Should I continue to "refine" a forward horse if I allready enjoy riding her? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Should I continue to "refine" a forward horse if I allready enjoy riding her?

So, I bought my very first horse two months ago, after three years of lessons. I'm an older novice and my only ambition is trail riding. After some initial troubles (mainly me being a scaredy novice), I'm now perfectly confident and happy with my mare.

The trouble is that both my instructors are focused on getting her balanced and slow. I love riding her as she is, forward and not too refined. Basically, since my riding is not too refined, and never will be, I just get frustrated when they try to get us into an outline, going slowly and doing all these dressage moves which neither the mare nor me know how to do. I see no purpose in doing this. The mare is foreward and faster she goes, easier she is to steer. She has amazing breaks so we're never out of control.

Basically, we have the best rides when there is no one telling me what to do. Maybe it's not pretty or correct but we both relax and enjoy it.

Should I continue with the lessons or just carry on riding "dirty"?
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 07:21 PM
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IMO that is a very personal decision. It sounds like right now you are not enjoying it.

I got to a point where we were doing western dressage, but my horse really doesn’t much enjoy the arena and frankly neither do I. We were able to split up our lessons so that only a small part of it was in the arena, then my instructor rode out with me for an additional hour and a half on the trails. He pointed out to me some of the places where we could use some of the things we had learned such as leg yields, side passing, roll backs, pivots ect to get past difficult parts of the trail more easily. That was good useful practice time.

It's up to you though if you think learning those things are important or not.

I will say that we have a member here who was looking for a horse that could do both trail and arena work and struggled for quite some time before finding one that could do both. Being able to do both can add value to the horse should you ever need to sell (life sometimes throws monkey wrenches into our plans).

“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



Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 06-14-2016 at 08:42 PM.
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post #3 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
IMO that is a very personal decision. It sounds like right now you are not enjoying it.

I got to a point where we were doing western dressage, but my horse really doesn’t much enjoy the arena and frankly neither do I. We were able to split up our lessons so that only a small part of it was in the arena, then my instructor rode out with me for an additional hour and a half on the trails. He pointed out to me some of the places where we could use some of the things we had learned such as leg yields, side passing, roll backs, pivots ect to get passed difficult parts of the trail more easily. That was good useful practice time.

It's up to you though if you think learning those things are important or not.

I will say that we have a member here who was looking for a horse that could do both trail and arena work and struggled for quite some time before finding one that could do both. Being able to do both can add value to the horse should you ever need to sell (life sometimes throws monkey wrenches into our plans).
That is a very good point, I didn't even think of selling her! Very clever, thank you.

Maybe I should get a trainer to work with her because there is nothing I can teach her.
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 07:52 PM
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If you are not as happy with the arena work and would like to ride out and your horse is forward moving, it makes for a nice interesting ride as the horse is moving out freely, the only drawback that I have found with this, is riding with others and their horses move more slowly which can be frustrating for your horse as she does not like to move at the slower speed so it might be a good idea to work a little on keeping pace with slower horses.
As Reining said there are lots of exercises that can be done on the trail and sometimes more fun than doing them in an arena, I have done lots of schooling out on rides.
I guess it's a personal choice for you but it would be good if your mare can do some of each as you never know when you will need it.
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 08:02 PM
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As both a trail rider and an arena rider, I've found very few exercises I can't practice on the trail where some of the maneuvers start to make sense to the horse out in the "real" world. A trail horse should be as well trained, if not even better trained, as a horse ridden exclusively in the arena. If life goes south on the trail, your life may depend on the response and training of your horse.


There are so many disciplines for riding in an arena, if you are not enjoying what you are learning now, looking into another one that sounds more interesting. Trail challenges may be more to your liking, but they do require a horse who is well trained, for example.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 08:37 PM
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It sounds like you are paying for lessons from people who only know how to teach a certain style of riding. They are telling you about one type of riding which is valuable to them. There are many types and styles of riding. For some horses it is not valuable to move slowly or to carry themselves in a show "frame." In fact, many will tell you that for horses to learn a false frame can actually be detrimental to their true balance, rhythm and impulsion.

For instance, if you took a Saddlebred that excels in park classes and went to a western pleasure trainer, they may try to get your horse to move with less animation, and much slower than the horse is actually built to move. That's what they know how to teach horses, and it would be better for them to tell you this is perhaps not what your horse was bred to do.

Personally, I believe horses are happier if we use them in disciplines they enjoy rather than trying to force them into ones that are less natural for them or they don't have a mental aptitude for. I also believe you should use your horse to do something you enjoy rather than speculating about what might make them useful to others later on.

Perhaps your horse that never learns to go slow or travel in a "proper" frame would excel at endurance riding. That horse could be sold to another rider who also does endurance, and would not need arena type training to be considered valuable. You can always find someone who wants a good horse even if you haven't taught them every possible thing another human might want a horse to do.

Did you buy your horse for yourself to enjoy or for some other person in the unknown future? Go out and do what you and your horse enjoy, have fun and don't worry about it. Your horse could have an accident in 6 months and then wouldn't you rather have spent that time having fun than preparing the horse for another possible future owner to ride?
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
So, I bought my very first horse two months ago, after three years of lessons. I'm an older novice and my only ambition is trail riding. After some initial troubles (mainly me being a scaredy novice), I'm now perfectly confident and happy with my mare.

The trouble is that both my instructors are focused on getting her balanced and slow. I love riding her as she is, forward and not too refined. Basically, since my riding is not too refined, and never will be, I just get frustrated when they try to get us into an outline, going slowly and doing all these dressage moves which neither the mare nor me know how to do. I see no purpose in doing this. The mare is foreward and faster she goes, easier she is to steer. She has amazing breaks so we're never out of control.

Basically, we have the best rides when there is no one telling me what to do. Maybe it's not pretty or correct but we both relax and enjoy it.

Should I continue with the lessons or just carry on riding "dirty"?
Just ride.
I rode for many years, at least 15, before I ever took one single lesson. \
If your horse works well on the trials for you, that is your interest, why have instructors?

In fact, if you really want to take some lessons, combine them with what you are doing, There are trail riding clinics, and if you wish to get into something more serious, there are extreme trail ans other trail type competitions and clinics
I started colts, rode many mountain trails, packed into wilderness, ditch rode, rode in parades, all before I took one single lesson
In fact, I got into lessons through a quirk of fact. My friend's sister, who showed Paints, invited me to attend a clinic with her, about the time I decided to raise horses, and when proving those horses then, under saddle, made clinics in various disciplines useful. Had I just continued to trail ride, doubt I would have ever taken a lesson!
My husband trail rides, and has never taken one lesson
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post #8 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 10:07 PM
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I can appreciate what it might be like for you. A good coach is very valuable to getting better at anything, and that means basically picking apart what you are doing to refine it. Their job isn't to tell you how great you look doing whatever you want.

If you want to keep studying with these trainers/coaches be sure to make more time to just ride and enjoy your horse. I wouldn't expect any good coach to let me do that during one of our sessions, but I also expect them to get out of the way when I want to just relax. I think you're pretty normal here.
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 10:21 PM
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1 - Talk to your instructor about your goals. They may be willing to tailor the training to meet your goals. After all, you are paying them, not the other way around.

2 - Consider getting lessons for 1 month out of 6, if the instructor is willing. Eyes on the ground can help you, but a lot of riding depends on going out and doing it. But it is also easy to develop bad habits. The flip side is that a lot of what is considered 'bad habits' for arena riding may be pretty useful on a trail.

3 - Lots of good videos and books are available. You should never stop learning about riding and teaching your horse, but that teaching does not need to result in competitive arena riding. Experiment. I just spent the last couple of months riding with a shorter stirrup, but I think I'm going back to the longer setting. It just seems to work better for what me & my horse are doing now. It is by experimenting that you can learn what works and does not work for YOUR riding.

4 - There is nothing dirty or unsophisticated about trail riding. Teaching a horse that you can face anything TOGETHER, or teaching it to use its mind, teaching trust and control and to look to you for guidance when things get tough - that is not easy! You can teach lighter cues while trail riding. You can work on neck reining and leg cues and voice cues while on a trail.

But it is very important to learn to relax and enjoy yourself, and to use a level of cuing that is clear to your horse. My horse gets frustrated after about 10 minutes of arena work. He's pretty level-headed, but he isn't stupid and he sees little value in him working hard while we don't GO anywhere! One option might be to start a ride with 5 minutes of warm-up, then trail ride, then come back and do 5 minutes of arena work.

BTW - our little 13.0 hand BLM mustang was given to us free because he was a naughty and rebellious lesson horse. Put him on a trail with another horse, though, and he's the most sensible and reliable horse I've met. He's a PITA to ride in an arena, but a darn good pony in the desert!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-14-2016, 10:33 PM
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are the instructors trying to fix a problem that you are experiencing?

or, do they just thing that now that you've gotten as good as you have, the next natural step is to learn some dressage, to 'better' your riding?

I like to look at it as 'growing my experience'. I'd like to learn a little bit of everything, if I had the opportunity, just to broaden my experience. to be ABLE to put a hrose on the bit , to be able to slow and control their speed, bend and head position, is something you may never use, but just to learn how to do it won't hurt.

however, you should make clear to your instructors that you have no such goals as dressage , just to become a good all around rider.
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