How did you decide on your riding discipline? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 10:48 AM
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When I was little I would always dream about dancing with horses. I imagined horses going sideways and cantering backwards, and doing almost everything you see in a dressage competition. But I never knew about the term dressage nor have I ever seen a dressage competition... When I finally learned about the discipline, it sort of just clicked and now I want to be a dressage rider.

My mother worked in racing, saddleseat, harness pleasure, roadster, western pleasure, English pleasure, and trail. So I guess I got into those due to heritage... And not to sound obtuse in any way, but I have 8 horses to work with in any discipline of my choice so that also opened up plenty of opportunities.

I think you should go along with the trainer that you feel, you will learn more from. Regardless of discipline, elements of dressage should be in every bit of training, but in your situation that's up to the trainer to teach you those elements, not necessarily yourself. It would also be a major bonus to find a drama free barn that makes you feel comfortable, that way you don't approach your riding all grumpy or nervous and such. Of course if you're having trouble choosing a discipline why not try out eventing, that way if you decide to simply stick with one discipline (dressage or jumping) you'll already have a good foundation for either one.
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post #12 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 11:03 AM
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I started taking lessons after I had my 1/2 Arab mare started by a local trainer. He did such a good job with her that I had to start lessons just to ride her, LOL. That started my horsemanship journey and ended up with me showing. I NEVER wanted to show and had no interest AT ALL in it. However, my trainer had a group to a local show & he wanted me to go, too; I did, but went, kicking & screaming, LOL. HATED all of it except the "natural trail" class. My horse and I did a few trail trials and then local ranch horse versatility shows which I LOVED! Especially the cow classes!! Dang FUN! The adrenaline you get when working a cow .. nothing like it. We also did some cowboy races which were a blast, too!

The ranch horse versatility shows lead to reined cowhorse. With the reined cowhorse shows & associations, I've found people who are, for the most part, concerned with their horses & horsemanship and are friendly and accepting of newcomers - even one riding a 1/2 Arab mare who was not built to do that. The trainers I've worked with treat you respectfully and help you achieve your goals - even when you did not have a clue or a horse they would consider appropriate for the discipline, LOL. And I have met the best of friends through cowhorse, many who have offered a number of times to help me out in various ways (not connected to horses) even when it is a HUGE inconvenience for them. All this is why I keep with cowhorse.

I don't ride with a barn. My horses are at home and I trailer out to various trainers. I do not have just one trainer. Given constraints on my time, where various trainers are and have (such as cows; need access to cows!) it works for me to be able to ride with different trainers who are available the times I am. Although I do tend to stick to one cowhorse trainer & my local trainer, but will clinic with others. The trainers I ride with have no problem with me riding with other trainers (and usually encourage it - the cowhorse guys all know each other so know I can benefit from riding with them all), although I know some of the cowhorse trainers will not allow you to ride with others if you are lessoning with them.

I agree with those who say to go with the one you feel the most comfortable with. If/when you outgrow a trainer, find another one. Keep growing. As far as English or Western, it doesn’t really matter. Go with what you have or try something new. Or not. It really makes no never mind. The goal is to have fun and advance your skills with your horse.
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post #13 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 11:38 AM
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When I was a kid I wanted to ride Western but there really where no barns in the area offering good Western lessons so my parents made the decision that if I wanted to ride it would be with what was available and convenient. I did some dressage in my late teens/early twenties, and in my thirties took Western lessons. Once I was out of my teens I never cared to compete but certainly could have in any discipline. If you are not confident or don't care about jumping I would suggest going with dressage. You can always change at some point and what you have learned will never be wasted.
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post #14 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 01:50 PM
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The first horse I rode was owned by a retired rancher who'd been a working cowboy. All the horses I rode with different owners were trained with cattle. When in grade 3, I got 10 lessons for my birthday and it was English. When we moved to a large city, the stable was English so that's pretty much what I rode all thro my teens, even jumpers. Went back out west with a lot of trail riding so back to western. Bo't a horse and it was a tough decision which way to go as I was planning on buying a high end saddle. Western won out and I pretty much stayed with that until I got my big trail horse and acquired an English saddle. He was a wonderful English horse but with him bareback was my preference as he was so comfy.



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post #15 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 02:13 PM
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When I was a kid, I rode whatever the instructor told me I should; mostly horsemanship and pleasure. As an adult, I rode whatever I could find in the area I was living in with an instructor I felt I best learned from (didn't matter as long as I was learning).

As an older adult and horse owner, I ride to my horse, meaning that I do what he needs to give him the basics (which includes western dressage) and then concentrate on what he enjoys doing because if he's happy so am I.

Unless you are really set on doing a lot of competing, I suppose my point is don't restrict yourself. As long as whatever you are doing you like and are learning in the process, explore.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #16 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 02:27 PM
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I rode Western when I was riding, and did mostly trail riding. I was never competition-minded, I just loved spending time with and in the company of horses.

At this time, I am focusing my efforts on learning to drive. I have an anxiety disorder and panic attacks, and I tried to lease a horse a few years back and couldn’t even get on him (17.1 Percheron – I also have a big fear of heights! Not sure what I was drinking when I chose him). I am medicated for the anxiety and I do therapy, but there’s no guarantee I will ever be truly “okay” again. I feel like my nervousness makes most horses nervous when I’m trying to ride. I will probably try to ride again at some point, but at least driving helps me keep my hand in without feeling overwhelmed or scared. I’ve got my eye on some Amish driving ponies after I finish with the current financial rigamarole in my life, which is buying a house.
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post #17 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all of the responses!! I should clarify the HJ instructor knows I don't want to jump and we are working on the general basics.

After reading all of your stories I am leaning toward staying with the HJ. But to add to the chaos I am trying one more place (a friend of my old instructor) who has a beautiful gelding for lease. I think it's a little far away but I'll see how I like the instruction and the horse might be a good trade off.

In lessons right now I am looking to stregthen my basics and all three can do that. But I think I will get the most growth from the HJ barn at this time.

I grew up on the trails and am in general happy as long as I am near horses so that makes deciding difficult. I hate trying barns because I always feel like I have to stay somewhere bc of my (minor in comparison to most but major for me) anxiety that I developed after having my son.

I do want to show eventually but schooling only.
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post #18 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Mulefeather I can totally understand that!! I'm glad that you have found a horsey outlet that helps!
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post #19 of 33 Old 03-02-2016, 07:51 PM
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Oh, gosh, this was a long time ago....but I grew up in Texas, where western was king! I had read every book in the library, and KNEW that I wanted to ride English, and jump. My first pony came from a horse trader, so who knew what he had been trained for? I trained him to do what I wanted, and dreamed of showing a beautiful Hunter, flying over gorgeous shrubbery and oxers at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, lol!

I am quite ADD when it comes to horses, and have ridden and driven in a LOT of different disciplines!
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post #20 of 33 Old 03-04-2016, 08:36 PM
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I grew up riding English, and where I grew up, thats all that you could find, of course people did Western, but I was never able to find them, and I didnt want to ride Western back then, what fun was that!? lol But when I bought my first horse, the places I wanted to keep him made the choice of barn/riding style, and instructor much easier for me. I now ride Western, and havent ridden English in about 5years, not that I dont like it, I just prefer Western right this second.

So I guess, try both? Is that an option? Never hurts to get help and multiple opinions from different people. Unless they have two completely different concepts of everything, but even then, you can learn quite a bit!
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