Trials and Tribulations of the Adult Beginner - Page 8 - The Horse Forum
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post #71 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 09:06 AM
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They sure have an excellent program that benefits many horses and eventually riders! If Dragon is the calmest and best for your level, if they are willing to let you ride her for experience not in a lesson, that's a good indication that they feel you have the skills to handle her. It doesn't hurt to ask.


I definitely agree that riding different horses is one of the best ways to improve your equine skills. The hunter/jumper barn I started at had a rule that you could not ride the same horse 2 lessons in a row so we learned how to adjust our riding to the individual horse. It has proved to be a valuable lesson even 50+ years later!
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post #72 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 12:42 PM
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Just curious, how many books/articles have you been published in? And I have a question------I have the same paddock boots, but there is no "notch in the sole" for the stirrups. I have seen and tried on a lot of boots and have never seen soles with stirrup notches, it would actually seem unsafe to me, but I may just be out of the loop.
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post #73 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 01:40 PM
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Cammey,

as soon as you can, take some video of yourself riding. this will , one day, be an invaluable asset. you will see for yourself how far you have come. I wish, wish, wish I had done this, but when I started riding, at age 41 in 1999, it wasn't as easy as just filming with a cell phone.
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post #74 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairie View Post
They sure have an excellent program that benefits many horses and eventually riders! If Dragon is the calmest and best for your level, if they are willing to let you ride her for experience not in a lesson, that's a good indication that they feel you have the skills to handle her. It doesn't hurt to ask.

I definitely agree that riding different horses is one of the best ways to improve your equine skills. The hunter/jumper barn I started at had a rule that you could not ride the same horse 2 lessons in a row so we learned how to adjust our riding to the individual horse. It has proved to be a valuable lesson even 50+ years later!
I will probably ask. I’m a little socially nervous to if that makes any sense? But I will see if there’s a way I can ask more generally (‘how would I go about getting more experience between lessons’) and see if the proposal comes forth.

… Yeah, I’ll be honest, I love the idea of trying more horses. I am even considering seeing if I can do just a plain-old structured trail ride during this ‘off’ weekend to see if I can find some time to try out what will probably be nearer to the opposite end of the horse spectrum. This is especially true after getting so much feedback regarding broadening my horizons on horses. Mind you, a lot of these horses I think were kind of selected to have similar attributes - but they're still all individuals and I really look forward to learning about that.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Whinnie View Post
Just curious, how many books/articles have you been published in? And I have a question------I have the same paddock boots, but there is no "notch in the sole" for the stirrups. I have seen and tried on a lot of boots and have never seen soles with stirrup notches, it would actually seem unsafe to me, but I may just be out of the loop.

I'm kind of curious about the source of the question - thank you for the compliment I think?

As to the answer: none in anything related to horses or athletics. I have one article and one bit of poetry which were published in anthologies years ago, and have written a smattering of articles. None of this was professional (paid for) work. I've also written a couple full-length texts (non-fiction) but none have ever been published and none ever will - because I don't have time to promote a book, do book tours, and all the other things you have to actually do to write professionally. Most authors I know make more money off of speaker fees or books they sell themselves at signings rather than actual royalties. It's a hard world and you have to have a real passion for it. I don't.


My boyfriend/live in partner of 6 years on the other hand is a professional freelance writer (I mentioned I'm the breadwinner...). I also have friends who are seriously in the industry, which is how I usually get talked into doing articles/presentations and how I got talked into putting a work into an anthology. I've also done a little bit of reviewing/editing in that sort of pre-professional sphere where you get your name mentioned as a 'thank you for being a reviewer' section at the beginning of a book but don't actually get paid anything.

So I'd consider myself someone who hangs around writers but really isn't one. It's something I enjoy, but you're not going to find my name listed in Borders or on Amazon.

As to the paddock boots:



They look like notches to me - though hardly deep ones. I can feel when they sit against the edge of the stirrups, which is nice, but they’re pretty shallow so I doubt they'd count as a safety hazard (hopefully?).


Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Cammey,

as soon as you can, take some video of yourself riding. this will , one day, be an invaluable asset. you will see for yourself how far you have come. I wish, wish, wish I had done this, but when I started riding, at age 41 in 1999, it wasn't as easy as just filming with a cell phone.

That is a brilliant idea which I am not sure how I will implement, but I really want to.

I wonder if my trainer would be utterly opposed to doing this for me so I can review it. Unfortunately I do not think I am going to find anyone willing to wake up with me at coffee o’clock - but I will ask Jill if she’d mind or if she’d be willing to take a bit of cellphone camera footage. Heck, it may help me see what the heck I was doing wrong with getting ‘behind the horse’.
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post #75 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 02:49 PM
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Those notches just look like extra grip, I don't think you could get caught up in the stirrups with those.

I have had trainers record for me during lessons, usually just for a clip here or there (over a jump/grid or doing a specific exercise), just ask and see if she's open to the idea. If you preface it with the thought that you want to learn how to self evaluate and acquire a collection of videos of yourself to see progress, I think she'd be happy to. :)
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post #76 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 02:52 PM
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Yep, agreed, I think most trainers don't mind taking short cell phone clips for their students. Some people here have ingenious set-ups where they're able to stabilize their camera on a fence/wall to capture most of their ride, but I'm not able to make that happen!
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post #77 of 270 Old 10-26-2016, 03:17 PM
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I had imagined the "notches" as a cut out for the stirrup iron to seat against. Those are like grip treads. Thanks for the clarity.
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post #78 of 270 Old 10-29-2016, 07:48 PM
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Let's see. I read a bunch more posts, but still not nearly through. Was really concerned to hear of you being in the pasture with all those horses and a handful of carrots. Thought maybe I'm over-reacting, since I'm older, tend to have seen more bad things happen, but then read posts by others also showing concern so feel mine is validated.

First thought, well, that owner knows she's going out to get the lead mare and therefore, in a safe spot. Maybe that was the case, but then read that other people go out that same way to get their horses, so then maybe not you in danger, but others are, as all can't be getting the lead mare in a herd. People going out to get their horses need to know at the very least how to have respect of those horses coming near them; need to have their rope and halter ready, need not to be giving any reason for others to think they should expect treats.

As said, I'm older, being more cautious, as have caused plenty of accidents, been too impulsive, too careless. After the incidents with allowing kids to almost get hurt on my little molly mule, realized had to be a lot more careful. Have been responsible in past for animals getting killed, carelessness or ignorance, but am going to do my best not to get a child or myself killed with this new equine past-time. So went to library and checked out a book that you might want to read. It's called TEACHING SAFE HORSEMANSHIP, by Jan Dawson, President of the American Assoc. for Horsemanship Safety.

It's meant for instructors to read and riding stables, so very heavily emphasizes how eager people are to file lawsuits and how any lack of due diligence by stable owners can very easily get them into trouble. If you want to be sure your trainer stays in business so can teach you and keep these fabulous horses she seems to have, might want to introduce her to some of the things in this book, as after reading this book, she looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Then for yourself, first thing the book says is instructor needs to be sure you understand the dangers of being around horses; to explain to each student the nature of a horse as a prey animal. Can see why with a new student she doesn't want to scare you off, but certainly, she could find a way to introduce her students to horse and herd behavior. Most importantly, she could be sure they are not out there with treats and no knowledge of what behaviors to watch for or positions to be careful of.

Because my first equine was a mule, behaviors of which I knew nothing and made no assumptions, I read many books and watched many videos to find out how to get the mule to understand I was the lead mare. As the saying goes, mules MUST be handled like horses SHOULD be handled, but horses are much more forgiving. I'm lucky to have a well-trained, friendly molly mule, but I try to be sure myself and the kids are always careful now when around either mule or little horse.

It's clear to me that your instructor right away could see that you are athletic, that you have very good balance, and she probably did not need to go as slowly with you as with some people. In fact, she may have wanted you to start having a good time and a thrilling time immediately so that you would either be sure to continue or immediately realize this was not going to be for you. In either case, I think if you read this book, you will see that she is probably putting you into somewhat dangerous situations given your lack of experience.

Many people here have said that you need to have patience, it won't always be exciting, and if done according to this book, which does talk about lunge line at trot and canter until sure people have balance, for you it would probably be pretty dull, but at least you might realize there was a reason for taking more time and learning safer habits. I particularly enjoyed the post #19 by KountryPrincess in a Sticky under Forum Keeping & Caring for Horses, New to Horses, called Thinking of Getting Your Own Horse, which is mostly about what and how to learn riding before you actually get your horse. It has helped me know what I need to do to help the kids best learn to ride my little horse and I wish I had known about this thread before purchasing, but, luckily, seem to have done alright with advice from responses on the less populated forum I used to belong to. I'm grateful to those people who helped me.

As always, the posts get away from me and become very long, but I've loved reading your journal, your excitement about this new sport and want you to stay safe and in love with riding and all it can offer. (Another thing the book mentions as first thing to train student is quick, emergency dismount, which I had my neighbor kids practicing again today. Very valuable, as one of the near-fatal accidents I caused was when the little mule got agitated, I said to the athletic little 10-year old boy, "slide off, slide off", had explained to him how to bring foot up over butt quickly, but we hadn't practiced, so in the excitement of the moment, he slid off head first, luckily doing a belly flop and not badly hurt, but so close to a life-changing accident.)
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post #79 of 270 Old 10-31-2016, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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General response to @NavigatorsMom, @egrogan, and @Whinnie who made similar comments:


I’ll ask about the recording. People are probably right that she’ll be fine with it (not sure if she’ll do it for me during lessons or not, but we’ll see). Heck, it’s not like there aren’t lots and lots of pictures of the horses, people schooling (mostly jumping), competitions, etc. all over the site and facebook (mostly facebook), and I know she does some video of the horses as well. I just feel weird interrupting our lesson time - but I’ll ask.


As to notches: yeah, wasn’t quite sure what to call them. The thing is that as small as they are, I can feel when the stirrup slides up to them and it’s been helping me figure out exactly where I want my feet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LlamaPacker View Post
It's called TEACHING SAFE HORSEMANSHIP, by Jan Dawson, President of the American Assoc. for Horsemanship Safety.


It's meant for instructors to read and riding stables, so very heavily emphasizes how eager people are to file lawsuits and how any lack of due diligence by stable owners can very easily get them into trouble. If you want to be sure your trainer stays in business so can teach you and keep these fabulous horses she seems to have, might want to introduce her to some of the things in this book, as after reading this book, she looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I’ll add it to my wishlist (as I have quite a pile I am reading right now), but to be honest I am not going to be presumptuous enough to read a book and start suggesting to my instructor how she should run things in a general sense or advise on things I am not an expert on. I may ask her to swap up a lesson plan for me to meet a specific need of mine (as a much rawer beginner than she usually tries to train) but presuming to wade into liability law… I know just enough to understand just how little I know of her situation. I’ll leave those discussions to be between she and her insurance firm.


As to my own safety (something of more concern to me personally) - I’m a little torn. I do actively want to develop the skills required to catch from the herd. This stable requires it for their normal operations - as does the one I am looking at possibly leasing from. The real question is how much instruction to get from where I am currently to there, and how to minimize risk in that instruction. I’m not sure how much better of an approach there is to going out there supervised - perhaps an intermediate step of going out there and watching her do it… but to be honest I’m not sure from a risk-perspective that would have really been any better for her to be the one distracted trying to halter the horse while I was standing in the herd watching her, rather than me being the one slightly distracted haltering the horse and her being able to look over the whole situation and react to things… it’s all arguable.


Overall though, it’s a skill I both need and want to develop.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LlamaPacker View Post
Many people here have said that you need to have patience, it won't always be exciting, and if done according to this book, which does talk about lunge line at trot and canter until sure people have balance, for you it would probably be pretty dull, but at least you might realize there was a reason for taking more time and learning safer habits.

It’s interesting that this is the feedback I keep getting on the forum because it’s quite different from the feedback I usually get in person. I actually really don’t mind time spent perfecting things - I can and will happily practice a skill or activity until I feel it’s just right and more often than not my over-emphasis on being a perfectionist is where I have tended to garner some criticism - especially in the early stages of learning something. I’ve actually worked pretty hard over the years to accept that I will make little mistakes, not get frustrated with myself, and move forward rather than trying to go over the same things again and again until I’m satisfied with them.


I’d be happy running around a lunge line for an entire lesson ironing out what every little muscle should be doing - it's kind of my comfort zone. Though admittedly, one of the things I like about this instructor is that she’s constantly pushing me past that and not letting me become too fixated on anything before I’ve got something else to deal with. Part of me wants to sit there and nitpick, but by that point I’m already off being challenged in a different way that requires my full attention.


The only impatience I’ve had thus far with any of this is my lack of ability to practice. I understand that right now I just don’t have the requisite skills and knowledge to do so safely on my own, but I feel almost a sense of (I know misplaced) guilt - like I am not doing any homework between lessons. Whenever I’ve had private lessons in anything previously I have always been studious in ensuring that my time in lessons is for getting corrections on my work and being taught new things - as a way of showing the instructor that I value and appreciate their time, and that I am serious about learning the things I am being taught. Obviously, the situation I’m in now doesn’t allow for it - but that feeling lingers.
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post #80 of 270 Old 10-31-2016, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Post Interlude - A Trail Ride

Since I was unable to attend lessons this weekend I decided instead to experiment with a completely different equestrian endeavor. I wanted to get a little breadth to my riding experience and try out being on a different horse. I also wanted something fun I could do socially. So I went and got myself, my boyfriend, and a friend of mine (my prior climbing partner actually) out for a woodland trail ride.

This ride was advertised as being entirely suitable for beginners. We were asked height, weight, and level of riding experience (I said baby-beginner just starting English lessons). Helmets were technically optional for everyone over 18 - though provided for free and recommended (I brought mine).

We went in, signed paperwork, were offered helmets, and had horses selected for us. I was hooked up with Glimmer, who I’d guess was about 15hh and a deep chestnut brown. She was wearing western tack (including, to be honest, a bit that scared me a little - not sure exactly what it was, but it was about 3-4” of leverage and each side wiggled around independently.. So tom thumb maybe?). I was given a few minutes to go over and make introductions.

We mounted up and then were milling around a little bit. The way my horse was situated this actually required me to back up a few steps to get us out between a barrel and another horse. So we very gently went through the backing process (which went basically one step at a time but that was just fine with me - I really, really did not want to put anything but the lightest pressure on that bit) and I worked to get her walking.

She turned fine, but when I cued her to walk forward (with a completely hanging rein) and she… well just didn’t. So I cued harder… and harder… and eventually ended up giving her a fairly solid kick to get her moving even a few steps forward - at which point she stopped. I had to kick her pretty solidly again to get a few more steps… and finally got her into her position in the line.

Understand, if I ever kicked Dragon like that I suspect I would find us either through or over a fence… or more likely her over a fence and me left on top of it. The difference in ‘volume’ required for the forward movement was night and day. With Dragon, even at her most hesitant (which I think was the very beginning of last lesson) the ‘cues’ really are that - cues. I did have to actually go from touching to bumping/kicking slightly to get her up into a faster walk at the very start of last lesson - but it was much more ‘hey, wake up - it’s lesson time’ as opposed to seriously trying to motivate the horse through being kicked.

Glimmer was not going to move forward for anything less than coercion - and to be honest I found that somewhat frustrating. The concept of ‘spurs’, which had always seemed honestly more than a little cruel to me, suddenly made far more sense.

Once we got into the lineup and started moving things went a fair bit better. It was clear these horses were well trained to play follow-the-leader, and while Glimmer didn’t seem thrilled to be there for the most part she continued to plod forward with steady familiarity, even managing to get her spacing with the horse in front of us somewhat reasonable.

The first half of the ride was going along well - the scenery was pretty, though to be honest I’m a little spoiled on pretty woodland scenery. I could try giving instructions to the horse - but why pick on a horse that clearly is doing exactly the right thing? So to be honest I found myself a tiny bit bored - not about to fully let myself get distracted by the scenery while on horseback, but at the same time not finding the riding itself that interesting.

I started using the time to really focus on the details of my seat - trying to balance my torso, keep my heels down with my legs completely relaxed, and let the horse move my hips ‘out of the way’ of the saddle movement while my torso remained motionless and comfortably navigating the hills and mud - feeling each muscle move as I did so. Occasionally I would ask the horse to slow down to let someone else get through a tricky section first before we started on it, or to avoid getting a rider behind us stuck somewhere awkward as we went up/down a little hill. There actually were a handful of sections with bad footing or somewhat notable up/down climbs - and lots and lots of mud, which seems to be an endemic generally in this area right now.

That lasted about halfway through the ride - then we all heard a large ‘crack’ that sounded distinctly like a tree-branch ripping off and coming down. Most of the other horses seemed not to notice/care. Glimmer froze up and gave sort of a panicked look around and honestly I felt my own little spike of adrenaline - not from the branch, but from her obvious looking for an exit.

The trail we were on at that point was narrow enough I had to carefully watch my knees due to trees and brush on both sides, and had us penned in behind one large horse and in front of another - any path she tried to take other than dead-forward was going to be an ugly, ugly ride. She was tense as a brick and had pinned her ears.

I waited a moment and touched the reins lightly, not even really trying to instruct her - but more to remind her I was there. Then I asked her - far more gently than before - to keep walking.

For the next ten minutes or so she was constantly trying to get up nose-to-tail for the horse in front of us, and when the path widened out to potentially allow for two horses I had to halt her to keep her from trying to pass. Every time I touched the reins (and I do mean touched - the weight of the reins themselves was all the pressure I was putting on that bit) to try to slow her she would start to throw her head - though she would halt. As far as I could tell she was completely oblivious to seat cues or any leg cues that didn’t involve kicking. Things that hadn’t really bothered her before - like the squeaking of other rider’s tack, and branches being stepped on up ahead - suddenly merited an upright ear and a concerned look.

I did discover that, unlike Dragon who I don’t usually use much in the way of verbal cues with, she seemed to like being verbally told what to do (‘woah’ worked better than either the reins or the seat to get her to slow down). Once I started talking she would keep an ear back to me, and seemed to calm down just in general. After I discovered this we were able to enjoy a much more sedate trip back.

By the time we got back to the barn she had both stopped rushing and even listened to me when I told her to walk using more sensibly-volumed cues, It was also sort of nice to have a horse that genuinely would just stand still. Though in an act of hilarity, I decided not to wait for the mounting block to dismount (it seemed about half of everyone was doing this) and when I went to dismount then she decided to walk on unbidden. This was fine and I dismounted easily - but sort of funny to me as mounting/dismounting are about the only time Dragon will actually stand still for me while I’m on her back.

Honestly, besides feeling a some concern for my jumpy horse, I actually enjoyed this second part of the ride more than the first, because in it I learned more about the horse and had a bit more to pay attention to riding. The first part was mostly plodding along on a track. We couldn’t really talk due to the single-line nature of the trail and the social convention of the ride (most people were silently relaxing). We couldn’t stop to really look at anything because that would hold things up, and a large part of my field of vision when paying attention to the trail was filled with the rear-end of my boyfriend’s taller horse. It wasn’t quite relaxing because I was still on an unfamiliar horse and wasn’t about to let myself get totally lost in thought.

I also have disproven the theory that I will love every horse I ride. I don’t think anything was wrong with Glimmer - but the degree to which she seemed deadened by the type of work she had been doing was almost a little depressing. The degree to which I really had to kick her left me feeling a touch guilty. At no point did I get the sense she was really enjoying herself.

More generally, in the right context I think I might enjoy trail riding, but it would need to be a situation where I was riding a horse I really enjoyed and controlling the tempo of the ride a bit more so I could actually enjoy the scenery. This may be something to try again once I am leasing a horse (though for safety reasons I’d want to find someone else leasing a horse so we could ride out together). There is also another place that advertises ‘intermediate to advanced’ trail rides - which I obviously don’t qualify for - but which I think might be worth looking at once I do just to give the experience another shot.

So in summary, I’m glad I did this. I feel I learned a bit - but I probably won’t be trying it again any time soon.
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