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LilacsBloom 10-22-2013 11:22 AM

More lesson woes - trotting
Thanks for the feedback so many gave on my post about being afraid on the new/larger lesson horse I'm now riding. I'm working through it, and feeling better when I get on him. My heart no longer races the minute I get in the saddle, and am doing much walking around the arena and in circles. However...

...last week we tried to begin trotting. It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous.

First off, I could not get him to trot. I tried squeezing and squeezing and squeezing, but my out-of-use, forty-something muscles are pathetic and horsey kept on walking. My trainer ran him a little by gently holding the bridle and jogging with him. I realize now we could not have been going fast at all, because she was just very gently jogging next to his head.

Here is the the thing though, I was mess. I think I was coming out of the saddle a good six inches. The bottoms of my feet lost contact with the stirrups. It may have only been a tiny bit but it felt like a lot. My hands were kind of up and all over. Not all over really, but up higher than usual and higher thwn inknow they should be. Have I mentioned that English saddles don't have a saddle horn???

And here is the worst part: I added sound effects. Seriously. I was all, "Ooh! Oh! Oh my! Ok! Ok, that enough! Oh! Ok! Oof! Oh!" It. Was. Humiliating. And scary. And bouncy. And awful. I even told poor horsey as I was brushing him down that I was sorry for the loss of his dignity. It was that bad. (She did say I could post, but that was just up, bounce, up, bounce, with more oohing and ohing and generally ding a hot mess)

I am soooo frustrated and discouraged. I was able to do a posting trot on the pony I started on. Though she jumps for others, for me she had lazy little trot. Posting felt like being rubber-banded to her - stretching apart then coming back together. I was also able to handle the horse I recently went trail riding on at a local stable. He was a small/medium guy and we were in the back. We occasionally had to trot a few steps to get closer to the group. He was responsive to me, trotting when I asked and responsive to my whoa. Though I was ery scared at first, I became more confident as the ride when on because I was able to manage him. This is entirely different, and I feel ...well, frustrated and discouraged.

Is there anything I can do that will help me as I am learning this? This week at home I'm working on strength exercises for core, legs, and arms, knowing I need to increase my overall fitness. I know I need to keep my heels down, but not sure I have the skill and muscle memory to actually do that in the midst of the bouncing. There is a lot of power there.

I am wondering to if maybe I am just in the wrong discipline. I am riding with a hunt seat instructor. I was just looking for lessons, not a specific discipline, and this is where I landed. My trainer is very knowledgable -- I feel very lucky in that aspect. I also thought it would be a good challenge to try something new, so why not try English lessons. I have no intention of jumping, but thought it would make me a better rider overall. Maybe I should have gone somewhere for Western lessons instead? I know it is offensive to say Western is easier. I am sure that for riders who are truly skilled, it is NOT an easier discipline. However, as a beginner, riding with a loose rein means I wouldn't feel every tug of the horse's head, and the cozier saddle might make me feel a it more secure. Thoughts? I know I rambled...

Zexious 10-22-2013 11:32 AM

My first piece of advice would be, just relax. Trotting isn't going to kill you, I promise ;)

Maybe you could request to have some lunge-line lessons? I know she was leading the horse, but on a lunge-line maybe you could focus solely on getting your posting or sitting under control.
To strengthen your legs, you can also "post" at the walk. It's very difficult, and you'll definitely feel it the next day!

All that aside, maybe trying western wouldn't be such a bad thing? I personally find it a bit easier, at least for beginners. It gives the illusion of being a bit more "safe" xD

Winterose 10-22-2013 11:33 AM

Did she talk to you about diagonals? The right diagonal makes the bouncing less as well as moving with the bounce, just keep trying we all start somewhere! Trust me i made a fool out of myself and my horse more often then not when i was younger and now just starting back up i still manage to look foolish
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LilacsBloom 10-22-2013 11:49 AM

Thanks. I just texted her to tell her I would be ok with a lunge lesson. I know she is just doing her job in trying to teach me, which is what I am paying her do to. Admittedly, I am not a natural risk taker, and she does have her work cut out for her in that respect. It's hard to know when to trust and just get out there and do what she says, and when to speak up and say it is too much for me. It's tough to let her push me -- my comfort zone is not very big.

tinyliny 10-22-2013 12:07 PM

I wonder if you could not go back to the smaller horse for a bit. if you have the rythm of posting and the balance of it down better, you can transfer that to a bigger horse. But trying to learn it first, on the big horse, might be asking a lot.

I agree, trotting won't kill you. next time you do this, SING while you do it. you can make the needed noise, and it will make you contincue breathing, but will be more relaxing. anything, even the ABC song will do. I am not kidding about this. Sing. out. loud.

PaintedFury 10-22-2013 12:08 PM

Some lunge line lessons would be great for you. I understand that being new to riding english, and a new horse on top of it can be intimidating, but take it slow and push yourself some. Talk to your instructor about how you are feeling during the trotting sessions, she will likely work with you to help you push your comfort level in a manner that allows you to feel safe but still challenge you. You will eventually get in sync with your horse and the trotting will become easier. If you are concerned about your fitness level holding you back where your riding is concerned, do something about it. I don't know where your weak spots are, but any core exercises that you can do to strengthen your core will greatly help your balance. Planks are great for that, if done correctly.

Things will get better, and your comfort level will increase. You just need to be patient. Good luck and stay safe. God bless.

TessaMay 10-22-2013 12:15 PM

I think it's often a lot harder for adults to learn to ride because it can be embarrassing to bounce around on the saddle, especially if you make funny noises doing it :lol: Kids don't have the sense of dignity that we adults have, so bouncing around is just part of learning rather than an embarrassing thing. Try to keep in mind that EVERYBODY bounced and looks like a noobie while learning to ride. Relax, it's all part of the learning experience and everyone starts out like you. You will get there if you just stick with it.

NeryLibra 10-22-2013 12:38 PM

It'll get better, I swear it will. Riding is a huge learning curve, even if you've ridden before and have been out of the saddle for xamount of years. Hell, I got out of the saddle for about seven months once, came back, had poor muscle, and the girl I originally started lessons with could ride mile-long circles around my bouncing trot all while I was blushing and feeling miserable; but it will get better.

One exercise I've been taught is to stand on your tiptoes, heels in the air, bend your left knee and simultaneously shift your right heel to the ground, rocking your hips to rest your body weight on the floored heel. Then alternate, pushing your left heel to the floor and rising to your tiptoes and bending your right knee, shift your weight to your left heel. Repeat. Start out slow, to get a feel for it, then adjust your speeds as though you were riding a different horse. Standing on your tiptoes will work on building your calf muscles in a similar way to wearing high heels, which can come in handy in riding. The horse's trot is a side-to-side gait, which is what I've been told many students have a hard time learning to handle as they have to move up and down to accommodate the posting trot, but side to side and somewhat against gravity for the sitting trot. This exercise is more about building muscle memory than it is actual muscle, though. It helped me a ton the last time I returned from a hiatus. It might help you. (If standing on your tiptoes is too difficult at first, keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knee/shift your weight instead. :)

Also, every horse has a different trot. Some are bouncier than others, some smoother, some shorter, some longer. This new horse is, of course, going to be a different ride than your old lesson horse. If you're comfortable with riding him, and not your ability to ride his trot, then I, personally, think you should try to challenge yourself in staying on him and working to improve yourself. Even if it's a lunge line lesson, or five.

In regards to looking for a more secure saddle and being in the wrong place - both disciplines are extremely difficult and challenging as you move through the rungs of riding capabilities and skills you have to build. But they share a lot of principles. Leg yielding, a good seat, being soft on the horse's mouth, balance, and even the posting trot at times, are just some of the things they share. I don't necessarily think you're in the wrong discipline, but I do think you're having a more difficult time with your balance than some. Have you considered asking your instructor to ride in English style in a Western Saddle (if she has one)? Quite a few English barns have a Western saddle for the beginner and younger riders, as it can be a major confidence builder to have something to grab when necessary. If she has one but is unsure as to why you want to use it, you can explain to her that you'd like something more secure to hold onto than the English saddle has to offer; if not, maybe you could try another riding location for a little while and see of it helps.

Nocturva 10-22-2013 12:41 PM

There is only one problem I see... You need to LAUGH seriously! This whole post you are taking things way too serious as if it's life or death no offense, but when I found myself flying around on an english saddle and then on top of it mounting my friends warmblood that FLEW across the arena, you know what I did when I flopped around and almost rode into a wall? I laughed.

jmike 10-22-2013 01:01 PM

front squats are pretty amazing for strengthing your core because it forces you to use your core to stabilize --- also strengthens your quads

here is a good youtube playlist on rider develpment -- there are some good concepts that you may be able to put into practice

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