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Hi! My name is Marissa and I've been riding for four and a half years. But I'm still not sure what level I'm at. My first two years of riding were spent walking and trotting around an area for a half hour (I later found out that this wasn't "riding" at all) but then I changed barns and I had to spend the next year RE-learning everything! So let's just say that I've had about a year and a half of real instruction and I ride once a week.
So at this point I can...walk, trot, canter (all with/without stirups), leg yield (walk and trot), shoulder in (walk and trot), and tack up and groom a horse by myself. But I also have problems like, I lose confidence in new situations (but this has improved a lot since I came to my new barn), I get frustrated (but I NEVER take it out on the horse I just cry like a baby :oops:) and I don't ride very often.
Sooo.. what level do you think I'm at? Also do you think I'm learning at an okay pace? I'm fifteen and I have no disabilities but it seems like everyone is better then me. Either way I want to keep improving and show my parents that one day I will have my own horse!:)
 

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for the amount of time you've been riding, i'd say you're doing well... remember that you need to practice lots and lots to get better, so going less/ riding less will make it seem like your learning slower. I would not say your an intermediate rider because of the confidence loss. I know that its hard to have confidence, and it takes FOREVER to gain confidence, but just keep going and you'll get there.... confidence is one of the most important part of riding, because you need to be able to lead a horse through bad situations, which won't happen if you're scared. Most intermediate horses are a bit different, they need a confident rider. I would also suggest leasing a horse before buying... its a really good way to get used to owning one and slowly gets your parents used to the idea:wink: If you want to be a good rider you need to ride as many different horses as possible... it'll also help you decide what type of horse to lease/buy! Good Luck!:D
 

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For starters, I wouldn't worry squat about what other riders are doing. You will find as you progress that you will have times where you are moving along quickly and learning a lot. Then you hit a wall (figuratively) where you don't seem to progress at all for awhile. Just go at your own pace. Improving yourself is the goal.

Sounds like you could easily call yourself intermediate. You sound like you're getting good instruction if you can W/T/C with and without stirrups. You've got some basic dressage under your belt, so you must be gaining good knowledge about how the horse moves. Your next step will be the ability to apply your skills to helping the horse carry itself better and addressing problems BEFORE they come up. To me, that's the sign of a good rider. One who rides instead of one who plods along until something happens.

Perfect example. You're riding on a cold, windy day in an indoor arena. The wind is making the door shake and it your horse starts to get tense when approaching it. Rider one keeps walking along on the same path, horse gets to door, door shakes and horse spooks. Rider two feels horse start to tense, puts horse into shoulder-in position while approaching door, and horse walks calmly past door. If you're rider two, you're doing great.
 

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I don't know how you determine the levels or anything, but I just want to offer words of encouragement. I started riding when I was 15 too, and hated that all the other girls my age were so much better than me. It didn't help that they would rub it in my face and make fun of me for using the 'easy' lesson horses either.

But don't feel bad about it!!! You are where you are, and you'll become a GREAT rider someday despite how much faster they get there than you. What's important is that you love to ride, and that you always think of the horse first, like the wind and the door example. It sounds super cheesy, but it's really true. Just keep working at it and you'll get there.

Just a thought, maybe you could go to the barn an extra day just to practice what you've been working on in your lesson? I found that if I ride once a week, I'm always sore and spend the first half of the lesson just remembering what we did last time. If I ride twice a week, I'm much more in shape and do WAY better because I had a chance to practice. If that's not possible for you, then try and practice mentally. Remember what your instructor tells you, and imagine you're on your horse as you mentally rehearse what you learned. Even that will help you get better because it keeps your memory sharp and lets you visualize what you should be doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the encouragement! I wish I could ride more to get more practice in but sadly we can't afford it because I also take piano lessons and my sister takes about five million dance classes and she competes also. But in order to remember I take notes and stuff right after my lesson on everything I learned. I actually made a huge packet full of riding info so I remember everything. Hey does anyone know any websites that go over how to preform lower level dressage movements? or maybe one that has exercises to do that strengthen my important riding muscles?
 

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I take notes too after my lessons. :) I would definitely call you intermediate. Beginner is someone who is comfortable trotting, but is a little iffy at the canter. They CAN canter but not for very long and not with much balance. :)

Don't worry you're doing well. :) I also feel at times that everyone else is so much better then me and they haven't been riding for that long, but unlike us, they have more lessons. :/

Riding is expensive, but soon you will be old enough to have a job and you can pay for more! :) You could even start trying to babysit or mow lawns now, if you aren't already doing so. :)
 

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There's a lot of instructional youtube videos out there that can teach you anything. Try that! And I'm sure there's articles that describe how to do each dressage move.
 

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I agree with MyBoyPuck. Don't worry about where you sit against the others. The great thing about this sport is it's just you and your horse. You work and compete at the level you are at. You don' have to meet anyone's standards but your own (well your coaches too, ha ha). It sounds like you're getting good instruction now.

Without seeing you ride, I'd say because of the confidence issues, that your not quite and Intermediate rider. When I've advertised a horse for an intermediate rider, my thoughts are this is a rider who can handle a horse who isn't totally made, may need some guidance, throws in some surprises here and there, but doesn't need to constant attention of an advanced rider. At this point it sounds like you're a great partner, but not the leader yet.

Keep it up though... from what you've posted in the last year you've advanced rather well.
 

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I agree with MyBoyPuck. Don't worry about where you sit against the others. The great thing about this sport is it's just you and your horse. You work and compete at the level you are at. You don' have to meet anyone's standards but your own (well your coaches too, ha ha). It sounds like you're getting good instruction now.

Without seeing you ride, I'd say because of the confidence issues, that your not quite and Intermediate rider. When I've advertised a horse for an intermediate rider, my thoughts are this is a rider who can handle a horse who isn't totally made, may need some guidance, throws in some surprises here and there, but doesn't need to constant attention of an advanced rider. At this point it sounds like you're a great partner, but not the leader yet.

Keep it up though... from what you've posted in the last year you've advanced rather well.

Yes, I agree. To me, you would be an advanced beginner. An intermediate rider can affect the horse more and can deal with unexpected issues, which means experience hacking out/trail riding is essential. But you are close.

I totally agree that riding twice a week will make a HUGE difference in your progress. Think about this:
Go to the barn and ask if you can work off an extra lesson. It will be SOOOOO worth it! Even if it's only 2 more lessons a month.
You get what you put into it.
 

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I have the same problem - please reply to my comment..

I have been riding for 3 years (nearly 4)
I can walk, trot, canter (all with/without stirrups)
I can jump (not very high, but I am gradually getting higher)
I can tack up
I've fallen off 5 times
And like TheQuietGirl, I cry when i get frustrated:oops:
And I can ride in fields, and happily go over cross country jumps

Is this Intermediate?
I've never done a show, or galloped, but I can do everything else :/
 

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I would consider that intermediate if you feel very well balanced in the saddle and have good control over the horse. I do not consider myself beginner-intermediate, but lower-ish intermediate. I've been riding for 2 summers and one year, and I am able do the same things as you, minus the cross country jumps, riding in fields... and I've never fallen (thank god ><). The highest I jumped was... one foot?

So yes I think you have the right to call yourself an intermediate rider. :))
 

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lol, i always though intermediate was when you actually helped finish a horse.... like you're able to ride green horses. Once you can teach a horse something, you're no longer the beginner.I dunno, might be different here though. How would you guys classify finishing green horses as? I think advanced riders are those that ride for a living, competing or training, but maybe i'm wrong.
 

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I'm not sure but I have been told that an intermediate rider can walk,trot,canter with and without stirrups on just about any horse confidently. Also if you want to go in that area probably to jump or something to a degree.
 

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lol, I always though intermediate was when you actually helped finish a horse

Agree with that too Indigo, to a certain extent.
While I don't directly train green horses, I ride some of my barns young greenies in lessons every once in a while. The last one I rode was a small 6 yr old arab. She can sometimes be an angel and obey every command, but often enough she refuses to do anything you tell her. She has a very strong will and my trainer made me ride her last lesson because I have a good enough seat and that horse naturally pushes me to be tough with her. She does tiny bucks and shakes her head occasionally but she's so smooth and comfortable it's not hard to stay on. :p

However I consider an advanced rider to be someone who either rides professionally or has just a lot of experience up their sleeve and can ride any kind of horse with good control and perfect balance.
 

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Don't worry about levels or labels or anything like that right now. Don't worry about other riders, either.

Just soak up all of the information you can and enjoy the ride, literally and figuratively. :wink:
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I think of it like this:

beginner; knows virtually nothing

novice; still learning the correct seat and how to ride the different gaits and

lower intermediate; can ride all gaits and begins to be able to influence the hrose.

intermediate: can ride all gaits, influence the horse and deal with many unexpected situations

advanced: can ride nearly any horse , influence the hrose , and start to train a greeny

expert: Can do it all with confidence and not by luck, can replicate good training and deal with many difficult problems.
 

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I honestly think attempting to label people in the horse world is a colossal waste of time. There are SO many factors that go into it, that while it can be easy to identify a total novice/beginner rider, the lines blur a lot after that.

For example, I know a lot of girls who compete doing 3'0" courses and win. However, they are winning on push button trained horses, they have no idea how to actually train or ride, they get scared and freak out if the horse so much as flinches, they can't go for a hack and basically unless they're displaying flawless showring equitation, they are completely lost on a horse. Most people would label them intermediate to advanced based on a showring performance, but down to the nitty gritty they're still just novices when it comes to the entirety of the horse world. If their horse died tomorrow (heaven forbid), they'd be right back to learning walk trot all over on a new horse.

I would consider myself an advanced rider in terms of riding since I was born, doing a lot of training on youngsters and problem horses, having a lot of self confidence, able to get on virtually any horse and being able to easily recognize problems/issues and taking steps to rectify them. However, my equitation sucks and I would place dead last in most show rings because I've never been taught to ride PROPERLY. So vice versa, I am very much a novice in terms of getting a horse to perform without assistance in a specific discipline to any sort of standard that would have me winning a show.

Don't worry about levels or labels or where anybody else is at. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The woman who is currently my trainer and coach gives me huge props for my bareback riding skills because she can't ride bareback - never really practiced and no confidence in her own ability to stay on. In the end, it's all relative and no rider ever stops learning or ever perfects everything, or even anything for that matter! Just work your hardest and be proud of your accomplishments, however small you may think they are!
 

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^^ exactly, Great post! It can be incredibly decieving watching people ride, I've seen a lot of "pretty" riders that are just passengers on their horses and I've seen a lot of sloppier (strictly lack of a better word) riders that are effectively feeling their horses and are in constant communication and influence over their horse. Labels don't matter but if someone is interested in knowing what "level" they are at I don't think anyone on the internet can tell you that. For one thing the people I often see or hear asking are generally of a lower level (not advanced ect), so they may think that they have the skills to train a horse however they're instructor may think entirely different. If you're truly interested in knowing where you're at talk to your coach. I'd rather go over with my instructor the things I'm unsure of or simply don't know, reenforece the things I'm shaky on and make a plan to build my knowledge in the areas I haven't yet learned in a progressive and logical scale.
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