Encouragement for beginners - What a difference a year makes :) - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 09:48 AM
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What a great story; itís good that you can enjoy your horse.
Itís amazing when everything clicks. I went through two horses and many arguments before I felt like I had got the right one. I class the first two as training; so when I bought Toby everything so much easier.
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post #12 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Folly View Post
Dreamcatcher, you've been a witness to this 'folly' from just about the beginning.... You probably have had your doubts :)

I still do a lot of things wrong - but 2 years ago I didn't even know how to pick a horse's hoof... or that I even needed to lol. Now I'm reasonably self-sufficient (ie, not a burden to my riding companions while tacking up or riding). Ha - sounds a little lame when my loftiest goals are to 'not be a burden', but that's where I've been. I'm looking forward to improving my horsemanship in 2017 and feel like we've put down a pretty good foundation of trust.
I never doubted that if you could get outside your head and put your fear of making a mistake aside, you would make an awesome partnership with a horse. A few times with the first horse, and right after, I had doubts that you would be able to do that because the first horse was just so much not 'your horse'. In the beginning, I wasn't sure you'd be able to let go enough to bond with the next horse, but you sure did try. And that's all it takes, TRY. When a horse or a person has the TRY, then they're never a burden. So, you guys DONE GOOD!
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post #13 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
I never doubted that if you could get outside your head and put your fear of making a mistake aside, you would make an awesome partnership with a horse. A few times with the first horse, and right after, I had doubts that you would be able to do that because the first horse was just so much not 'your horse'. In the beginning, I wasn't sure you'd be able to let go enough to bond with the next horse, but you sure did try. And that's all it takes, TRY. When a horse or a person has the TRY, then they're never a burden. So, you guys DONE GOOD!
Ahhh thanks I do truly appreciate the kind words.

Seriously, the hardest part as a beginner has been sorting out what's 'my fault', and what just isn't a good fit. I didn't know with the first horse, and some people assumed every behavior issue was due to my rider error - and I'm POSITIVE I contributed. What I was afraid of was that it WAS all me, and that I would not succeed with ANY horse - and in fact that I would RUIN a good horse. What I found out though (and what I think should encourage other beginners) is that although an experienced rider can deal with just about anything, a new rider simply can't. A horse that has a great foundation of soft training... plus has a trusting, willing temperament... will be forgiving of mistakes as long as the rider does their part to be fair and 'listen'. It was such a relief to figure this out.

I do have to 'ride' this horse - she will occasionally want to discuss something - but it never ramps up to nasty, so I'm able to stay firm but calm. These discussions are few and far between now.
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I'm a mid-lifer finally making time for horses... Having a blast, but there's soooo much to learn -
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post #14 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 01:37 PM
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You made some awesome points, great insight. I'll come back and post more later, but have to run right now.

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post #15 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 01:54 PM
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Good for you! I love it when an adult decides to get "hand on" and enters the horse world. In my case, I especially love seeing a lesson kid mom slowly get more and more into it and then stays with it and enjoys it for many years, long past the point where the daughter has lost interest and moved onto boys!


I know a lot of grown women who harbor that secret horse dream but deny themselves for fear of looking foolish or selfish. Many won't let themselves even take lessons. I admire the ones who jump right in and do it!
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post #16 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 02:55 PM
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Great post!

I'm a beginner too (or really, a returner after 40 years). I try to remember to look back on a year ago as much as I can, for the same reason -- it's hard to see progress sometimes, and we beginners need a lot of encouragement even if we have to manufacture it ourselves.

A year ago, I was still spending a lot of my time sorting out very basic things, a lot of "housekeeping" like what kind of tack, how to trailer, water buckets -- everything! My horse was extremely green, it was pouring rain all the time, she was still recovering from an injury . . .

The only thing that's the same is that it's pouring rain. But that's February for you.

When I got my horse in the fall of 2015, she had had 60 days of starting training -- maybe 35 rides on her. She was soft mouthed and tried to please, but had only a very primitive idea of yielding to leg pressure, could not side pass, did not know how to canter under saddle, would not stand for mounting, often refused to be caught, had little idea of how to stay in a straight line much less a circle, would not stay 'forward', was quite stiff on one side .... and although I had retained a fair knack for staying aboard and not interfering with my horse's mouth, I rode with my rump stuck out behind and my legs stuck out in front, and could not post without flopping all over the place.

Yesterday (the end of a small dry period when I crammed in as many lessons as I could), my teacher told me she felt we had come a very long way, and that Brooke was developing into quite a fine horse. We are now working on 'long and low' which isn't all that natural for a Morgan with a naturally high-set neck carriage. We can get about six or eight good strides with her back up and her rear legs under her, but every day it's a little more. Although she still tends to fall in on one shoulder if I don't watch it, the degree to which we can stay within that rectangle is enormously improved. I don't even think I knew what a frame was, a year ago, and couldn't feel when she wasn't in it until it was way too late! We've also worked through nearly all of her little vices (being restless in the trailer is the only one left, except for pawing when tied), she is becoming a truly good trail horse, and one by one we are mastering all kinds of arena obstacles. She will side pass over a raised pole without fuss, and as for gates, she has the whole m.o.

She's only six, and was started when she was almost five, so I have to keep remembering that too -- she's a baby in experience. Just like me, really. That's why I have to keep looking back and keep saying, we've come a long way, we're doing great. If she'd been ridden by a professional this year, of course she'd be much farther along, but for a horse being trained by a total amateur, she's doing great.

The main improvement is that we understand each other so much better. I used to get mad at her for misbehaving. Now, I know so much better how to return her to stability. We are listening to each other. And she believes in me. That's the great gift of sticking with it, working through problems, figuring out a better way, a more subtle way, a way that is with your horse's mind instead of against it. She is a wonderful teacher.

I hope the coming year will be a time of growth and joy for you. And for me too!
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post #17 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Folly View Post
I didn't know with the first horse, and some people assumed every behavior issue was due to my rider error - and I'm POSITIVE I contributed. What I was afraid of was that it WAS all me, and that I would not succeed with ANY horse - and in fact that I would RUIN a good horse.

What I found out though (and what I think should encourage other beginners) is that although an experienced rider can deal with just about anything, a new rider simply can't. A horse that has a great foundation of soft training... plus has a trusting, willing temperament... will be forgiving of mistakes as long as the rider does their part to be fair and 'listen'. It was such a relief to figure this out.

I do have to 'ride' this horse - she will occasionally want to discuss something - but it never ramps up to nasty, so I'm able to stay firm but calm. These discussions are few and far between now.
I have found that 98% of the time, when something goes wrong, it's handler/rider error. That's ASSUMING a good match and a handler/rider who knows what's what. When you have a beginner and a BTDT horse, it's not unusual for the horse to get savvy and say, "Oh I got your number kid!" and to take advantage and bully the human. That just happened with my DH. Found a mare who was BTDT, been through everything including mounted patrol training, and SHOULD have been a good one for DH to learn the ropes on. Well, she tried on the trainer and lost. Tried me on and lost. She went ok for both of us, so we put DH on her. Yeah, well, let's just say she dialed his # so quick, it was probably the shortest test ride in history. She made it SO clear that she's done with beginners. Nothing ugly, nothing nasty, but very firm. So was DH to blame? Only for being a beginner.

He's riding my Cloney, who is a little hot for him but very kind hearted and watches out for him. I've decided to hide my eyes and just get on every week or 2 and fix anything that comes undone. He'll make mistakes. So will Cloney, because Cloney has never had to teach a beginner before. But I can trust that horse with my life and DH's life, he would NEVER do anything to hurt either one of us on purpose. DH may take a little longer to learn some things because he can't just get on and think about what HE needs to do, he has to think about keeping the horse on the same page with him, so that may slow him down a bit. They'll both learn from it. Nobody is going to "ruin" a perfectly good horse. I think they'll both be better for the experience.

DH still has to learn about 'firm'. He's good on calm, a lot calmer as a beginner than I ever was, even as a kid. The horse is really very calm, but is a typical Arabian and more reactive than I'd pick for a first ride. Somehow, like riding in the back of a pickup truck, or riding a bike with no helmet or running the streets all day and all night like we did as kids, I think they're going to both survive. In the meantime, I'm working on making his 2nd horse.

Your first horse taught you a lot, even if you didn't like most of it at the time. She wasn't a good fit and that may have been her most important lesson to teach you. Now, you KNOW a fit when you find one. You 2 are doing a real good job!
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post #18 of 28 Old 02-02-2017, 07:17 PM
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great update, Folly .Nice to hear such a positive post!
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post #19 of 28 Old 02-03-2017, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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Yes @Dreamcatcher Arabians - My first horse did teach me a LOT. I did a bunch of soul-searching and wonder if I would have been ready for the horse I have now if I hadn't gone through that experience. She was a nice horse, just (like you said) had simply had it with beginners and totally had my number. She had been used a lot at summer youth/children's camps which sounded good but really meant she had learned a bag of tricks. My friend tried riding her consistently for a couple of months after I bailed, and had considered keeping her (she had a lovely smooth natural fox trot that was really fun to ride) - but she found the aversions to be too much of a nuisance even though she could ride through them. Anyway, I did learn how to be firm with that horse - and have NEVER had to ramp up to anything close to that level of fortitude with Dakota. That's reassuring in itself - that I've ridden through a lot and know I can.

Anyway, I found 'beginner' is a matter of perspective :) My daughter (who had a few riding lessons when younger, but never got the 'bug' like her mom) got on Dakota, and the horse was a pill!! She would take a few steps forward, then stop... when asked to go forward again, she would walk backwards, complete with sassy ears (I had forgotten she would try that with me at first... and still does occasionally, but I can feel it coming and head it off, so I don't even think about it anymore). I had to scold her, then she walked off like a lady. It was kind of funny. Anyway, even my sweet mare wants a partner not just a passenger - and makes me earn it.

I'm a mid-lifer finally making time for horses... Having a blast, but there's soooo much to learn -
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post #20 of 28 Old 02-04-2017, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chasin Ponies View Post
Good for you! I love it when an adult decides to get "hand on" and enters the horse world. In my case, I especially love seeing a lesson kid mom slowly get more and more into it and then stays with it and enjoys it for many years, long past the point where the daughter has lost interest and moved onto boys!


I know a lot of grown women who harbor that secret horse dream but deny themselves for fear of looking foolish or selfish. Many won't let themselves even take lessons. I admire the ones who jump right in and do it!
I was just really lucky to meet this friend who opened the world of horses to me (I was 49). It's really tough as an adult to find a way 'in' to the 'horse club'. Lesson barns are almost exclusively targeted to kids (which is of course understandable)... at one point I looked and called and visited, but never came across a coach. My friend taught me the basics, and then through some other serendipity I've found another friend who had a horse as a child and then drifted away, only to return in middle-age.

Anyway, through this process I have developed relationships with a small very well run boarding barn that now has a few part-time instructors who focus on less competitive riders. I have been seriously toying with approaching the owner with a proposal (I actually think she would be game if I would help organize it) - Offering a 'Clinic' targeting women like me (starting at the very basics - in a non judgmental, non intimidating, FUN way). If I had gone to something like that 10 years ago and friendly instructors were present, I bet I would have jumped into lessons.

I have no idea how to get the word out about something like that, though... I agree there are many of us out there! Any thoughts??

I'm a mid-lifer finally making time for horses... Having a blast, but there's soooo much to learn -
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