Tips for finding a good lesson instructor? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 14 Old 01-14-2015, 07:21 PM
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Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
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I started lessons in an English saddle and switched to Western for a little while. Now I go back and forth depending on what's going on with my confidence level.

When I'm riding well and feeling confident, I use the English. When I'm struggling with balance and/or confidence, or it's going to be a crazy windy rainy lesson where the horse might spook, I ride in my Western saddle.

Why? (and this is the important part) ...

Because, it takes more balance, stronger muscles, and a better seat to ride in an English saddle comfortably. A Western saddle kind of holds you in place, giving you lots more actual saddle around you. With the English one, you're more perched up on top of the horse, not held in place at all. It's your balance, your muscles, your ability to ride that makes you secure, not the saddle. But with a Western saddle, you can kind of suck at riding and still stay in the seat if the horse spins around suddenly. Of course I'm not saying people who use Western saddles suck at riding. No way. Please, no one go there. :)

If you learn on an English saddle, you'll use more muscles and have to develop your balance faster (hence, a better workout, if exercise is your thing). It will also be more difficult. I consider my Western saddle to be kind of like a bike with training wheels attached. It allows me to cheat quite a bit. I love it for when I'm worried about falling or being in a new situation where my horse might be nervous like trail rides.

Now, I know there will be some people who flat out disagree with me, but that's fine. To each his own. This is my personal experienced from being an older rider (started at 44) who has now been doing it about a year and a half, and I ride at a jumping barn. I'm the only person in the whole place with a Western saddle. I've tried them both equally.

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #12 of 14 Old 01-14-2015, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ecasey View Post
I started lessons in an English saddle and switched to Western for a little while. Now I go back and forth depending on what's going on with my confidence level.

When I'm riding well and feeling confident, I use the English. When I'm struggling with balance and/or confidence, or it's going to be a crazy windy rainy lesson where the horse might spook, I ride in my Western saddle.

Why? (and this is the important part) ...

Because, it takes more balance, stronger muscles, and a better seat to ride in an English saddle comfortably. A Western saddle kind of holds you in place, giving you lots more actual saddle around you. With the English one, you're more perched up on top of the horse, not held in place at all. It's your balance, your muscles, your ability to ride that makes you secure, not the saddle. But with a Western saddle, you can kind of suck at riding and still stay in the seat if the horse spins around suddenly. Of course I'm not saying people who use Western saddles suck at riding. No way. Please, no one go there. :)

If you learn on an English saddle, you'll use more muscles and have to develop your balance faster (hence, a better workout, if exercise is your thing). It will also be more difficult. I consider my Western saddle to be kind of like a bike with training wheels attached. It allows me to cheat quite a bit. I love it for when I'm worried about falling or being in a new situation where my horse might be nervous like trail rides.

Now, I know there will be some people who flat out disagree with me, but that's fine. To each his own. This is my personal experienced from being an older rider (started at 44) who has now been doing it about a year and a half, and I ride at a jumping barn. I'm the only person in the whole place with a Western saddle. I've tried them both equally.
Hey, thanks so much! That does make a lot of sense. I've never ridden english, but I think I want to try it first. As you said, it's a bit harder than western, so if I ever decided to switch I probably wouldn't have much trouble. :)

I found another center today. It's an equestrian center that mainly focuses on jumping, which, after reading and researching a lot into different disciplines, I am really starting to get interested in. I'm going there Saturday to do a trial lesson and check the place out. I'm really excited.

Thanks so much for all the help everyone. I can't wait to start lessons. I imagine once I start riding more I'll have tons more questions. :)
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post #13 of 14 Old 01-16-2015, 03:42 PM
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Lessons around here are generally $40-$45 per hour. Barns will provide lessons horses, tack, brushes, ect. for your lesson.

One of the first things I look for in a good lesson barn is how they care for the horses. Do the horses look happy and healthy? If not go elsewhere. The horses need to have cleans stalls, relatively mud-less pastures, and well groomed coats. Clean, healthy looking horses are a must!

Then look at the qualifications of the instructor. Do they sound like they know what they are talking about? Are they enthusiastic and friendly? I know this sounds strange, but do they genuinely seem to love being around horses? Are they firm but kind to their horses?

And of course look for the style of riding you want to do. English or western? I personally love English!

And what kind of riding area to they have? Make sure you are not riding in mud! I also recommend finding a place that has an indoor or at least covered arena. You have no idea how handy those things are. No riding in mud, and no canceling lessons because of rain.

Hope you find a good barn!!
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post #14 of 14 Old 01-17-2015, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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So we visited 2 barns this week. We visited the equestrian center and the first one I talked about. The equestrian center was really nice, but they seemed too competitive and advanced for me. Their main focus is on show jumping, and while it does interest me, I just don't feel like it's the place for me. I like to take things slower and learn at my own pace and I felt like they would rush me and push me before I was ready. They didn't let us meet any school horses or anything and the whole thing just felt rushed to me. Maybe I'm wrong and it's just not the scene I'm used to, but I just didn't get a very good vibe from them.

The other one was great. It's just a small little farm owned by a married couple. They are both extremely friendly and informative and seem like they really know their stuff. They have about 8 or so horses. When we first got there they had a horse out and ready to show us some things they do there. The man did a little bit of ground work while we talked to the lady. She went in to detail about the things they do with horses and students, stressed that they don't rush or push students to do anything they aren't comfortable with. She said that we will eventually be able to learn on all the horses so we can see how every horse is different - which I really liked. They introduced us to all of the horses, and they all seemed very happy and healthy and well cared for. They have one large outdoor arena and a round pen. They don't have an indoor arena but she said normally they don't do lessons in bad weather anyway. They said they often have games with the students and horses at times and go on trail rides and such often. I really loved this place and felt very relaxed and comfortable. They don't ride english, but that is fine by me. I can always learn later. They seem really great for beginners and start out with the basics (grooming, tacking, leading, etc) and do some ground work before we get in the saddle. They are natural horsemanship focused which I really like.

So I think we found our barn! We have a few weeks left and there are a few more barns in the area that we may decide to look at, but right now this seems like the one. I am so excited I can't stand it! lol.
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