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Here's a question for all instructors/barn owners/lesson students without your own horses, and for anyone who has some input on this subject!
I know of tons of lesson barns that switch up the horse assignments almost every week, and others that have you on one horse for an extended period of time. I want to know which one everyone thinks is preferable and why. I'm very curious, because I'm really not sure which system I like better.
When I rode lesson horses I was on a different horse every week! Which kinda sucked, but riding so many different horses helps a lot. All the very beginners rode the same horse for a long time :) I liked the system
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At the barn where my daughter and I ride, we ride the same horse primarily for an extended time. The purpose behind it is so that we learn to really connect with the horse. My daughter has been riding the same paint for almost 2 years now, and he knows her, and she knows all of his quirks and is able to prevent some of them from happening because she knows what to expect. She is becoming a better rider because she is not having to get to know a new horse all the time. On occassion she will ride a different horse, but always struggles to figure out the best tricks.
I rode for about 6 lessons a been there, done that QH, then she switched me to a very high level, complicated paint who knows just about everything. It's been a crazy switch, but I'm now (4 lessons later) getting to know him, and his quirks.
When I lived and rode in Germany as a little girl, the lesson program I was a part of (and even the summer riding camp), switched up the horses all of the time. I tend to agree with this philosophy. If you're stuck on one horse for the entire season, you simply aren't learning as much as you would if you had to deal with a different horse every lesson. Different personalities, problems, habits, and so on. Learning how to overcome different problems on different horses is a huge part of becoming a great rider.
That being said, if you're a complete beginner rider, there is something to be said for being put on a schoolmaster who you know and trust.
I never liked being switched around a lot. It's hard enough to learn a new skill such as jumping or a new lateral movement, if you're busy learning a new horse all in a 45 minute time frame. I can see where that would be a good idea for people who already know how to ride, but at the lower levels, why put so many factors into the equation?
I guess it really depends on the level we are talking about here. I appreciated riding a different horse every week when I had already established a seat and *needed* to be handed different problems to continue my learning. I was still a beginner, but that is what progressed me into the intermediate realm.
I don't disagree that in the beginning it's helpful to ride a schoolmaster and focus on your body/movement before adding other additional factors into the mix. I am just not one of those people that believes "riding the same horse your entire life" makes you a good rider alone. I think it's a combination of things, one of those things being the ability to handle different personalities under saddle.
I have ridden at both types of lesson barns. Each has it's own pros and cons.
Riding the same horse for long periods of time is definitely good if you are planning on seriously competing, as you get to work with said horse in every lesson/free ride. However, it happened to me on MANY occasions where I would work with one horse for months and months and then suddenly it would be sold out from under me which really sucked.
I found that riding a different horse every week wasn't very good either - sure it's nice to ride different types of horses and good for you to learn to ride anything, but it ended up being that I wouldn't learn much because every lesson was spent figuring out a new horse. Not to mention, in my case, it ended up that I would be training young ponies for the barn to later use for little kids. So basically I was paying them for me to train their horses... ridiculous.
I ended up going BACK to the first barn I was talking about.
Definitely swapping horses regularly. Being stuck on the same horse for months, or even years, leads a rider to developing bad habits and often leaves them finding it difficult to progress, or they progress slower and slower after a while on that horse.
By swapping horses, you are building up many more problem solving 'tricks' that you can use on other horses. You will encounter a greater range of problems and then when it comes time to buy your own horse you will find that you have more success with it than if you are stuck on the same horse your whole lesson life.
I've had a number of horses now, and still try to ride as many different horses as I possibly can. I will have the odd lesson on a school horse or on my coaches dressage horse, then also give people riding lessons and will get on their horses to demonstrate, I ride other people's horses to help them out with a problem their having, and will also ride other horses for the heck of it.
As a result, I have so many more tricks up my sleeve that I can resort to if I encounter a problem. I've ridden lazy horses, stubborn horses, hot horses, tense horses, forward horses, spooky horses..... and now there's not a hell of a lot that I see that suprises me or I don't have some kind of card to play to 'fix' the behaviour.
Fowl Play above mentioned the exact problem with people riding one horse. You get to know that horse which is great, but then you get thrown on another horse and hate it because you don't know what to do!! As riders, we need to be able to ride a number of horses SUCCESSFULLY!
Of course, as a total beginner being put on the same old schoolmaster for the first couple of months (depending on regularity of lessons and progression of the rider) is going to be beneficial to assist them in getting their balance and learning the very basics of stop go and turn. But once they're reasonably confident and competent, I am all for throwing them on different horses.
Absolutely definitely 100% I am with swapping horses around. It is the BEST thing for you as a rider, the added experience it gives you is just fantastic.
Thanks for the posts everyone! I really enjoyed hearing about all your different experiences and opinions. Especially Kayty, you gave a very detailed, helpful description!
I think right now, I'm thinking that, as everyone agreed to, as a very beginner, riding the same schoolmaster is great while you're learning the basics. After that, I think what would be the best in my opinion, after reading all these posts, is for students to be on one horse for two or three weeks, then switch. It gets a little disruptive to switch horses every week, but it seems like a good idea to switch every few weeks.
Yeah look it depends on how much you are having lessons? I'm guessing you're riding once a week? If so, then maybe while you're still classed as a beginner it will be good for you to ride a horse for 2 or 3 lessons in a row, but as you gain experience, I really do think that riding a different horse almost every week will really help you. People have said here that they don't like changing horses regularly because they have to figure out a new horse. Well thats the point ;) You will have achieved much more by being put on a new horse and having to learn how to 'push it's buttons' rather than being put on the same horse week in week out.
Of course if you're too the point where you may be offered a chance to compete one of the lesson horses, then you're going to need to be riding it more often, but if you're only riding once a week that's not going to make a stack of difference. Plus the best thing for your riding is to be riding other horses in between riding the horse you'll get to compete. Because believe it or not you'll find that riding other horses will hugely assist you in getting better work from 'your own' horse.
I find that all the time, I'll have a problem with my own horse that I'm struggling to find a solution for. Then by chance end up having a few rides on someone elses horse that may be greener than my own horse, but a lightbulb will click and I will use the same methods I used on the green horse, on my own horse, and sure enough I've got my collected trot. I guess thats a bit more of an advanced usage of riding other horses, but I hounestly cannot stress enough just how beneficial riding a variety of horses will be to your riding.
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