I started riding when I was around 7 or 8 for about a year on a mare that was owned by a friend of my mom's. We (my brother and I) got very basic lessons (mostly heels down, sit up straight, etc) in exchange for "helping" her around her farm. I literally learned to steer her horses through trial and error. Heehee
After that, I started taking "real" lessons when I was around 13. That barn was a cheap barn and it showed. The horses weren't as trained as they should have been to be called lesson horses and most of the riding I did on them was basically training them, no real "learning" for me. The one plus of that is that I got tons of hours on a horses back. I learned what it meant to move with the horse and I developed a pretty good seat.
Then I stopped taking lessons there and moved on to another barn with similarly marginally trained horses and a slightly more qualified instructor (neither one is/was certified). This second instructor basically spent the year, I spent taking weekly lessons, undoing the bad habits I had picked up with my first instructor.
Now, I've been taking weekly lessons at a different barn (I have my horse at the barn of the second instructor and we're still good friends and she helps me out with some things) with a very qualified, knowledgeable, instructor that has impeccably trained horses. It's completely amazing to be able to actually know what a trained horse feels like. Up until this point, in the ten or so years I've been riding, I had never ridden a really trained horse. I've ridden "broke" horses but nothing that was trained enough to go to a rated show tomorrow and win. It's absolutely amazing to get on a horse and have your instructor tell you to do something and actually be able to do whatever it is fully without having to teach the horse along the way.
I think I would probably be a less "skilled" rider at this point (maybe) if I had started out with the experienced instructor with the well trained horses but mentally I would feel a lot safer on horseback if I had started out with the trained horses and the teacher that knew what he was doing. Right now I have fears that started with horses I rode 5 years ago that still stop me from just going with whatever the horse is doing. For instance, so many of the horses that I used to ride were really goosey and jumpy so I developed a habit of automatically blocking the horse's unexpected movements with my body. Now I have a hard time in my lessons when we work on rollbacks and things because that's a slightly unexpected movement that I automatically block but that I shouldn't block.
Personally, I say pay more money; you'll most likely be way happier with the outcome and probably have a better horse experience if you do.
Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding
Rest peacefully, Lacey.
Last edited by Wallaby; 03-09-2010 at 01:50 AM.