Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I think an important step to becoming a good rider is to align yourself with a good instructor/trainer. Be very particular about who you choose. Check to see what their training methods are, do you agree with them? See how they keep their horses, is that what you believe in? When I was a kid there used to be a very good instructor who was successful. He had very nice horses but I didn't like the way he did things. He kept them stabled in small stables with no yards most of the day. When he did put them in yards they were small with no shade, he had a couple of larger ones but there still wasn't enough to go round. He taught people to ride with harsher bits, spurs and crops and I think he over jumped his horses. People are free to do what they like but this was not the sort of person I wanted to be taught by.
Make sure you make the correct decision about what you want to learn. Secondly, just because someone is successful does not mean what they do is good. Also, there are many good riders out there, but they do not have the personality/manner/experience to teach people. Not everyone can teach. Make sure you choose someone who you think does the right thing, who is a good teacher and also "practices what they preach".
Besides from that, the only way to become advanced is to practice. Practice, practice, practice. So ride as many horses as you can, ride as often as you can. One or two hours a week isn't going to get you anywhere quickly.
Also, I am of the firm belief that dressage is the basis to all riding. Therefore if I were a beginner again I would focus virtually all my energy on learning dressage. From there I could learn jumping, eventing, showing, western, etc, because I would have developed a solid, independent seat, independent and deliberate aids, and kind, still hands. Regardless of your discipline these qualities are universally desirable.
Hope that helps :)