Bad instructor? Rant-ish - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 10-15-2020, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Bad instructor? Rant-ish

So, I知 getting back into riding. I took English lessons as a kid and I decided to try Western this time around and maybe barrel racing.

I tried a few barns out, but after my first lesson at the one where I currently have a package (the one I知 about to rant about) I thought I found a great fit.

Five lessons later and I feel like I知 being taken for a ride (a bad one).

This instructor tells me to do things that I know are bad riding habits. For example tells me to lean back to the point of ridiculousness when no other instructor has ever critiqued my posture. I知 used to sitting UP in the saddle. On my pockets, but not almost lateral.

She tells me to keep kicking the horse even while they are doing what I want.

I stopped listening to her and things got much better. I use leg pressure to ask and released when they move off it. Ignoring about 30 instructions to kick, but getting the result I want.

She will click and kiss at the horse I知 riding instead of letting me do it. This leads to the horses diverting to her and even trying to override me to go over to her.

Every time I get the hang of something she makes me switch to something else instead of letting me build muscle memory on the first skill.

Today I took and English lesson at another barn and I was surprised.

Not only did I enjoy going back to English more than riding Western, but I realized that the western instructor has been having me GALLOP and calling it a canter.


I knew something was off, but I have never galloped on purpose before. Today I enjoyed actually cantering in an English saddle and then I watched people gallop and realized galloping is like what I have been doing.

Nothing is ever fast enough for her so I assumed she was just trying to get me to speed up the gait. She only ever says 堵ood when I知 doing the gallop. Which I feel like I知 going to bounce right out of. From what I致e seen people tend to sit more forward in the gallop.

She also doesn稚 want me to look at the barrel while I知 turning which pros do all the time and it makes it easier to do a tight circle. But she doesn稚 want me dipping right circles... because you want overreached barrel turns.

She wouldn稚 let me canter when I wanted to, but then randomly had me gallop in a private lesson. In the group lessons she acts like all I can do is trot.

Not to mention the fact that she put me on a boarders underweight horse (I can count all of the ribs) for my group lesson today.

Every lesson it痴 a different sour horse. I feel like the horse and I start forming an understanding, but then I get switched to another poorly cared for horse and have to start all over.


She put me on two different mares that she said were having health issues then kept telling me to kick as hard as I could when they didn稚 want to work.

And then today was the starving horse that belongs to a boarder/ her 吐riend. But when I asked for clarification about what was going on it was gibberish gibberish the owner doesn稚 ride him anymore. But he痴 still starving at your facility. He gets 1 flake of alfalfa a day.

He was a very good horse and I had fun trotting around on him, but I felt bad for him and idk why I couldn稚 ride the mare I had a good lesson with yesterday.

I知 just done with this barn.

Last edited by boots; 10-17-2020 at 09:08 AM.
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post #2 of 17 Old 10-15-2020, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChronOfMe View Post

She also doesn稚 want me to look at the barrel while I知 turning which pros do all the time and it makes it easier to do a tight circle. But she doesn稚 want me dipping right circles... because you want overreached barrel turns.
It is quite obvious that this barn and trainer are not a fit for you and you need to move on, but I want to comment on this.


NO, you do NOT look at the barrel when you are turning it. The pros do NOT do it all the time. You instead look at the point on the ground where you want your horse to travel while you are going around the barrel. Remember that your horse will always go where you look so think about that. You don't want your horse to run over the barrel, right? So that is why you do NOT look at it.



I think auto-correct might have messed up your last sentence because I can't quite make out what you are trying to say with "dipping" right circles and "overreached" barrel turns.

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post #3 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 12:05 AM
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If you prefer the kind of riding that English gives you but want to try "Western" then I'd recommend sticking with things like Western Dressage or Cowboy Dressage. Those are probably the closest thing to what you seem to like about Dressage/English.

For something like Barrel Racing, what is correct is whatever gets the horse around those three barrels with the rider still aboard in the absolute fastest possible time. Frankly some of those horses at the NFR/American caliber are monsters in several senses of the word, but dang they are fast and the riders are really really sticky.

If you go to a good Reining coach they are going to have you doing things like big fast circles, little slow circles, sliding stops and snappy rollbacks until you can do them well enough to compete. They won't care if you look stiff as a board and have your hat on backwards if you can nail the pattern because that is all that matters in the arena.

Western is a lot of sub categories and in the competitive ones the things that win is what a good coach or instructor should be teaching. My recommendation is if you try it again think in terms of what looks fun and then find somebody good at it that has been successful at a competitive level that teaches.
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post #4 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 09:36 AM
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First off, WELCOME to the Forum...

Sounds like you did more than a little riding as a kid if you are cantering and galloping western or English already and running the barrel pattern.
Those are not "beginner" things done but for a far more advanced rider...

So, not a child anymore and you know what you know and are ranting about the quality of instruction, horses you are being told to ride and how comes..........
So, speak up......
Why are you not questioning, politely questioning, why you are being told to do things you know of as grossly exaggerated or wrong?
Why if you are learning the aspects of barrels are you not working correct form cause there is form and then adding the speed when to you you are not with the horse galloping but bouncing along not in time to the animals strides...
Question this instructor and learn their answers...
You will then know if this instructor is worth her salt in instructing you or you need to find another venue and line of instruction, possibly specific discipline if you not really like barrels...there is a lot to choose from today.
First thing though is open your mouth and ask questions and listen for the answers...
You may have a good instructor just bad communicator or you could have a bad instructor, period...
Or, you might find you know a bit more than they thought, can do more than you anticipated so they put you further along in private lessons than you can do in a group setting since groups you ride to the ability of the majority not one.
Rant all you want, but unless you speak up and ask you will have no answers and no knowledge of stay or go.
...
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post #5 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 09:40 AM
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Wow, are you riding at my barn??? If you were riding English, I'd really suspect it.

The very worst thing is the instructor kissing and clicking at the horse to go. I will ask the horse to go when I want to ask them to go. Luckily now that I'm riding my own Pony, he listens to me and not to her, but it was awful when I was riding lesson horses. She's ask me to canter, and I'd start getting ready to ask for the canter, but before I could she'd be clucking at the lesson horse to go. That is not AT ALL helpful to someone who is trying to learn.

Also putting people on horses that are lame / injured / underweight / unhealthy.

I think it's a good thing that you've realized this is not a good fit and that it's time to move on.
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post #6 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 02:39 PM
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Outside of the terrible practice of riding underfed or ill horses, I would like to make one comment on the use of 'clucking or kissing' by the instructor;


Often times these instructors are used to dealing with people who are so new to riding that they really just need a LOT of time in the saddle to gain a feel for the movements. So, the instructor does the 'work' of getting the movements so that the student can just work on learning how to ride them. The student is not yet able to cue the movement, AND not lose their correct position .



In the old days, the instructor would have you on a lungeline, with no hands on the reins, for many lessons to gain your seat, THEN you could start applying cues. But, nowadays, people do not have the patience to work to achieve a true 'seat'. They want to jump into a particular discipline right off the bat. And, instructors need to make a living, so they oblige.


I hope you find a good place for lessons.
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post #7 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Often times these instructors are used to dealing with people who are so new to riding that they really just need a LOT of time in the saddle to gain a feel for the movements. So, the instructor does the 'work' of getting the movements so that the student can just work on learning how to ride them. The student is not yet able to cue the movement, AND not lose their correct position .
If my instructor had explained that she was going to cue the horse for me (even though she had just told me to cue him), that would have been different. If she were not, over two years later, still clucking at him, I might not mind.

But that's just me and my own experience. Hopefully it won't be OP's experience for much longer.
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post #8 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 04:21 PM
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Western riding is different than English. If you aren't willing to adjust, don't. But don't expect to ride the same way.

"On your pockets" doesn't mean lean back, although an instructor might tell you to lean back in an attempt to get the idea across. You aren't sitting tall in the saddle and on your pockets. It is hard to describe because it is hard to see. It is almost an attitude instead of a position. Slouch a little, relaxing the back, and let your pelvis rotate slightly back. I know how it feels when I do it but would be hard pressed to explain it.

It puts you a little "behind the horse" but that is OK because the western saddle tree continues WAY beyond your butt and the PSI on a western saddle, no matter what you do, will still be trivial behind the cantle. It isn't an English saddle:

I find a gallop (4-beat) smoother than a canter (3-beat). Like lots of riders, I lean forward when going faster, but maybe not as far forward as some would teach. In any case, I know from personal experience that my actual position is rarely what I feel it is! Ask someone to take a video of you riding and then watch it in slow motion. The instructor may be seeing what you are DOING, not what you FEEL you are doing!

Or...the instructor may stink. Plenty do. But I can't pile on her when I cannot see how you ride. You may be right. But it is also possible she is telling you what is right and you are not getting it.
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post #9 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 05:30 PM
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A bit of perspective. I can read a very different story than what you are saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChronOfMe View Post
This instructor tells me to do things that I know are bad riding habits. For example tells me to lean back to the point of ridiculousness when no other instructor has ever critiqued my posture. I知 used to sitting UP in the saddle. On my pockets, but not almost lateral.
No one starts with a perfect position. That your previous instructors never corrected your position is more of a failing on them. Many times when told to sit up and back, what the rider feels is very different than what the instructor sees. Many a dressage rider have sworn they were nearly laying flat across the rump when in reality they were just vertical. Are there mirrors in the arena?

Quote:
She tells me to keep kicking the horse even while they are doing what I want.
But is it what the instructor wants? Maybe they want the horse to be more forward, so want you to kick them up, compared to you who may feel the 'too slow' pace is fast enough.

Quote:
I stopped listening to her and things got much better. I use leg pressure to ask and released when they move off it. Ignoring about 30 instructions to kick, but getting the result I want.
Again, is it the result the instructor wants? You are paying them for their knowledge. If you're not going to listen, why go?

Quote:
She will click and kiss at the horse I知 riding instead of letting me do it. This leads to the horses diverting to her and even trying to override me to go over to her.
Makes me think again that the instructor wants more pace.


Quote:
Every time I get the hang of something she makes me switch to something else instead of letting me build muscle memory on the first skill.
Have you asked if you can spend more time on certain exercises? It could be the instructor is wanting to avoid drilling exercises. Many times when learning a new skill, an instructor will only have you successfully repeat it 2-3 times then move onto something more familiar.

Quote:
Western, but I realized that the western instructor has been having me GALLOP and calling it a canter.

I knew something was off, but I have never galloped on purpose before. Today I enjoyed actually cantering in an English saddle and then I watched people gallop and realized galloping is like what I have been doing.

Nothing is ever fast enough for her so I assumed she was just trying to get me to speed up the gait. She only ever says 堵ood when I知 doing the gallop. Which I feel like I知 going to bounce right out of. From what I致e seen people tend to sit more forward in the gallop.
You probably weren't galloping. Most riding arenas aren't big enough to achieve a gallop and most lesson horses aren't that motivated. Even barrel racing, most of the time it's still a canter, albeit a big one. Gallop is when all 4 legs leave the ground in a moment of suspension. The gallop is usually ridden in a forward seat, but you can ride the canter in a forward seat too.

Quote:
She also doesn稚 want me to look at the barrel while I知 turning which pros do all the time and it makes it easier to do a tight circle. But she doesn稚 want me dipping right circles... because you want overreached barrel turns.
I don't know much about barrel racing, but in general you don't want to look at the obstacle, ie jumps. Emulating professional riders isn't always a good thing. There's plenty of professional show jumpers with horrendous equitation that win, but they aren't teaching their students to ride like that.

Quote:

She wouldn稚 let me canter when I wanted to, but then randomly had me gallop in a private lesson. In the group lessons she acts like all I can do is trot.
I'm sure it wasn't as random as it seems and she may not want you cantering at a certain moment because you or the horse weren't set up correctly. That's why we pay instructors. To tell us the things we can't see.

Quote:
Not to mention the fact that she put me on a boarders underweight horse (I can count all of the ribs) for my group lesson today.

Every lesson it痴 a different sour horse. I feel like the horse and I start forming an understanding, but then I get switched to another PITA (b/c poorly cared for) horse and have to start all over.

She put me on two different mares that she said were having health issues then kept telling me to kick as hard as I could when they didn稚 want to work.

And then today was the starving horse that belongs to a boarder/ her 吐riend. But when I asked for clarification about what was going on it was gibberish gibberish the owner doesn稚 ride him anymore. But he痴 still starving at your facility. He gets 1 flake of alfalfa a day.
You've ridden here 5 times, presumably weekly lessons. How do you know what these horses are eating all day? If there's a feed board that says 1 flake of alf, it might not also list the grass hay or pasture the horse is getting.
Just saying you can see the ribs doesn't make me jump to starving. It's better to see rib than have them too covered, so if you are expecting to see a fat horse, your eye can deceive you. If it's a lighter built or older horse who isn't that muscled, you might see more, but it isn't necessarily enough to prevent them from doing a beginner lesson a few times a week.

Maybe these horses are sour and in poor condition. Wouldn't be the first lesson barn to take terrible care of their horses. It also wouldn't be the first time someone jumped to conclusions about a program.
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post #10 of 17 Old 10-16-2020, 06:11 PM
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I've had my fair share of "bad" instructors. All you can do is move on and find someone that speaks your language (if you get my meaning). I can't say if this is a bad instructor as I don't ride western, but I will say that if it's not working for you I would just stop going. If you have a better experience with the English place then that's where I'd go. Good luck.
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