I decided to start my own journal thread so that I can keep track of my lessons. To start with, I ran a spreadsheet today on all my childhood riding lessons plus all the lessons I've had in the last two years. I know, I'm such a nerd :wink:
According to my calculations, I had approx. 750 riding lessons between 1984-1992 and approx. 90 lessons since 2011. That's 840 lessons total!
I tried to write down all the horse's names and breeds too. Yes, another major nerd alert :shock: The list includes mostly Warmbloods (Trakehner, Holsteiner, Westphalian, Deutsches Reitpferd) a hand-full of Arabs and a bunch of misc Xs.
Wow - I must really enjoy riding :-)
I completely forgot to add the H/J barn lessons that I took in the last two years. So I need to add 8 more lessons and Quarter Horse & Thoroughbreds to the list of horses.
12/2/13 - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
48 hours ago I encountered an unruly 7 year old that pinned his ears and threatened to kick me. Today I was greeted by the perfect gentleman. It was “yes mam, please & thank you” all the way. Apparently the owner had trouble with him on Saturday as well and spent 30 minutes doing some intense ground work with him until he decided that working with people is a very good thing.
Before going to the lesson, I decided I wasn’t going to try so hard to do a good job anymore. That way I wouldn’t be so stressed and frazzled when things don’t work out.
The lesson was ok though.
Overall, she’s trying to get me to straighten him more which I don’t quite understand (how can you go straight on a circle?). So she had me do trot work going counter-clockwise on a circle and then bend him to the inside during the open part of the circle and to the outside during the closed part of the circle.
Another interesting thing she had me do since I can’t get him on the bit in the walk, she suggested taking my inside hand all the way to my thigh to purposely over-bend his neck to the inside while pushing with my inside leg. He did drop his head a few times but I can never keep him on the bit for very long at least not in the walk. But hey, at least now I know a trick to get him there, so that’s good.
As usual, we had trouble with the canter but managed to get in two full circles going clockwise. So that was good. I’m able to sit up straighter during the canter and use my inside leg to drive him/keep him in the canter. Going counter-clockwise is still a struggle, plus I clam up because I know he trips going that direction and I don’t want him to fall again. She said that the reason he fell with me a few weeks ago is because I had him over-bent to the inside so she’s trying to get me to bend him to the outside instead which is making it harder to get the transition. We got a few messy canter strides before breaking back into a hurried trot. That’s ok though. We didn’t trip or fall. We got a few canter strides in. I didn’t over-bend him to the inside.
Before going to the lesson, I had decided that today I would decide if I wanted to break up with my barn/instructor based on how the lesson went. I tried to be as neutral as I could. I didn’t strike up conversations with anybody but responded to questions when asked. My instructor was unusually cheerful. The horse was unusually sweet. I’m still not convinced that this is the best arrangement for me but I don’t know that grass will be greener on the other side either. Her horse clearly has balance and occasional bouts of behavioral problems which is slowing down my progress. If I went to an actual riding school with school horses, I could probably progress a lot faster because I’m not busy working on the horse’s issue. However the goal is for me to get good enough and confident enough to soon get my own horse. What will I do if my own horse has a problem? Run away? Maybe I’m learning a valuable lesson by sticking it out? After all, dressage is about training the horse, not the rider. So now I’m undecided again. I keep looking for signs. Perhaps the upcoming Christmas party will give me some clarity.
This looks like its going to be a very interesting thread
12/7/13 The Christmas Party
After being trapped in my house for 48 hours due to the snowstorm, I was excited to go to the Christmas party. There was a good mix of people and I actually knew some of them. There were some awkward moments though which made it clear that there is dividing line between the boarders and the outsiders. At one point my husband and I were just innocently standing there talking and the hostess comes over and says "you know those moments when your horse does…oh, wait a minute, you wouldn't understand, you ride a lesson horse." I kind of felt sad for her. Is she so insecure that she has to instigate a situation that separates people? My husband chuckled "wow, she is a bit much, isn't she?"
There appears to be a great deal of competitiveness in dressage, both inside and outside of the ring. Will I be able to handle that? Perhaps, the better question is, do I want to deal with that on a regular basis? Why do I ride? Do I have a need to cover my wall with ribbons and medals? I ride because I love it. I love those moments of perfection, when it's just you and the horse gliding across the arena in perfect harmony. I love those "aha" moments when something difficult, suddenly clicks and makes sense. Sure, ribbons and medals are nice, but are they the cherry on top of the proverbial pie, or the reason I ride?
I will have lots of time to ponder that because due to the weather and an upcoming dressage clinic, lessons for this weekend and next weekend are cancelled. This works out somewhat well, as this gives me an opportunity to explore other options.
I finally connected with an instructor who so far fits all my criteria (lesson horses, arena, cost, driving distance, teaching experience, somewhat accomplished in dressage). I'm hopeful that I can get a lesson arranged with her before lessons resume at my old barn.
As I was contemplating my lesson schedule (or lack thereof) my husband made a startling suggestion: "Why don't you put your unused lesson money toward your horse fund?" Who are you and what have you done with my husband ?!? ☺
The hostess of that party sounds like a winner. Dressage isn't all competitive, us v. them, (though it's hard to tell, from some threads here). I admit, I quit showing over ten years ago and now school for fun.
I hope this potential new instructor runs a better operation. It's true that when you have your own horse, you do have to work through problems, rather than run away. If those problems include falling over at the canter, overbent or not, I would call a vet and not put a student on it. But as a lowly lesson rider, you're at the mercy of the owner and your trainer, who, from your posts, all sound a bit useless.
Considering that i've probably ridden 100 + horses at the canter, and none of them have just fallen over, I do realize that it's highly unlikely that his falling was my fault. He just needs to be ridden a special way to keep him upright.
Well it's Friday and I still have not heard anything from the other potential instructor. I'm scheduled to ride at my old barn next Sunday, weather permitting.
This is the longest stretch that I've gone without riding and I'm not handling it too well. I've taken up climbing stairs at work to work off some of this extra energy. I made it from the 2nd floor to the 16th floor twice yesterday. Too bad the building is only 19 stories tall.
On a lighter note, my horse fund is coming along nicely. I now have saved up enough $ for a lame pony ;) Soon I will have enough for a really nice, reliable, sound horse. I can't wait!
12/19/2013 – New Beginnings
I had my first dressage lesson at the new barn. The RI was very hospitable; gave me a tour of the facilities and asked a lot of questions. I did tell her who I currently ride for – of course she knows her and has taken lessons from her. She was curious as to how I ended up riding for her, but she didn’t judge me/treat me different because of it.
She had me ride Dante, a 20 year old gray Hanno who had been shown up to 3rd level. He was a little looky as we made our way around the arena, but very well behaved. He was surprisingly sharp to my driving aids but wasn’t all that sensitive to weight aids. It took me less than 30 seconds to get him on the bit, so that was encouraging.
Her arena is not regulation size so I struggled a bit with the schooling figures. Dante is quite a bit shorter than Vince with a higher neck set so I had to adjust my riding a bit. He has good suspension but takes shorter strides, which took a few minutes to get used to. The pommel of the saddle was really high so I had a hard time clearing it during the up phase of the posting trot.
I liked her teaching style. She would ask me to do something, watch me, give me feedback, I would adjust based on her feedback, and then we would go back to walking on a loose rein on the circle while we reviewed the previous exercise. Then we would move on to the next exercise.
We did walk/canter transitions on a circle, lots of loopy schooling figures, leg yields and shoulder in at the walk. She actually walked behind me during the leg yield and shoulder in and was able to give me immediate feedback which was great!
She was really impressed with the shoulder in, leg yield, my quiet hands and my quiet seat especially at the sitting trot. Things I struggled with included sitting up taller at the canter, and steering on the circle (it kept getting smaller and smaller). The experience was very educational because some of my issues I carry with me from horse to horse; whereas others are horse specific. For example, when I ride Vince, he is very responsive to weight aids, so I have no problems keeping him on large circle; Dante does not respond as well to weight aids so I need to steer him and/or leg yield him to keep him from falling in on the circle. Vince tripped and fell at the canter, so now I have trouble sitting tall and confident at the canter on ANY horse.
Overall I think this was a very good experience for me and I’m planning on going back soon. The next lesson is scheduled for the first week of January. I’m not a 100% sure that I want to quit my old barn; I think I’m going to ride at both for a while and see how it goes. Right now, most lessons are getting cancelled anyway because of the weather, so if I book two lessons per week I’m lucky if I ride once every other week.
12/28/2013 - Lesson at H/J barn
I had a lesson a K’s today. I try to go about once or twice per year. I hadn’t been there since March so I was overdue for a lesson.
They just got a new school horse named Cal; a big black TB gelding and the instructor was eager for me to ride him. He hadn’t been ridden in a while so he was really HOT. Made me a little nervous at first; he was very eager to go go go and not interested in stopping at all.
There was a pole laying on the ground and I decided to trot over it but he decided to pick up the canter and jump over it instead! :shock: His canter was quite smooth but he was difficult to control – all he wanted to do is run. I managed to get him slowed down with lots of circles and transitions.
He was fine at the walk; we even had some beautiful moments where he dropped his head and chewed contently on the bit.
It was a good lesson; a good confidence builder because I had to quickly figure out how to keep a hot horse from running off with me. It was also fun to jump again. The instructor agreed that it’s good for me to ride different horses. That will give me a better idea of what I’m looking for in my own future horse.
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