Newbie Question about Lessons + Book Recommendation - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Boston, MA
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Newbie Question about Lessons + Book Recommendation

Everyone here has been so responsive and nice, thought I'd ask this very *basic* question. In what order will my instructor teach me all things horses? Will I learn to tack up the horse first? Do balancing exercises? In what order will I walk trot post, etc.?

One thing I have done is to make 2 appointments at 2 different barns to see which is a better fit. I'm in Massachusetts (North Shore) so feel very lucky to have what seem like really good choices.

Second, do you all have any favorite books/YouTubes/DVDs that are very basic introductions to English riding? Everything from how to bond with a horse to what to wear and how to stay strong (am taking Pilates and yoga between lessons and have a Golden Retriever to exercise)?

Thanks a million!
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 11:00 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
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There no set order for how things will be taught. One instructor might teach you how to tack up on your first lesson, another might have the horse ready for you the first time and then teach it to you in a later lesson. You will almost always start with walking, then move up to trotting and other things as the instructor feels you are ready.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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My instructor spends the first lesson going over grooming, leading, tacking up, horse safety, where things are kept, stable rules, etc. You are expected to bring out and tack up your horse before the lesson starts. Most of the students are also on muck out duty.

Lessons thereafter are completely geared to what the student needs and wants. I wasn't a rank beginner so in the first lesson we were working on posture, balance, posting. . . . I have issues with crooked hips so we work on that. I have a green horse I want to do competitive trail rides with so we often work on obstacles and forwardness (we kind of switch between training the horse and training me). It just varies a lot. I'd bet that some teachers are going to start quite differently though.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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At my barn, you learn everything - not at once. I started at my barn as an adult rider, so I knew the basics about tacking up but I said to her it's been a while, so she watched and gave tips.

The first thing I did was she brought out the horse and I held out my hand for the horse to sniff it. Did basic petting and grooming. Then she showed me how to tack up. I did walk the horse up to the ring, but at our barn if they are younger and less experienced, the helper may walk the horse or have 2 lead lines on and both walk up.

I think a realistic expectation- even if you tacked and rode before0 is to expect assistance/ good supervision. Even if you know what to do- you don't know that particular horses habits. If you don't know how to tack up, they may show you, and then next time, expect assistance because you may not remember everything from being shown once. I am a believer of slow and steady wins the race- if you want assistance a few times then good supervision to make sure everything goes right, it will just ensure that when you do it on your own, you got the routine down pat.

As far as your first lesson- I'd go into it expecting your goal to be to just ride the horse very basic. Feel the horses movement at the walk. Discover how much pressure is needed for a response ( start out with the least amount of pressure) Remember, its not just you learning the horses habits, its the horse learning your riding as well. The horse may not be as responsive or may stop a lot in the beginning for a variety of reasons, but don't get mad, try to understand why.

As far as videos and books- just search for ways to bond with thehorse andtips about riding. Even if you watch videos that are above your level just for fun, it will give you the excitement of what you can work towards. Heck, I watched a video on how to do some top level dressage move that I a not even close to accomplishing...LOL.

One I would check into is the tellington touch-even though its not really going to help much with lessons but rather a tool to work with the horse. There are books and videos. I will warn you- even though I stand by the tellington touch through experience with working with my horse- watching the videos- and especially reading the books- it sounds funny and a bunch of bologna. you are prolly gonna doubt that it works and may even laugh at it- I did and still do. The funniest one is the python lift, but my horse didn't like her back legs touched and after working with her doing very basic python lifts aspects, I can touch her back legs and she is fine. When she is nervous, I do other tellington touch aspects to help calm her down. Its not the fix all, but I find it is a great tool to use. (What also helped with the back leg situation is gaining the horses trust, being calm with her and working with her to work through the problem- the TTouch itself wasn't the solution, but a tool to use to help)

One more important tip-the best way to gain experience with riding horses is to ride. You will give the horse the wrong signals or confusing signals. You will have trouble getting the horse to do something. You won't always get the horse to do something smoothly. But through trial and error- and understanding and learning the best way to communicate with the horse you are riding, you will gain the experience and learn how to ask the horse horse in the best way to do a specific task. It may take some time, but through every mistake you may make, as long as you learn from it, you will gain that experience needed to become a better rider.

Since I am already writing a novel:

when you check out the barns- check the atmosphere. Do you want a more busy place that is going to have more social interactions between people? or would you prefer a quieter place? How are th horses cared for? How do the instructors interact with the students? What impression do they give you after you take the tour? Perhaps you can ask to observe a lesson. You can even start out taking a lesson or 2 at both places and see which fits your liking the best.

Good luck and have fun!
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 12:01 PM
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The two riding schools I rode at don't teach tacking up as they have sports horses in the same stable as school horses and they don't want too much traffic around them. Others thought tacking up and expected students to catch and tack up. So every barn is different.

A standard begginer lesson is at walk on a lunge line.
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: England - UK
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One thought on reading.

With any skill there are often several routes to the end goal and these can change significantly. With anything animal related it increases tenfold in the number of different approaches and methods and theories - from small changes to big ones.

As a result sometimes its best to get a feel for your instructor and their teaching methods and schooling approach and get their input before you hit the reference books. Whilst many basic things will be the same, there will be little differences so having a grounding with the person who will go on to teach you the rest can help because it makes you attentive to their instruction first and also sets the ground rules out so that you don't get confused when the theory isn't matching to the practical.

It's also very easy to overload yourself on theory - often complex interactions are taken step by step as a series of stages that you have to do physically (often over and over again) before you've got the run of things to then add in the next step and the next and do them all together. So sometimes theory can speed you through that in your head; but not with your hands so you end up trying to juggle too many things at once.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-19-2016, 06:13 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2009
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It depends where you learn.

My experience was that I learned to ride a bit first. In the first lesson I walked and trotted (i was 8 though so adult ones might be different). As things went on I slowly learned to tack up, other horse care etc. They were group lessons so it was structured like an hour riding and then half an hour theory.

I never had a lunge lesson.

There are many good books out there, less though that are relevant for raw beginners. A lot of your basic horse books will teach you about horse breeds, tack, grooming and basic riding. More advanced books are easier to understand when you have a solid foundation. I like Tom Roberts books, they are used a lot in pony club and such down here.

I wouldn't be going around talking about bonding with a horse. It's what a lot of new riders are preoccupied with but really isn't something that an experienced rider worries about. It comes from demanding respect, work and time.
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-22-2016, 12:14 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
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So, first you are probably going to learn stuff off the horse. This means stuff like, how to walk them, how to brush, etc. Then, obviously, how to tack up. The, when you get on, you are going to learn proper positions, balance, then you will learn how to walk, trot, etc.
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-22-2016, 08:01 AM
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I personally find YouTube videos to be a lot more helpful than reading (and I'm a huge reader and rarely watch TV). There are a ton of great channels. That being said, any beginner horse book will be helpful. It's hard to know what you don't know until you realize you don't know it.

Have FUN!
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-22-2016, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Dec 2015
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I like "Getting the Most Out from Riding Lessons" by Mike Smith for absolute beginners. He starts it with a caveat that things are different at different barns/with different instructors, which is very true...but I still found the format and information useful when first starting to ride.
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