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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just started western lessons and I am a SUPER beginner rider. I'm a very nervous rider as well.
The first lesson went decently I think. I had fun and really wanted to go again. The second lesson didn't go as well. I found it extremely difficult to focus on everything all at once. (Posting, keeping heels down, not holding onto the horn for dear life, keeping straight up, keeping my horse jogging the right speed or jogging at all and trying to keep her on the rail) It was really overwhelming and I ended up going home pretty discouraged. I can't for the life of me keep my feet right. That's the hardest part for me, I think.

So I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice on this. Other than practice, of course. I know the more I do it the better I will get!
 

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I feel it is always difficult to give advice to someone taking lessons because what one may say could contradict what the trainer says. Having said that, it looks like you're taking on too much at once. We don't train horses that way. We go one step at a time and build on it. If I were training riders, I'll do it the same way. Forget the jog until you have the walk, etc. Work on your balance at a walk and go from there. Also, the heels down thing, the biggest myth in horseback riding, IMO. Good luck.
 

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Practice makes perfect, as they say. If you’re only on your second lesson, you’re being WAY too hard on yourself!
 

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Relax and try to enjoy the process! Your instructor is telling you what to try to do, so that you learn things the correct way, but doesn't expect you to actually be able to do all of it yet. Just do your best and keep at it!
 

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Don't be too hard on yourself. This is really something that takes time, and it should be fun and enjoyable most days. There will always be days where you feel a little discouraged, but that's normal. Today it could be something you think you did wrong, or next lesson it could be an off day for the horse. All of those days can teach you something, and the days where you're both feeling good ... al bacio magnifique. You will get better in time if you keep at it and at least some of the nervousness will be replaced with confidence.

What you listed is a lot to focus on for a second beginner lesson. I don't want to undermine anything your instructor is telling you, so just make sure to communicate with them where you're at. Remember that they work for you, so don't be afraid to speak up respectfully if something is just too far out of your comfort zone, but don't be afraid to push that comfort zone a little, either. That's where the most progress happens by building confidence. My first couple lessons when I was a beginner consisted of ground work and just getting used to the feel of the horse's movements under me. It ended up being just the right pace for me to start and helped grow my confidence. Unless you're rushing to compete, don't worry so much about the pace. Enjoy the ride. 🤠
 

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I’ve never taken lessons so I don’t mean to be rude or obnoxious but what is the big deal about keeping the heels down? I learned to ride by balancing bareback and have no idea whether my heels are down or not. I just ride comfortably in the saddle. I do know that I seem to sorta grip with my thighs. I didn’t even realize I do that until my horse spooked one time.
 

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I’ve never taken lessons so I don’t mean to be rude or obnoxious but what is the big deal about keeping the heels down? I learned to ride by balancing bareback and have no idea whether my heels are down or not. I just ride comfortably in the saddle. I do know that I seem to sorta grip with my thighs. I didn’t even realize I do that until my horse spooked one time.
It depends a lot on what discipline you ride in. It's not that important (though some will disagree with me I'm sure) if you're not jumping or galloping. But in jumping, or at high speeds, you need to have your heels down to help counterbalance your upper body. If you put the weight in the balls of your feet, you get tipped forward too much, too easily. Having your heels down also makes your calf muscles firmer, which makes for a steadier lower leg, and clearer leg aids to the horse.
 

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You also don't want to force your heels down. If your muscles are tight and getting them to naturally drop hard or something you have to consciously work on then find a step that has hand rails and balance on the balls of your feet with your heel dropped then slowly stretch that further and raise up on your toes. Keep after that anytime you have few minutes and you'll find when you place the balls where they need to be your heel drops the way it should. Too many also do not pay attention to how far forward they slide their foot in the stirrup and make it hard to impossible to drop the heel without pressing the bottom of the stirrup forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You also don't want to force your heels down. If your muscles are tight and getting them to naturally drop hard or something you have to consciously work on then find a step that has hand rails and balance on the balls of your feet with your heel dropped then slowly stretch that further and raise up on your toes. Keep after that anytime you have few minutes and you'll find when you place the balls where they need to be your heel drops the way it should. Too many also do not pay attention to how far forward they slide their foot in the stirrup and make it hard to impossible to drop the heel without pressing the bottom of the stirrup forward.
Thanks for that, I'll try that!
I find it so hard to keep my heels down. I always feel like my feet will just come right out of the stirrup but my trainer just says that I need to put more weight onto the balls of my feet but also keep my heels down. It's not hard when we're at a walk but as soon as we start jogging, it feels impossible. I was wondering if maybe my stirrups were just a little bit long, but she didn't really have anything to say about that.
 

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Agree with charro & humble horseman(well everyone but esp them) that it sounds like a LOT for only a second lesson. and as with them, concerned not to contradict your trainer, who is there with you in person, maybe more communication prob between you & them that you're feeling you need to do all that... Or Praps they feel you're ready for more than you are.

I'd personally be ensuring you're good at a walk, and with transitioning TO a trot(as in, doesn't matter if you don't keep it up many paces) first, before asking you to try to keep in a trot, before asking you to rise to a trot,

This one's a bit controversial, as you give up some control for the sake of security, but if you're that much of a beginner, in a paid lesson, you should be in an enclosed place like an arena or such anyway, so the horse shouldn't go too awol even if you... lose the lot. I also would encourage you TO hold that horn, or handful of mane or whatever(just don't get grabby with the reins), when you're starting out, to help you stay secure while you're learning to balance. It might feel like 'for dear life' to start with, you hang on to hold yourself in(actually, pushing on the horn, rather than just hanging on can be better), but very soon it'll just be a 'safety chain' & then you won't need to at all. If it's a paid for beginners lesson horse, it should be well trained enough that you shouldn't have trouble getting it to trot either, and if it won't maintain a trot, the instructor could lunge, so you don't have to worry about that bit while you're 'finding your feet'.
 

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I know this feeling very well! I agree with what everyone has been saying, especially about allowing yourself to be a beginner. I have seen time and time again people on here saying that they've been riding for 5, 8, 10 years and still don't feel they've got it all down. But the more time you spend in the saddle, the more all the things your trainer is saying will make sense. Give yourself the gift of time, ask lots of questions, spend time with horses and just enjoy. Worrying won't make you learn any faster. :)

If I could add one riding tip that made all the difference to me- really focus on allowing your body to turn with the horse. Part of my biggest problem starting out (and sometimes still) was that I wouldn't turn my eyes, head, or shoulders around corners and instead kept my body sort of looking straight. This led to me being imbalanced. But once I began turning with the horse, life was so much easier!

Welcome to the amazing world of horses! You are one of the lucky ones!
 

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Actually, you should find that the horse follows your head and shoulders. As you approach a turn, you should turn and that is your initial signal to the horse. Then the seat and leg and finally the hand. Once it becomes unconcious on your part your riding takes on a more effortless appearing quality as everything happens if not simultaneously then so close as not to be distinguishable.
 

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I started as an adult too. Probably the best thing you could do for yourself, (and I know that if someone had told me this, I wouldn't have been able to) is adjust your expectations of yourself. There is a lot to learn and it's going to take a lot more time in the saddle than you would think. I am an adult and like to learn new things, but there is almost nothing like learning to ride. There are lots of potential failure points when it comes to communication: between your trainer and you, between you and the horse, even the trainer and the horse. The horse, like us, has good days and bad. Plus, just try explaining feel! The bazillion analogies that people try to use to convey feel, hoping that something clicks to that particular rider. In the early days I would hear, "Did you feel that?" and I'd think, "I felt about 12 different things; which one?" If you're used to excelling or you have been at your job for awhile and are very experienced, this is a difficult adjustment.

The second best thing is add another ride/week if you can (and I was one who couldn't because of work and the distance I was driving, so I understand). You can progress on one lesson/week, but it's slow and can be frustrating and hard to measure. You will make the same mistakes over and over. The number of times I would hear "Don't look at the ground" in ONE LESSON ALONE would drive me nuts early on.

Good luck!
 
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