In a negative mindset about my riding.. please help? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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In a negative mindset about my riding.. please help?

Hi! Hope this is the right board to post this, if not it can be moved to somewhere more suitable. I'm Bracken and this is my first post on this forum after a very long time lurking..

I'm 18 years old and have been riding in a riding school weekly for 2 years now. (Rode quite a bit when I was younger but had a break for several to pursue ballet dancing which I have given up) I am a part of a "Pony Club for children who don't own a horse" where we meet every fortnight for a 2 hour lesson and every other week I have a 1 hour group lesson with the girls in my PC group. I can't wait until the next 5 or so years when I can hopefully, after University, buy my own horse to be able to spend as much time as I want with it.

Here is where I am starting to have some problems.. The last 6 months (from April) I have been having an increasingly more negative attitude with my riding lessons. I do still enjoy horse riding and just spending time with the horses, I just feel disconnected with the riding school horses as I know they are not my own and there is almost always someone hovering around when I'm grooming/tacking up making me feel like I'm being judged by the people. I also feel time pressures because I would love to spend more time grooming and just generally hanging around the horses, but there is always the pressure of being ready for your lesson and then quickly untacking the horse so I don't leave my father waiting too long. (I don't have my full driving license yet so need someone to be in the seat next to me)
Another thing which puts me in a bad mind-set is that for my experience, I am pretty old in the riding school. There is no one my age who is in similar lessons to me (except for my friend who I bring out every now and again), anyone close to my age in the riding school have their own horses. I am the oldest member in the pony club, the closest age to mine being 13-14. Although next year I do plan to leave the pony club and just continue private lessons every fortnight because I'll be working full time next year. I also hope to be able to find a horse to exercise, to give myself more horsey time.
Other petty thing that seems to annoy me is the horses I get, I have a few (two or three horses) that I like but they are also popular with the other students as well. So I usually get a string of random horses depending on who is available. It's never consistent, meaning I almost always have a different horse every week which I suppose is good because I get to ride a somewhat wide variety of horses. However there have been times where I havenít been happy with the horses they put me on, today for example I was put on a 4 year old gelding. Who, although lovely he is extremely nappy and I feel like I am not experienced enough to ride him properly. I knew today that he had already had an hour lesson that morning so I didn't really ask him to do much, he also felt extremely tense through his neck and back which could have been something to do with me but it didn't make me feel too great about riding him. In that lesson we just did some small course jumping of around 60-70cm (another thing I donít agree on with a horse that young.) I only did the course twice and then decided to end it there as I have never been a confident jumper at all and I felt like I would ruin him or give him a bad experience.

Anyway, I wish I could get myself out of this negative mind-set because I always come back from my lessons feeling bitter about something. I have almost got to the point where I have just felt like Iím not enjoying it anymore and should just give up as itís a waste of $45 a week if I keep coming back in a foul mood. I do enjoy it, and am pretty much holding out until I can get my own horse, or more horse time. It feels pretty good when a lesson actually goes well and I feel like Iíve achieved something. Like when I managed to get a few shoulder-ins (albeit a small attempt but good enough) on a horse that had never in his life done a shoulder-in before, which made me feel pretty good considering I had only done a successful shoulder-ins on one other horse who knew what he was being asked to do.

Anyway, Iím sorry for the long drawn out post and I hope it makes some sense because I'm not great at writing. I just really needed somewhere to vent to horsey people as my parents would say ďJust give it up then.Ē which doesnít help. I know itís just a mind-set thing but I just donít know how to get out of it.

Thanks heaps,

~Bracken.
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 12:42 AM
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It's hard when you reach the end of an era but you aren't quite able to step into the next one. You feel in limbo. Been there done that. I'm 58 but I still remember how it felt to be the oldest teen in the bunch and knew that I was ready to move on but couldn't . . . Yet.

Maybe it's time to take a break from the club. Could you find work at a stable, instead? Or, at a therapy riding place? Sometimes the cure for ennui is to teach someone else whose enthusiasm is fresh.
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post #3 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
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Hello!

It is hard, but I honestly don't feel experienced enough I move up if that makes sense? As I have only really been riding consistently for 2 years.
I do plan on trying to find a horse to exercise or to help someone out with their horses next year. Which will hopefully improve my attitude. I also will be starting private lessons next year as well, because I should be able to pay for it and drive myself to horse riding. Which should help me feel like I achieving more in my lessons.
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 02:14 AM
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I was just like you for the past year, and I'm 40!
Imagine a 40 year old with a bunch of 10 year olds :)

Anyhow, you most probably will not be able to progress until you get your own horse. I tried changing quite a few yards, a school horse is a school horse wherever you go. They have to be a little bit shut off to be able to deal with so many people riding them.

Can you try leasing a horse, even if it's just two days a week? I presume finances might be a problem. I solved my issues by buying a horse because, unfortunately, leasing isn't a thing where I'm from. It would have been much better for me to lease rather than buy.

On a happier note, good for you on jumping after only two years of lessons. Good luck.
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post #5 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 08:53 AM
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You should lift your head up, as tall as you can make it, and pretend that YOU are teaching those people who watch you. Even if you don't say the instructions out loud, describe it to them in your head!

Mentor thise younger students in other ways, if possible. You could help them with schoolwork, or career path decisions, or younger relationships.

All the best to you!!
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 09:17 AM
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I get that you're frustrated. But don't forget, EVERY single horse has something to teach you. I rode hundreds of horses through my years of working, barn managing and giving lessons. Did I like them all, heck no, but every horse had something to teach me whether it was about my seat, training the horse, or predicting its moves.

As for age difference, I was always one of the oldest. I was 16 when I started volunteering, many of my other friends were 14. And as the years went in I got older and new people who were younger then me came in and it never really bothered me. In fact, my best friend now is from the barn, she's 3 years younger then me. Age didn't seem to matter much because we were all there for the horses.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 10:55 AM
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Your frustration is understandable. Try thinking about this on the days you get a horse that you are not thrilled about...ride so that you make the lesson good for the horse as well as yourself. That horse might be frustrated also thinking his life is the pits.
Also, I think things will improve when you can drive yourself and not be on someone else's time schedule. Wheels = Freedom! Then you will be able to hang out longer and groom or chat with others at the barn. Always rushing would take the joy out of a hobby.
Remember this...Hanging out with horses is a continual learning experience. Each horse is different. You will never learn it all. And some of the lessons are a doozie!
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 04:26 PM
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Maybe you could change your mindset a bit.

On feeling judged when grooming: If someone is hovering, stop grooming and ask "How is it going?" and socialize until they leave. OR, ask if they would like to help you groom, like brush the tail, pick out hooves, etc. That will probably get them to move on to do their own stuff.

Time constraint: Ask your father to come 30 to 45 minutes later than he usually does.

Your age: Think about Whinnie here who, at the age of 55, went back to college (University). Clearly the oldest in my classes by decades. I wanted to do it and didn't care what anyone thought about my age.

Riding different horses: Since it is beyond your control, fantasize you are a trainer hired to train these horses. While riding, work on your equitation for yourself (somehow working hard on equitation seems to make a horse ride better, at least for me).

You are so very, very lucky to be able to take regular lessons at all. So many young people who would love to learn to ride do not have your opportunities. At your age, I would have thought I was in paradise to be able to regularly ride any horse at all.

If none of this appeals to you, maybe a break in riding is in order. It may help clear your thoughts.
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 07:28 PM
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It is frustrating when you are almost ready but not quite ready yet to move on. Being able to drive on your own will open up some options for you. There is nothing wrong (and a whole lot right) with looking for something else. Until you find it, make the best of what you have. I was in a similar situation taking lessons as a teen. I was one of the advanced students and was put on every new horse to school and every sour horse to correct. I sure learned a lot, but at the time I wished I could work more on my form on a school master than try to get some of the dirtiest jumpers over a fence never knowing if they'd refuse or run out. I stopped lessons (except for occasional coaching from friends after acquiring my own horse. After several years I started private lessons with a completely different mindset. After every lesson I felt I either perfected something or learned something new, and I was always looking forward to my next lesson.
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-23-2016, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you wonderful people for such nice replies! I really appreciate it, and it has made me feel heaps better about my griping. Haha

I honestly can't wait to get my driving licence, which will probably in the new year. I drove myself (with my mother directing me) to horse riding and back home yesterday for the first time. It was quite a scary experience as I had never driven such a long distance on open roads before, although, I think after I've done it a few times I should be ok. :)
I would love to try be a little bit more friendly and helpful with some of the other girls, but I struggle to relate to them at all and I think they struggle to relate to me as well. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a 10, 20 or 30 year age gap.

On the note of leasing.. I was thinking about leasing or buying a horse in my gap year before heading off to University in 2018 but I decided that the costs involved would be too much for me. I could probably afford it but then I would have to take out a larger student loan to get through my degree which doesn't sound attractive at all. My best option will probably be asking around to see if there is someone in my area who needs a horse to exercise or maybe just an old retiree who needs some light hacking around.

About the riding school horses and my attitude, I do know that it needs to be changed and I remembered this morning about how a few years ago I wouldn't have believed that I would be having weekly lessons because of financial restraints. So I have that to be thankful for.
I like your idea Whinnie of pretending that I have been hired by my instructor to train it, and I'll try next week to make it a little more enjoyable for myself, which will then hopefully pass onto my horse. I have asked though for next week that I get a horse that I'm happy on, as I haven't ridden that particular horse for 4 or 5 mouths I think. So we'll see if I feel a bit better about it next time.
Next year should be better as I'll be going onto private lessons, the pony club lessons seem to be at a standstill at the moment and the whole group isn't really progressing which I think is frustrating for us all. In my private lessons I can hopefully work on the things I want to, if I can make sure the riding school keeps them consistent with instructors cause then I should be progressing more.
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