Longe lessons, longe lessons, longe lessons. Ask her for them. When I first started riding (at age 7) we were put on the horse and expected to start learning how to walk, trot, and canter. I spent a lot of time standing by the gate, kicking a 30 year old quarter horse who wouldn't move a foot. Later (when I was about 12) I started English lessons with a new instructor who was fairly horrified by my bad habits. She had a horse who was a very nice sensible chap, but a big mover, and I could barely stay on him. I spent about a year on the longe line trying to fix bad habits.
When I teach beginners, I always longe them. I find the brain can only handle so much new information at a time, and when new riders start out, most find it overwhelming to be expected to find their position, remain in balance, start the process of learning about independent aids, AND stop, steer, and keep the horse moving in whatever gait. Some people more than others. Some students seem naturally balanced on a horse and easily come into sync with its movements, while others struggle, through tension, lack of bodily awareness, or whatever. The strugglers will find their balance and confidence but may require more patience. That means more longe lessons! Many students develop quite a lot of bad habits in the effort to get the horse to do stuff while compensating for their lack of balance. And while you're flailing about, trying to find your seat and coordinate your aids, you're most likely sending all sorts of confusing messages to the horse and the horse is going to be saying, "WTF does she want me to do?" A well-schooled horse who is perhaps not accustomed to the trials of the beginner rider might get quite confused, frustrated, and consequently grumpy.
So back to the longeing. That gives you the opportunity to work on your position and your balance while someone else controls the horse. Then you're only focusing on one thing -- you -- and leaving the horse aside for the moment. It's hard to learn how to control your body while its being tossed about on a trotting or cantering horse and the longeing is a method of breaking riding down into steps for people. Here, we're just working on you. At the end of the lesson, you go off the longe and we can talk about steering.
The caveat is that you need a horse who knows his job on the longe line. Longeing doesn't have the same beneficial effect if you have a horse who thinks longe = bucking, play time.
Last edited by thesilverspear; 08-05-2011 at 08:45 AM.