Frustrated with Slow Progress - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 9 Old 02-21-2013, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Frustrated with Slow Progress

I'm a beginner rider (learning to canter). I've been taking lessons every other week (except in the winter) for a while now (three years?), and this winter I've been exercising horses at a therapeutic riding barn once a week.
As happy as I am to be riding period, I feel like I'm stuck. I am not a naturally talented rider, and I need a lot of repetition before I am sufficient at something and can move on to another goal (I'm the same way in school, with art, and with music). Even riding once a week, I feel like I'm not progressing. I see some people who learn to walk/trot/canter/jump with just a weekly Saturday afternoon lesson, and I'm like, I've been trotting for two years now...
So, what's wrong with me? Am I not taking enough lessons often enough, even though other people are far ahead of me with the same amount of riding time?
I haven't seen my instructor since the beginning of the winter. Is this something I should mention to her? I don't want to seem ungrateful, because she has stuck with me for so long and hasn't also become frustrated with me. I just don't understand why I don't progress.
Has anyone else had experience with something like this?
Thanks in advance!

A horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you may not like what you see. - Buck Brannaman
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-21-2013, 04:11 PM
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People progress at all levels and I can understand your frustration: I seem to be stuck where I am too.

But my question to you is how much do you challenge yourself? I have seen people who refuse to challenge themselves and that leads to.... And I don't mean hell-bent-for-leather challenge, but do you go outside your comfort zone?

Sometimes improving comes from a willingness to be somewhat uncomfortable. And this might help you, an idea from my instructor: the next level attempted allows one to master the previous level. For instance in mathematics, usually learning algebra makes one's arithmetic better, learning calculus improves one's calculus, and so and so forth.

The same thing is true for both horses and riders. The challenging level improves the level below.

Hope this helps.:)
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-21-2013, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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I'm pretty self motivated, but I do struggle with fear of the unknown sometimes. Great insight on challenging myself; thanks for your advice! :) I'll keep it in mind the next time I ride

A horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you may not like what you see. - Buck Brannaman
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-21-2013, 04:23 PM
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Sometimes you have an instructor that you just can't progress with. It's not that they are bad, it's just you've reached your peak with them or the end of their knowledge.

Sometimes it helps to try a different instructor to see what they have to offer you.. kind of like trying a different horse as each one is different.

I am lucky to ride sometimes at a barn where the instructor changes, as does the horse. This way I am always challenged.. it's not a walk in the park or same ol same ol. Even when I had my own horse, I was constantly challenged because of the instruction I was getting at the time.

Also why are you comparing yourself to other riders? That puts you on the path to self-destructive thoughts. Not natural? Beginner? Slow progress?

Hello! Everyone has their own learning pace. Doesn't make someone better than the other individual. It's all in your head..

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-21-2013, 04:34 PM
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I am with Sky, trying another instructor never hurts. I spent 10 years with one instructor, went to a new one another every other week and learned 100 times more new things in the six lessons I took at the new barn. Mind you I've had to quit lessons now so I am probably terrible.

If your not progressing your instructor may not know how to push you, another may do a better job. And theres nothing wrong with being cautious.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-23-2013, 01:08 PM
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IF you are making progress, it means you are advancing your kill. But becoming good at any physical endeavor is supposed to take 10,000 hours. That means in a year you are riding 50 hours, and half are lessons. When I was really on a quest to improve my riding (changing from one seat to another) I rode 10-12 hours a day (when not in school and about 3+ a day when I was). That means 1200-21000 a year, depending.

So, what are you 'stuck' on. It is not just practice/repetition which is needed but PERFECTING/replacing behaviors within EACH ride. Very few people are 'naturally talented', it is much better to be a (have a) student with a WORK ETHIC. A big part of becoming a better rider is independent balance, that is why years ago riders at the spanish riding school were on a lunge line for 2-3 years before being allowed to pick up the reins.

For h/j you need to spend a LOT Of time learning an independent seat/riding with and without stirrups/doing a LOT of two point to become stable (in all three gaits).

IF you havent seen your instructor for months then how are you doing lessons?

Generally speaking: make a PLAN and work the PLAN. If you don't have $$ for lessons, offer to do work to pay for them.

Last edited by equitate; 02-23-2013 at 01:16 PM.
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post #7 of 9 Old 02-24-2013, 08:12 PM
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Is your instructor asking different things of you each lesson, or is every lesson the same? While initially, an instructor who takes things slow and steady is good for a beginner, at some point they need to start challenging you. I took weekly lessons at one barn where we did the same thing every week. While I was also just happy to be riding, I didn't learn squat. It wasn't until I started leasing horses and switching instructors that my skills started to develop.
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You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-24-2013, 09:32 PM
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I would suggest that you need to be riding more then once a week if you want to improve. Riding once a week there is no way for your body to develop the muscles and muscle memory that are required to ride well.

Also, have you questioned your instructor as to why thy think your not progressing? It could be that your body language is telling him/her that your nervous or unsure and so they are not pushing you.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-24-2013, 09:54 PM
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I agree with the need to step outside of the comfort range. For some people, they need another person to kind of "push"them to do this. You might ask your instructor to push you a bit more.

For example, lunge lessons. Or trail rides. Try seeing if you can trailer a hrose out to a new location. Try a bareback ride. Everytime you do something like that you become more willing to push outward again.

Also, a lot of times a person will hit plateaus. About the time you notice you are on one, you often step up to the next level.

Don't fret, just take a big breath and go make a good challenge for yourself.
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