im just not getting any better - intensive lessons?

(144 Posts)
ThatVikRinA22 Sat 22-Jun-13 23:43:35

my RI is a stickler for "proper" riding - she is of the Sylvia Loch school of thought - which is brilliant, knowledgeable, but im just not getting it....

i go one step forwards, then 3 back.

its worse as im an adult learner. RI is really very good, and says yes, you can get by from kicking and pulling, but she teaches properly the use of leg aids (i e - riding from the ankle UP...no kicking unless for discipline)

im worse than useless. She talks about collecting the horse and riding in front of the leg....now i understand these as concepts but i have all on trying to coordinate my body, legs and arms.....

i do not want to give up - it gives me such pleasure, and i know enough about horse care and stable management now to own my own pony, RI often leaves me to it if she needs a few hours off....and i love helping out, plus i dearly would love my own pony.

im thinking of booking a series of intensive lessons daily for a week or so, because just as i seem to be getting it i go backwards again. My legs will not do as they are asked....(!!) i give the poor horse mixed messages, i cant seem to keep my heels down and toes in....and my lower legs refuse to stay where i put them originally!

im getting so annoyed with myself! RI says i am perfectly normal but im not improving at all.

because i help out RI says she will do me a deal on intensive lessons.

im feeling a bit despondent. I so want to learn. i can do everything now with horses except ride them!

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 27-Jun-13 19:17:57

I do agree to an extent with Daisy5569 that it might be better to wait a little until you get a horse of your own. If you have never hacked at all, it is better to have some escorted hacks before you go it alone. With a sane and sensible horse, you are more than ready to go on some escorted hacks, and have a canter or two in an enclosed space. Hacking out is different, and horses do tend to be a bit more excitable.

I think your RI is being extremely risk averse though. All horses have the potential to spook, and at your level of experience, if one bucked or something, you might well come off. That is a fact of riding. A safe horse, however, is unlikely to do an extreme spook on the road in a normal situation, and at some point you do have to take the risk. I think you see this woman as more of a friend, and this is clouding your judgement, when thinking of other places you could go and ride.

I think if you try riding in another environment, you will never look back.

Also, an instructor is there for constuctive criticism, and teaching new skills, not damaging your confidence. No-one has a perfect position, especially when starting out- if you are effective, balanced, and not hurting the horse, that is what matters at this stage. Out of interest, what teaching qualifications (if any) does she have?

HomageToCannelloni Thu 27-Jun-13 20:06:26

Vicar, are you in East Riding? I'm in that area and regularly ride at a school where we do a lot of jumping out in the fields and where I'm fairly sure they'll let you hack out. I used to ride there twice a week and loved it. I'm skint at the mo and haven't ridden for months but can't recommend them enough. they have a number of horses you could ride. Pm me if you'd like details.

CalamityKate Fri 28-Jun-13 01:22:19

Thing is, do you want to BE a dressage rider??

Perfect, textbook position isn't everything. Sure if your position strays too far from ideal your balance - and that of the horse - will be affected but there are plenty of riders whose position isn't perfect/classical who reach very high standards and who can get a tune out of a horse and crucially have a lot of fun!

I also think that it depends on your own body shape. I have never been able to turn my toes "properly" to the front; my legs just aren't made that way. I naturally walk with my feet at ten to two (attractive and elegant). You'd have to break and reset my hips and ankles to satisfy the positional purist. Some people are naturally round shouldered and could never achieve the ramrod straight elegance of other riders. But I, and others who aren't maybe designed to sit perfectly, manage to stay on and be effective, and do all the things they want to do.

It's not about perfection from day one. It's about being competent enough to put a few miles on the clock without worrying TOO much about perfect position...interspersed with being a bit more pernickety about position, which then enables you to try slightly more advanced stuff, then practising that, having fun, then more intensive stuff....etc etc.

A nice mixture. That's what you want.

kittykarate Fri 28-Jun-13 11:26:25

Your instructor really needs to understand the technique of delivering a 'shit sandwich'. Say something nice to you, deliver the bad stuff, finish off on something nice about your riding.

Even if the quality of the instruction is great (I'm not convinced to be honest, permanent lunge lessons sounds insane) it is too easy to be dispirited if there is no positive in the lesson. Also, your instructor should take into account whether what she is asking is physically possible - my instructors have know there is no point telling me my toes should point in as my feet naturally fall at 11 to 3 and if I twist my right leg so my toes are perfect, the rest of my leg would be turned away from the horse.

If you want a riding holiday I have been to Freerein in Wales, they do a beginners course that is walk/trot (maybe short canter depending on skills/confidence) hacking, catching and grooming your horse etc. Murthwaite Green in the Lake District have a nice mix of a little school for lessons and beach rides. Cumbrian Heavy horses have some beautiful horses and I enjoyed my visit there.

Honestly, I would look on the BHS schools list, phone someone up and try somewhere else.

kittykarate Fri 28-Jun-13 11:27:40

Not 11 to 3 with my feet - that would look really odd, more 11 to 2. DOH!

Lasvegas Fri 28-Jun-13 13:20:51

I have recently progressed to a share from lessons. It is definitely much easier to canter on a bridle path than in a school. I mainly hack out but sometimes go in the school to work on transitions and cantering on the right leg. My RI didn't think I was ready for a share, but my riding has come on massively. This is down to a brilliantly schooled horse who is not bored like riding school ones and also my hours in the saddle. When I am out and there is a tractor going past i am just trying to stay safe and keep horse safe position does not matter. There is much more to riding than being perfectly balanced in a school.

Perihelion Fri 28-Jun-13 16:22:43

I'm the same height as you Vicar, and have 31" inch legs and am actually happiest riding anything under 14hh. Personally have never seen the point of big horses except to jump large fences, but that's probably because most of my time in the saddle has been clocked up in the Scottish Highlands, riding over rough boggy ground. And riding over rough terrain with hills and burns etc is IMO a much better way of developing a good seat. Used to take folk out who had done years of lessons in a school, but had never ridden on anything other than a flat surface in a big circle. These people were flummoxed when it came to going down a hill and avoiding a branch at the same time.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 28-Jun-13 20:34:00

Our boy is 23, has jumped a good 3 ft, done everything pony club and is safe as houses. I have a picture if you want one. wink

ThatVikRinA22 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:15:34

oh saggy he sounds wonderful but i think i need something a wee bit bigger and possibly a wee bit younger....thing is DD might ride too, and she is 5ft 7 (though weighs nothing....7st 10)

ive been browsing preloved all night....so many horses on there its a minefield....

ive been talking to DH about it tonight - RI DD doesnt let hers be used in the school so i will not be either.

also thinking about trying another place just to see....thought the other place does not teach, just lets you loose on a hoss....but maybe now i know the theory and the basics thats what i need to try and see how i get on.

ultimately i think i will learn more by getting my own happy hacker/safe pony.
i can do part livery at my current yard. its a nice yard, nice facilities, no worries on that score but would have to be clear that no working livery wanted.

unobtanium Sun 30-Jun-13 15:49:11

Yes, you need to have more fun! Sure your RI is very good but if you are feeling like this, it is currently not working for you.

Imagine weights attached to the bottom of your boots, and your legs draped like wet towels around your horse's barrel. Imagine a bungee rope coming out of the top of your head lifting your top half upwards. Feels good and helps.

For the rest, change of tack and look to have fun. I am sure you are up to a hack... in the right company on the right horse.

If you can get to Devon, consider doing a simulator course with Heather Moffett. You'll meet fun people and soak up a very positive atmosphere there.

PeanutPatty Mon 01-Jul-13 17:47:45

I wouldn't purchase a horse off pre loved - I'd check my local riding club classified and go by word of mouth. But I appreciate that is just me!

lovebeansontoast Mon 01-Jul-13 21:22:42

I can't remember if I've suggested this already, but have you thought of a share? Your riding would come on leaps and bounds and you'd really find out if horse ownership is for you. You'd also have a load of fun, which sounds like something you could do with in your riding.

ThiefofTime Tue 02-Jul-13 21:37:57

Vicar, I have read your posts frequently having returned to riding myself this year. My instructor is very keen on riding with your seat etc but I have cantered every lesson after the first 3 or so and hack out. I have also foind I have improved as I have become fitter through other exercise too. My DD(7) also goes to a good school near Stamford Bridge; they don't hack out but they will get you cantering and having fun very quickly on horses which know what they are doing. PM me if you would like details of the school. Finally, as eveyone else says, it is supposed to be fun. I have stressed myself out at times but I have been trying to correct bad habits caused by years of hacking (v fast and v fun tho). Sorry this is such a long one.

PeanutPatty Wed 03-Jul-13 20:57:34

As I've said previously a share would be a real win/win for you.

Incapinka Sun 07-Jul-13 21:26:21

I haven't read all this thread as it was making me grumpy! But OP you need to think what you want to get from riding. Do you want to do dressage? Jump? Hunt? Hack? Reading your thread your RI doesn't sound as though she is doing a very good job. I teach and wouldn't dream of just lunging someone for the last 6 months and would be very surprised f I did if people kept coming back for more. Complete beginners can go pony trekking and like others on this thread would suggest you going on a fun trekking holiday for a long weekend or something. Get the feel of a horse out in the open. Think of the basics your RI has hopefully taught you. And enjoy it. My dad took up riding again aged 40 with a similar background to you. He wanted to hunt so had a few lessons on what he needed to do in order to hunt and as he was also blessed with no fear (lucky b!) he cracked on and had great fun. He did get his own horse to do this and had Mum as back up but your seat etc will improve from riding and doing lots of it and not just going round in circles not having to steer. Hope this makes sense as on phone. But remember. Riding is meant to be fun and a treat.

sasamunde Mon 15-Jul-13 22:14:57

You are right that it's all about coordination! Do you do the kinds of in-saddle exercises the kids do? (Round the world, touch your toes, bicycle your legs etc). They are all for a reason as they help you get a feel for your balance in the saddle. Perhaps find a book of similar exercises for adults and ask you RI if you can spend the 1st 10 mins of a lesson going through them. Find some you can't do yet to judge progress later.
Also do you have lunge lessons without stirrups? They are the best way by far to get a balanced sitting position - and you need good balance and coordination between hands and body (a "seat independent of the hands" as the pony club would say) before you have a chance of getting your toes and heels under control. Toes and heels in place comes as a result of a deep seat, not vice versa. And you need to be on the lunge so you can concentrate on your seat rather than getting the horse moving. It should be a full abs/hips workout to keep your upper body still and your bum in the saddle. You should need to do deep breathing exercises to keep yourself relaxed as you trot.
There are probably lots of co ordination exercises you can do out of the saddle too. Rubbing your tummy and patting your head type of thing smile)

sasamunde Mon 15-Jul-13 22:25:06

Hur hur RTBQ so you spent all the bleddy time on the lunge and there I am extolling its virtues! Hope you did it without stirrups smile
Your RI isn't helping you - it's her teaching holding you back not your capability by the sound of it. Hope you find somewhere to ride and have fun!

Pixel Mon 15-Jul-13 22:56:57

Sasamunde grin.

PoshPenny Sun 21-Jul-13 11:40:19

Vicar, you need to find somewhere else to ride. Whether in addition to, or instead of, your current place is up to you. URGENTLY

Down here in the New Forest nobody would bat an eyelid at you at 10st and 5'4 on a 13.1 pony. I'm taller and substantially heavier than you and I occasionally ride our 13.1 out in walk & trot, and have all but taken over our 14.2. Both chunky new forest ponies. He genuinely loves it and I HACK HIM OUT a minimum of 3 times a week. My daughters now 18 and 19 have other things to do, and I can't bear to get rid of them. I'm 48 and havent ridden regularly up till now since I was 15/16.

I do have one on one lessons occasionally, but I find the ageing process means I need quite a long time to practice what I've been taught in between lessons (which I do OUT HACKING) and for it to sink in. Rather like when I was learning a musical instrument.

I am horrified she still has you on the lunge.
Actually I think you are being ripped off, friend or no friend.
Find something to share, join a friendly riding club and do some schooling sessions with them. It is meant to be fun!

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