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maisie 11-11-2011 10:21 AM

3 Instructors - different experiences?
Hi, I'm a 50-something re-rider (as in I rode in my teens) and now take 3 lessons a week. I started a year ago. Weekday lessons are here in NYC at a busy barn. These are "private" 1/2 hours in an arena with 2 or 3 other lessons going, plus maybe a private owner schooling their fancy horse at a higher level. I'm nervous about cantering with maybe 5 other horses being ridden by different levels of riders, doing different paces in different parts of the ring. Of my two instructors, one is easy going and I manage short canters, the other is intense (and a more serious equestrian) and I don't get a canter going without trying repeatedly and being lectured. :-| My 3rd lesson is outside the city on weekends and I am by myself. I can canter successfully and am even learning how to support my mount around turns (like me, she's a bit stiff).

I know that I'm overly sensitive to criticism no matter what the circumstances and it affects my performance. That's my weakness. Should I tough it out with Intense Instructor (I like her personally), or at my level should I work on building my skills and stick with the two teachers with whom I feel most successful? My ultimate goal is to become a competant and humane general rider - and provide a good home for a decent horse. My immediate goal is to be successful in introductory dressage.

Sharpie 11-11-2011 11:00 AM

I really like that you have both immediate and long term goals! Too many people have no idea what they want to get out of lessons. Do you think that your tougher instructor is helping you? Do you think of the suggestions and pointers she gives at your other lessons when you're working? If yes, I would stick with it. Otoh, do you finish up those lessons feeling like a failure and wondering why you are bothering? If it's bad like that, it's not worth it.

Just as there is a horse for everyone out there, there are different instructors out there and sometimes teaching and learning styles just don't mesh. I have had that happen, even when I liked the instructor personally, and I think most of them are understanding about it. Think on it and how you react and learn from each different instructor and decide on what is best for you and meeting your goals.

catsandhorses 11-11-2011 11:07 AM

First, will you tell me where you ride in NYC?? I used to ride at Claremont but it is closed now. And another place in Queens.

Your coach should be instructing you, not criticising you. Which do you perceive she is doing? And are you learning more or less skills with intense coach than with nice coach?

I think building confidence is such an important part of riding and a coach needs to adjust to your level of sensitivity. Of course they shouldn't let you get away with bad habits, because ultimately you want to ride safely. But if a coach is making the lesson unpleasant for you then it may be time to have a chat with your coach to let her know that you respond better to a more relaxed environment. IF she cannot adjust and you are not enjoying lesson with her then I'd say it is time to move on. Life is too short.

As for riding with a group, you have been riding for a year now and should be feeling fairly comfortable by now in an arena with other riders. Again, have you talked to your coaches about your concerns? Have they explained the "traffic" rules so you know how to safely pass other riders? Do you know the other riders so you can communicate comfortably with them when you need to pass...or do you at least know how to communicate your intentions? Ex: "Heads up, please. Cantering the center poles."

Lastly, I'm not following the order of your goals. I am an experienced, competent rider. I know squat about dressage...unless I'm doing some dressage without knowing it but I highly doubt that. :) Certainly dressage can help you become a better "general" rider! I'm hoping to gain some skills in this area myself to improve my overall riding. Maybe you need to approach riding with the ultimate goal of being a balanced, competency, comfortable rider and then have your coaches help you determine the best way to get there. (Apologies if this last paragraph is confusing.)

Saskia 11-11-2011 01:16 PM

I do kind of understand where you are coming from re. riding with others. Whenever there are other people in the arena I avoid riding there. I don't know why, I know the rules and nothing happens, but I feel as though I am invading, or I just feel uncomfortable. I can certainly do it, I just prefer not to.

I would think that the best choice would be to not have that instructor. You're noticing a difference in your abilities, where even at the same place, you ride better with one instructor and worse with the other. To me, this is a clear indication that the other instructor is not good for you. In lessons you are meant to ride better, but instead you are riding worse.

Confidence is very important when you're riding, and if this instructor makes you feel less capable and confident, the horse is going to pick up on that and not go as well.

maisie 11-11-2011 07:23 PM

Thanks, each of your viewpoints is very helpful. I'll think hard about what I'm learning with my intense instructor. She has taught me some great things in past months and I came back to her after a hiatus where I only worked with the calm one, just because I wanted the challenge. I'll also try to get her to understand that her manner makes me nervous & that hurts my performance. (Honestly, often I can't even hear her over the others & that's even more frustrating).

I do know most of the students and can tell who's less advanced or more advanced. I'm just not confident navigating through other horses at a canter. I'm still concentrating on my seat & legs and keeping my horse in the gait around turns, etc. Seems like everyone's riding the quarter line, cutting through the arena to avoid someone or riding a small circle at one end and you've got to plot a path through like merging in traffic. Also, there are several horses you've got to stay away from.

C&H, I ride at Riverdale Equestrian Center in Van Cordtland Park (Bronx). They have well-qualified instructors and take excellent care of their lesson horses. As for Introductory Level - I'm talking about schooling shows, and it's very basic - just walk/trot for the first test.

It's good to bounce this off some other riders,. I'll update in a week or so.

MudPaint 11-13-2011 10:54 AM

maisie, I can understand your concerns with cantering in a busy ring where everyone is doing their own thing. It difficult to learn and navigate an obstacle course.

Not sure if this is a viable option for your set up... but when we have a less advanced rider or horse cantering, everyone pulls off the rail to give that person the room they need. Even if you have to cut a ring in half or canter in only a circle, it may help if you can discuss with the trainers to have the rail/area... a clear path.

Sometimes you just don't mesh with a trainer. If this trainer is making you more nervous than helping you learn, it may be time to take a step back from that trainer till you have built up your confidence and can handle the exercises and/or criticism. This may be a trainer that you can utilize when you know you need a push.

Welcome back and best of luck to you.

maura 11-13-2011 11:05 AM

There are some great posts in this thread.

I'd like to second what MudPaint mentioned about ring etiquette. A standard for most busy facilities is 1.) the lesson student has the right of way. 2.) the least experienced or proficient rider has the right of way.

So if you and your instructor have carved out an area of the ring for your lesson, and you're cantering on an obvious track, the other riders should be looking out for you and getting out of your way.

In re: the various instructors, I think you need to ask yourself some tough questions. When you ride with the intense instructor, do you finish up feeling good about yourself and your lessons? Is she challenging you, or intimidating you? The former's good, the latter, not so much. And are you getting somethign from her that you're not getting from the other instructors, or is she just adding to your performance anxiety? Also consider that there are different instructors that are best at different times/different levels of riding. She might be the perfect instructor for you in six months, but not so perfect right now.

twh 11-13-2011 11:25 AM

Off topic question: what barns are you going to in NYC? I didn't think there were any except for Van Cortlandt after Claremont shut.

Wait... Isn't there one in BKLYN?
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maisie 11-13-2011 10:30 PM

Thanks for the welcome, MudPaint! And thanks for everyone's helpful comments. I had a great lesson this weekend and feel like I made some progress practicing my canter. I'll see how it goes and Van Cortlandt this week.

Valentina 11-15-2011 03:27 PM

Instead talk to intense instructor and tell her that she makes you over think and thus screw up the aides (for canter, etc.). Ask her to give you a bit more time.

My SO actually had a discussion with an instructor before I initially went to her (I didn't know about the discussion) and explained how I hated people yelling at me - rather telling me what to do and WHY (i.e. doing X causes the horse to do Y) so I understood had the best results.

It worked - the lesson ended up being very productive.

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