Lessons and Applicable Horse Riding Skills - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-07-2014, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Lessons and Applicable Horse Riding Skills

I saw someone mention in regards to trail rides, how they need applicable horse riding skills. Such as, knowing how to stop a horse that has bolted, or how to get a horse to get over a "spooky" thing in the bushes.

They don't teach you things in lessons, or at least, not in my lesson taking experience.

Most of what I got in the typical lessons is how to improve my seat, posture, and well, how to better my general riding in the three gaits. Going on trails, I had to use a lot more skills to keep the ride safe and enjoyable for everyone.

So, because of this line of thinking, it made me kind of wonder about the validity of lessons, in my own personal experience. What I have concluded is, if I need to work on my seat, posture or what not, trails are good experience for this for practice. And if I want to up my experience level in a more classical, or refined way (such as going into a specific discipline: ex: Dressage) I would desire lessons.

What are your thoughts?
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post #2 of 17 Old 04-07-2014, 01:03 PM
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I agree with you. Though, I can't imagine working with any new rider and not teaching those basic skills.

Good form on the rider's part is necessary for both types of riders. Knowing how to stop one that bolts, how to ride through balking or spooking is, too.
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post #3 of 17 Old 04-07-2014, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Deschutes View Post
I saw someone mention in regards to trail rides, how they need applicable horse riding skills. Such as, knowing how to stop a horse that has bolted, or how to get a horse to get over a "spooky" thing in the bushes.

They don't teach you things in lessons, or at least, not in my lesson taking experience.
Aaannd this is why school horses should not be perfectly behaved robots. I can honestly say the lessons I took in the "good old days" DID prepare me for spooking and bolting (and many other things lol). Just about every horse had its bad habits and that's the way it should be. In the real world, sh!t happens, and the best way to be prepared is to ride horses that do bad things but are predictable about it.
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post #4 of 17 Old 04-08-2014, 12:47 AM
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Whether it's a friend, parent, or instructor that teaches you, I think it is important to be able to walk, trot, canter/lope, steer, and hold your seat before going out on trails, especially if you are going alone. This applies whether it is your own horse, if you are leasing, or if you are renting from a stable for a one time ride. I think trails are a great place to improve these skills, but it is important to know the basics first. It's hard to teach what to do if a horse spins or bolts, because this rarely happens in a lesson situation, but I feel an instructor should at least demonstrate what to do if it happens.

To ride or not to ride.....What a silly question!
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post #5 of 17 Old 04-08-2014, 01:20 AM
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Not having taken lessons, above a beginner riding course, I am a bit biased against needing lessons. If you feel comfortable and confident on the horse then I say got out, ride, and learn as you go. That is what I have been doing. There is something very satisfying about teaching yourself how to ride. You can find videos and tutorials online to do just about anything.

Make sure you do know how to stop a horse who bolts before going out alone though. Look up "one rein stop" and practice it when your horse is calm and relaxed.

"There is there until a man gets there then it ain't there it's here and here is what you wanted to get away from in the first place." -A.B. Gunthrie, Jr.
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post #6 of 17 Old 04-08-2014, 09:51 AM
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Improving your posture, your seat and being able to handle the three basic gaits are what allows you to handle a spooky horse or one that bolts. A good instructor will cover the what ifs and unless the horses are dead head, follow the leader, been there done that and won't be expected to encounter new things eventually you would likely use those skills. I like that my son's instructor rotates horses weekly for each rider and each horse has their own unique skill set it teaches. Besides arena/ring work and riding the jump course, she has obstacle courses and adds/subtracts things so the horses and riders experience new and different challenges some of which are spooky. The kids also go on trail rides as part of their lesson at various points.There is nothing wrong with learning to ride on a good safe trail horse on a good safe trail. If you have someone willing to ride with you that is experienced and can help you if needed as well as provide pointers then there is no reason to jump into lessons but lessons can build confidence and give you a wider range of experience to take out on the trail. What I wouldn't advise no matter how safe the trail or horse is riding alone until you have the experience to cope with trail emergencies and are prepared for in the events.
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post #7 of 17 Old 04-08-2014, 11:57 AM
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FWIW, the lessons I took for 4-5 months never mentioned anything about how to deal with a spooking, bolting horse. They were good lessons in many ways, but were poor preparation for trail riding. I also reject the idea that trail riding is simple. It can be, with some horses. It can also be a tremendous challenge, depending on the horse, the rider & the trail. I loathe the "just a trail horse" mentality!

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #8 of 17 Old 04-08-2014, 01:57 PM
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I so agree with you, bsms. Trail riding may be easy on a dead broke horse, especially if you are on a 'nose to tail' trail ride with a group. Riding out with my horse, especially alone, is a totally different story and there is nothing easy about it.

I had some basic lessons a few years ago where I learned to stop, steer, etc., and I also had lessons with a natural horsemanship trainer, who taught me a lot about understanding horses and their behaviors. It does help on the trail, but I was - and am - still unprepared for a lot of things that happen. My plan is to take additional lessons once my horse has healed from his injury.

The harder you fall, the higher you bounce.
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post #9 of 17 Old 04-09-2014, 03:43 AM
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IMHO I wouldn't suggest online tutorials on one rein stops because it can be really dangerous if not done correctly. I like another posters suggestion of riding a horse with a predictable "spook trigger" once you start taking lessons again.

When riding trails, you never know what kind of situation you can get into where your horse will bolt, spin, buck, rear Soo many possibilities!!! Sounds cliche but I always suggest that it's best to ride with a trail buddy even after you learn control of your horse in emergency situations. For juuuuust in case. Safety first! ;) happy trails!
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-09-2014, 04:32 AM
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This is why, when I am first teaching novices, I will have them out on the trails as soon as possible on well trained horses. Children on the lead.

There was a girls boarding school that rode with us when I first started work. A new Japanese, senior girl started to ride and she was good. There was not much I could tell her when in the arena.
We went for a rode on the beach and she was riding a good but strong horse. She was totally perplexed because she had little in the brake area! She said that she was sitting and pushing him into the bridle but all he did was go!
Turns out she had been riding for years but only ever in an arena.
She soon got the hang of riding a horse that wanted to go in the open (the horses all knew where they had to stop but some going from A - B wanted to do it fast.)
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