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Self-Taught Riding?

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  • Can a self taught rider win ?
  • Self taught horse ride

 
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    07-05-2010, 06:38 PM
  #11
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacabreMikolaj    
What did people do BEFORE coaches, instructors and trainers?

We live in a day and age where we are SO afraid of doing things wrong, it's like a death sentence. With a little bit of common sense, it's REALLY hard to screw a horse up so badly you can't fix it or re-train it. The only thing I've ever seen done that's sometimes next impossible to fix is beat a horse or let it get away with murder - the first is usually WAY harder to treat then the latter, and also can be a good fix for CURING the latter.

My aunt was almost entirely self taught, for English anyway. She grew up riding her pony and my grandpa's Arabs, but Western. He showed her how to ride and gave her the basics and she spent her youth racing around bareback, doing gaming on her pony, and generally stupid things.

When she decided she liked English, she was almost entirely self taught. She had no financial access or physical access to a coach (this was a good 40 years ago don't forget), and had nothing but a little rescued QH gelding with a butchered tongue from a barbed wire bit. Somehow, she managed to not only TEACH herself and him eventing, she managed to win. She attended clinics, sopped up any knowledge she could, read books and watched tapes til her eyes were sore. In exchange for cheap board at a friend's house, she started teaching their daughter to event - and she started winning. Now my aunt was making a NAME for herself in our community!

All these years later, my aunt has been and seen it all. She has her official coaching levels for English and Western, and although she's never taken her own riding to huge levels (maybe intermediate for eventing), she's coached SO many children to a successful riding career as well as purchased, trained and sold countless horses. She's heavily involved in Pony Club, and is well known for being an advocate of the horse and uncaring of who people's "connections" are.

I'm not saying everybody should do it, I'm saying we had a LOT of time in this world to be teaching ourselves before all these professionals became so readily available to us. We learned it SOMEWHERE - there HAD to have been a person, however long ago, who first had the idea to make a horse pivot, or make a horse piaffe, or make a horse turn a barrel. SOMEBODY led the way - and with enough time and patience, each and every one of us IS capable of figuring it out on our own. It just tends to be a LOT faster with a professional!

Shay-la never sat in an English saddle before she met me, and within the last year of hacking around in the yard, jumping our cow ponies, watching vids, asking me questions, asking professionals questions, and a handful of Dressage lessons (literally, like 5 of them), it would not take much at ALL to put a little polish on her and throw her into a jumper or Dressage ring. Her natural ability, her never ending urge to keep LEARNING and LEARNING and doing it RIGHT has never faltered - if she wants to do something, she puts her mind to it, and figures out a way to do it, be ****ed finances!

Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing! That is really inspirational. And I never even thought about it like that... you're absolutely right. All riders back in the old West were self taught because there was no other option and most were great ranch workers and knew how to maneuver there horses.

Your aunt sounds incredible and very accomplished... and accomplishing Dressage on her own must have taken so much practice and determination.

Have you learned yourself, or do you take lessons? Sounds like you have natural talent and skill in your blood! :)

That's another problem that I have, I don't have the money to spend on 1 lesson per week, it's expensive. And I do study a ton on Natural Horsemanship, that's what I spend 99% of my time doing...

Like you said, any of us can figure it out on our own, but it takes more time... that's why I'm thinking of doing it on my own, because I have plenty of time and the opportunity to do so.
     
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    07-05-2010, 07:02 PM
  #12
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by JessicaGDA    
All riders back in the old West were self taught because there was no other option and most were great ranch workers and knew how to maneuver there horses.
You mean they were completely alone with no one else around who knew how to ride? I thought cowboys usually work in groups.
     
    07-05-2010, 07:25 PM
  #13
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by JessicaGDA    
Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing! That is really inspirational. And I never even thought about it like that... you're absolutely right. All riders back in the old West were self taught because there was no other option and most were great ranch workers and knew how to maneuver there horses.

Your aunt sounds incredible and very accomplished... and accomplishing Dressage on her own must have taken so much practice and determination.

Have you learned yourself, or do you take lessons? Sounds like you have natural talent and skill in your blood! :)

That's another problem that I have, I don't have the money to spend on 1 lesson per week, it's expensive. And I do study a ton on Natural Horsemanship, that's what I spend 99% of my time doing...

Like you said, any of us can figure it out on our own, but it takes more time... that's why I'm thinking of doing it on my own, because I have plenty of time and the opportunity to do so.
I come from both schools - like my grandpa taught my aunt to ride, he also taught me to ride. He had me on a horse before I could walk, and I was riding independently from the age of 5. They weren't lessons so much as him riding with me and coaching from the saddle - he let me do my thing until he saw something I could fix and helped me. By the time I was about 7 years old, I was galloping around bareback on our broodmares - nobody taught me, much to my mother's heart attack, I just jumped on and learned to stay on fast because I couldn't lift a saddle over my head!

When I was 10, my aunt trained my 3 year old Arab gelding for me. So for about a year during his training, I was in Pony Club and learning to ride English and jump. My parents however had a huge issue with the cost (my aunt not only trained my horse for free, she even paid part of his board!) and pulled me out of Pony Club. My horse went back to my grandpa's and thus began about 7 years of me riding completely alone. I bugged my grandpa and he bought me an English saddle in this time, so I kept on jumping in my pastures either with the saddle or bareback!

I've had sporatic jumping and Dressage lessons through my life, but most things I want to learn with horses I learn to teach myself. I just don't have the money to be getting lessons right now, and I know more then enough to keep myself safe while training. I don't have the dedication to teach myself the finer points of English, but that's because I prefer Western anyway.

As a side note, my best friend is ENTIRELY self taught - her mom let her buy two 3 year old mares when she was about 16 and she'd only been on a horse a handful of times before on guided trail rides. She managed to single handedly not only train those mares, but train them into two of the most dependable and reliable trail horses you'll ever meet. Yes, she did stupid things, and yes she DID almost get herself killed once or twice. That's a much bigger risk you take doing it yourself. Within a couple years, she wanted something with "more fire" and went and bought herself a half-crazed mare who reared and bucked like a demon. She has somehow managed to never fall off this horse - I've ridden this mare, and with all my 25 years of experience, I had to start spinning her in tight circles because if she got one more buck in, I was going to eat dirt! In only 8 years of owning and riding horses, Shay-la is a remarkably accomplished horse woman. They were breeding their mares (DON'T DO IT!) and she's produced marketable foals out of mongrols with her training (two are actually in Pony Club now carrying children around!). She was buying and selling youngsters for more experience. All without EVER having a SINGLE lesson until this year when she took a few Dressage lessons.

I don't advocate this for everyone - Shay-la is such a remarkable and driven young woman, she doesn't know how to fail at anything she does. She's taken more then her fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, accepting them as part of the trials and tribulations of doing it all alone.

But if someone can take two untrained mares 8 years ago and end up where she is today, YOU are perfectly capable of purchasing a trained horse and learning on the fly! I definitely would never recommend doing what Shay-la did, she IS lucky she didn't get herself killed and only her keen sense of remarkable natural talent prevented her from getting seriously injured. But people teach themselves everyday and as much as you may not be named champion show jumper by next year, I think everyone learns a lot better by just DOING.

Sorry for the novel, but hope I helped a bit!
     
    07-05-2010, 07:37 PM
  #14
Yearling
I'm self taught, and I ride english, I think that's the reason im really paranoid about the way I ride because alot of people these days are always criticizing and the area I live theres alot of snobbery. When I say im self taught i've learned through experience and watching other people. And I know my riding is probably terrible and what not but i've never had the opportunity to go to a riding school and get lessons.

So my opinion on self taught riding would be if you can get the opportunity to be professionally taught then do it, otherwise if your the kinda person like me you'll end up doubting everything you do lol.
     
    07-05-2010, 07:58 PM
  #15
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by JessicaGDA    
And through the books and videos you were able to figure things out?

English is a fairly big change from Western, hope that it all works out for you! It is good to experiment. Especially with a new discipline. I ride Western, but have had to ride English a few times and it isn't easy at all.

Are you now figuring out Eventing on your own, or trying to get back into lessons?
1. My parents both rode for years and my mom was practically the co-dean of the barn at Lake Erie College for the longest time. They both taught me from literally baby age, and when I was through learning the basics from them, I consulted those other resources for the smaller things, like being light on the horse's mouth (I have a gaited horse so I ride two-handed even Western on him most of the time, or he won't gait correctly), balancing equally and shifting my weight to turn.

2. Thanks. It really is a big change....I'm liking it more and more though.

3. I'm still in lessons (my only one thus far was last week, and I'm going again this week hopefully), but I'm working on solidifying the basics of English before I start really jumping and learning cross country.
     
    07-05-2010, 08:11 PM
  #16
Foal
FWIW I was self taught for about 7yo up till I was about 15 - bombing around on ponies bareback. I acquired a velcro bottom and a workmanlike but very sloppy style. Then I did ponyclub for a bit and got a little instruction and worked variously and then rode for a dealers yard (this was not one of the nicer places) and then gave up on horses.
I came back to riding about 15 years ago and, if hunger for knowledge = ability I would be running the Spanish Riding School by now. Sadly this isnt so.
It is certainly possible to be self taught and survive the experience. And, when you are a kid, have a lot of fun with it.
Although I have my own pony I don't have the transport to get to lessons so am kind of in the same boat. I have had the occasional lesson from a local woman and also my friend who is an eventer. I am constantly on the net reading the works of the great riders - most of which goes over my head - and am super super pleased with the feedback I have gotten in the critique section on the forum - not because it is all just praise but because it feels like I have a little company and input re my wish to become a tidy rider.
However, to know that you collapse your hip and shoulder are all very well but to really really improve it's useful to have someone on the ground to remind you when you are doing it.
I guess what I am saying is that, yes, you can self teach but it's the harder road and you wont get as far along it. If you don't mind that then it's ok, but I bet at some point most self taught riders would love to have regular lessons at least for just a while.
     
    07-05-2010, 08:14 PM
  #17
Trained
Amen, MM.

I had lessons at a riding school for about 3/4 years from the age of 5. The horses were like zombies and all I learnt was to stay on at a walk, trot and canter. I becaame a junior staff there when I was about 9, and stopped lessons. I got my first horse at 10.

Since then, I haven't had proper lessons - I'm now 20. My parents are completely non-horsey and I didn't know any horsey people. I joined the local Pony Club.

I had a sh*t of a pony who scared the bejeebers out of me. My dad had to lead me all the way to Pony Club, in tears, and I would STILL fall off that pony. I rode this 11h pony in a big heavy stock saddle made for a fully grown man that I floated around in and that sat all the way back to my ponies rump. We were the definition of novices in over our heads - My parents didn't know how to help, so my 10yo self had to shape up or ship out. Guess what? I did. I sold that pony as a safe kids pony a year or two later.

Numerous horses later, and I am a darn good rider. I'm not a pretty rider, i'm no a classically correct rider, but I am a functional, safe, and effective rider. I haven't gotten on a horse yet that I can't improve. I have had GREAT success competeing - I have bags upon bags of ribbons at home. I won our zone gameing championships 5 years running. I have numerous awards for my riding. I also have begun to instruct at our PC and other places. I was in the state squad for MG 4 times. I have represented my country riding overseas. I ahve done well in just about any discipline you can think of.

Okay, so that wasn't intended as a brag - It IS intended to show that with a bit of determination, guts, and no other option, you CAN each yourself, and do it successfully.

It also requires a good horse - By good, I don't mean well trained - I mean with the right temperament. You need a tolerant horse who won't take advantage of mistakes. Wildey was that horse for me - An 11yo kid with a green broke 5yo Arab by rights should have ended horribly - But he had the temperament, and we were phenominally successful. Of course I made mistakes - He has some bad habits now that he wouldn't have if I could do it over. But I was a kid who liked to go fast (Which kid doesn't!). Despite that, he is an absolute legend of a horse and I have had numerous offers from people wanting to buy him. He is now at a Riding for the Disabled School - not bad for a pony trained entirely by a child.

I still like to figure things out for myself. I see other people doing something cool, and I think 'I want to do that'. So I go home and experiment, try different things, until I hit on one that works.

I get to clinics if I can, and recently had a couple of lessons with a family friend. Lessons to me are more about refining, fine tuning, and cleaning up the picture. The basics I can do myself. I honestly don't care what I look like when riding - But if I am functional enough to stay on top of my horse chansing after cattle in rough country or doing Mounted games flat out, and still get what I want from my horse, then I am happy.

Funnily enough, even though i'm not a pretty rider, I have won quite a few rider classes (Like equitation classes).

*

There is a massive dependance on instructors and trainers in the US. It is almost blasphemy to be competeing without a trainer. It is really bizarre to me, as it is so different to here in Australia.

Here, most kids don't have trainers. They are too expensive and often not available in many areas. We get used to relying on ourselves and other horsey friends. Not one of my riding friends has lessons or a trainer.

When I first joined this forum I thought it was absurd how most threads had the response 'Get a trainer!' - it just isn't what we do here. It still rankles a bit when I hear people being told they can't succeed without a trainer. It is very 'elitist'.
     
    07-05-2010, 08:15 PM
  #18
Trained
I also want to note that I didn't watch DVD's or read books - I just listened to my horse. There is nothing a book or DVD can tell you that you can't learn from your horse.
     
    07-05-2010, 08:23 PM
  #19
Weanling
I never took lessons when I started horseback riding. My dad knew how to ride so I got the basics from him. I would recomed horse camp or lessons for a strong foundation. If you ride around at show too, you can get advice from others around you who know how to ride. Sometimes I will go to a trainer for advice and have them critique me, but I don't take formal lessons. I do recomend them but I never took them and I turned out fine...
     
    07-05-2010, 08:29 PM
  #20
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by ponyboy    
You mean they were completely alone with no one else around who knew how to ride? I thought cowboys usually work in groups.
I had watched a documentary where cowboys were given wild horses, had to break the horses to ride and then learn to ride on their own with their new horses. Not sure how much of that actually happened back in the day, but all cowboys had to start somewhere whether they were taught how to ride or not!
     

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