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existentialpony 03-30-2013 11:06 PM

Trainer Frustration (rant)
Hi all!

Well, my search for a trainer has come to a screeching halt with my last lesson. :-( To be fair, this week has been pretty stressful and horrible all on its own... but yesterday's lesson was possibly the worst ride I've had in the 3 months I've owned Jax (and ridden on a 5-6time a week basis, no less)! And to think that I was excited for a breezy happy relaxing lesson... :lol:

Have you ever had a new trainer who doesn't know your horse all that well, and therefore makes assumptions about his behavior that aren't quite true? Yesterday Jax was laaaazy as lazy can be (I'd checked beforehand for soreness/reaction to recent vaccinations, and he was just peachy). Normally I'll pick up a dressage whip if he's looking lazy for the simple fact that holding it makes him perk up without even coming into contact with it. Well, I didn't because I'm a fool. Our walk-trot portions of the lesson were fine, but cantering and canter transitions were horrific. For the first time, he was trot-running into the canter, pinning his ears, picking up the wrong lead... and my instructor was praising him for it! ?!?! :evil: See, I may not be a trainer, but I know this horse pretty well. She literally had me holding the pommel and kicking through that terrible bouncy falling-apart trot into a lazy canter and telling me that he was doing great! And when he dropped gait? Well, he picked it up for me so it's progress. No.... no, it's not. He knows better, and I know it! When he drops gait, I make him work even harder until I say we're done. When he decides to run into a canter, I bring him back to whatever starting gait I was at and ask him again and again until he picks it up right. When he picks up a canter but drags along on his forehand, it is not good enough-- I expect effort when I ask for it, and keep asking for it, and keep asking for it...

Well at the end of the lesson she finally let me pick up my dressage whip, and suddenly I was on a forward-moving, hind-end-engaging horse who picked up a lovely rocking canter from a walk. :-|

This has been working for us, and yesterday left me miserable and I'm sure Jax's back was not happy after that bouncy-house-on-his-back session.

This is what I get for riding trainer-free for so many years. :( I know I'm not infallible, which is why I'm looking for a trainer-- I'm just sad to find that this is not it. Especially because it's so difficult to find a dressage trainer in Tucson.

sillyhorses 03-31-2013 04:18 AM

You should discuss, at length, what you've accomplished with your horse, and the things you are hoping to finesse and work on through lessons. That should give a hopeful new trainer a better insight regarding your perspective, and a great starting point with your horse. I wouldn't give up on your trainer just yet - based on what she saw from your horse's behavior, there WAS improvement. She clearly does not know your horse well, and it was probably a great thing for her to see you guys work with a crop, so she can see what MORE to expect from him in the future. A good trainer wants to reward steps in the right direction, and based on what she had seen (which, technically was your fault because you didn't ride with your whip when you normally, otherwise would have), she was doing just that. I'd talk to her in between lessons and give her another try, before officially ruling her out. :) Although... I guess I'm not clear on whether or not you were ruling her out?

So... on that note... I apologize for potentially unsolicited advice :) I totally get it, though... I started with my trainer, and at the beginning she was praising us and I was like "Uhhh???" haha. However, my trainer had a lot to offer, and even though occasionally we have lessons where I think "But, we already know this?" I find out that there is more finesse, and sometimes "more to it" in general, so the refreshers and tweaking is well worth it :) Good luck, however... I do know how frustrating it can be!

Cherie 03-31-2013 07:43 AM

Do you want to know what I see? It certainly is not what you see.

I think you have put into words better than I could have, the exact reason why I hate whips. Your horse only respects the whip and not the rider. What you really have is a level of respect that matches the horse's performance when you do not have the whip in your hand. What you really have is a horse that has been 'whip trained' and taught that he can 'tune out' your legs and other aids.

What you really need is to find a trainer that will help you 'wean' your horse off the whip and help you teach it to respond to the correct aids. When a whip has been used as a 'threat' like it has in your case, I becomes completely ineffective as a training tool. Whips ARE NOT aids. You hands, seat and legs ARE AIDS. WHIPS AND SPURS ARE TOOLS, not aids, just like draw reins, German Martingales and other tools. Like these other tools, they can easily become crutches.

Palomine 03-31-2013 10:55 AM

I agree with Cherie on this one.

If only time you can get forward is when holding a whip? You have not done your job of making horse respond to any of your cues. You have essentially taught horse the rider is helpless.

Your trainer is on right track here.

And furthermore, if you ever do ride a responsive horse that has been trained correctly, you would know what we are saying is true.

existentialpony 03-31-2013 03:39 PM

When did I say I could only move forward with a whip...? I rode for an hour today alone with no whip w/t/c and had a wonderful ride with spot-on transitions. This thread was about the trainer...? Thank you for the input but I rarely ride with a dressage whip to begin with.
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existentialpony 03-31-2013 03:43 PM

(Rarely meaning on days when he thinks he has my number and needs to be reminded that he listens to me, no matter how he's feeling. Which since I've owned him has totaled to 4 or 5 times.).
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bsms 03-31-2013 03:44 PM

All anyone knows about the situation is what you post. Your first post had the horse needing a whip:

"Well at the end of the lesson she finally let me pick up my dressage whip, and suddenly I was on a forward-moving, hind-end-engaging horse who picked up a lovely rocking canter from a walk."

existentialpony 03-31-2013 03:46 PM

Yes, and prior to that I mentioned that I thought I might need it because he was displaying obstinate/lazy behavior, and also that until we cantered our lesson was excellent and he was perfectly responsive albeit sluggish-feeling.
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existentialpony 03-31-2013 03:49 PM

This thread isn't about me defending myself. Thank you for your input, but please understand that your advice is misdirected.
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AnitaAnne 03-31-2013 05:40 PM

E-pony, I agree, there is correct & there is not correct, and any good instructor should be able to see the difference. It is useless to practice incorrect movement, and if occasionally a horse needs a pop with the whip to remind them, or even just carrying the whip, then that is what the horse needs!

My (past) instructor, can recognize in 5 minutes what the rider and the horse needs, so going almost an entire lesson without working correctly is unacceptable. I would not waste my money by going back to that "trainer".

I suggest you attend a recognized show or two to watch the top competitors, and find out who their instructors are, and then see about getting lessons. I have found it is better to have 1 lesson with a top instructor than 50 lessons with a poor one.

A top instructor will take you very quickly to a higher level. Good luck to you!

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