New Rider - Looking for advice - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 05-09-2011, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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New Rider - Looking for advice

I started riding lessons last fall. I have always been horse-crazy, but never had the time/money to actually do anything about till now. Due to a stressful job, my attendance has been spotty and I took most of the winter off (cause I'm a wimp in snow).

My problem is that whenever I do have time for a riding lesson, I spend most of the lesson struggling to get the horse to actually DO anything. It seems that no matter which horse the instuctor puts me on, it always wants to not work once we get to the ring. The horse wants to ride off the fence, doesn't keep up a trot or simply refuses to trot and/or actually move. There's always issues with the horse going once around the ring and then stopping at the gate and I struggle to get it moving again.

On one hand I'm getting frustrated with the stable. I understand that horses can be a challange and part of riding is establishing your dominance over the horse so it listens to your instructions. I try to be thankful they're not putting me on an over-trained automaton and actually giving me a chance to learn on a REAL horse that comes with real riding challanges. On the other hand, I can't help feeling that, as a beginner, an over-trained automaton would be nice once in awhile so I can actually get some _riding_ in and concentrate on technique before I take on the other issues.

I've taken short riding courses through a local community college where I grew up, and those horses were very compliant with beginners. So I don't know if the issue is me and my riding or if the stable is just not right for me. I really like the stable owners and the instructor, plus this place is in my price range. I recently lost my hateful job and I'm planning on volunteering mucking stables and whatnot to learn some on-the-ground horse handling and care and get a free trail ride in now and then. Plus I can still afford a lesson here and there and I actually have TIME to maintain a regular riding schedule now.

So, in your opinion, what would help me with my struggles and frustrations? Will more regular riding help clear up these issues, or is the stable and their horses just not right for me at this time???
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-09-2011, 07:02 AM
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Hiya;

If you like the stables, then stay there, its as simple as that! (:

When you feel like your getting way to frustrated riding those horses, ask your instructor what your doing wrong, and tell her about your troubles, after all she is there to help you progress and riding should be fun and not frustrating.

I'm sorry for the loss of your job, that sounds like that is very stressful as well, I do thinking regular riding would help relax you, and doing odd jobs around the stable would also bennifet you as a rider(:

Good luck(:

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post #3 of 12 Old 05-09-2011, 07:38 AM
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"If it ain"t broke, don't fix it" but in your case, you need to make a change. Riding is supposed to be enjoyable but if it isn't then it either isn't for you or you are in the wrong place.

As much as you enjoy the stable you are taking lessons, you are wasting your money and time if you are not learning anything. Beginners need to be on well broke, compliant horses in the beginning. A beginner needs to work on balance and form, not making the horse move. Were that me, I would explain that they either supply you with the proper horse or you will need to look for another barn. Money is tight in general, but without a job it is worst and I don't know anyone who can afford to waste it.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.


It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-09-2011, 07:48 AM
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Definitely talk to your instructor about your concerns/problems. I think you should be on an over-trained horse until you build up your confidence and experience levels. Then you can add in the challenges of a less trained horse.

Everyone should be allowed at least one bad habit, and that's NOT owning a horse!

Mares RULE! Geldings drool!
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-10-2011, 04:03 PM
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To learn to ride a horse essentially you need:
1/ determination
2/ a riding centre
3/ a knowledgeable experienced riding instructor
4/ a school master horse
5/ the money to pay for the lessons.

The most important ingredient is the horse - it does all the work but often the sort of horse that is good at teaching a human to ride is very often a crafty cussed type of horse who needs to be told what to do - which is exactly why he is good at his job because if you do not instruct him correctly then he won't do what you have asked of him.

The instructor stands in the middle of the arena. He tells the horse what to do and also he should be telling you what to do. The horse will listen to him and so should you.

The first lesson should be to show you how to sit on the horse properly - you need to be prodded and pushed into the correct sitting position which you then have to retain and revert to at all times. Your brain has to learn how to sit properly on a horse - not the part of the brain you think with but the other half which allows you to stand up.

The instructor will also show you how to hold the reins properly - you have to learn how to feel the mouth of a horse through the reins and bit. It is a knack to learn but it is very important to learn properly right from the beginning.

All will go great in the lesson until the instructor stands back and tells the horse to: 'walk on'. At that moment your brain kicks in and says 'OI - we are four feet off the ground' and so you will grip with your thighs, legs and anything else which will move. You'll have to learn not to do that because at that very moment the horse thinks : "I've been lumbered with another bl***y learner."

The lesson will progress - if you are fit and willing the lesson might actually last 3/4s of an hour by which time your butt will ache and so will your lower back. The day after you'll ache even more. The day after that, you will have to ask yourself whether riding is really the game for you. If it is, then you go back and pay for more aches and pains.

Jay - look in the yellow pages and take a note of every riding centre listed in your area. Go along to some of them and say you want to learn to ride but first you want to meet your riding instructor. It might be a 'him' or maybe a 'her'. Introduce yourself and ask lots of questions. Then ask to see the horse which will teach you how to ride - say hello to it. Stroke it. Give it a small horse biscuit. Ask yourself if it is a nice horse.
Then stand back and ask yourself if you like both the instructor and most importantly the horse. If you do then book a couple of lessons.

There is an expression: "If but once you don't succeed, then try, try again". Nowhere is that expression more true than in horse riding.

However, riding your own horse through a woodland glade on a summer's day is one of the most memorable things you'll ever do in your life. Trust me.

Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 05-10-2011 at 04:06 PM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-10-2011, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayEss View Post
.... The horse wants to ride off the fence (so keep rein closest to the fence tighter than the other rein), doesn't keep up a trot (The second you feel it starting to slow give it a kick) or simply refuses to trot and/or actually move. There's always issues with the horse going once around the ring and then stopping at the gate (again - you KNOW this happens so as you near the gate squeeze/kick and ask it to go faster past the gate) and I struggle to get it moving again.

...

So I can actually get some _riding_ in and concentrate on technique before I take on the other issues. Then ask for a lunge line lesson where instuctor controls horse with whip to make it go forward and keep it at end of lunge line, and lunge line to help you "steer".
...
So, in your opinion, what would help me with my struggles and frustrations? Will more regular riding help clear up these issues, or is the stable and their horses just not right for me at this time???
More riding time and YOUR being pro-active by doing what has been suggested above (in red font).

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-10-2011, 04:49 PM
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Could you ask your instructor to try giving you a few lessons on the lunge line? That way you can learn more about your position without worrying about controlling the horse.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-11-2011, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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I like the suggestion of the lunge line lesson! I will bring that up. I have always been a very shy and introverted person, so when I say I'm comfortable at this stable with the owners and instructor, that's a huge thing for me. It would be a very difficult thing for me to go "shopping" for a new stable.

I have an inkling that my instructor puts me on more stubborn horses because she thinks that's where I need to be - working on my dominance. I tend to want to treat the horse like a dog or one of my cats; like a buddy. This sort of approach doesn't seem to get the job done in the saddle. So perhaps this is just a hump I need to get over. I'm not going to let the stuggles of riding deter me: I've been too horse-crazy for too long for that. :p
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-11-2011, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayEss View Post
...I have an inkling that my instructor puts me on more stubborn horses because she thinks that's where I need to be - working on my dominance. I tend to want to treat the horse like a dog or one of my cats; like a buddy. This sort of approach doesn't seem to get the job done in the saddle...
A horse that doesn't want to move will not help you learn dominance - which would be better described as having the confidence to convince the horse to accept your decisions.

My last lesson (#4, although I've been riding my own horses for 2+ years), I was put on a horse that DID NOT want to go. I have a very dominant (domineering?) personality and enough confidence, but the horse just didn't want to go. 20-25 kicks - and I mean as hard as I could give them - were needed to get a slow trot, and he'd slow to a walk in 50 yards.

So the instructor brought out a crop. "You shouldn't have to beat yourself to death making him move...so ask with a tisk, squeeze, then bump once - and then a light smack on his hip with this. If one light smack doesn't do it, give a hard one."

Meanwhile, the horse was looking at the crop like it was a snake. So I took it, asked, squeezed, bumped - then an firm tap. At the tap, he trotted. If he tried to slow, I'd squeeze...then tap if needed. After about 10 minutes, he performed the rest of the lesson moving out with a light squeeze.

With my own horses, the problem is almost always slowing them down. The lesson I took away was that some horses will NOT respond properly to a squeeze or bump (or 20 hard kicks) unless they understand that you have the option of asking less politely.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-12-2011, 08:56 AM
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JayEss, I'm going to assume that you ride English so I agree with what bsms said. However, I ride western and I like having long reins. If the horse I am riding doesn't move after squeeze, kiss and bump, I take the reins and smack from side to side. Most of the time I'm not even touching the horse with the reins and I'm smacking my legs or the saddle. They seem to not like the motion of them above their back. If that still doesn't work, that's where the longer reins are good so you smack them on the butt the same as a crop. They do learn quickly to move off at the squeeze or at the bump. Just be careful if the horse is not used to being tapped back there. They may take off a lot quicker than you want.

Everyone should be allowed at least one bad habit, and that's NOT owning a horse!

Mares RULE! Geldings drool!
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