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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been taking lessons at my current barn for a year and a half now, and have been re-evaluating some things as of recent. This is the only barn I've been at since I began riding a year and a half ago (I'm 25 years old, so I am an adult beginner). I started with one trainer there, but about six months into my riding with her, she and I started having issues with each other, so I switched over to one of the other trainers at my barn. Things have been much better with this other girl I've been training with for the past year now, but I've been getting frustrated with some things at my barn that are causing me to re-evaluate if I should stay there or not.

Jumping is the discipline I want to get into, and last year once I switched over to my current trainer, over the past summer I was able to start to learn how to jump on the horse (Horse #1) I rode at the time. Mind you, I was only going over a single small crossrail in the arena, I wasn't going over courses. My trainer then switched me over to riding another, more difficult, horse (Horse #2), and I didn't do very well on him. My trainer and I both realized that I still had a lot of gaps in my riding that needed correction, so she decided that we would take a break from jumping and she switched me over to another, less difficult horse. For several months we only did flatwork on a variety of different horses at my barn, but several of those horses that I rode and was enjoying and doing well on have since gotten sold, so I can't ride them anymore. Since then, I've been put back on Horse #2, as I'm a better rider and can control him better, but I'm still frustrated with how things are going during my lessons.

I'm still not jumping, my instructor is slowly trying to let me get back into it, but I'm not getting where I want to be. Some lessons she'll let me trot over a single small crossrail, other times she'll have me canter over a single cavaletti pole or a few poles on the ground, but I'm not getting to actually jump. She gets on me constantly that until I can keep my heels down consistently, she won't let me do anything more until then, which I understand but there are several problems that contribute to this.

Some of my problems that are getting in my way of progressing include the fact that for the first six months of riding, I only rode once a week. After I switched over to my current trainer, I've upped my riding time to twice a week, so for about a year now I've been riding twice a week. I know that's not very much ride time, so that's problem #1. But another problem I have is that I get nervous during my lessons as other people are often either riding at the same time as me, or they're watching from the sidelines. I have bad stagefright, and I know that I need to get over this especially since I hope to one day compete, but in the meantime it bothers me to no end. And my nerves, in turn, cause me to mess up. Problem #3 is that, as mentioned before, so many of the good lesson horses at my barn are sold off, so I'm left with hardly any decent lesson horses to ride. The best lesson horse I rode was Horse #1, and he's so overused now that I can't ride him anymore. It's very frustrating being an adult beginner, since I am a full-grown woman, and can't ride most of the lesson horses at my stable as they're all too small for me and only suitable to be ridden by kids. Even the barn management has acknowledged that they are in desperate need of adult lesson horses, but the only new horses they ever bring in are ponies, so they're not following through on this major need.

With all that I've told you guys here, do you think I should start looking for another barn? Should I have a sit-down with barn management and talk to them about all of this and let them know that if they don't find something better for me soon, I'll leave? What should I do here? I really don't want to have to leave my barn, as I've made a lot of friends there and it's super close to my home. But I'm really not liking how things are going there.
 

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You should look around and ask around. But I've never boarded anywhere where EVERYTHING was exactly as I wanted it. You ARE right to want to ride horses that are suited to your level, and, frankly, to ride as many different horses as you can. If your barn mgmt. is able and willing to work with you, it is always nice to stay where your friends are, but if you want to achieve your goal(s) as quickly as possible you may need a change of venue. Have you thought about possibly LEASING a horse? There's an old, great book called "The Horseless Rider" that offers many suggestions for people who want to ride but don't have their own horse.

As far as the nerves...those other people are busy riding their own horses. Just focus on the horse YOU are riding, try to stay out of everyone else's way, and don't be influenced by what you THINK other people are thinking. "Ride your own horse and make it the best horse it can be." If everyone followed that advice, everyone at every barn would always have a good time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Is there any way you could lease an appropriate horse and board it there?
No, I can't afford to lease yet. Besides, I'm still a beginner, and was planning on taking lessons for at least another two years before I would consider buying my own horse. I want to get as good as I can with lessons alone before I go off on my own and buy my own horse to ride on my own. Is this a good plan I have? Would three years' worth of lessons be enough experience, generally speaking, before a rider could go solo with their own horse without lessons anymore? I know that there's no set rule for this kind of stuff, but what do you guys think generally speaking? I can't afford to both lease and take lessons at the same time.
 

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Leases come in many flavors. I "free-leased" a horse this winter -- I paid for her food and hoof trims and that's it. She was at my place so I wasn't paying board. Many people would like someone to ride their horse for them because for various reasons they aren't able to. Could you afford board for one horse and lessons?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Leases come in many flavors. I "free-leased" a horse this winter -- I paid for her food and hoof trims and that's it. She was at my place so I wasn't paying board. Many people would like someone to ride their horse for them because for various reasons they aren't able to. Could you afford board for one horse and lessons?
I guess I could ask next time I'm at the barn...thanks for the suggestion!
 

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Is there any way you could ride horse 1 for one lesson and horse 2 for another lesson? I've found that riding different horses is really useful. Horse 1 would help with your confidence and help you just work on your form without having to worry about what the horse is going to do, and horse 2 would teach you how to have better control of and get more out of a horse.

I don't think you need to present your instructor with an ultimatum, but maybe you can propose this? Explain that you really feel like lessons with horse 2 aren't going well, and you're not progressing as much as you'd like. Maybe they might have another solution (horse 3?).

I think your plan for riding for another two years and the leasing is good, except for where you said if you leased you couldn't afford lessons also. Obviously in a couple of years you will be a much better rider, but I'd hope that you could still afford at least one lesson a month.

As for other people watching, I hate to say it but this is a really good chance to learn to deal with that in a low-key, low-stress environment, if you eventually want to show. And like someone else said, they probably aren't even watching you anyway.
 

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I think that two lessons a week, for a year, is a significant number. A good trainer should have had you further along, in my opinion.


I suggest looking around, and try to push yourself out of your comfort zone. you are ready to up things, I would venture to guess.
 

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I've read all of what you wrote...and read it again.
This is going to sound harsh, not meant that way but eloquence with words is not my strong point, so hang on its going to get bumpy.
My apologies before you read from me... :frown_color:

You have nothing tieing you to this place, so if you think you will do better elsewhere...go.
However...
In no particular order....
You made complaints about many things...
Horses, instructor incompatibility issue, horses again, instructor, other boarders and onlookers...
So...
You sound like you don't like change very much...you get secure in your "spot" and not like it when anything is "off"...
You are dissatisfied with your lessons and slow progress....understandable.
So, most adults have decent understanding of needing this to gain that...in your case you need focus and ability to control your body better.
For instance you say your heel is not down and your instructor won't allow...
Well without that heel stabilized and down then you don't have a steady lower leg which is your base of support, stability and control of the horse at faster gait and over fences...if your leg moves around so does your balance and that is a recipe for a nasty fall and injury.
Yes, you are being held back because you have not shown you can control and move forward on the horses you have been given to ride..several different lesson horses, some sale horses...they looked for horses to meet your needs and ability physically and mentally.
Many adults take 1 lesson a week and by time a year arrives they are able to enter beginner classes in a horse show with a lesson horse or leased horse.
Till you can focus on you, instruction given and your task at hand, tuning-out bystanders, other riders near you but aware of where they are to remain safe...
Your inability to not handle others being in your proximity when riding is scary when you make comment about showing...you're having a breakdown because some stand along a fence rail while you ride...
What are you going to do when you enter a show-ring and have 200 - 300 spectators watching the beginner classes cheering for their riders...not pretty what comes to my mind.
I have no idea of what to suggest but yes, you have some issues at the facility you ride at.
Till you can focus on you and your instructor, tunnel vision out others...then I don't see you making progress no matter where you ride.
I'm sorry but my gut says it isn't just the barn...
Much of the issue is you..... :|
You may want to ramp up the difficulty of your lessons, but till you can successfully master basics and prove it, you will be held back to keep you safe...no matter the barn you ride at.
You progress when your ability allows you to move on...till that time comes, work hard cause no place wants to see a rider hurt because they did what they are not safely ready to try.
sorry.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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I don't think It would hurt to see If there are other options that may suit your goals better. Having well suited horses and an instructor that 'clicks' with your learning style may help speed up the process. It sounds like you may be held back by only being able to ride greener (Horse #2?) horses, when you may first need to first ride a well-trained horse.

Is your instructor or barn aimed towards the jumping disciplines? Are more experienced students competing in hunter/ jumper or show jumping? It is possible that this isn't their area of expertise, so they won't have the tools to bring you along to your goal as quickly as you'd like. Nevertheless, you first need to learn how to be fairly competent riding on the flat, since you will need to apply those skills when jumping.

However, I also think that you may be "putting the cart before the horse" in some ways and want to 'jump' (Pun intended :smile:) directly to the jumping, when you still need to work on some things on the flat. It would not be responsible of any instructor to let a student jump more until they are ready.
I'm still not jumping, my instructor is slowly trying to let me get back into it, but I'm not getting where I want to be. Some lessons she'll let me trot over a single small crossrail, other times she'll have me canter over a single cavaletti pole or a few poles on the ground, but I'm not getting to actually jump. She gets on me constantly that until I can keep my heels down consistently, she won't let me do anything more until then, which I understand but there are several problems that contribute to this.
Keeping your heels down is VERY important for your safety over fences. It helps you balance properly in the saddle and helps keep you more secure if the horse decides to spook or refuse a fence.

But another problem I have is that I get nervous during my lessons as other people are often either riding at the same time as me, or they're watching from the sidelines. I have bad stagefright, and I know that I need to get over this especially since I hope to one day compete, but in the meantime it bothers me to no end. And my nerves, in turn, cause me to mess up.
Unfortunately, spectators are a big part of showing and you should take this opportunity to overcome your stagefright. Don't worry about what everyone thinks on the sidelines. Just think of what you are doing in the moment and what you can improve.

#3 is that, as mentioned before, so many of the good lesson horses at my barn are sold off, so I'm left with hardly any decent lesson horses to ride.
Now, this could be a bit of a restraint for your progression. It's a good thing to be able to hop on different horses that challenge your skills. You'll learn different things from each horse. It's also important to be able to ride a well trained horse to teach you how to ride something correctly and for comparison when switching to a greener horse.
 

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I wouldn't really worry about people around and watching. For starters, I highly doubt they are judging you. Maybe critiquing but that is different and could be to your benefit. A good bet would be that if you asked them, you would find that they weren't even paying enough attention. So in that aspect, you have to change your mind. For the most part, nobody cares and are probably standing there watching because there is nothing better to do at the moment so they are socializing. No matter what barn you go to, there are going to be people watching, it's just what people do. Mostly because they think that they might learn something for themselves.

One idea about furthering your skills could be maybe find another barn that has suitable horses for you and take a lesson there once a week and a lesson at your current barn once a week and see if it works for you. It's a start anyway and you can at least see if that will help you better.

Could it be that the saddle that you are using is hindering your body placement and balance? Don't use that as an excuse but it can happen. People have their favorites for a reason.
 

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Solid basics are very important when jumping. You say you set nervous now, and that won't improve if you get into a wreck because you were overfaced beyond your capabilities. Its good to have an instructor who values safety and basics.

If you have time to warmup/cool down on your own, practice your two point. Sinking into the lower leg, not gripping the keep, and moving the hands up and down the neck in balance. Then opening and closing the hip and angle in balance. All can be done at the walk while the horse is cooling down.

I always suggest sticking it out with the trainer who supports solid and correct basics. However, if you've reached a point that you are frustrated and not progressing, or regressing, through no fault of the trainer, it might be time to move on. Sometimes we get stuck in the same patterns, especially if we aren't feeling good in the student-instructor relationship, that it doesn't matter what the instructor does.

You could shop around lessons and see if things feel different elsewhere. Be warned that depending on the trainer, if your current one gets word they may not be so courteous afterwards.

A leased horse could be an option. It gives you access to a more trained horse without the expense and adds consistency. You might be able to find one at the current barn, or sometimes you can find them elsewhere and the owner would be willing to move them.

Giving the barn an ultimatum that they buy a horse for you is silly. Why should they buy another horse just to accommodate one student? If they are doing well with their pony riders and that's where the income is, there's no incentive. Your couple hundred a month in lesson fees isn't going to pay for the horse's upkeep.

So, you have a few options. Put in more dedicated work to get stronger basics. Find a horse on your own. Find a new barn.
 

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I am going to disagree with some of the other posters. You are a brand new rider- you rode for the first 6 months once a week (so rode approximately 25 times in 6 months) you then took lessons 2 x per week (so ride an additional 50-55 times in 6 months) so you now have less than or about 100 rides on a horse. And you think you should be jumping? In my book you are still very very green. Jumping is an advanced discipline, you have mentioned some stage fright that inhibits your riding and I am sorry to hear that, all riders started somewhere, quit critiquing yourself by guessing what others think. You have to ride for you and not them.

The sad reality of most barns is that horses are bought and sold, lesson horses burn out or get hurt. Of course the barn should put you on a horse you are capable of riding but that trainer should also challenge you by moving you up to more advanced horses or your riding will never improve. If you only ride a calm dead broke lesson horse that does not need for you to "really ride" you will get a false sense of your abilities and this could spell disaster if you were to ever purchase a horse of your own.


Try other barns but understand that riding is a process - and a year or two riding once or twice a week is really not that long.
 

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I think you need to be a bit more patient. Honestly, jumping isn't something you just, well, jump into. You are a beginner. Things take time. I would just go with the flow, I think it's a good thing your trainer isn't rushing you. While yes, you could look elsewhere, nothing wrong with that, but I'm not sure if they'd get you jumping right away either.

If you do decide to take a lesson at a different barn, there's nothing wrong with that. I've had a lot of different trainers throughout the years.

I think it's good you are riding different horses. A horse that challenges you is great. While it's easier to ride the easy horse, it won't really help you learn/move up.

Riding 1-2x a week for a year isn't that long, I agree with @carshon.
 

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I would say you need to lease a horse to get your confidence up on that one mount. And to ride 4-5 a week. I know that can be expensive but possibly you could do some barn chores as a trade. The more you ride the more confidence you will get and it also sounds like you want to bind with a horse. That is important when learning to jump. You need to trust a partner.
 
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