rant about my lesson! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Newark, notts, England
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rant about my lesson!

I had a riding lesson yesterday, with a group I am not normally in because the person in my group was ill. I was told when I got to the stables I was on a mare called Nelly (who I have never ridden before). They tied her up for me and I got a brush and started to brush her. She started being fidgety and then she bit me. I have never been bitten by a horse before so I just stayed away from her head and continued brushing her.

Then I tried to pick her feet out. I lifted her front leg up and managed to pick it out but then she stamped the leg down. A girl who helps out at the stables was walking past and she said that I should just leave the rest of her feet because Nelly is sensitive. Then my instructor said that she would tack her up for me because Nelly bites and plays up when being tacked up. I had to stand about 5 meters away while she was being tacked up because she also kicked. i was getting a bit nervous about getting on her because I am not an experienced rider (I can walk and trot, and am improving on sitting trot and cantering). I was assured that she is fine once someone is on her and that they use her on novices.

Once I am in the school with all the other people that are in my lesson, she refuses to stand still and starts spinning around. I don't have any experiences of a horse doing that and I didn't know what to do. It seemed like everyone was having a go at me for not stopping her, but I didn't know how to. eventually she stopped but then took to trying to eat my arm while everyone else got on their horses.

Eventually when it was my turn to get on her, my instructor took her over to a fence and make her face it so that she could not walk off, and them told me to grab the mounting block and get on her as quickly as possible. Once I was on her she took off, and I gathered up my reins and tried to get her to stop. the more pressure I put on the reins, the faster and more agitated she was. Because she was refusing to stop I joined the back of the ride and my instructor adjusted my stirrups while I was walking.

I was told that she does not like it when the reins are too short so I should give her rein, but then she kept going to fast and when I pulled on the reins slightly that didn't do anything but I did not want her to buck or anything because I had the reins too tight. This is all at walk, and when we move into trot it gets even harder. I try to slow her down and she doesn't, and is nearly crashing into the horse in front and my steering is rubbish because I am stressed out about her being to fast.

Then when I've been trotting for a few minutes, she suddenly rears a bit and then bucks me off! My instructor said it wasn't anything I did and phones someone to go and get a horse called Monty for me to ride of the rest of the lesson. I was a bit shocked as I have never been bucked off before (but I have fallen). I then here my instructor mentioning to someone that the saddle has slipped forward and was a bad fit. could that be the reason for her bucking?

Then when Monty arrived I tacked him up quickly and got on him (he is a very good horse that does everything you ask him too). I join the rest of the ride and then we go into trot. His trot has NO bounce at all! I literally had to be standing up and sitting down and it was really difficult. when I did the sitting trot it was like walking! It was a bit annoying because we were practicing sitting trot that day and that is what I have to improve on, but Monty did not have a normal, bouncy trot so it did not help me.

Ok, rant over! Sorry for all the writing, I just had to let it all out! My arm is a bit sore from the fall, and I hope I have Charlie (the horse I normally ride) next week.
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post #2 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 02:35 PM
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I am astonished that your riding academy can afford an insurance policy to cover students getting injured by OBVIOUSLY dangerous lesson horses. Are you sure this is a good place to take lessons? "Nelly" will probably be available in your next regular lesson. I taught for 10 years. I bought & sold often bc I would buy a horse, have some problems--NEVER biting/wheeling/bucking!!!--and I'd sell the horse and purchase another. My standard for a lesson horse was that I could have my (then young) daughters ride said horse in an arena (not outside), then the horse was worthy of being in my program. Lesson horses should give you trouble bc you didn't ask for the right cue, or you had to work harder to get them going (lazy.) I always taught (beginners) from the middle of the ring so that I could cue my horse to do the action if my students weren't getting a result. I always taught with a whip in hand, for this purpose. You are not paying to retrain "Nelly." "Nelly" has a lot of attitude problems. I'd say, look for a different place. I wouldn't ride "Nelly" for any $# with her current problems. IF she's got potential, it's going to take a lot of retraining to make her safe. If your instructor bought "Nelly" for the purpose of retraining and reselling, then she (he?) needs to do that retraining. This reminds me of National Lampoon's Vacation.
"Rusty, walk the dog."
"But, Dad, he BITES!!"
"Thats alright, Rusty."
Just FYI--we go on here about proper fitting saddles, HOWEVER, if you err, your REALLY GOOD horse will suffer through and not buck you off. I owned one of these, a 15'3hh QH, and I worked him all day (at a CW event) before I realized that his saddle was rubbing. He was carrying a rider with no skills, but he didn't misbehave. I changed the padding, and he was comfortable after that. Before anybody wants to pick on me bc of this, when you Really work your horses, sometimes this can happen. Most casual riders NEVER log >1,000 hours/year/horse like my lesson horses worked.

Last edited by Corporal; 10-20-2011 at 02:43 PM.
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post #3 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 02:38 PM
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I've never heard someone moan about having a horse with a non bouncy trot to do sitting trot work before. I love having a non bouncy horse, it allows me to sort out my position without being bounced all over the shop. I dread sitting trot and work without stirrups on one of our mares because it's like riding a jackhammer but I love another pony because he is so smooth. A non bouncy horse allows you to get into the correct position, to feel what that is like then you can apply it to a bouncy horse. The instructor was also probably taking into account you were shaken by the fall and put you on something that is smooth to ride so you could get over the shock rather than being shoved onto something bouncy and being nervous and shook up throughout your ride.

Horses have off days, considering it's a mare she could have been coming into season so was more grouchy than normal. Two of our mares have hormonal inbalances so when you tack them up or groom then at certain times they become very bad tempered and snap at you. I look after 6 mares and one is a bit sensitive about her feet as well so you have to go a bit slower with her and do it her way which is why I love one of my other mares because she picks them all up for you in order. Couple that with a saddle that doesn't fit and is probably hurting her then I'm not surprised she was in a filthy mood.

You're going to ride difficult horses at some point and while it is frustrating they teach you so much about dealing with problems.

Eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
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post #4 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Someone at school who rides at the same stables as me said that Nelly is a rescue who came from an auction where she was going to be sold for meat. I think she has also been abused and kicked which is why she is sensitive, but I don't think I am ready for that sort of horse yet.

I did like Monty not having a bouncy trot and I suppose it was good after my fall, but what I was trying to say was that it doesn't help me learn how to cope with a bouncy trot like the horse I normally ride has. I wasn't supposed to be riding Monty that lesson so I wasn't put on him to help me learn how to sit the trot and he also had asthma so had to have a rest in the middle of the school after he had trotted and cantered with me.

I know I have to learn about problem horses, but I feel like I did not learn anything about problem horses other than to be wary of Nelly! I didn't get any advice given to me other than "relax your hands!", "stop her!" and "relax and imagine its Charlie!"

I think I will be on Charlie next week and hopefully everything will be back to normal!
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post #5 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 03:07 PM
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But by learning how to sit correctly for the trot it will help you with your normal horse and no you probably weren't put on him to help with the lesson content. The instructor was probably concerned with making sure you recovered your confidence by getting back on a horse that wouldn't do anything stupid and by putting you on a horse that has to take it easy then you can take it easier as well. When I came off a horse that was bucking I was put on one of the ancient mares that were used for beginners to finish the lesson.

Some horses are more sensitive to saddle fit than others. Yours may have tolerated it but a mare that is already in a highly strung mood probably wouldn't have tolerated it. There's one who has probably just left our yard that also logged up lots of hours but his saddle stopped fitting him correctly and one of the senior staff had to spend 10 minutes stood up in the stirrups because he bucked the moment she sat down then the saddle fit problem was discovered. Our lesson horses also log plenty of hours because we are a very busy yard but even some of them will take issue with a bad fitting saddle.

Eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
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post #6 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 04:00 PM
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I have to agree that sounds horrific, and I honestly can not believe people would do that, they have a duty of care to you! Hopefully this hasn't knocked your confidence too much and unfortunately there are some grumpy horses in the world.

The saddle wouldn't have helped either, and I would suggest you ask not to ride her again, you're paying money to be taught, not to hang on for dear life!

Let us know how your ride on Charlie goes!
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post #7 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 07:40 PM
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I hope you didn't pay for something you didn't order. You were pushed on despite the mare telling everyone she had no intention of cooperating. If you've paid, ask for a free lesson and clarify that it's on a horse you are ok with. If that is not forthcoming, there are others who give lessons who will see that you are on the right horse.
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post #8 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 08:19 PM
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Remember, you can always say, "NO!". If they want to put you on a horse that you don't feel is good or safe for you, listen to that inner voice. In fact, learning to hear the inner voice is essential in future horsemanship.

I have had times when I kept hearing the voice say, "Today is not a good day to ride" , usually because it was too windy, or Mac felt really off (very, very rare). I have learned to listen to that voice. I dont' mean back down every time you have a little challenge, but you do have the right to say, "I am not ready for this yet."
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post #9 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 08:44 PM
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Bad horse to have a lesson on. If the staff knows that she bites and kicks then she is in the wrong place. She needs either better training or a home that avoids her triggers.
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post #10 of 17 Old 10-20-2011, 09:18 PM
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It sounds to me like you were looking for a good ride to help improve your skills. To place you on a ill mannered mare does not help with your confidence level.

I've trained quite a few kids and would never place a person on a horse like this if they were not up to her level. The goal of a trainer is to take an untrained rider and give them the confidence and training that helps them move to the next level and handle those horses that need work.

You have the right to tell your trainer that you do not feel ready to take on a complicated horse and need to work on your skills first. A good trainer will understand and work with you into improving both your ability and your confidence. A trainer that pushes you to do better is great, however, if the trainer talks down to you and makes you feel stupid... time to find a new trainer.
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