I have posted here a bit over the last few days. My story begins as an adult with a lifelong love of horses but little experience. At 30 I started some lessons with a lady who put me on a stallion and screamed at me about pilot error for an hour a week. And yes, I paid for this treatment..
Moving on to a different coach, I was convinced to buy a horse sight unseen from 600 km away. This horse was trained to barrel race and I am naturally anxious. Funny how hindsight makes things so much clearer. The horse bolted on me on a trail, I hung on by one rein, but lost all trust in horses for 10 or so years.
Gave up a few years, then tried again - buying a yearling to 'grow up' with. Well, this didn't work out either as I wasn't consistent in lessons and got off any horse that made me nervous. Sold that gorgeous horse to a friend who is doing wonderful things with her.
Went to University, got a Masters and now working on a PhD. Had no time for horses until last Spring. Decided to use my smarts to research my best plan to re-enter the horse world. Actually went and got references, visited barns, watched lessons, emailed instructors and tested out a few. I realized that this is MY choice, and that I needed to find what works best for me. Some coaches chat with other people as you are riding, some take phone calls on their cells. Some assume you know basics, and some actually listen and come up with a plan for you.
A friend had a solid haflinger for lease, and even though I had gained weight over the years she assured me that the mare would help me. I can't stress enough how much that little mare helped me grow. I did lessons on her with a coach who taught me how to distribute my weight, posture, position, and BASIC communication with my horse. Noone had taken this approach with me before. I learned to use multiple aids to steer and maintain control.. opening the way and inviting the mare to go the way I wished rather than just pulling her that way with the reins.
I learned from that mare than horses are not all evil creatures destined to kill me. She was kind and so slow that I had to learn to carry a whip, but she learned quickly that I meant business so the whip was never used, just a reminder.
The mare eventually became too slow for where I wanted to go, so I moved to a different barn where I met yet another amazing coach. Patient, understanding, and not afraid to challenge me to attempt new things. Everything that I should have found back in the beginning. 12 years of experience that I could have avoided if I had done my homework back in the day, and not just jumped into things like a dweeb.
Moral of the story is to follow your instincts. I should have. I never felt safe with my early lessons because I was never taught how to sit and balance properly. Riding a stallion who snapped at me when I tried to brush him down, and then getting caught up in the frenzy of showing in AQHA to the point of buying the first flashy horse I could afford.
My next step - saving up to buy the absolute horse of my dreams. I know there are good cheap horses out there, but in some cases you get what you pay for. I'm 42, have weight and confidence issues, and I want a horse to grow old with.