How did you decide on your riding discipline? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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How did you decide on your riding discipline?

I am starting back up with regular lessons and have found a few great places but am having a time deciding on my final choice for a long term investment. Both are about the same distance for me and about the same price. However one place is a small hunter/jumper facility and the other is a more rustic (i.e. Tons of trees, not fancy but so relaxing and homey) dressage facility (well, the instructor I clicked with is dressage and natural horsemanship).

I have always leaned toward dressage/flat work as I have an unfounded fear of jumping (just the concept, never tried it hah). But at my lesson at the H/J barn was exhilarating. I enjoyed the calveritti (is that the right term?it was a grouping of three poles slightly off the ground that we trotted over) and overall had better balance than at my lesson with the dressage instructor, which could be for a myriad of reasons.

Both instructors teach in a way I understand and cost about the same but I don't want to make a decision based on what I like versus what I may be better suited to if that makes any lick of sense.

My question to you all is what helped you make your final decision in choosing a barn and riding style?
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post #2 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 09:34 PM
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I sought out lessons when I came off of the little mare I was newly leasing, after only a week or two or riding. I knew I needed to learn how "to ride", in a basic sort of way. I went looking for instruction, saying , "just want to learn how to have a better seat and how to communicate better with my horse", not knowing even what "dressage" was. and, in my search, asking around, folks said, "you need to take some lessons in dressage" so, I took dressage lessons for 2.5 years.

later came "natural horsemanship".
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post #3 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 09:50 PM
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I will ride in any discipline that interests me and that I have the opportunity to try. I try to find opportunities with people whose horsemanship I admire.

Of course, in the beginning all that was necessary was "HORSE." My brain didn't go beyond that. I didn't care if there was a saddle or what type saddle when there was one. And I tried to do everything exactly right that anyone told me.
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post #4 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 09:52 PM
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My mom originally told me if I wanted to ride, it had to be English. So I ended up taking 8 years of Hunter/jumper lessons. I competed for a long time. but in all of that training...I learned I liked to go fast! I liked to trail ride and gallop and wasn't allowed to do that on the expensive well trained Hunter pony I owned. My parents wouldn't allow it. That pony eventually got sold, and I went on to work with quarter horses doing barrels and poles. Now, I do both. I have one horse who's a star in the Hunter ring, a joy to take for long runs on an open trail, but hates the sharp turns in speed events. Then I have my lazy trail gelding. He's slow, but sure footed on a trail. We also did a few months of dressage training together, which was hard for him with his long back, but he tried his heart out for me. I don't currently have a horse who does speed events, but I'm hoping my little colt will take to it.

I guess, in my experience, doing a little bit of everything is a good thing. But if your scared of jumping, I'd stick with dressage. It's a challenging, fun discipline.
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post #5 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 10:26 PM
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I first learned doing hunter/jumpers....it was fun, but then I stopped taking lessons for awhile and just did pleasure riding & trails. When I took lessons again it was for basic dressage. Took a hiatus of about 8 years from lessons and have just started back up again. I'm taking lessons from a Western Dressage instructor.

I don't compete or anything...the lessons are more just to reinforce some confidence back in myself as well as get my boy back into shape. I really like my instructor and the barn is super laid back which fits me.

My suggestion would be to go where you feel most comfortable and where you think you would enjoy yourself the most (as well as learn the most).
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post #6 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 10:40 PM
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My choice has always been ride western or don't ride, I originally wanted to learn English, but being a plus sized beginner guy, I learned that was NEVER going to happen. Not unless I cut off a few limbs, not even to try it once around in my area.. oh well.. I have my own horse now and who has never been ridden English, and I don't think he would do well with English tack, plus I am not buying it to try it to see if I like doing it.. so 15 years after I wanted to start English lessons I still ride western, and have yet to even sit in an English saddle..LOL

Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot.
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post #7 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 11:07 PM
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When I started taking lessons, I learned Dressage, just because that's what the local barn offered. I was a kid at the time so it didn't really make a difference to me, and I did end up jumping just a little bit until I stopped taking lessons (school and all that got in the way)

Now I ride Western on Mondays and Dressage on Tuesdays - I find that the two really complement each other! This is once again a situation where it's just kind of what the local barns offer - I work to ride on Monday and my Tues. horse belongs to a friend - but I actually very much enjoy it.
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post #8 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 11:24 PM
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I like to try everything, however everything is not really available in my area. I do not really have a desire to compete in English like a do in Western but I looove Dressage and I like to pop over a fence every now and again. I even went through an endurance phase.

Every time I went and explored something else, I always came back to barrels though. But as I'm getting more into working cowhorse, I'm definitely seeing a change in focus on disciplines. Everything else was sort of "for fun" while barrel racing was my main thing but I'm really starting to love the cowhorse life even though I've JUST started learning.

I really like what boots said about working under trainers whose horsemanship can admire. It doesn't matter what my primary discipline is. The beauty of horsemanship is that there is always something to learn.
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post #9 of 33 Old 03-01-2016, 11:36 PM
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When I first decided to get back into riding, all I knew was that I wanted to learn to ride English. I grew up riding dead broke quarter horses mostly bareback, because I never enjoyed sitting in a western saddle.

The first barn I found was H/J and I took 2 lessons a week for roughly 8 weeks. I was interested in dressage, but didn't know much about it and no one at this particular barn rode dressage. The forward positioning and high stirrups felt awkward and unbalanced to me, but I enjoyed learning and riding.

For unrelated reasons, I decided to seek out a new barn and the one I found primarily taught dressage, though they also did eventing and jumping too. I took my first dressage lesson and was instantly hooked. I had no real desire to jump and I was fascinated with the communication between horse and rider and building the foundation for both to become better as partners.

I have my own horse now and ride 5 days a week with weekly lessons. I simply cannot get enough. It's a never ending learning process and each new feat I achieve only makes me hungry for more.
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post #10 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 08:57 AM
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I feel that anyone who learns riding benefits from a "basic dressage" foundation. By that I mean develop an independent seat (being able to use legs, seat and hands separately), being able to steer precisely (make a circle round), lengthen and shorten strides in all three gaits, these kind of things. These are needed for jumping anyways. I feel that jumping without a good dressage foundation is like skipping training steps.
Also, I think that fear of jumping, founded or unfounded, is not a good place to start jumping.

So my vote would be to go and get a good handle on controlling your horse and learn a good seat at the dressage barn. Maybe you'll stick with it, maybe you want to move to another discipline later.

Btw, ground poles and cavaletti can definitely be used in dressage work as well.
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