Trials and Tribulations of the Adult Beginner - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Post Trials and Tribulations of the Adult Beginner

This journal has two purposes: on one hand, I want to document my personal experiences and have a record to look back to. On the other, when I was looking for other first-hand accounts of 'what to expect as an adult beginner' I didn't find as much as I would have liked. My hope is that I will end up sticking with equestrian sports and this will provide at least one account of the adult-beginner learning process from the perspective of someone interested in starting.

Minor note: For the sake of anonymity and to avoid accidentally commenting on anyone based on momentary feelings, names will be changed in this journal. Right now, I don't have anything particularly controversial or negative to say - but I want to be able to talk freely about my experiences should something come up so I'm starting this practice now.

Background

As of two days ago I was 32 years old and had never touched, let alone ridden, a horse. I had rarely even had opportunity to see one in person outside a few fleeting glimpses of mounted policemen, and the occasional Renaissance-Festival show.

My interest in horses emerged fairly recently. A few months ago I was out at an informal meditation retreat with some friends of mine in the Colorado Rockies. These friends included one long-time equestrian (who had owned horses since childhood) and who had gotten two other friends of mine involved just a few years ago (in their late 20s). These two more recent riders were now progressing to the early ‘looking at horse ownership’ stage and their enthusiasm and love was both palpable and infectious. All three were of the sincere opinion I would quickly fall in love with riding. These are people who know me - and have for ten years - so I’m inclined to take their opinions pretty seriously.

Another main drive was difficulties in my primary sport - rock climbing. Rock climbing requires a partner, and I lost one to moving cross-country and another to an unfortunate series of not-climbing-related injuries. This had made my climbing career for the past year and a half extremely spotty with no end to the health issues in sight. These issues had been both sporadic enough I didn’t want to move on and find a new partner, and persistent enough that I had made it onto the walls perhaps ten times in twelve months. All this was beginning to seriously weigh on my health (...literally…). You really can’t maintain all the weird little muscles you need for climbing when you’re going that infrequently - and that took my high-intermediate level climbing (at my best I was climbing high 10s and some 11As) back to what I would consider the low-intermediate level (10A/B).

Mind you, at no point would I consider myself terribly athletic. My technique has always outpaced my fitness - even when I did explicit cross-training. I also remained overweight for most of my climbing career, just peeking into the top of the ‘healthy’ weight range when I’ve been at my most focused. While I think I can say rightly that a fair bit of that was muscle (at my lightest and most dedicated I was 5’9” 150 lbs and comfortably a dress size 8) starting this particular adventure I am nowhere near that (currently a much softer 180 lbs and a dress size 14/16).

I also have been dealing with some periodic joint swelling which my doctors think might be the beginning of Rheumatism (which runs in my family). This flares up only rarely at this point and my doctors have 100% cleared me for all sports.

So health-wise I’d say I’m starting with a mixed bag. On one hand I’m not in ideal shape at the moment and I’m dealing with a few lingering concerns. On the other I have a background in another sporting activity that requires the building of specific muscles, technique, and mental focus. I’m hoping the latter outweighs the former, and am willing to go back to the gym to try to make that so.

Preparation

I wanted to seriously do my homework before committing to all this. Coming in from the outside with zero background all this was more than a little scary. Horse sports consistently outrank climbing on dangerous sport lists (yes, really). It’s also expensive (coming from one not cheap sport to another). From my experience in rock climbing I feared it would be very easy to waste a lot of money on useless gear and not-helpful endeavors before I understood what I was doing.

I also wanted to be sure that if I were to get into this I wasn’t going to plateau before I could even get off the ground. I mean, it’s one thing to pay a few bucks for lessons once a week - but I am looking into this as a sport and possible replacement for my multiple-session-a-week rock climbing. Am I going to take lessons just to end up frustrated? What exactly am I taking lessons in anyway?

Youtube was incredibly helpful here - better in my opinion than most of the written sources. On youtube I could actually see each discipline and get a bit more of a feel of how each looked and (to a lesser extent) the attitudes that prevailed in each sport.

Hearing it described, understanding the difference between Western and English sounded like it was mostly about the subtleties of the equipment used - but the sports available and attitudes are also very different. Videos like
let me get a comparison of what skilled versions looked like side-by-side.

I also found quite a bit in regards to general horse instruction/lessons. A few favorites quickly emerged. CRKtraining provided me with a lot of foundations - most usefully a list of
. I ended up watching almost half of everything on that channel. BernieTraurig likewise had some useful looking information - though I suspect these will be a bit more useful/meaningful to me a little later on in my progress. I also watched a bit of Think Like a Horse though I find him obnoxious it also helped me a fair bit in understanding basics of horse body language, and some of the pitfalls in working with horses to avoid.

Along with direct training videos, there were a lot of useful tangents. Watching
was just freaking magical. Watching the
began me falling in love with the breed (and feel I had somewhat of an idea of what OTTB really looks like and why people say they're not for beginners). Watching a
was both somewhat saddening but also really helped me to understand the practice.

After a little bit, it became clear to me that what I was really interested in was English Riding. I did not yet (and still do not yet) know exactly what type of English riding. The thrilling fantasy version of things pushed me towards Cross Country. The detail-oriented and technical part of me was looking at Dressage. The realist in me realized I probably should try actually getting on a horse first and see if I could manage to stay on top of it before getting any crazy ideas.

Finding lessons also proved significantly more difficult than I anticipated. While there are almost a dozen lesson stables in the area, and most offer English riding lessons, almost all of them seem to focus exclusively on children. I’d send a web-form message… wait a couple days and either not hear back at all, or I’d get declined (usually with the explanation that either they didn’t have adult sized lesson horses or their adult sized lesson horses already had full schedules)... then find another one and repeat the process. Each round of this took about 3-4 days before I either heard back or gave up.

Eventually my longer-term equestrian friend told me I’d probably have better luck calling people. So for one of the places I really thought was cool I followed up my web message with a phone call (went to voicemail), and then sent off one last web-contact-form message to literally the last stable on my list.

I was starting to despair that I would need to wait until Spring and try again when I would be willing to drive a bit farther. Then, as I was about to give up I got a call-back. The trainer called during work, but I had been excited enough that I saved the number to my phone and actually picked it up mid-day. We set up an ‘evaluation ride’ for Sunday morning (this was on Thursday). I had no idea what exactly we were going to ‘evaluate’ - I had zero riding knowledge (beyond studying youtube) but eagerly agreed.

I verified that my internet-research had gotten me the right list of stuff I needed to buy (I had 0 equipment) - Breeches, Boots, Chaps, Helmet. She told me I could use leggings, any boot with a heel, chaps were entirely optional, and she’d actually prefer to fit me for a helmet if I had never bought one before.

Now, on one hand, I had no desire to spend a crap-load of money for a hobby I may not be as interested in after I first got into it. On the other hand, I know myself well enough to know that the last thing I wanted to do was skimp on something that could make me feel safer or more comfortable. I opted to seek out the most basic of basic versions of each of the 3 core pieces, with the expectation that I may well end up deciding any one of them wasn’t a good buy a few months from now. I also needed the equipment fast and couldn't find identify any good stores locally.

Amazon Prime came to my rescue. I essentially just looked for the highest-rated stuff explicitly labeled ‘beginner’ and picked what I thought looked nice. I ended up with:

  • TuffRider Women’s Starter Boots - These seem great. The elastic panels allow easy front-back movement without too much side-to-side movement. Reviews said they fit narrow, but I didn’t feel that was the case. They’re comfortable with little notches in the sole where the stirrups go. I think I chose wisely here.
  • TuffRider Women’s Starter Low-Rise Breeches - I love these. They’re slimming, comfortable, and warm enough in the cooler weather we were riding in. Buying them the ‘correct’ size they were a bit looser than leggings would be but still right up against my skin. I got a pair in black and I am thinking of getting a second one.
  • TuffRider Adult Grippy Nubuck Half Chaps which I really like and my trainer complimented me on. A note on those half-caps: As mentioned, I am 5’9” and the large fit me perfectly - right up against the very bottom of my knee. If I were so much as an inch shorter I suspect the size large would be too tall for me.

I spent about $120 on those items and my hope is they’ll last me at least a year. Though I will probably need at least one more pair of breeches for winter in case I miss a laundry day and definitely something cooler for when it gets warm out.

Of course, right as I finished excitedly placing my Amazon order the last stable I had web-form messaged got back to me and also wanted to set up lessons - offering me several good time slots. I now feel kinda bad about that and am still not totally sure how to respond. I opted to wait until after my lesson to see if my new trainer and I got along.
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post #2 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 10:20 AM
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Welcome to the Horse world!

Your best money spent right now will be on the highest quality coaching you can get.

Lessons for Adult beginners can be tough to find for exactly the reasons you mention. For a variety of reasons most programs seem interested in Girls aged 8-18 in Hunter/Jumper/Eventing. Particularly on the English side, and that is even true here in the heart of "Horse Country, USA!" (North Texas).

A good coach is going to teach you not just how to ride, but about horsemanship. You will spend the rest of your life trying to become a better rider and horseman. The very best in the world are still learning how to be better, it is what makes this relationship so amazing.

I wouldn't recommend getting too hung up on any particular breed right now. 98% of what you are about to learn applies to every horse on the planet. Horses are individuals, and in my opinion that exceeds their breeding in terms of who they are, what they can do and how you need to work with them.

You linked a video of OTTBs. I'll just say this. Many are young horses and race horses aren't really "broke". It is a very bad combination for a beginner. A good first horse for a beginner is 10+ years old and has been there done that "very broke" horse with a little bit of a lazy streak. Almost the complete opposite of what a prototypical OTTB could be. I realize that sounds like it contradicts my previous statement. The point is that it is their youth, environment and training that makes them a potentially bad choice, not the individual horse or breeding.

Western vs. English. I think you should start in what interests you. Neither is more correct or skillful than the other. There is a massive gulf of difference between Western Pleasure and Reined Cow Horse, and the same is true on the other side.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 11:38 AM
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I can tell your journal will become a best seller here.
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post #4 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgnmoose View Post
Welcome to the Horse world!

Your best money spent right now will be on the highest quality coaching you can get.
Thank you. And yes, this is my priority right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgnmoose View Post
I wouldn't recommend getting too hung up on any particular breed right now....

You linked a video of OTTBs. I'll just say this. Many are young horses and race horses aren't really "broke". It is a very bad combination for a beginner. A good first horse for a beginner is 10+ years old and has been there done that "very broke" horse with a little bit of a lazy streak. Almost the complete opposite of what a prototypical OTTB could be. I realize that sounds like it contradicts my previous statement. The point is that it is their youth, environment and training that makes them a potentially bad choice, not the individual horse or breeding.
Yep - and I do see how that's not at all a contradiction. One of the reasons I posted that particular OTTB video is because it shows that exact problem. The series goes through the entire 15 hour re-training process and by the end they still can hardly get the horse to stop without rearing up a bit - and then their time is up and the horse returns to the fostering stable to be re-homed.

I'm also nowhere near looking at leasing, let alone buying, a horse just yet. This is much more the idle-fantasy stage. I need to get a much better idea of both my level of commitment as well as what discipline(s) I want to consider.

That said, while I understand well-broke I'm not quite sure I'd go as far as looking for a horse with a lazy streak - I understand why that would be appealing, but honestly I more feel that if I'm not at a skill level where that crutch isn't necessary then I probably am not actually ready to buy a horse just yet. Actual experience may change my mind real quick on this one though, so we'll see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I can tell your journal will become a best seller here.
Thank you! I'm hoping it will prove interesting/useful for people honestly. I'm a tiny bit behind but do have another post coming on how my first lesson went fairly shortly.
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post #5 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 03:00 PM
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Please rethink the "don't need a lazy streak". You'll be a beginner for a long time, believe me. If you have a safe slow horse of your own (or lease), you will learn so much faster than having to use other people's horses on their schedule not yours. There's a vast amount to horsekeeping besides riding. A nice gentle horse with good ground manners will let you learn without getting hurt or struggling -- too much.

Many people are content with easy safe horses for their entire riding lives. There is no shame in it. The time to get a more exciting horse is when your beginner horse is just not challenging enough. That is going to be a good long while.

Short horse lover
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post #6 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Lesson 1: “Evaluation Ride”
The time-slot I managed to secure was Sunday morning. On one hand, I see why this is great for the horse - the beginner lesson is basically their warm-up. On the other hand, mornings and I don’t always get along.

Anticipation managed to drive me out of bed - which was good, but I was still a bit bleary. I drove past the place three times before I saw the small sign set back a ways from the road. When I got to the stable I was… honestly a little confused and disappointed. I confess, I was expecting the sort of big-budget stable I had been seeing on Youtube. Where I had arrived was, as far as I could tell, basically a smallish farmhouse.

I was still a little early, and there was no one in sight. I was growing increasingly paranoid I had found the wrong place. Trying to find the trainer I was here to meet, I ended up wandering around tentatively and hoping I wasn’t about to get squacked at for trespassing.

I came across, first, an open-side barn with the tack, with various saddles sitting out for someone to grab. Then spotted a jumping course out a slight ways which I recognized from photos on the web. Finally, rounding a to the back of the house I spotted a small herd of horses grazing at a hay feeding area not a hundred feet from me. They were an oddly mismatched bunch - one small pony came up hardly to the elbow of the largest horse. Most appeared to be large ponies/small horses with a few notably taller exceptions. There were a couple trees in there and the horses went back a ways - I’m still not sure how many horses there actually were in that area, nor how far back that area went. If I were to guess, I’d say probably 8-10 in that little group.

One of them also clearly spotted me. While most of the horses kept on happily grazing a single large horse poked their head up and turned to face me directly - ears straight up and obviously paying attention. There were two full sets of fences between us, but we stood there squared off for about a minute before I thought that I might well be coming off as aggressive (based entirely on what I saw on youtube) - even to a horse that far away from me. I turned my shoulders to be at an angle and looked somewhere else for a bit. The horse relaxed a little, lowering their head slightly. I turned back, the horse looked up but didn’t set themselves quite so square - interested, but not seeming quite as cautious.

That horse, as it turns out, would end up being my lesson horse for the day.

There were a few things I had known about this stable before I came here. I knew the owner loved re-training off the track thoroughbreds and had been a long-time proponent of the practice. This was one of the things I actually was a bit excited about, as I had fallen in love with OTTBs and was looking forward to see a place that by all reports did re-training very well. I knew that the stable (which I will call “High Road” - a pseudonym) was often gone to by people who were looking to move from basic lessons to more advanced training. They regularly traveled as a team (which included adults) to hunter/jumper shows, and also taught eventing and all its components - one of the only places around here which would do so on school horses. I did not know (but quickly learned) that first-time-beginner training was less their typical focus.

After a bit of paperwork (.. I am both comforted and terrified that you want my health insurance policy number…), fitting a helmet, and moving my car (apparently the area I parked in was used for horses, not cars) we were ready to officially begin.

This is when I got to meet Dragon (pseudonym), a 17 HH OTTB Mare. She apparently competes jumping on the A circuit regularly and is often used as a teaching horse more on the advanced skills side. She’s a gorgeous dark chestnut and while I know very little about conformation I can recognize balance and she looks like something I’d see while watching the Grand Prix. Basically, she is everything I fantasized about when I thought what sort of horse I might want to have/work with, but thought would probably be a bad idea because OTTBs are generally seen as being too hot and not for beginners.

My first lesson was in grooming. She had rolled a bit in the mud, which had dried on her coat. I started with the curry comb going over her, starting with her shoulder, moving onto her back and rump, and finally (very, very gently) to her legs and face. Then there was brushing the dust out and giving her a treat. By the time this process was done we had both managed to get a bit more comfortable with each other. She was looking at me sort of curiously. I was figuring out where she liked to be scratched/petted. The little bit of nervousness we both had was gone.

There was a quick tacking lesson (which fortunately I recognized most of from watching training videos - though I did not say that) and then without much ceremony it was over to the mounting block and right up onto the horse’s back.

We walked off for a ‘pony ride’ to the Arena without bothering to check much of anything. Those first 10 seconds were the most nervous I would be on the horse all day. Advice on position from youtube was running through my head. I focused quite hard on not gripping with my legs and leaving them relaxed (because squeezing with the legs can mean ‘go’ and the last thing I wanted was this horse speeding up - never mind that she was being led), keeping my back straight and legs down (“Imagine if the horse were to disappear - you should still be standing”) and trying to find some semblance of balance and moving with the horse (“you’re at your most balanced when your center of gravity is low, near the horse’s - so heels down and try to stay down into the seat”).

By the time we got into the arena I felt I had ‘gotten’ it a bit and my balance was considerably better. This was the first time Jill (my trainer -pseudonym) turned around to check the details of my position… She seemed pleased. I felt a little clever. It was my first mini-accomplishment of the day.

I was put out on a lead line to check my position and balance in the walk. We did a few exercises - hands out airplane, out in front, above my head… airplane arms and turn torso to the center, now away from the center… turn the horse around and do it all again.

This stuff, fortunately, was not at all hard.

I was taken off the line, handed the reigns, and after a very quick description of hand positions we were going over basic steering and halt.

Then, without further ado, I was off and walking slow circles around the arena and practicing my ‘walk-halt-walk-halt’ and steering. There were a few jumps set up which acted as obstacles I could practice walking and steering around. I got her to weave around them - change direction, and head back. I had now honestly made my goal for the first several lessons and was really starting to feel the magic of riding. I was getting the tiniest bit excited.

After probably ten minutes of this Jill called me back over to the lead line, and we started doing circles again - this time at a slow seated trot. I did the same balance exercises as before. Once again, I found the first three easy - though the rotating at the torso was doable but genuinely a little trickier (and I said as much). We then did a walk-without-stirrups, then a trot-without-stirrups, then dropping and picking up the stirrups up while trotting. Then a bit of a faster trot. All of this felt pretty solid and not as tricky as I had been nervous it might be.

We did not try the torso-twist without stirrups at a trot, for which I was thankful.

Then I was off on my own again, and going around the arena practicing speed changes and basic steering (including halt from various speeds).

A lot of things started happening at this point. First, Dragon seemed to wake up a bit. It’s kind of difficult to describe - but she seemed sort of thrilled to be moving. I did not have to ask her to speed up so much as let her. Jill and I had idly talked about Thoroughbreds and how she viewed them as the Ferrari of horses (it’s clear she loves the breed a lot). That was sort of what it felt like - learning to drive in a Ferrari.

I could literally get her to walk by thinking walk. It took less than an inch of movement in the reins to steer her. In fact, I realized to some extent I only really needed the reins much at all if I wanted precision - she would steer from how I was gently turning in the seat.

Getting her to slow down and halt was harder. I worked hard on making sure I was leaning back slightly when I wanted her to halt. It was clear to me she was a little confused/distressed when I leaned forward and touched the reins, I got a pretty clear sense of ‘what the hell are you asking me to do?’ until I leaned back and she settled. After that the lean-back-to halt sort of 'clicked' for me and I found myself doing it without much thought. I found I could stop her from the walk with just the seat.

I started working on more complex patterns, weaving around the jumps and working on steering. I also got a quick lesson in preventing her from falling in on turns using my leg, which she responded to nicely.

As this went on a bit Dragon started to relax and - this is hard to describe, but sort of get happy and excited?. This wasn’t at all in a nervous way - but more almost playful. She started to get just slightly trickier to manage. I could feel her energy below me - she wanted to go faster and I was gently holding her back. She also was drawn towards Jill, so I practiced getting her to halt from a trot while facing her but still a ways away. This was the only time I had to actually pull the reins a bit and actually correct a little rather than just signaling with them.

In fact, that was really the next little part of the lesson - getting her to realize she needed to listen to me rather than keep looking over towards Jill. I started using the reins mostly to gently get her attention whenever she looked over rather than to steer her. We also had a few gentle discussions about what speed we were going to go at. Dragon listened perfectly - but I needed to actually tell her to stay slow.

There were only two very slightly concerning parts during all this.

The first time was while I was in the trot (quite intentionally opening up a bit) and apparently she drifted over to an even faster trot then I realized she was able to do. I was bouncing in the seat and focused on trying to figure out how to stay down - without realizing that the problem wasn’t my seat, but the fact that the horse had sped up on me without me noticing. Jill asked me to slow her down - which I did - before going into a turn. Honestly, I’m glad she asked. In retrospect I was too focused on what my body was doing to realize that my mistake was the speed rather than my form and that trying to turn on her while bouncing like that probably wasn't the greatest idea. I don't think I would have lost my seat, but I wouldn't have been totally in control. In retrospect, catching this so quickly was one of the things that gave me more confidence in Jill.

The second was that while weaving through the jumps Dragon very clearly kept trying to line up on them. I don’t think she thought that was what I was asking her to do - it was more a suggestion of something more fun we could try. I had to politely tell her that no, sadly, today we would not be going over the jumps - even the cute little ones she was trying to line me up on.

While I don't want to over-project too much I found myself secretly wondering if Dragon was picking up on my excitement and reflecting it in herself. To be honest, I really kind of did want to go faster, and I really kind of did want to touch those jumps. I just knew it wasn’t a good idea. Dragon and I honestly were actually of roughly the same mind in what we wanted to do. I almost felt a little guilty I wasn’t ready to oblige her yet.

We ended by wrapping up the lesson back on lead as I tried to do some posting on trot. This was where my awesomeness wore off. While I could stand in the stirrups (two point) for a few strides at a time fairly easily, I just really couldn’t get the timing right on posting. We spent the rest of the lesson with me trying to get it before we ran out of time. The next lesson arrived and I got to do a walking-only cool-down with the horse while the next lesson was tacking up their horses.

Then the scariest part of the whole lesson happened: I was asked to dismount. You may laugh, but this horse was 5’8”+ off the ground at the haunches and I had no idea what I was doing. This was not something it had occurred to me to try to figure out how to do ahead of time.

Swinging my leg over I kicked poor Dragon in the hindquarters with my heel trying to get my leg over before sliding down. She very graciously did not seem to hold it against me, but I felt bad. I was able to give her a couple more treats before she was off to her next lesson (where I think she probably got her wish to be able to do some jumping).

Jill told me I did very, very well for a beginner. I paid my lesson fee and we set up a time for the next week.

Key Thoughts:
  • Dragon was probably the perfect lesson horse for me personally. I actually loved the fact that she had a bit of an opinion on what we were going to do - both because she responded to such subtle cues and because her gentle testing of boundaries gave me a bit of practice in being gently assertive. I’m not sure this would have been so great for a more nervous rider - but then, I’m not sure she would have been as assertive if I hadn't consciously tried to pull her attention from paying attention to Jill to paying attention to me. She very much seemed to change attitude based on what I was doing up there. I got to use the cues for ‘stop’ and ‘slow down’ about twice as much as anything else - which I am very glad of, as that practice was quite useful. Overall, this was a major confidence-builder.

  • Let’s be honest, I’m falling a bit in love with my lesson horse. I’ve already decided at this point that Dragon is basically a dream horse. She’s not mine, and knowing a bit of Jill’s philosophy I suspect I will be on a lot of different horses over the course of my training - but right now I know that in the distant future if I think about getting a horse I will want Jill to help me find and train it. I really liked Jill as a lesson instructor - but based on Dragon I kinda love her as a horse agent/trainer.

  • Jill’s constant and attentive vigilance is what really makes me, especially looking back in retrospect, feel safe. She was actually fairly quiet during the lesson proper - not trying to yell corrections out at me constantly the way I often saw on youtube. She actually even explained this at one point, saying she’d rather just give me a couple things to focus on getting right at a time rather than picking at every little detail at once. She commented once about keeping my heels down but mostly just let me get a feel for riding. She also caught that speed-up hardly two seconds after it happened, and seemed to notice/respond to any time I either did something very well or was even slightly uncertain. Her only other real correction was encouraging me when I ended up having to really pull the reins to get Dragon to halt. I felt I moved *very* fast this lesson, but I also felt very safe throughout and I am very happy with the way Jill walked that line. I think she is probably a great trainer for me. We both seemed very happy with each other.

  • I can definitely feel what Dragon is going to do before she does it. Describing how exactly is a bit hard - but it’s not subtle, at least with her. I can feel both what she’s doing and what she really wants to do. I thought it might just be me projecting things - but there’s a definite and real feeling there that’s pretty darn clear. I just need to be careful to be sure I'm reading it correctly. I now think I understand "I want to go faster" and "I'm about to go faster" very well.

  • If the goal of this lesson was confidence building and assessment, I think that worked. I am far, far ahead of where I expected to be at this point and definitely thinking that this will be a good sport for me. I am not sure one lesson a week is going to be enough. I am giddy to the point of dancing around like a fool. I need to keep this a little in check so I don’t go horse-crazy.


Trainer Assigned Homework:
  • Work on heel flexibility by standing on a stair and dropping my heels down and doing toe-touching exercises.


Self-Assigned Homework:

  • Try to academically figure out the timing and correct posture on posting trot. Right now I only 50% get it. I need to watch people who are good at this so I can figure out how exactly I’m supposed to be moving.

  • See what is sore over the next few days and start looking at building a fitness routine around that.

  • Start pre-researching how to stay on for canter, so should that come up I am prepared. We blasted through everything I had pre-researched in basically the first lesson… I need to start looking into the next steps if I want to stay nicely ahead.

  • Seriously think about requesting twice-a-week lessons. Look at my financial situation and decide if that is a reasonable thing to look into.
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post #7 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post
Please rethink the "don't need a lazy streak". You'll be a beginner for a long time, believe me. If you have a safe slow horse of your own (or lease), you will learn so much faster than having to use other people's horses on their schedule not yours.
Fair Point - and I do 100% agree on being a beginner for a long time. The key point of difference was more how long it will be before I'm seriously looking into horse ownership. Specifically, I want to be very, very sure that this is a lifelong interest before making that sort of commitment. Putting barriers out there like saying I need to be at a certain skill level before I look at ownership is one way I'm trying to keep my enthusiasm relatively in check. I also have about zero idea just how far I want to take all this at this point or even in exactly what directions I want to go - if my interest turns out to be trail riding that's going to require something very different than if I fall in love with dressage or eventing. There are just so many unknowns at this point.

I also am already seeing your point about learning faster with leasing/buying rather than having to use other people's horses. It has occurred to me that getting time in the saddle practicing is going to be something I am going to have to think about addressing. This may push me towards leasing/owning sooner than I'd feel fully comfortable really managing the sort of horse I have envisioned in my mind.

Also, to clarify: it's not that I am looking for the "excitement" of a badly-mannered, untrained, or 'project' horse by any stretch of the imagination. It's also not that I'm looking to skimp on $$ by looking at an OTTB (board is the same regardless of what horse I get, and that's the big expense to me). I'm also definitely not looking to buy a horse and then assume I'll somehow learn to be ready for it after I buy it - that's how a horse gets wrecked or I get hurt. I've broken enough bones in my life not to be eager to do it again needlessly.

It's mostly just that I want a horse who is enthusiastic and happy to be doing whatever it is we end up doing and the thought of getting a 'starter' horse I might grow out of seems kind of sad to me. This might just be a reality I need to deal with - or (as I'm starting to think) I might want to consider leasing something nice and gentle so I can get a lot more riding time in for now while I try to get good enough to make my dreams reasonable.

Again though - I'm at very early stages of learning here and may well come around to everyone's wisdom as I get a bit more experience under my feet.
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Cammey is offline  
post #8 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 05:12 PM
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Subbing, and welcome to horses!

I'm also a beginner (been around horses for just over a year), but you're getting to take lessons (which I don't), so I'm excited to see what goes on with you! I'll be looking forward to updates. ;)
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Don't judge someone's horse or skill because they don't compete or work with a trainer.

Sometimes they're the most in tune with each other.
BlindHorseEnthusiast4582 is offline  
post #9 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 05:44 PM
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First welcome to the world of horses! I'm sure you will enjoy the adventure of becoming an accomplished equestrian just based on your first lesson. You already seem to have a good feel for the horse, understanding that it is your weight, seat, legs, and core that control the horse, not the reins!


A simple example of just how valuable those been there, done that easy going horses are.......5 years ago I bought a paint mare for my 2 oldest granddaughters who wanted to learn to ride (Mom is an excellent rider but her horse is too hot for beginners). Then the grandsons learned that my hubby (not their biological grandfather since my first husband died) rides so they wanted to ride too, but only if he would teach them, not Mom or me. Today that old mare is teaching 6 kids how to cut cattle! That old mare has taught the kids responsibility, compassion, time management skills, scheduling so everybody can ride, giving 110%, and more. The mare I bought for their beginner lessons is now teaching them advanced skills, demanding more from each child as she'he progresses while taking excellent care of the younger ones.
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post #10 of 270 Old 10-06-2016, 09:11 PM
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Great read on your first lesson, really enjoyed it and well written.

You are going to learn a lot, and sounds like you have a good lesson horse to start with.

Horses absolutely pick up on what you are thinking and feeling. I'm not 100% that telepathy exists, but if it does, horses are experts in it.
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