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Starting Lessons At A New Barn

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    07-14-2013, 07:10 PM
  #1
Foal
Starting Lessons At A New Barn

Hi everyone!
I have a few questions about starting lessons at a new barn.
To start with I will give you a quick backstory on me.

I have always been interested in horses and horseback riding but because riding has always been too expensive for my family.

In total I have probably taken two years worth of lessons spread out over my 22 years. Mostly saddleseat with some western through a college class. But I am currently helping out at the barn my college uses as a stable hand and exercise rider.

After some encouragement from a friend in the college class, I have decided to start taking lessons at a hunter/jumper barn.

Now I have never taken hunter/jumper lessons and am a bit (ok, a lot) nervous of starting. I have been "creeping" this board for awhile and found everyone here to be very helpful and knowledgeable so I figured this would be a good place to ask my questions!

1) I use breeches and paddock boots at the college barn and do not own a pair of half chaps yet because I have not been able to find a pair I like (I am still looking). Do you think it will be ok to show up in just my paddock boots, breeches, and a polo?

2) Does anyone have any tips for switching to hunter/jumper from saddleseat?

My friend who rides at this barn described it as informal and keeps telling me not to worry about the first day.

Thank you so much for your help.
     
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    07-14-2013, 07:21 PM
  #2
Weanling
Wear what you are comfortable in and is safe for riding (no loose strings or jewelry, etc). Paddock boots and breeches will be just fine. That's what I ride in all the time. I'm in the same boat as you, trying to find half chaps I actually like (and are in my budget!). Don't forget your helmet!!!

My other bit of advice........ breathe! Lol. Sorry to make fun of it, but the more nervous you are, the harder it will be to concentrate and have fun. And that is what horses are all about - fun and good times! You may be concerned that this barn is 'uppity' or more formal than you are used to, but horse people are horse people deep down, and as long as you get along with the horses, you'll be fine with the people (getting along with the horses matters more anyway, in my opinion, lol).

I lease a horse at a morgan barn where saddleseat and equitation style riding are prevelant. I would think you'll find that 'pretty perfect rider' poise not focused on quite as much with hunter jumpers. You'll learn a more forward seat way of riding i'm sure.

Let us know how your first lesson goes :)
     
    07-14-2013, 08:48 PM
  #3
Foal
Thank you so much for your response!

That's great to hear about the half chaps! I was worried I'd have to run out to the tack store (2 hours away) to find a pair. I'm so picky about finding cheap yet durable things for riding.

I'm really careful about always having my helmet with me. It's stored in the same box as my paddock boots so I never forget it!

I'm the queen at forgetting to breathe! If I had a dollar for every time a coach has had to scream at me to breath I would be set for life.

I'll be sure to check back in here after the lesson!
     
    07-14-2013, 10:50 PM
  #4
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by ABookworm    
Hi everyone!
I have a few questions about starting lessons at a new barn.
To start with I will give you a quick backstory on me.

I have always been interested in horses and horseback riding but because riding has always been too expensive for my family.

In total I have probably taken two years worth of lessons spread out over my 22 years. Mostly saddleseat with some western through a college class. But I am currently helping out at the barn my college uses as a stable hand and exercise rider.

After some encouragement from a friend in the college class, I have decided to start taking lessons at a hunter/jumper barn.

Now I have never taken hunter/jumper lessons and am a bit (ok, a lot) nervous of starting. I have been "creeping" this board for awhile and found everyone here to be very helpful and knowledgeable so I figured this would be a good place to ask my questions!

1) I use breeches and paddock boots at the college barn and do not own a pair of half chaps yet because I have not been able to find a pair I like (I am still looking). Do you think it will be ok to show up in just my paddock boots, breeches, and a polo?

2) Does anyone have any tips for switching to hunter/jumper from saddleseat?

My friend who rides at this barn described it as informal and keeps telling me not to worry about the first day.

Thank you so much for your help.
Your riding gear is absolutely fine for riding. I think you're going to look very nice with a polo, very professional.
     
    07-14-2013, 10:55 PM
  #5
Showing
Congrats on riding lessons :)

Your attire is fine. I rode without half chaps my entire riding career lol.. just don't need them. However for shows you would or just go with tall boots, either or. You aren't at that point yet so no worries.

If you wanted to look even more polished, a nice belt would be a good idea too but it isn't required.
     
    07-15-2013, 10:56 PM
  #6
Foal
You sound just like me! Same age, same situation lol!
I only ride in paddock boots and breeches too, i've never worn half chaps but I might get some now that i'm at a new barn.

My advice for switching disciplines is to pay attention to your trainer and let them know your concerns. In hunter/jumper you'll be more forward seat instead of center seat so if you don't already know two-point position look up some youtube videos to get an idea of what you'll be asked to do. I started out in dressage and did some western before I switched... hunter/jumper is definitely where it's at!
     
    07-16-2013, 06:57 PM
  #7
Foal
Thank you so much to everyone who replied! *hugs*

I had my first lesson today and I think it went pretty well.
It was a basic walk/trot/canter lesson, but it was a great introduction to the barn and the trainer!

We rode in the outdoor arena, which made me nervous because there was a heat index of 100 today. I called before I left but was told that lessons would still be going on despite the heat.

What I liked was that when I tacked up some of the barn girls helped. They were able to show me how things are done at the barn and where everything is. They also let boarders ride in the ring at the same time as lessons which helped with learning how to ride in a crowd.

I'm definitely going to return for another lesson next week!

What I need to remember for next week is to bring water with me into the arena. I got way too overheated when I was cooling the horse down and got dizzy. Talk about an embarrassing first day, having to ask the barn girls to help you untack so you can recover!


I don't know if this is common but after the lesson I realize that my prior instruction in riding may not have been the best. (I also thought this after my college riding class)

I do have a few questions before my next lesson.
I'm pretty sure it's my saddleseat past but my trainer kept having to remind me to grip with my lower leg. Are there any tips to help me remember?

Also, at the canter I felt like I was getting too much "airtime" and having my foot slide forward in the stirrup. My trainer said me canter looked good (other than my feet sliding). Did it just feel strange because I'm so used to gaited horses? I'm not sure if it's different.

Once again, thank you so much!
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    07-16-2013, 07:58 PM
  #8
Weanling
A lot of your 'riding style' will be connected to what you have been taught so far, eg saddleseat. Prepare for some learning curve :)

For gripping with the lower leg, I find it helpful to chant in your head (or out loud if you don't mind the funny looks, lol) "hug the horse, hug the horse". That is essentially what you want to be doing, gently hugging the horse with your legs. You don't want a tight grip with the lower leg, as that will, in my experience, push you out of the saddle more, as well as may confuse your horse - leg means go, or go faster.

As for cantering, it very well could have been the smooth gaited horse canter you are used to, and now a normal canter seems rather 'ejectable', lol. Learn to move with the horse's movement, without pumping your hips every stride. You'll get the hang of it!

Your foot sliding forward in the stirrup tells me you are not sinking your weight into your heels. My instructors used to tell me to pretend I had a heavy weight pulling my heel down, and that helped a lot. Don't push your toes up, sink your heels down. Pushing toes up will just make your leg get out of position. 'hugging with the lower leg' will help this too, IMO.

Glad to hear your first ride went well, minus the heat induced dizziness.
     
    07-16-2013, 08:03 PM
  #9
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by ABookworm    
I'm pretty sure it's my saddleseat past but my trainer kept having to remind me to grip with my lower leg. Are there any tips to help me remember?

Also, at the canter I felt like I was getting too much "airtime" and having my foot slide forward in the stirrup. My trainer said me canter looked good (other than my feet sliding). Did it just feel strange because I'm so used to gaited horses? I'm not sure if it's different.

Once again, thank you so much!
These are connected. You don't grip.. you relax and allow your weight to sink down.

Horses are like a bar of soap. If you grip, you're going to get a LOT of airtime. The harder you squeeze, the bigger the airtime!

Also I was going to mention bringing a water bottle.. I drink a crazy amount after my riding lessons, or riding in general.
     
    07-16-2013, 08:58 PM
  #10
Yearling
Hello and welcome! :)

Glad to hear that your first lesson went well! Definitely bring a bottle of water next time and don't be shy to ask for a quick break if you ever feel dizzy or disoriented.

I hope your next lesson goes just as well! (Without the dizziness)
     

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