When you don't know what you are doing on horseback, your horse pays for your mistakes and heavy handedness.
Working with a trainer or instructor makes progress MUCH faster than trying to figure things out on your own. That much is indisputable.
Which means that your horse has to suffer much less when you figure things out with someone who really knows what they are doing.
How many times have we seen uneducated riders reefing on a horse's mouth to make him stop or turn?
Unless your horse is out of control, pulling on his mouth is completely unnecessary to make him slow down. A simple shift in weight and a tightening of the back muscles, as well as firming the grip on the reins (without ever pulling back) is more than enough to bring a horse back to a trot from a canter and from a trot to a walk. Adding half halts to the equation makes the down transitions smooth and pleasing for both the horse and rider.
But you can't really learn a half halt by yourself because you don't know how a horse feels when you do it right. An instructor can tell by looking at the horse when you do a down transition correctly and tell you the moment it happens. THEN you can connect the dots and start working on repeating the aids the same way to get that feeling.
It's not fair to the horse to subject them to brute force just because one does not know better.
You don't necessarily need to pay for lessons each and every week, but at some point you need to pay for a few to get a new technique figured out. This, IMO, is one of those times.
Last edited by mildot; 01-01-2012 at 06:50 PM.