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Discussion Starter #1
hey all,
Im 25 years old and new to riding. I have always wanted to learn to ride but never had the opportunity. recently i finally took a couple of lessons at a riding stable with an awesome instructor. i learned so much in a few lessons and felt very confident and satisfied after every lesson. unfortunately the place is a far drive and a bit pricey so i was looking into something closer to me ( and less expensive). in my search i found a lady that is willing to give me some "lessons" in return for some barn help. she has several horses which she says need excercise so shes willing to give me lessons in exchange for help. I thought it was a great idea, since that would help me learn more about taking care of horses, be more comfortable around them and get to ride without the cost. But im a bit hesitant. she obviously isnt a ceritfied instructor, although she has been riding most of her life. the horses also arent lesson horses (theyre younger and a more energetic). i think its a great opportunity but im also concerned about safety. i was wondering what you guys think and how many of you actually learned to ride from a proper instructor at a riding stable and how many learned at a friends or neighbors barn?
 

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I learned at a lesson barn owned by a friend of my mother's. What we did that helped me the most were trot/canter trail rides with other people. Pick a horse, keep up, keep in the saddle, or get hurt and left behind. When the leader says canter, you canter. When she says gallop, you gallop. Your position had to be perfect, and you couldn't slack off. It learned a lot from those. :D
 

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I'm not too experienced in riding but I can tell you something. My instructor always make sure we do safety checks. Safety checks are where you look for things that aren't properly buckled,or the stirrups are too long or too short, if the saddle is on right, if all the bridle buckles are buckled(there not buckles, I forgot what they were, there like belts, with the holes and where you have to put the metal stick through them:) I don't know if those are buckles) Then after you fix everything time to ride!
 

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I learned with an actual instructor, although I'm pretty sure I was his only student. He was more into showing (H/J) than teaching anyways.

We always longed the horse before getting on -- he was a big proponent of this and it's carried on into my own routine now. Not to tire them out so I'd have an easier ride...it was part of the warm up, allowed the bloaters to deflate, and it got them in the proper mindset. He taught me most of what I currently know and for this I will forever be greatful.

The horses were another story...he more or less had me on a different horse every other week. I'd come in the morning and he'd be like "Oh, I have a new one for you try today!" lol Some of those were not beginner-safe...had my first fall when my obstinate lesson-horse-of-the-day decided he wasn't going to listen to me and went over and shocked his nose on the hotwire my instructor had forgot to turn off.

But it was a great experience and I don't regret it!
 

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I didn't start taking lessons until I was 25, too. Well, I turned 25 soon after starting them. I had always wanted to learn, and after graduating my masters with no job, I decided to do something for myself. I started out with the most awesome old cowboy to ever be born in the wrong era. Bill had this...magic with horses. He touched them, he spoke to them, you could see their eyes gentle, their bodies relax. He taught me how to really communicate with my horse, to understand what it was trying to tell me.

He passed away two years ago this coming summer, which made me question continuing. Bill always made me feel so safe, like nothing could ever go wrong as long as he was there to protect me. It took me a month to get back on my own horse...but one day, I just climbed on...bareback, in shorts, no shoes...Bill was looking down at me having a fit, yelling "I taught you better, girl!" But it showed me I could ride without him physically being there.

I continued taking lessons from his daughter, Kay, who trains very similar to him, but with a slightly different teaching style. Kay constantly challenges me to step up to my fears and face them, and has given me in a lot of confidence in a totally different way than her father. She's going to be moving away, so once again I face the question of continuing. His younger daughter is planning on training this coming year, so I am hoping to continue the "Bill" method.

I really wasn't looking forward to having to adjust to a totally knew trainer and method. Bill didn't particularly teach "Parelli" or "Anderson", it was a mix of his experience and what he knew worked. You could probably call it natural horsemanship, but it's a still all his own. He didn't have any particular training or certificate, just 50+ years experience with horses...training, rehabbing, rescuing.

The best advice I can give you is go with your gut. If you aren't comfortably with the situation after giving it a try, walk away.
 

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I started going on guided trail rides with my mom, a year later she bought me my first horse (I'm lucky, I know! :D). I still haven't had lessons and I've been riding for almost 3 years (HOLY..! time sure does fly!) but I'd like to find some nearby dressage trainers if possible :)
 

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I learned to ride at this animal care school that I went to for about 2 yrs. This was a while ago. I absolutely loved it. Not only did we get to ride everyday, she also made us clean, organize, and basically maintain the barn. It gave us a taste of what it would be like to have our own horses. I love it!!! I'm out cleaning stalls every day dude! I've been riding for about 5yrs, soon to be 6 I believe. Wow, time does fly!
 

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I started going on family vacations to an AZ horse ranch as a kid, and then worked as a junior counselor at a western riding camp in high school. I learned so much at the camp!

Now, I lease a horse after taking a long break from riding, and the two of us are learning together.
 

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I was one of the fortunate ones. I have always had horses around even since before I was born. I got my first ride at about 3 weeks old in my Dad's arms. When I got a little older and was able to sit up by myself, he would sit me in front of him in the saddle while he warmed up his show or roping horses. I graduated to my own real horse when I was 4. He would occassionally correct me on something that I was doing wrong; "Sit up straight", "Reins in your left hand", etc. but other than that, I just learned on my own from hours, days, and years spent in the saddle. I may not have perfect form on a horse but I am in a position that is comfortable and secure for me. I have never had a "proper" lesson from an instructor. Pretty much everything I learned, I learned from mistakes that I made. Every time I fell off, I learned something new LOL. :D
 

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Because I've loved horses basically since birth, as a toddler I was in my grandmothers friends pony carts, and at 4 or 5 y/o, I was put on my grandmothers other friends horses. I was put on the old bombproof mare and my feet couldn't even reach the stirrups lol...

For several years to come I rode that old mare, as I got older I got to ride the other horses then got my own finally.

In the beginning I was told the basics, and basically took it from there. Like above post, I don't have good form but has always worked for me. I never got into showing so wasn't much of an issue... I trail rode, and did smaller rodeos and play days was my thing
 

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I grew up around horses. Actually, ponies. They were my neighbors. She let me ride with her everywhere. I never was instructed. Just hop on and go. Took several spills but that is how I learned. As I grew older, I did more research and digging in on training than riding. I honestly think that if a person is not familiar with riding or horses that he/she should do research. Watch videos, go on guided trail rides at a stable, read. Ask questions, no matter how dumb they may seem. The more you can familiarize yourself with these things the more confident you may become. In my opinion, I would not take lessons from someone unless you know them. I would make sure that the horse given to me for lessons, was one that is calm, responsive and patient. If not, you may end up not wanting to ride or be around horses if it happens to be a bad experience. Before you get in the saddle really find out all you can about horses. That is just my opinion. Its alot of fun, when you know what you are doing and can trust who you are doing it with.
 

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I learned from the HSK.....Hard School of Knocks.......Never had a lesson one. Been riding over 30+yrs now. I can honestly say everything I learned I learned from a horse....:lol:
 

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I don't really remember how I started riding, (I've been doing so since I was real little) but when I started competing at a higher level I was self-taught, with a little help from my Instructor across the highway. But mostly I learned with a colt who was born the same day I was, so we were stuck together like glue. Trial and error, mostly ^^
 

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Discussion Starter #14
thanks everyone for sharing :) i just see so many articles and books out there that say you absolutely must have a proper instructor in order to learn how to ride. its good to hear that tehre are so many different situations and that people learned in different ways. im not looking to show or do anything fancy just learn how to ride, but safety is my primary concern i guess. im also dreading the "first fall". im thinking of maybe getting a protective vest, any of you used one when you were learning, or still do? how protective is it?
 

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Keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for. As much as cost cutting seems attractive in the short run, if you end up at a "cheap" place with poor instruction on unsuitable horses, you are going to be doing a lot of retraining with a much more expensive coach down the road.
Were I to "start over", I would find the best dressage instructor in my area that would teach beginners and go from there. You really want a strong foundation in riding, which is what a good dressage instructor will give you. Dressage mainly teaches the basics of balance and harmony, which are predecessors to success in any equine sport.

Good luck!

PS. As far as protective vests, they don't do much but save you from impalement and breaking your spine (for the most part). You can still break ribs, collapse lungs, etc.. with them on (you have to try really hard though).
Keep in mind that you aren't old! You will still bounce!! The best thing to remember is not to tense up and roll when you fall off. What will protect you better than a vest is knowing how to fall. You can ask your coach how to fall, and how you can practice falling in a safe environment.
 

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My dad wasn't that loving with me. He finally put me on the work pony bareback when I was about 7 or 8. He let me ride her at a walk most of the time. She would trot when she wanted to. But, I will tell you this, if a pony that doesn't want to move gets hit in the butt with a flying rock, she MOVES!!!! Full speed until the person that threw the rock is out of sight...then comes to a dead halt. It was nice when I actually opened my eyes from the flip over her head though, she had her nose right at mine making sure I was ok.

I didn't actually take my first lesson until I was about your age. Up until then, I was riding bareback all the time. The closest place for me to take lessons was an English riding show barn. I was there for a few years, and haven't ridden english since. I am just much more comfortable in the western saddle. Not to mention, the horn is nice to grab if the horse is bucking...lol.
 

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I started riding when I was around 7 or 8 for about a year on a mare that was owned by a friend of my mom's. We (my brother and I) got very basic lessons (mostly heels down, sit up straight, etc) in exchange for "helping" her around her farm. I literally learned to steer her horses through trial and error. Heehee
After that, I started taking "real" lessons when I was around 13. That barn was a cheap barn and it showed. The horses weren't as trained as they should have been to be called lesson horses and most of the riding I did on them was basically training them, no real "learning" for me. The one plus of that is that I got tons of hours on a horses back. I learned what it meant to move with the horse and I developed a pretty good seat.
Then I stopped taking lessons there and moved on to another barn with similarly marginally trained horses and a slightly more qualified instructor (neither one is/was certified). This second instructor basically spent the year, I spent taking weekly lessons, undoing the bad habits I had picked up with my first instructor.

Now, I've been taking weekly lessons at a different barn (I have my horse at the barn of the second instructor and we're still good friends and she helps me out with some things) with a very qualified, knowledgeable, instructor that has impeccably trained horses. It's completely amazing to be able to actually know what a trained horse feels like. Up until this point, in the ten or so years I've been riding, I had never ridden a really trained horse. I've ridden "broke" horses but nothing that was trained enough to go to a rated show tomorrow and win. It's absolutely amazing to get on a horse and have your instructor tell you to do something and actually be able to do whatever it is fully without having to teach the horse along the way.

I think I would probably be a less "skilled" rider at this point (maybe) if I had started out with the experienced instructor with the well trained horses but mentally I would feel a lot safer on horseback if I had started out with the trained horses and the teacher that knew what he was doing. Right now I have fears that started with horses I rode 5 years ago that still stop me from just going with whatever the horse is doing. For instance, so many of the horses that I used to ride were really goosey and jumpy so I developed a habit of automatically blocking the horse's unexpected movements with my body. Now I have a hard time in my lessons when we work on rollbacks and things because that's a slightly unexpected movement that I automatically block but that I shouldn't block.
Personally, I say pay more money; you'll most likely be way happier with the outcome and probably have a better horse experience if you do.
 

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i completely did it the wrong way that no one should! i rode a pony once being led around. and the pony had mouth cancer and foot rot so he dumped me on the ground for it. and i was 6 or 7. never rode again. i got my first horse when i was 15. a little mustang mare. that had never been ridden before (an i had never rode a horse either) i never took lessons. but i hopped on and we went from there i tought her and she tought me. and here we are today a year and a few months later. she has been a fantastic teacher and i thank her for dumping me for the first time last week!
 

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I started taking "real" lessons when I was around 13. That barn was a cheap barn and it showed. The horses weren't as trained as they should have been to be called lesson horses and most of the riding I did on them was basically training them, no real "learning" for me.
This is the problem that so many people have to deal with, especially at the cheaper lesson barns. I honestly believe that a person's first riding experiences should be on a very well trained AND very broke horse. If a person can learn right off the bat what a good horse is, then they can tell afterwards when a horse isn't so good. I know too many people who have spent their life on crappy horses and when they finally get one that is somewhat mediocre, they are tickled pink. Although if I were to throw my saddle on their horse, it would, in my mind, be just another crappy horse. They have no idea what it would feel like to ride a horse that will suck down in front of a cow, or drag their butt when you pick up the reins, or leg over with the slightest touch, or track a cow and put you in a perfect position to rope it then keep you there on their own with no further cues.

The best way to learn, IMHO, would be to find a good instructor with good horses. However, if you can only find a mediocre instructor, the good horse is even more important.
 

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I'm with smrobs on this one. I grew up with houses and was on their backs with my daddy. then I was thrown onto old bombproof horses with the occasional shouting of instruction from my dad/older sister until I was about 13. Thats when the real learning began. My dad decided I could ride Coco, his old mare. Not that she acted old. I had to learn how to saddle a horse that bit and kicked, how to bridle a horse that stuck her nose straight up in the air, how to get a bucking barn sour horse moving out, how to keep my balance when she suddenly ducked and high tailed it home. How to catch a horse that would charge you in the pasture. and how to tell if she was faking a limp or was really injured. That mare taught me everything. I loved her. The only type of formal riding I had was when I worked for a trainer last year. I helped him put miles on his green horses. He never did correct me much, a few tips on how to sit a sliding stop and how to get a horse to do a rollback and I was set. He said I had a very natural seat and position. I was (and still am) very proud of that comment.
 
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