inexperienced rider vs unresponsive horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 08-13-2012, 09:50 AM Thread Starter
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inexperienced rider vs unresponsive horse

Hi! I am new to this forum and new to horseback riding. I started taking English lessons about 6 weeks ago and it’s love at first site. However, as you can imagine, I am overwhelmed by all of the new things I am learning. I do not think I am moving at a terribly fast pace (which is a good thing), I am not a fast learner when it comes to practical things, but I try to follow everything that is expected of me (on and around the horses). When not riding, I do home study—exercise, read books and forums, watch instructional videos, and be a part of the community. I am pretty open to critique and do not shy from a challenge. In fact, two weekends ago, I participated at my first horse show. It was a bit premature, but in the retrospect, I feel like I was coerced into that one. Unfortunately, I think it was a disaster: for starters, the horse I was assigned started to move as I was mounting her—something she has never done before. After that she simply refused to cooperate. The day before the show I finally got her to trot for me, using the crop. At the show, she refused to even walk at times. She had to be led, which of course, cost me points. I eventually completed the course, but the bitterness and embarrassment remain. Still, from a different point of view, this was a good experience—it taught me a lesson. Now, I absolutely love this horse. She is a beauty, little bit on a small side-13 maybe 14 hands, which is a perfect size to match my 5’1”. I am told she is about 13 years old. However, I feel like she has absolutely no regard for me, she ignores all of my clues, and perhaps she doesn’t like me. From the very beginning I heard her described by all sorts of names—she’s a lady, stubborn, lazy. Everyone has had minor problems with her—the girl riding her at the show before me--and much more experienced than me--also placed last. But at least she rode her independently. I can’t even make her take the bit from me. This whole situation makes me incredibly frustrated. I do not expect that I will immediately know how to canter and jump fences, but I have not yet had a fully enjoyable lesson because of this. Despite my slight apprehension, I was transferred to regular group lessons after the first three introductory lessons. Does this mean that I have learned the basics and don’t need the one-on-one attention anymore or does it mean that the owner/trainer doesn’t want to fiddle with me? I think my frustration reached the point at which I need to talk to the trainer. But how do I share my concerns without sounding too green or worse without offending him and his horse? And what are my concerns? Is it me or it is the horse? Should I give it a little more time or should I just ask for a different horse? Thank you!
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post #2 of 31 Old 08-13-2012, 10:10 AM
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just be honest with the trainer the more open you are with him/her the more they can focus on what you are concerned about.

as for moving from private to group lessons, thats up to you. do you feel you are benefiting from group lessons or do you still think you need private. if you still think you need private ask your trainer if you can go back to individual work. its your money and you techincally can decide if you would rather group or private lessons. however i would ask why they moved you to group lessons. it could be they think it will boost your confidence... but again talk with the trainer.

as for the show. do not let it bother you!! for ever horse that puts up a challenge it gives you something to work on to improve for next time. you already know this mare is either lazy and being difficult or is testing you and being difficult. either way now you know you have something to achieve and must find what gets this mare to work. is it being more stern and demanding so she knows you are the boss and must do what you say or is it you have not found the right seat and hands to make her feel comfortable moving out into a trot and holding it. either way think of it as a game you want to conquer. the mare is not dangerous by the sound of it so it will be a great learning curve :)

goodluck :)
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post #3 of 31 Old 08-13-2012, 03:18 PM
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Beginning Horse back riding

I am a beginning horse back rider. We bought our horse on June 1st of this year. The completed beginners guide helped us and I hope will help you.

<a href="Horseback Riding: The Complete Beginner's Guide-main" target="_top">Click Here!</a>
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post #4 of 31 Old 08-13-2012, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!
You are right. I feel very comfortable around that mare; she does not seem dangerous. If anything, she is very patient with me. But she either does not like me or riding. We are not communicating. I will take your advice and take it as a challenge. I will also approach the trainer on Saturday.

I have bought and read Horseback Riding for Dummies I will check out the book you are recommending as well. Anything to get me through this learning curve
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post #5 of 31 Old 08-13-2012, 03:53 PM
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new rider

When you are pushed i at the deep end you either sink or swim - you are still here to tell the tale so you must have survived!!
You don't really learn much from a clockwork horses so having a safe horse that only responds if you press the correct buttons is a much better way to progress.
Your instructor/trainer probably feels that you have reached a point already where practice is the right thing for you and then when you feel capable and confident you can look for one to one lessons again
You do need to feel that you are the one driving the horse and not just a passenger
If you have concerns and don't yet feel confident enough not to have his total attention you should talk and discuss with him
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post #6 of 31 Old 08-14-2012, 10:37 AM
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You sound like me, in that I have started riding again after many years and taking lessons. I am re-learning so much and also "unlearning" some poor habits from my younger days,.. when like many I rode literally by the seat of my pants. It really is overwhelming at times, but hang in there. Better to be challenged than not, I believe. Just enjoy it and it will all come together for you. When you make a breakthrough it feels so good!
I really feel I get more from private lessons than group at this point. My coach is wonderful and my hour lesson rarely goes less than 90 minutes, always ending on a sucess. She is a gem!
One thing I became aware adductor muscles (inside of thighs) are very weak and totally ineffective... To the point of where I too was feeling the frustration of not communicating with the horse through my legs. I am doing pilates and as I sit writing this, I am squeezing a medium sized ball between my thighs to help strengthen these muscles for better contact. I am 58 and some of my body parts have been neglected and gone to seed....The pilates are great too and recommended by many coaches and horse people. It could be your horse is just not getting your cues...not ignoring them? Just a thought.
My favorite books right now are, "Balance in Movement", Suzanne Von Dietze, and "Ride With Your Mind Essentials", Mary Wanless.
I just was introduced to this forum and love that there is so much support and encouragement here!! Good luck with your lessons and keep us "posted"!!
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post #7 of 31 Old 08-14-2012, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! Yes, so far I like this forum too. No judging, just honest helpful advice.

So, I just bought Horseback Riding: The Complete Beginner's Guide. Amazon now has a Kindle edition for $8.97.

I am brainstorming all of the reasons why the horse (BTW her name is Mercedes) is not responding to me. Of course, the fact that I am simply not seasoned enough in giving her clear and powerful riding clues is one of the possibilities. If it is so, it must be something in my technique rather than the strength. At least I think so. I am 39 and rather fit; I run and work out in a gym (and yes, I also squeeze the ball) every day, and after a riding lesson, I am all sweaty, out of breath, and sore in my inner thighs just from squeezing to make sure she gets a powerful clue (by the way, shouldn't the horse be the one getting the workout?--just kidding) Anyway, I have asked numerous times if it's me or the horse and the answer has always been the unison "Mercedes is lazy and stubborn!" And it's not just riding. Almost everyone has problems putting the bridle on her, but eventually they succeed. Not me. As soon as she sees me with it, she starts jerking her head in all directions and someone has to come and catch her. So I am getting suspicious that she figured out I am not as experienced as the others and is taking a full advantage of it. My fear is that I might have lost my credibility with her. And that has been my question all along. Am I unduly impatient to expect that I will control a horse in 6 weeks or is it a lost cause at this point and I should try a different horse?
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post #8 of 31 Old 08-14-2012, 12:22 PM
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Welcome to the world of new "relearning" riders!
I know exactly what you are going through! After many years away from horses, I started riding again at the end of March- and have loved every minute!
I started out one horse(Dom), and of course, he had to test me at every turn, could barely get him to jog, then when he did, he would go around the ring halfway, then back to walk. He is not known for being stubborn, just wanting to test new riders.... after a few lessons on him, I moved to Suzie, a 12 year old Quarter Horse. For quite a while, she tested me at every single lesson. The very first time I got on her, she took off at a jog! I've been riding her every week, sometimes twice a week since the end of April, and it did take a while, where she wasn't constantly trying to tell me what we were going to do versus me telling her, lol!
Our riding ring is outdoors, and of course this time of year, all the weeds are high, nice lush grass, etc. Now, it only takes a slight nudge with my outside knee to keep her off the fence, and away from the grass. I have been putting her bridle on by myself for a couple of weeks now, it has got much easier, she is better at letting me, even unsure as I still am. I've been conciously trying to not use my hands as much when riding, getting more used to leg cues, which she is wonderful at, and that has been working out well.
But, if you think about it, it has really taken me 5 months to get to where I am with Suzie, I tend to have a laid back, sometimes unsure of myself personality, and I really think she picked up on that right away, and thought she would see what she would get away with. She is so good, and has also got used to the way that I ride. I will be going back to my original horse soon, Suzie doesn't lope, she is too rough, so I will be riding her one day a week, and Dom the other day. We will see what he thinks of me! He knows me, as I am at the barn usually 3 or 4 mornings a week, but riding him will be a totally different experience!
Hang in there with your lesson horse, I really sometimes wonder if they are testing us to see if we are going to stay loyal to them, or go with a different horse? 6 weeks is not long at all, before you know it, everything will click, and your girl will fall in love with each other!
Congrats on doing a show so soon, even though you were unhappy with the results, you will always remember that you tried it!

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post #9 of 31 Old 08-14-2012, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mernie View Post
I am 58
Wow! My hats off to you!

There was a lady in her 60s at the horse show and, of course, way better than me!
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post #10 of 31 Old 08-14-2012, 03:22 PM
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You probably were drooling over the horses when the stable told you that you would be participating in school shows after you started lessons with them. There is more to riding that showing, so if it makes you uncomfortable look around for an academy that doesn't expect you to do this.
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