Encouragement for beginners - What a difference a year makes :) - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 28 Old 02-04-2017, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Folly View Post
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 think a clinic aimed at adult semi-beginners is a great idea! At my daughter's lesson barn, there are a couple of moms that started taking lessons so I decided to jump in as well. We have a ball! It's so much fun and we all laugh about it, which makes it a little more light-hearted and less judgmental. We do ride in groups with kids, so we watch the kids and admire them and joke about how we're all out of breath but they're not even breathing hard.

I also had a couple of friends who started taking lessons, then were told by the coach she didn't have time for them because they're not interested in competing. So I got them signed up at my daughter's lesson barn and we are going to do an all-adult group starting next week! I think it will be great.

So my point is, organize it and I bet you will have interested people! Make sure you know what is the minimum number of participants to make a go of it, and try to set it up a few weeks away. People usually need time to work something into their schedule and it's often easier to sign up for something a month or two in advance than a week or two. Then, advertise on Facebook, classifieds, hang posters up in tack stores and even in those lesson barns geared at kids! Lots of moms, and maybe some dads, might want to get to know this sport their kids are so passionate about! Especially the ones who are considering or who have already bought a horse for their kid and want to be able to oversee things.
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post #22 of 28 Old 02-04-2017, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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That sounds like great fun taking a group lesson with adults!
Acadian, do you take lessons on your own horse?... do you trailer there?

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 #23 of 28 Old 02-04-2017, 09:58 PM
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DH and I are going to take a 'Despooking Clinic' in March. It was advertised on Facebook and sold out in hours. If it's a good clinic, put on with someone who has the chops and is known for their work, you can get a clinic filled up very quickly with very little effort.

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post #24 of 28 Old 02-05-2017, 01:38 AM
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This really is an awesome thread, and it was a great post to read. Like you I'm a beginner (about 2 years in now), but I don't have my own horse and still fit in with the kid group most times. :)

When I first started out I actually thought I knew something about how all this worked, even though I had not worked with horses a day in my life, of course I'd learned everything I needed of basics from books and the internet.
Boy was I in for a shock! I realized I had no idea how to lead a horse, pick its feet, or halter it, much less ride or correct behavior. The only things I really knew how to do were clip on a lead rope and not get kicked.

A few weeks ago I made first of several realizations about how far I'd come since I got a permanent horse to work with (over a year ago). Before I was struggling just to get him moving (since he had a bad habit of stopping and planting his feet), and could barely do anything with him. Several months later he was far from the perfect gentleman, but behaved better for me than anyone else. Found out that some of the issues I had with him (backing, trotting, and lifting feet) were ones that he'd had with his previous rider, so therefore were long term and not totally my fault. Then we went again to a period of time where every day was a struggle and frankly neither one of us liked each other much.

Now I can get him trotting (granted not consistently, only occasionally but still better than before), back him up consistently, and while still not great he's getting better with his feet. I also got him backing under saddle and a lot softer while doing groundwork. On top of that his owner told me that she trusts me to handle all of her (15) horses, and I am working on building trust with her Thoroughbred who she will not let anyone ride right now and who nobody can do much with. I've now gotten to the point that she will follow me in the pasture, I've managed to pick up 3 of her 4 feet, and a couple of weeks ago there was difficulty in getting a blanket on her. She stood quietly with nothing but a rope tied around her neck and some food while she got blanketed, no fuss.

I don't pretend I did it all on my own, but I'm pretty proud of where I've gotten so far.
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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.
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post #25 of 28 Old 02-06-2017, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
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I'm loving hearing the success stories - and glad to see I'm not the only one who appreciates even modest milestones!

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 #26 of 28 Old 02-06-2017, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Folly View Post
That sounds like great fun taking a group lesson with adults!
Acadian, do you take lessons on your own horse?... do you trailer there?
No, I don't bring my own horse. I don't have a trailer and frankly, trailering for lessons is a big hassle in my opinion. We have done it, but it's so much easier to just ride the lesson horses. They respond instantly to cues and are used to dealing with beginners who sometimes get things wrong. Kodak isn't always 100% responsive to cues so I have a hard time focusing on my riding when I'm always focusing on getting her to cooperate with me. I figure riding a schooling horse is a good way for me to feel the way things should work. Also, if I make a mistake, I'm not messing up Kodak's training. Hopefully I will be able to transfer what I've learned over to her.

My coach will travel to me to give lessons on Kodak while my daughter does a lesson on her horse. But right now, at home, the footing wouldn't allow us to do much more than walk. We may do a few lessons at home this spring. This is just something for me to do in the winter using the indoor arena at the lesson barn.

My daughter has also been taking weekly lessons at this barn for a couple of years now. When the footing is good, she does one lesson at the lesson barn and one at home with the coach on Harley. She has ridden a variety of horses, each with different challenges. As a result, her riding has improved tremendously! If she only ever rode Harley, it would almost be too easy for her. The only challenge she has with Harley is his level of energy at the canter and jumping. So the coach now has her riding a very high-energy horse at the lesson barn. Hardly anyone is allowed to ride this horse because it is a real handful. At first, my daughter felt intimidated, but she go the hang of it very quickly. And now, when she rides Harley, he seems easy compared to this horse!

All this to say that there are advantages to riding other horses than your own. It seemed counter-intuitive at first, but now I understand the value in doing this.
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post #27 of 28 Old 02-06-2017, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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I see your point.

When I first got Dakota I boarded her for a few months at the barn I mentioned above and took a few lessons on her (that was a good move and helped us get to know each other). Then we moved her to my friend's place. I actually had considered moving her back to the barn for the winter so we could do more training together, but the weather has been so mild here... sorry to tell you that... ;) .... that we just kept riding.

With work, volunteer commitments, etc, I can only get out there to ride once or twice a week (trying to catch the best weather days). At this point I'm longing to get some lessons, but I don't want to spend any of my precious 'horse time' away from my horse, if that makes sense. Just trying to balance it all. Plus, it's not all about me... The other half of this boarding arrangement is that it gives my friend a riding companion - something she's been mostly lacking in recent years. It's been a wonderful year of growth for her and her rather green mare due in large part to all the riding we've been able to do together.

Our horses are a very symbiotic pair. Her's is dominant, forward, likes to lead - but can turn timid fast when confronted my something new. My mare is fine leading or following; isn't lazy but definitely is fine with a slower pace, but will move out when asked or in order to keep up; and is willing (in most cases) to take on scary things first - and my friend's mare will then follow. Anyway, that's what my "lessons" have consisted of the past 9 months or so.

I've considered trying to find someone to come to me for lessons (I think I now know a trainer who would), but we don't really have an arena to ride in. There is a smallish rectangular pasture with pretty even terrain that can be gated off - but it has grass footing. I am definitely ready to start improving my skills, but wouldn't trade the past year's experiences for anything - and still really enjoy the casual pleasure riding.
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I'm a mid-lifer finally making time for horses... Having a blast, but there's soooo much to learn -

Last edited by Folly; 02-06-2017 at 09:21 AM.
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post #28 of 28 Old 02-06-2017, 11:43 AM
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I totally understand that Folly! If I had to choose between doing lessons and riding my own horse, I'd probably be riding Kodak. But since the footing sucks at home (I can ride, but really can't do anything too fast), I figured a few lessons in an indoor arena might help jump-start my spring/summer riding season!
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