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SPhorsemanship 04-01-2011 02:55 PM

Could I have some opinions on my instructor and some tips for my riding?
Hi, I have been doing dressage for about half a year now. I've had a few different instructors. My first instructor was amazing, they did wonders for my riding. However, they left the country so I went with the other dressage instructor at the stable I was at. The pretty much undid everything I had learned but they convinced me that I was improving tons-which I wasn't. I lost my balance in my seat. I want an instructor that will pick on me for any mistake I do-seriously. They weren't very good at dressage themselves now that I look back. They were very heavy handed and actually quite mean to horses. I see why my horse wasn't willing or happy to work in dressage. My current instructor is pretty good. They are a little set in their ways and I don't like going 100% into a new training method. Right now I want to learn new things without having a set mindset of what is right and what is wrong. They have started helping me with my position but I wouldn't say they are very good at it :?. I just feel frustrated right now. I've had a few lunge lessons with my horse which went pretty well. During my lessons(both on and off the lunge) I don't feel like I get a chance to understand and get anything with my horse. After some bad horse trainers, I am trying to understand my horse again-riding wise. My instructor tells me something to do with my horse, for example to get him to stretch forward into the bit and relax, and if I can't get it in like 10 seconds they go onto something else. I just get more and more confused. I need some time to get a result. I'm not a trained dressage rider, it also just makes me feel more and more like I suck! My instructor knows dressage well and I like their concepts too. I'm also not aloud to lunge my horse before my lessons. I don't lunge my horse to get the energy out of him but just to get a connection with him before I ride him. That was kind of a rant. Do you think this is a good instructor?

My riding problems:
-my horse is very narrow and I have long legs so I can't fully wrap my legs around him. What are some tips you may have? My dressage saddle has giant thigh blocks which impedes me from shortening my stirrups for his size. For wider horse, my saddle is built to fit my legs and body perfectly.

-I have troubles sitting the trot. My horse is pretty bouncy too. What are some tips? What parts of my body move with the horse and what don't?

-my horse used to be super light to my leg. After a spur happy trainer he is not. Right now I am riding without spurs. He is a forward horse. How should I get him lighter on my leg again?

I just feel lacking of instruction from my instructor... My horse isn't reacting poorly to this trainer-like he was to my other one but he isn't reacting super good.

sarahver 04-01-2011 03:05 PM

Would love to help more but can't say much without piccies or a vid!

However I do have some advice regarding instructors - what makes them 'dressage instructors'? What level did they compete at? What were their scores like at the highest level they made it to? What is their certification? What level are their other students competing at and what are their scores like?

Not hounding you about instructors there are many who label themselves as 'dressage instructors' when they are really just coaching general riding :wink:

SPhorsemanship 04-01-2011 03:19 PM

They aren't a high level instructor. I think they compete at level 3 or 4. I don't know about their exact scores but they were placing pretty well but not cleaning up. Right now they take lessons with an ex-Olympian, I forget their name.

The stable I am at is small so they have only a few other dressage students. The highest the students compete at is training level.

BTW I am north of Calgary right now but I am moving to Edmonton this fall sooooo I'll have to move anyways. I think I've found a stable with a good instructor but in the mean time this is the instructor I have. There aren't many stables close to where I am located.

tinyliny 04-01-2011 03:54 PM

Do you offer this instructor feedback? do you feel free to do so? I mean, have you told them that you need more time to incorporate instruction and practise before moving on to something else.? Maybe you need to have a conversation with them. If they are a lot older than you this could be challenging for you, but were it me teaching, I would WANT to know where a break in communication is happening.

A lot of what you are experiencing, such as difficulty sitting the trot, will pass with time. I wonder why you are doing so much sitting trot, tho, at the level you are at? I think at the lower levels you should be doing a lot more work at the rising trot, especially since your horse is also new to dressage.

As for becoming spur dead, get a crop and remind him of the meaning of the leg by backing up your leg promptly and severely, and then being as light as you can but keep your expectation for response sharp, if you want to keep your horse's response sharp, too.

SPhorsemanship 04-01-2011 04:07 PM

If I were to hit my horse with a crop he would take off :(. I can't use whips. I want it to all come from my riding too. The sitting trot is working on my seat.

My instructor can see if I'm not getting something though so there is no reason for me to tell them that I'm not getting it...wouldn't it be obvious? Maybe it's only obvious for me.

For me, I want...intense training. My instructor just doesn't seem capable of doing that. Most lessons are group lessons and I really don't feel like I get anywhere. It's pretty much the same in private lessons too. I just don't do that much. The kind of instructor that helps me is an instructor that pushes me until my muscles can literally take nothing more. The lessons at this stable are more slow(not slow as in slow paces or slow advancing, but slow as in me and my horse not learning much). Dressage is supposed to be relaxed. The horse is supposed to be supple. But it doesn't have to be slow...that's how it is feeling. An instructor can't change their entire way of teaching. It just doesn't seem to click with me.

Shasta1981 04-01-2011 07:05 PM

Well the dressage whip is an extension of your leg so using one really shouldnt have the stigma you seem to associate with it. It's still your riding that produces the end result. If you dont feel like you are clicking with your instructor then you should find a new one.

HOWEVER, being passive about learning (ie my instructor can see when I don't get something and should tell me what to do) is not going to help you any. If you aren't sure of why you are working on the exercises you are doing or what the instructor means when they give you any kind of direction, you should speak up and ask. I ask a lot of questions in my lessons to make sure that Im on the same page because sometimes miscommunications happen.

Also, I don't think that every muscle in your body should be drained after all of your lessons in order to accomplish good work. Muscles don't have to be sore to have been worked out and from my experience learning dressage is a very slow moving process in general. You aren't going to be doing tempi changes after a few months of riding dressage.

Did you move into dressage from another discipline?

SPhorsemanship 04-01-2011 07:15 PM

It's the crop I was talking about. I don't whip my horse. I can try using a dressage whip but the other trainer used it wrongly to just holding it on him makes him invert due to fear. I want to get him used to it because it is a good training aid so I'm going to work on that.

I wouldn't say I am passive. I do ask questions when I don't understand what they mean but what they teach just doesn't seem to work so they go on to something else...they give my like 10 seconds to get something and I find that hard since I haven't experienced it yet so I don't know what it feels like(do you get what I am saying?)

I agree with you, my muscles don't have to be drained but I want to work hard in my lessons. I think I said that wrong though. I don't want all lessons to be physically hard but I want them to be "mentally" terms of me learning something.I tried to make it clear that it wasn't the advancing in dressage that I was talking about but the amount of learning in the lesson(learning doesn't mean going up through the levels, it means understanding.) I don't expect my instructor to turn me into an amazing rider because they can't do it, they're helping me become a better rider.

I moved into dressage from jumping.

Shasta1981 04-01-2011 07:34 PM

Yes I completely understand. You aren't entirely sure what correct feels like and need someone to say "there it is, that is what you are looking for, did you feel the difference!?". I think thats important or how else should you know what feeling you are looking for?

I can relate to you in wanting a strong lesson every time. I feel like dressage is so technical that it's difficult to get that satisfaction the way you can with jumping. You can spend 30 minutes working on a shoulder which doesn't feel like much but is. But if you have experienced a trainer who challenged you in the way you want to be challenged and you aren't getting that anymore then you should find one that works for you. That is, as long as the horse isn't being pushed too hard. Good luck!!

SPhorsemanship 04-01-2011 07:53 PM

That's exactly what I mean. I did have had an excellent trainer before. This might sound weird but my horse likes to be pushed hard too(not too hard though). He gets bored quickly and when he looses his attention span. He is athletic and really likes to move.

My instructor isn't bad right now. I'm going to give them more time but there's another one in the area that seems better.

SPhorsemanship 04-01-2011 10:27 PM

Please tell me if you think I am overreacting. I'm going to take more lessons with this instructor anyways though. I'm going to give them a chance because as I've said, they aren't bad but I don't find them that great. I find that they seem to be guessing a lot as they teach me, as to how and what to teach me with my horse. That confuses me even more. I don't like having my teachers guess.

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