.

If you don't have the ability to change coaches, or want to give her another chance then I would talk to her... find out what her opinion of the perfect student is at a show... how would that look to her? Can you be that person?

The coach that I have since left, was a great show coach for those that only used her for "coaching". We knew when our classes were, we don't wait to have her tell us when to mount, when to get ready, when to warm up, when to get dressed.... we only tell her hey my class is in the next so many minutes, can you meet me in the warm up ring, and then she would go to the ring side when it was our turn in the class.

The people that hadn't been to a show before, and needed a bit more hand holding lets say (and I don't mean that in a mean way, they were just very unsure of what to do and when) she treated them MUCH like your coach treated you. In the end I don't think she was suitable for coaching an inexperienced show rider, at least at shows.

The number of classes you ended seemed very high, specially for such a hot day.. again not necessarily your fault, as you didn't know better and you didn't sign up. But again this is an opportunity for you to take control of the situation and next time, you fill out your own entry forms. Your coach can file them all together if tha'ts what she likes to do - but you control what your going to enter.

I wouldn't give up yet, you've got some great advice by some posters here... I would say learn from this experience, take charge of yourself - prepare yourself - and talk to your coach prior to the next show, find out what her expectations are from you, and be clear as to what your expectations are for her.

Good luck, and hopefully the next one will be better for you. And if you find your coach is not changing, and predominately the reason for your stress - then you have your answer. If things go well, and you still aren't having fun, then maybe this isn't the level of shows that you should be focusing on. Hopefully you will find your happy place within the show ring!
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post #25 of 31 Old 08-16-2012, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: North central Iowa
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Okay, I hate to dredge this all up again, and I'm really starting to think that I cry way too easily.

Rusty and I had our first lesson since the show. I told my trainer I'd like to start doing some dressage work, just for something new, and I thought it would be beneficial to Rusty. It was an absolute disaster lesson.

First, she wanted me to get him on the bit and hold him there because his nose tends to come up as soon as I stop pulsing on the reins. So she wanted me to hold his nose in. Rusty's pace got slower and slower, and he got very heavy on the reins. I think he was really confused - but I don't really know.

Next, we worked on half passing (I think) back and forth between poles. Complete disaster. Rusty is pretty good at shoulder-ins and shoulder-outs, but this was...not fun. My trainer told me to kick him really hard to get him to go sideways. It worked sometimes, but then he started slowing down a lot again because I was supposed to have him on the bit. And he got heavy. And he started careening around corners. Everything fell apart, and it felt like my instructor was just asking me to pick a fight with my horse by kicking him so much - and I definitely don't want him to get dead to my legs.

For cantering, we worked on simple lead changes. I guess I'm not supposed to sit full seat at the canter - EVER - so I'm supposed to do three-point, but I'm not even sure really how to sit. I'm sure it looks awkward. And apparently my body moves with Rusty and not my elbows, but when I move my elbows to follow his mouth, it feels like a lot of unnecessary movement. But that's a complaint about ME. Anyway, he was supposed to be on the bit at all times, and he was really stubborn about walking straight and picking up the canter. And he got very heavy again. Basically, he just got worse and worse as the lesson went on.

I usually ride Rusty on a "hunter-y" type rein - looser. He's pretty responsive to my leg, although when he gets tired, he doesn't listen as well. He's pretty willing and I don't pick fights with him.

Sigh...since the show, I have had no desire to ride at all. I just feel like I'm doing everything wrong (read my new thread on my horrid jump position), and I can't ride well at all. Rusty's an awesome horse, and what I said about him isn't a complaint. I know he gets stubborn when he gets kicked. I just...sigh...feel so out of sorts with all this, I just want to cry. I like jumping itself and arena work, and I feel so happy seeing how my horse did at our show, but I'm not liking any of it right now. I don't like admitting this, but I thought about cancelling my lesson today, and I just sort of dreaded it.

Andd...my trainer told me today that I did well at the show and that she thinks I need to go up in fence height - I was doing 2'3 and 2'6, and now she wants me to do 2'9 and 3'. So many mixed messages....

Rusty - a miracle horse Knight - my golden oldie
Vlogging about Midwest trail riding here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_u...tIjwnOxjKzOfjA
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post #26 of 31 Old 08-16-2012, 11:27 PM
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Location: Nine Mile Falls, Washington
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Do you ever do bareback rides? My seat has improved tremendously by doing so because I can feel how the horse naturally moves under me. I take what I've learned there and try to transpose it into my riding.

I do weave races for a show, and when I first startedpracticing for it, leaning back was unnatural for me a while, too. However, I patterned myself, started at a walk and graduated from there. if you are able outside of a lesson, why not work on moving a horse on and off tye rail and do circle bending exercises to strengthen up those legs? It'll hurt after a while, but be totally worth it.

Also, again, if you are able, why not go out for a pleasure ride to rekindle high spirits and get the fun back into riding? For me, after practicing for months for a five weekend show, I was pretty burnt out too until I jyst got out and rode for the hell off it. I did it for me, by myself, to relax and have fun. I didn't worry about things I had to work on or anything. Just rode.
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Last edited by Deschutes; 08-16-2012 at 11:32 PM.
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post #27 of 31 Old 08-16-2012, 11:44 PM
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Okay, I'm sorry but your coach is an idiot! Yes I said it and I don't care if other people think I'm being wicked.... but frankly it sounds like she really doesn't know what she's doing herself, and using you as a guinea pig.

Fire her, quit your lessons, whatever you need to do but do not waste your time, or money or your health on this person anymore. She is pushing you to a level it sounds like a) you and your horse are not physically / mentally ready for b) she really doesn't know what she's talking about.

Getting a horse on the bit, is not tightening your reins and holding your horses head down. Kicking your horse is not really how you ask them to move on. I see you say when he gets tired he doesn't listen well.. thats not acceptable, but neither is kicking your horse in the ribs over and over again.

Maybe I'm just bitter, but I've now ridden with some HORRIBLE coaches, the type that they were the only ones available, and they had all my friends drinking their cool aid. But when I started to not ride, and purposely cancel lessons - I fired her. I went back to what I refer to hack riding... so riding without a coach, yes it wasn't pretty, but I read alot, looked at a lot of videos, and watched other clinicians.... and I just rode for pleasure.

Then I found a good trainer, and due to a barn change, lost her. She wasn't great but she was fair, and was at a level I needed then and could work with.

The next trainer, at first I drank the cool aid, she could do no wrong. Then one day the pink sunglasses came off and I saw the lies I had been buying.

And now I'm with an excellent trainer, how do I know.. 1) highly recommended 2) has the background with proof to say he can teach what he says as he's done that himself 3) Pure professionalism.

You need to take a step back. I don't care what you have to tell your coach, fake an injury if you can't be forward and honest... but you need a break and if you can't find another coach then you wait till you can. Save that money haul down to clinics, go online to the online coaching, find online or real life mentors that can just be eyes on the ground for you.

I think its totally irresponsible and dangerous for her to be pushing you to a height you are not comfortable with, and sounds like your not ready for.

In case I haven't been clear..... fire this person fire this person fire this person... take a break and ride for yourself, ride for fun.

There are plenty of knowledgeable people on this site... post a video of your riding, ask for help here.
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post #28 of 31 Old 08-17-2012, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: North central Iowa
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Through all this frustration, I had to LOL at the "Kool-aid" remarks. Great way of putting it!

Okay, so my next question is: How do I go about finding a credible instructor then? I know the basics, like visiting the barn first and watching a lesson type stuff. But how do I know that I'm not being Kool-aided, short of hiring George Morris as my coach? I'm knowledgeable enough to know stuff that's really bad, but like in this case, I didn't know if this was good teaching or not.

Anyone know of any good trainers in north central Iowa or southern central Minnesota in the hunter/jumper/eventer ring then?

Rusty - a miracle horse Knight - my golden oldie
Vlogging about Midwest trail riding here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_u...tIjwnOxjKzOfjA
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post #29 of 31 Old 08-17-2012, 09:44 PM
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I used to ride with a "high stress trainer". She always said "smile for the judges" right after making us tack and warm up in about 15 minutes. Shows and riding are supposed to be fun. With trainers like this who put all of their stress on you, it kills the joy. I would say try it again in a few months when you and your horse are a little more fit. If your trainer still acts the same way, but you feel like you did your best, tell her! Tell her that its supposed to be fun and you are proud in your riding that day. What ended up happening with my "fun-sucking" trainer was that I moved barns. Showing is so much more fun now and I don't worry about trying to please my trainer. I now focus of doing my best and having fun. It's reall good that you are proud of your horse after this because a lot of people would take the stress their trainer put on them and get frustrated with the horse. Keep your attitude about riding- it will get you far! :)
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post #30 of 31 Old 08-18-2012, 01:04 AM
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I wish I was able to develop the coach-o-gram, that you could just wave it over them and tell if they were the honest to true thing, or if they were full of horse chunks. But I don't... I know when I left the last one, who I did for 4 years drink the kool aid, I treated every coach after like a liar. So you need to know whats important to you. For me, I don't want a coach teaching me unless they have walked the walk and can talk the talk. I have set a big goal for me and my horse over the next 5 years... but I told my coach that - and I said out right, can you get us there... and have you been there. I'm not sure how a coach can teach someone to jump 3'9 if they haven't experienced it themselves - successfully. I now ask for references, riding resume, and I google the snot out of them. If I'm able to talk to past students, then thats where I get the goods... why did they leave. I am now VERY clear with my coach, that there is time for fun and joking but I also have clear goals and I tell him what those are. I also, before I got injured, would video my riding and send it to other coaches to see how bad off I was, and what they thought of my riding. You need to be clear with the coach, and you need to have a coach that errs on the side of caution instead of moving you ahead too quickly or blowing smoke up your butt.

I wish I knew someone but go onto a few websites and ask around - vets are a great source of information, cuz they know the coaches who have injured riders, or injured/stressed horses. Good luck - just remember this sport is too expensive and risky to not be enjoying yourself!
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