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!

LastMangoInParis Sat 22-Jun-13 23:50:59

Hello, Vicar!
How often are you having the lessons? Do you get to ride at all apart from lessons? More hours with your bum on a saddle are needed... Have you checked out horse shares or exercising horses at a nearby yard if possible?
It would probably be helpful for you to be able to do your own thing a bit.
Also, what's the riding school horse that you ride like? Could it be that your RI is asking you to ride in a way that's not really viable on the horse you're riding? (OK, I know, I know, in theory you should be able to ride any horse 'properly', but if the horse is so bored/desensitised from being a riding school horse, then that's kind of easier said than done.)
Kind of convenient for RI that you 'need' these extra lessons so badly, though, no?

Umm, Vicar are you over-thinking again? grin

You are learning, trust me, you are. If you are considering intensives though, you may find it more beneficial to go on a residential course somewhere rather than using your current instructor. Sometimes you need a different way of going/teaching to help.

If you were able to travel, this place or this one are pretty good.

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 23-Jun-13 00:05:23

she has said she will do some freebies because i help out so often, so its not about money.

none of her horses are riding school plods - all retain their personalities! (the kiddies ponies maybe....but the horses suitable for adults are not plods, they respond perfectly to aids - which is why i come unstuck when my toes go out and my heels go in....they take this as a command and i confuse the poor things)

her horses do dressage so are very responsive to the leg and seat.

i just want to get to a place where im good enough - im never going to compete. She is looking for another horse with me in mind - ive said i'll pay for the horse and she can use it on working livery, because i know and trust her.

i love being there. its definitely not a £££ thing and i consider her a friend, and i love her ethos and the way she teaches. But she is an amazing rider, so natural. Her aids are invisible.

it was my idea to have some intensive lessons - i work 5 on and get 5 off so i ride weekly, but occasionally i end up going 2 weeks if i have things on or my free time is over a weekend when she is at her busiest.

she keeps assuring me that i am no worse than any other learner and that it will "click" but every week she has to manipulate my legs into the right position because its like i have no memory of where things are meant to be!

my seat is perfect at walk. As soon as i trot it all goes to pot....i just cant keep my lower leg back, my heel down and my toes in. This week she put her hand between my calf and the horse and says my aids are plenty strong enough, but im just not effective. Her horses are clever enough to know that im crap enough to get away with murder!

i know its like learning to drive....that suddenly things come together. I was just thinking some intensive lessons might hasten that process up a bit!
when i go a week in between rides i seem to go back to square one.

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 23-Jun-13 00:14:27

any places in the UK? not sure i can manage ireland....

RI wont let me hack out until i have better control - ive asked, she worries that if im not in control it could all go tits up...and fair play to her. it could. im not in control. That requires coordination. which i dont have....

And you need to walk before you can run...don't know if it will help but the mental visualisations I use to best effect are:

Allow your weight to hang through your elbows (good for keeping your leg long and wrapped)
Pretend you're Marilyn Monroe (sit up with your chest out) - good for getting beasties to drop their head and start to work from behind
Ride as though your eyes are in your stomach - good for collection and not getting forward too early when jumping.

Will have a think on UK ones as haven't done one in a while.

Would being out of control be an issue? I know that seems an odd question but sometimes its nice just to let them run (actually I'd go for 'addictive' rather than 'nice' if I'm honest - took me years to admit though). If they are the sort that are vaguely steerable then you might find it fun.

Pixel Sun 23-Jun-13 00:24:39

I think you need less time in the school, not more. You are thinking too much, it's making you tense and creating a vicious circle. That's what it sounds like to me anyway.
Can't you get out on a hack? You will be concentrating on other things around you and I'll bet that you will find you've learned more than you think when you realise how much you are doing automatically!
You do realise that even people who have ridden for years can struggle with the things you are talking about if they have a lesson and the 'spotlight' is on them so to speak? I know I do. I start concentrating on keeping my toes in and then find my elbows are sticking out or my hands are creeping up. There's always something, that's the point of having lessons but it doesn't mean you are a terrible rider.

Pixel Sun 23-Jun-13 00:29:42

Ah crossed posts about the hacking, took too long to type. But really, you should have enough control by now to go out on a quiet horse. If your RI's aren't quiet enough, find some that are.

Littlebigbum Sun 23-Jun-13 01:00:56

Hacking, still say that. You will find your seat and as you hack longer than schooling your body will just get tired enough.
Trekking centre on hols
I know it is had with the family and all.
Good to hear from you again

EMUZ Sun 23-Jun-13 01:10:06

Highly recommend lunge lessons at Talland in Cirencester. I travelled down from NW for a week and had a great time
But, I have a loan horse. I've ridden for 25 years at a fairly decent level. Got on loan horse (who is ridden at Medium dressage) and could not ride. Wouldn't soften let alone any form of outline, wouldn't bend... Etc etc
It has taken me 18 MONTHS with 25 years of riding experience to even start to get the measure of this horse grin
You learn, and you learn more, the more you learn the more complicated it seems but it does click. I can get on that horse now and have her going like a dream within 20 minutes

issyocean Sun 23-Jun-13 09:07:17

I just think you need to ride and have fun somewhere - to get a new perspective and stop worrying so much.

Tumpy Green where my daughter rides offer riding holidays here

They are a family run business (sisters) and all the instructors are friendly and knowledgeable.

I have been so impressed with them that I am going to join their "Hoof- Take Back t The Reins" course that will be starting in September smile

carabos Sun 23-Jun-13 11:48:27

Agree with others who say less schooling, more riding. As kids we hardly ever schooled and moaned like mad if we had to do it.

We spent all our time roaming round on our ponies, popping over things that got in the way, going for a burn where we could, slobbing along on the buckle end where we couldn't.

Yes, coming to riding as an adult is different, but if you could mimic the childhood experience a bit, you would be amazed at how much your riding would "improve". More feeling, less thinking iyswim.

Pixel Sun 23-Jun-13 19:15:39

I think in some ways these 'sensitive' dressage horses are holding you back. Most people don't expect perfection when they start out. They begin on something safe but not too sensitive to get their balance and coordination, then they go on to better horses to refine and progress their riding. You don't get behind the wheel of a Ferrari and expect to drive it perfectly when you have never driven so much as a milk float!

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 23-Jun-13 19:42:44

I know what you ate all saying but my RI is very risk averse and even though I've asked to hack out she won't let me. She thinks it would be unsafe, potentially dangerous. I don't wear body protection because I wear it all week at work, I figure its my own fault if I fall off and I do have quite a cavalier attitude to hurting myself, but RI doesn't share! She worries about me meeting traffic, or spooking, Or bolting and not having the skills to cope safely with those things. I did ride as a child but it was very much fly by the seat of your pants riding. - no hat, no lessons, just learnt to stay on! I actually used to jump logs, gallop, the works, but I was 10. Not ridden since and never "learnt". Now at 41 it's hard....

By this stage you really ought to be hacking out. If she's so risk averse find somewhere else to go just for hacks, or try a riding holiday. Even total beginners go pony-trekking you know, as long as the horse is safe.

I think the quest for perfection can hold you back, not just in horse-riding but in many things, if you have to be perfect at one stage before you're allowed to try the next thing.

As for the horse spooking, bolting etc. - shouldn't happen very often on most riding school horses - let's fact it, if it did they'd lose clients. And plodding round the school may improve your seat in "plod" mode but won't teach you much about how to stay on a spooking horse anyway - what you need for that is spook-specific technique (which you can be taught), quick reactions, and real-life spooking practice.

Honestly, I know from your threads you love your RI, but it does sound like she's holding you back.

If you won't wear a body protector when out I can understand why your instructor may be reluctant to let you hack out one of hers, particularly if they are dressage specialists.

Even though you know the risks and choose to take them, the problem is, if something nasty did occur, you might have no choice but to claim on her insurance just to be able to get by. To give you an idea, mine has saved me from;
a potentially snapped spine (was schooling a sod in the arena and he ducked before a jump, sending me out the side door onto the arena fence with full body weight onto my back) was badly bruised/ sore instead
A smashed collarbone/ribs - was a dislocation and bruising instead(dodgy fall hunter trialling)
A smashed pelvis (found the only piece of hard ground on a cross country course a few years ago...) again just bruising, but to a level where I was bed-ridden for four days.

I think, until you stop getting cross at yourself (much, much easier said than done) then, no matter how much you improve, you won't see it and lessons/riding won't be fun challenging, but stressful challenging, IYSWIM?

Could you have someone video you at intervals so you have 'evidence' that, on the whole, you are improving?

Oh, and second what NotGood said.

Go hacking. If RI won't let you go somewhere else

Just for a change and enjoyment

And ride bareback. Drop the saddle and stirrups. Focus on lengthening the legs and wrapping your legs round the horses side but without pressure - you ad pressure when your any to ask for something

As much bareback as you can, sitting tall and long and deep

issyocean Sun 23-Jun-13 20:46:48

Seriously Vicar give somewhere else a try at least once.Go have some riding fun without worrying about being perfect smile

Pixel Sun 23-Jun-13 20:46:52

Yes, not sure how you are going to learn about traffic and spooking in a school? hmm
Does this yard concentrate on dressage or does RI teach other disciplines as well? If you want your own horse you are going to need a more rounded riding education anyway (unless of course you are happy to stay in the school forever but it sounds rather a dull life for your future horse). There is nothing wrong with carrying on with your dressage lessons there and alternating with other things somewhere else, it's all learning and it doesn't hurt to try things from a different angle. I'm worried that you are not getting any sense of achievement at the moment, or any sense that you are progressing at all.

Echo what others say. Find somewhere that does long hacks and just enjoy. The SL stuff can be a bit intense.

Pixel Sun 23-Jun-13 21:09:20

* Even total beginners go pony-trekking you know, as long as the horse is safe.*

Reminds me of the last time I went trekking. There were two girls who had never ridden before. The first five minutes of our hack consisted of one of the stable staff running beside the girls as we trotted up the road, calling "up down up down". That was their 'lesson' grin.
Honestly, they did brilliantly, looked quite safe and came back an hour later with big smiles on their faces, very pleased with themselves and determined to get lessons when they got home. Two more converts!

Floralnomad Sun 23-Jun-13 21:10:06

Work out how much you have spent on lessons so far and then decide if your RI is really 'value for money' . I agree with all the others who have said that you should be looking to hack out and move on a bit . What are you actually doing in lessons now ,are you cantering and jumping ?

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