Should I try a different lesson barn? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-13-2013, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Should I try a different lesson barn?

I will give some info about my riding abilities first.

I have been riding since I was 8 years old. I walked and trotted at a barn in England for 2 years, took a year break and then moved to the states and took up western riding for 2 years. Then I took a break and started up lessons consistently since then. So I've ridden a total of around 11 years. Most of that instruction was iffy at best. I had a lot of confidence being on push button horses up until the past 4 nearly 5 years, where my confidence was tested.

I learned how to canter 3 years ago; I did lope some when I did western lessons but I was literally just hanging onto the horn for dear life.. no idea what I was doing.

So I can walk and trot well, canter pretty well, I've started to do some lateral movements and tried jumping once.

The problem I am facing is that my position has gone to crap. I used to always ride with a flat relaxed back, now it is really archy and stiff. My arms have become too poised due to the barn I was at previously, where I was expected to have them bent at 90 degrees and about 7 inches above the withers.

My ankles have always been really turned out but they're getting better. My posting is pretty good. My seat at the canter is fine.. but overall I don't feel I'm riding effectively.

The horse at the current place I am at, who I always happen to be on, knows his stuff but he does not accept contact. The instructor says he is like that with everyone..but then why am I learning more advanced things on him then when he isn't working properly?

I pay 65NZD for a group lesson (they don't over privates) and I have learned a lot, but I'm worried that I'm learning things that will not help me in the long run. She is fine with me using my elbows at the walk but wants me to lock them at the canter (????) I ride with two whips (talk about confusing) but never use them.

Should I try to find another barn that has horses that I am able to ride that accept contact if the rider is using themselves properly? Should I stick around? Should I ask to ride a different horse?

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #2 of 15 Old 06-13-2013, 11:13 PM
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I'm not sure I would want to pay money to learn on a horse who doesn't even accept contact. Unless this instructor has a different horse she can put you on, maybe it is time to look around for a better fit. Sounds like you have doubts about what she's doing with your position too. When in doubt, trust your gut.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-13-2013, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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I've called and asked the barn help if they'd put me on a different horse tomorrow. Also contacted another barn about trying a lesson with them, but haven't heard from them yet.

Thanks for your opinion :)

And yeah... a dressage teacher ignoring the training scale isn't a good sign.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-13-2013, 11:28 PM
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Your elbows should move at the canter to match the horses movement.

If your elbows don't open and close at the canter (following the head) then the horse rams into the bit every time he extends his neck for the stride. This disrupts his freedom of movement. She is teaching you how to -not- follow the motion. I'd ask her what her theory is on why she is askin for locked elbows.

You shouldn't have to ride with two whips. Typically, the whip is used to reinforce the leg aids and is positioned on the inside (left hand if going to the left, vice versa). The inside hind leg of the horse is the weight bearing leg when the horse pushes from the hind end. The whip is used to reinforce the impulsion of the inside hind when the horse doesn't respond to you leg aids.

That last paragraph may have some people disagreeing but that's always what I've been taught and have used the theory successfully.

When you switch directions, you simply switch hands. No need to carry two whips and gum up your hands with too much to hold.

If you feel that what you are being taught is probably wrong, it might be time to move on.
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-13-2013, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
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I've asked her twice and she says something like "it encourages the horse to bob their head which you don't want. It was found that the horses don't like when people pump their arms"

Which is still questionable.. maybe I'm pumping too much? I'm trying to make it muscle memory and also give enough rein to the horse since she has me have the reins so short (literally halfway up his neck)


The only reason I'm sticking around is because I have so much more confidence when the horse gets faster. I can handle a canter now, where before I couldn't. But maybe I should see if that confidence travels with me to the next barn.

Thanks for the replies. It's very awkward riding with one whip...let alone two. I don't even use them but I am 'in trouble' if I don't carry them.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-13-2013, 11:59 PM
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I'm guessing she wants the horse up off the forehand? Or is trying to achieve this... I'm not sure. A horse needs freedom to move. The only reason I could think of that she is having you lock your arms at the canter is so the horse rams into the bit and keeps him from falling down onto the forehand.

Not the correct way to teach him to carry himself. This is done through half halts to rebalance and bring him up. He has a habit of avoiding contact so maybe she feels that if you don't open your elbows, he won't dare extend his neck down and he'll rock himself up to avoid hitting the bit.

That's just a bad sign all around.

There are many places that can give you the confidence you need to continue riding. From what you're describing, she's not teaching you correctly and that's why you are taking lessons - to learn how to correctly ride.

P.S. I wonder who "found" that horses don't prefer freedom of gait?
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Last edited by Copperhead; 06-14-2013 at 12:04 AM.
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-14-2013, 01:16 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah I'm not sure.. I tried to ask further but she started getting upset and then had us move into the canter again so I had to focus on when she says "canter"...the horse I ususally ride will do exactly that. He is VERY WELL verbally trained (which kind of sucks at times!)

I'll update you all on Monday about how it went..

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-14-2013, 03:46 AM
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Yup I'd definately be moving on if there's something else suitable around.
But I'd also look at having a chat with her about what she wants to work on with you and where you want to go with your riding. Not during a group lesson though.
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-14-2013, 04:27 AM
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I would be looking to see what other options you have out there - a bad instructor can limit your development and your confidence, the same with a badly suited horse.

Horses lend us the wings we lack;

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post #10 of 15 Old 06-14-2013, 11:33 AM
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Having a look around for a place that has more suitable lesson horses probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

The "lock your elbows" thing make complete sense to me, because I am one of those riders who tends to be too soft and following with my arms, which provides little to no support to the horse and makes them more inconsistent in the bridle because there's no steady contact from me. I really have to think about "glueing my elbows to my sides" and keeping still during the canter, and when I get it right, wow, what a difference! So while it's not something an instructor should go around telling everyone, I definitely understand why one would say something like that in certain instances to try get a point across!
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Last edited by albertaeventer; 06-14-2013 at 11:37 AM.
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