Yikes, I didn't realize how long it had been since I have posted! :0
My First Lesson
It pretty much took me all winter to find somewhere to ride that really wasn't too far away. 2 of my daughters had taken lessons when they were teens, but that place was no longer giving lessons for some reason. I found a western ranch right down the road, and though I contacted them, never heard from them. I have since found out that due to deaths in the family, they are no longer operating as a "ranch". I had seen so many ads on Craigslist for places closer to the city, that I decided I would try to advertise looking for lessons, with my location.
I received a few replies(and lots of spam, ugh). One was a young girl, who hadn't been giving lessons for too long. She wasn't too far away, and was willing to give me lessons. I tentatively scheduled a day with her.
I then received an email, telling me that so and so, about 15 minutes from me gave both English and Western lessons. I contacted him by email, and we went back and forth for a few days, when I finally called him. We had a great conversation, I told him I was looking for lessons now, and looking to buying my own horse within a year. He tells me that lessons are expensive these days, and that he is the cheapest in the area.
So, I set up a time to go have my first lesson. I was ecstatic! Finally, finally, it was going to happen! I had visions in my head of me, in the not too distant future, cantering my horse through the peaceful apple orchards, and woods where we live, with Lake Ontario in the background.
On the appointed day, I drove over to where my lesson was. I drove up to the house, and drove by because I was early. Then I pulled in the driveway.
The first inkling that I had that things were not good, was when we went down some steps to the stall area of a very old barn(hey, I love old barns, but this one was none too steady looking). As soon as we hit the floor, I noticed 2 things: 1. There was a good sized stream running through the middle of the walkway, out the door and appeared to have been deviated from the corral to who knows where. 2. While there were, I think, 4 stalls, 2 were full of “stuff”, obviously not having been used in a while. Okay, well he explained that this underground stream just came up from out of nowhere the past couple of weeks and he had been trying to get rid of it. Ok, so these things happen. We talked for a little bit, then he went and got the horse I was going to ride, brought him in the barn and saddled him up. Because there was not room for 2 horses in there, when he took him out and tied him up outside. This horse was a 5 year old, which made me a little nervous. I always thought lesson horses were at least in their teens! He then brought in the horse he was going to ride. (I have never heard of an instructor riding a horse during someone’s lesson before, but what do I know?) As I made a move to the side of her to hold out my hand, he said, “she’s a nipper”, just as she stuck her head out to “nip” me. What she really was, was a biter, apparently including skin with whatever else she could grab. Okay, so I’m not scared, let’s just see what happens here. We get outside, and I ask where his other horses are. So, he has me get up on the horse(I’m thrilled here, it’s the first time in years and years! ) and leads me down a long drive to the back pasture, so I can see where the other horses are. It’s a beautiful day, the birds are singing, and I’m on a horse. Everything’s good, except for maybe having to duck under the only low branch on the way there, and having to deal with a jog on the way back! We look at the horses, go back to the corral, start some obstacle course exercises- cool. Then his cell phone rings. For 10 minutes I am going around and around barrels(when I can get the horse to move that is) while this guys on the phone. I’m looking around too, and it’s then that I notice all the junk in the corral. Mostly on the sides, but there is a tree in the middle and stuff piled around it. I just felt a little unsafe, knowing that all those items were not supposed to be in the ring with us. I start to get some uneasy feelings, but again, what do I know, it’s been years since I’ve taken any lessons. And, of course I was off in la-la land the whole time, lol! When this guy isn’t on the phone, he is either talking away at me(but not necessarily about riding), which makes me feel like I have to stop what I am doing to listen to him, not that I am doing much anyways as the horse, just really does not want to move forward much. I understand that the horse may possibly be trying to see if I am a leader or a follower, but after a while I realize- hey I have not been on a horse in 25 years, I could use a little help trying to figure out what to do. So, at the end of the “lesson” I get that really what the guy wants is someone to trail ride with every day, and kind of teach along the way. I am disappointed, because I was looking for a little more formality, I guess. But I haven’t found anywhere else to take lessons, so I make an appointment for next week, same time. When I get home, I have my husband and my oldest grand daughter telling me that since the RI is so inexpensive and relaxed about things, that they want to come and take lessons there with me. Uh, no. That’s when I woke up. I understand that some horse people are poor(that will be me, the horse will come first, small pastures to start, save up, add on, etc..), but I just feel like the place could be cleaner, and much safer. My own safety is one thing, my family members an entirely different story. The matter is taken out of my hands however, as I receive several phone calls, emails and texts over the weekend from this guy telling me he is going into the hospital for emergency surgery for separated spinal disks that happened when his horse threw him just days before. I sent him a text telling him to get better soon, but never went back there again to ride. I had made a horrible mistake with just my first look for a lesson barn. I should have spent more time looking around, and maybe gone to this place for a visit before riding the first time. Oh well, a lesson learned, and next time up- I finally find a GOOD riding instructor!