New Re-Rider, Not Quite at the Riding Stage Yet - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-18-2020, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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New Re-Rider, Not Quite at the Riding Stage Yet

Hello! I'm new, nice to meet you!

I was involved with horses several times as a kid. Firstly, I had a couple of years of private lessons with a friend of the family who was lovely and very knowledgeable about horses, but unfortunately was inexperienced at teaching. We ended up hitting a point where she didn't know how to help me get better, and eventually lessons stopped. About five years later, I joined an intramural program at my middle school and started riding at a large barn which, unfortunately, was also not good at teaching me, specifically. A lot of their students do very well, but it just wasn't a good fit for me. Though I did befriend the BEST PONY EVER, his name was Starry, he was a grumpy old Welsh/Shetland cross who was known for being Difficult, but for whatever reason he and I clicked. He was one of my best friends and I miss him terribly. I don't think I have any pictures. :(

Now I'm almost thirty and am finally in a place, financial and mentally, to get back in the saddle. I am in the very early stages of doing this--I've only just started researching local barns. It's is very daunting! My education is very spotty and I'm obviously super rusty, so I need a place with experienced teachers, but I really don't want a repeat of what happened with the humans at my last barn. I have to find just the right teacher, easier said than done! I'm autistic, which means I have difficulties with body language and vocal intonation, which means that it's really common for me to say/do something that is offputting to people and I haven't even realized I've done anything. It's very frustrating and was a major impediment to forming social relationships at the barn.

But anyway. I've wanted to own a horse for basically my whole life, but that's obviously years away since I haven't even ridden in fifteen-ish years. I'm very excited to start the process and am happy to have found a place online with people who love horses and whom I can maybe bounce ideas off of. I know I have a lot of work to do (in addition to not having the right place to ride yet, I want to get into better physical shape so that I don't come away from my first lessons feeling lousy!) but I'm looking forward to it. It's been a long time since I've been this excited for something!
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-18-2020, 07:42 PM
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Hi there @Danneq ! And welcome to Horse Forum!

I'm sorry you had some rough starts, but kudos to you for persisting!

I'm a 50 year old who had horses as a child, but then didn't for a couple of decades. And now I have two because a few years back my daughter got into riding so we built a barn and I finally could justify having horses again. I do love every minute of it, but in terms of riding, I can relate to what you're saying. My 15 year old daughter can do anything it seems. Mind you, her horse is a well-trained gem whereas my horse is a green rookie, but I do adore him to bits because he has the most personality of any horse I ever met.

I also have experience with some friends who are autistic. Heck, sometimes I think I must be Aspergers because I don't quite get social conventions, say the wrong things at the wrong time, and can totally relate to those on the spectrum. It does sound like you're completely on top of things and know what works for you, so I'd say you'll do great with the right coach! It's quite a process, I know... you may have to try out a couple before finding the right fit. You could even ask to audit a lesson with a coach to see if you think you will click with them before booking your own lesson. I personally don't do well with someone who is very competitive and pushy. I'm too old for that. Watching someone coach other students might help you decide whether they are right for you. And if they're not, then move on to someone else.

Do you want to ride English or Western? I do find that yoga is one way I can keep myself fit and flexible between lessons. I like the online videos with Adriene.

I hope you find a barn that makes you happy! There are lots of re-riders here so feel free to share your experiences!
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post #3 of 11 Old 09-18-2020, 08:13 PM
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Welcome!

I was in the same position as you coming back to riding at the same age. It feels so wonderful to be able to be around horses again!

I didnít notice where you are located, but I would recommend searching for a barn on a couple of different websites:
1. www.pathintl.org - will bring you to therapeutic riding facilities, specifically, where you will find instructors with training to support riders with autism
2. https://cha.horse/ - will allow you to look up facilities whose instructors are focused on teaching and high standards for safety

Good luck in your search!
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-18-2020, 08:36 PM
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Welcome! It sounds like you're putting a lot of thought into this, which is great. You've probably already thought of this, too, but I'd go out and watch any potential instructor give a lesson or two, and then make sure you talk to them about your concerns, to make sure they are the right fit.

I'm excited for you to be getting back into horses. Yay!
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"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-18-2020, 11:08 PM
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Welcome! I hope you enjoy your time back with horses.

I started back at 36 years old (now 40) after not having ridden in over 20 years and what I did have was rather ho-hum (a couple of years of owning my own pony with absolutely no lessons, and then just rides on siblings/friends horses around that.

I can say, it is really lovely to be back doing things with horses again (I also volunteer at a therapy riding place) and riding. I enjoy riding as an adult.

Go look at and try out as many places as you can, and find where you fit and where you feel safe. I tried out three other places for between 4 and 15 lessons each before I settled where I am now.

I second the checking out therapy riding places. The one I volunteer at does everyone from those who are not "therapy riders" through to anxiety, ASD, and then to physical disabilities. The instructors usually have specific qualifications for teaching therapy riding in addition to any other horse coaching qualifications, and the horses are very tolerant.

I think my daughter (tween age) is ASD, but it is very hard to find someone qualified to do an assessment for her where we live and very $$$, so sometimes I wonder if I will bother trying to get one. I homeschool her so she does not need it for school help or anything. Do you think having a diagnosis has helped you?

In terms of fitness, what sort of activity to do you do now, and what do you like? Anything that gets you moving will be beneficial. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga (I like Five Parks Yoga on Youtube), mobility/stretching (would recommend Tom Merrick and Upright Health on Youtube), weights, mat pilates... I do a mix of these and just try aim for at least 30 min a day. I try to avoid running as I have a family history of knee replacements but have started a little lately as my daughter can now outrun me both in terms of speed and distance.
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-18-2020, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, everybody! :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
I also have experience with some friends who are autistic. Heck, sometimes I think I must be Aspergers because I don't quite get social conventions, say the wrong things at the wrong time, and can totally relate to those on the spectrum.

Entirely possible! A lot of folks don't get diagnosed until they're adults, especially if their symptoms are milder than the classic cases. (I was twenty, myself, which I know is not old, but I just mean I wasn't a little kid, haha.)





Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
It does sound like you're completely on top of things and know what works for you, so I'd say you'll do great with the right coach! It's quite a process, I know... you may have to try out a couple before finding the right fit. You could even ask to audit a lesson with a coach to see if you think you will click with them before booking your own lesson.

Gosh, I hope so! Part of me feels like, "that's it, me, you've got this!" and another part is just overwhelmed and nervous. But I suppose that's normal!


I didn't even know that auditing might be an option! Thank you for the suggestion, that could be very helpful!
I think my next step right now is to go lay eyes on the barns on my list. Not even to look too closely--really just a drive by, just to get a general idea of what places look like. (Really, it's a concession I'm making to my anxiety. Too many unknowns makes my brain buzz in a bad way.) Then I think I'll start making phone calls, I think, and scheduling time to visit barns and meet trainers (and horses, of course!). I'll be sure to ask about auditing. :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
Do you want to ride English or Western? I do find that yoga is one way I can keep myself fit and flexible between lessons. I like the online videos with Adriene.
I've only done English, but I'm not averse to trying Western! I mainly want to trail ride/hack, so if I find a good place to do it, I've no preference about their style. (That's another thing on my list when looking at barns. If the barn culture is super focused on competitions, it's probably not a good fit.)


I just miss horses so much, y'know?


Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I didnít notice where you are located, but I would recommend searching for a barn on a couple of different websites:
1. www.pathintl.org - will bring you to therapeutic riding facilities, specifically, where you will find instructors with training to support riders with autism
2. https://cha.horse/ - will allow you to look up facilities whose instructors are focused on teaching and high standards for safety

THANK YOU! I've only been doing google searches. I didn't know about either of these databases! I will give them a look!


P.S. This website has good emojis.






Edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeditativeRider View Post
I think my daughter (tween age) is ASD, but it is very hard to find someone qualified to do an assessment for her where we live and very $$$, so sometimes I wonder if I will bother trying to get one. I homeschool her so she does not need it for school help or anything. Do you think having a diagnosis has helped you?

In terms of fitness, what sort of activity to do you do now, and what do you like? Anything that gets you moving will be beneficial. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga (I like Five Parks Yoga on Youtube), mobility/stretching (would recommend Tom Merrick and Upright Health on Youtube), weights, mat pilates... I do a mix of these and just try aim for at least 30 min a day. I try to avoid running as I have a family history of knee replacements but have started a little lately as my daughter can now outrun me both in terms of speed and distance.

Oh geez, I know, testing for any kind of learning disability is sooooo expensive. And half the time insurance doesn't cover it, but then they'll only let you have other services if you get officially tested. It's absurd.


At the moment, I get at least a little exercise every day. I walk for about a mile with my mother every night. (Though not the past few nights, because I turned my ankle on Wednesday. It'll be fine in a few days, but very annoying.) I work a desk job, so I sit around all day which is of course terrible for me. I've got bad posture, no abdominal strength, and no flexibility. But for the first time in literal years I feel motivated to change that. I have been looking into yoga type exercises on Youtube that are geared to equestrians. I also bought an exercise ball and I'm going to try using that as a chair (at least when my cat will let me. She very much wants me off the couch, and little claws are bad for exercise balls, haha).


Thank you for the recs!

Last edited by Danneq; 09-18-2020 at 11:31 PM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-19-2020, 05:17 AM
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Let us know how you go! I love hearing about other's re-riding journeys.

Totally hear you on the need to minimize the unknowns. I am just the same. And the working a desk job. I am an editor so do a lot of sitting. Riding has motivated me to keep improving my fitness and strength though. I hope you find the same. That's great you walk with your mom (both in terms of fitness, and, as a mom, I like hearing of adults who still hang out with their moms on the regular).

Trail riding is fun. It was my aim when I started out. I can't do any from the place I ride at, but I go on regular trail rides elsewhere and love them. Over time, I have also found I really like doing flatwork too though. Incremental refining of small parts of a whole is a great fit for my personality (very much a perfectionist, lover of organizing etc.). If I had the time and money for my own horse, I would totally get into dressage.

We live in NZ, so have a public health system (socialized medicine lol [we lived in the US for a while and it always cracked me up when people called it that]), but it does not cover mental health or learning disabilities unless you are very badly affected. My daughter is "mildly affected" (does not feel so mild to parent some days) so we cannot get a public assessment. If she inherited it from anyone, it would be me, I have many ASD tendencies but have learned to either mask them or live with them. I think it is great you can make phone calls. That is one thing I cannot do. Phone conversations are overwhelming for me, I say stupid things or forget to say things/forget what people said to me, and I get really exhausted. I am all about the email for contact.

Oh, when you are looking for a coach, if you know you are a particular type of learner. Ask if they would be able to teach to that. I am very visual spatial and terrible with left/right. I know what is left and what is right, but if someone told me to use my left leg or turn right, I blank momentarily. My instructor is great because she will go "you need to make the horse look like this [demonstrates shape] and use that leg and that hand [pointing] to do it, and ride from here to here [runs it to show me]". Rather than given spoken instructions, which to me are just "blah blah blah blah blah...oh and blah".
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-19-2020, 10:37 AM
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Welcome to the forum!

First thing is to remember to have fun. Second thing is to remember is that it takes a lot of trial and error and mistakes to get good at something so just stick with it. Good luck!
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-19-2020, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeditativeRider View Post
I think it is great you can make phone calls. That is one thing I cannot do. Phone conversations are overwhelming for me, I say stupid things or forget to say things/forget what people said to me, and I get really exhausted. I am all about the email for contact.

Oh, when you are looking for a coach, if you know you are a particular type of learner. Ask if they would be able to teach to that. I am very visual spatial and terrible with left/right. I know what is left and what is right, but if someone told me to use my left leg or turn right, I blank momentarily. My instructor is great because she will go "you need to make the horse look like this [demonstrates shape] and use that leg and that hand [pointing] to do it, and ride from here to here [runs it to show me]". Rather than given spoken instructions, which to me are just "blah blah blah blah blah...oh and blah".
The ability to make phone calls took a lot of therapy. I feel exactly the same about them! But idk, I read that speaking to an instructor on the phone is a way to get a good sense of them?


Good point! I'm taking notes.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-19-2020, 04:35 PM
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You might find that some instructors are rarely available for phone calls and won't either answer them or return them. It is a common "complaint" of some new riders trying to find a place to ride. I know my instructor has her phone off during lessons and if she is making calls it is about other things (e.g., feed supplies, vets etc.). She prefers riders (new and existing) to make contact about lessons via email.
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