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Struggling with new instructor - advice pls!

Discussion in 'New Riders' started by Dazzle, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Dazzle

    Dazzle New Member

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    Hi all, I've been riding for about a year and half now and until recently have just loved every minute of it. About 3 months ago I changed stables and joined an adult group lesson as it was so much cheaper. The instructor was a revelation and I totally over came my fear of cantering in one lesson, which was amazing. Since then I've loved cantering and had started jumping as well which was great. Two weeks ago our instructor had to change her days and can no longer take our group. The new lady is lovely but I'm really struggling, I feel that I have regressed right back to not being able to ride at all! I had a lesson this morning and nearly started crying, more with frustration than anything else. I now feel like giving up riding all together as I'm just not enjoying it. The problem is that I always end up riding one of the really old 'plodder' ponies, whilst everyone else seems to be on a more responsive ride. I don't know if it's because everyone else is heavier than me or because I'm deemed to be the worst rider? The previous instructor always gave me a crop to carry, which I rarely used but it seemed to make a huge difference. Now I'm finding that without a crop (the new instrutor doesn't seem to want to let me carry one) I'm at a virtual standstill. Whilst everyone else is cantering around, when it comes to my turn I can't even get my horse to walk let alone do anything else. I squeeze - nothing, then I try a light kick - nothing, try another - nothing. It's just so humiliating with everyone else watching, I'm at my wits end. It's been like this 2 weeks in a row, last week everyone else had a go at jumping but because I could barely get my horse to walk on there was no point in trying. Today everyone else was working on canter transitions whereas all I did again was to (try) to walk. I really miss cantering and feel so upset about all of this as my riding ability seems to be going backwards! I feel so pathetic, has anyone got any advice? What more can I do to motivate my horse? These are all the same ponies I was riding before but the simple act of having a crop in my hand seemed to make them listen to me, now they don't at all.
     
  2. Trewsers

    Trewsers Well-Known Member

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    Could you book a few one to one lessons to help you get your mojo back? And then re join a group?
     
  3. Jane&Ziggy

    Jane&Ziggy Learning together!

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    You have to speak to the new instructor and let her know how you are feeling. Tell her everything you have just told us. And if you want something ask for it! It's fine to say, "I am more confident when I have a crop, I want to carry a crop," or, "I was riding a more responsive horse before, the plodder is just undermining my confidence." Don't suffer in silence!
     
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  5. Skib

    Skib Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this advice - in theory . But in practice it is extremely hard to a student rider to make what ight seem to be a negative approach to any RI.
    To ride a horse well , we need to be in charge of the horse and made to feel capable by the teacher - but here you have an example of a student made to feel inferior - inferior to the rest of the class. By all means talk to the teacher. And ask for a private lesson but there is no guarantee that will sort things out. I was reduced to tears in a riding lesson within the last year.
    My solution has always been to go to a different RS and have some lessons with another teacher - As a paying client one is free to use several schools and to look for the teacher and horse that is right for what one wants to ride.

    For me, going to another school has almost always been connected with canter. Explain to the new teacher that you need practice in canter and in canter transitions and when you get to the lesson - dont chicken out. get straight to work on the things that are causing you problems.
    I dont run myself down - I usually say - I dont always manage x x x x. e.g. upward transitions. How do you usually ride them?
    The teacher tells me how she rides it - and I then apply this advice - two or three times till I get it. And once something works for me I squirrel away the info and can use it for the rest of my life.

    About not carrying a whip - The trainer Mark Rashid remarked that many Englishwomen disliked carrying a whip. So he often taught substitutes which I have used a lot since often out hacking I am asked to lend my whip to a member of staff . If you are not allowed a whip, and the horse is not listening,and you dont have a whip - you can flick the end of the reins instead. Against your leg or the horse's shoulder.
    Another thing I do is to slap my right hand against my thigh. That works just like using a whip and one isnt even touching the horse.
    The important thing is to reject any pace or transition that is not as you want it. Bring the horse back to halt or walk and ask again til you get what you are looking for.The dressage coach Davidson shows how to get a prompt move off from an idle horse by asking the rider to raise both legs away from the sides of the horse and banging them down - sharply and hard on the side of the horse. With decisive intent. Almost using your legs as one might use a whip.

    But with all these things - it is your intent that counts. You have to genuinely want the horse to go forward and have soft hands and seat to allow that forward movement.
     
  6. newforest

    newforest Opinion, a view not always based on knowledge.

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    Have a chat with your instructor or could you swap days?

    Some horses just know when you have no back up to that leg. Mine would be one of those. I hate to be a nag and so I back it up, she knows that and is generally listening- most of the time. :)
    I dislike the reins being used to get a horse going. They are connected to a very sensitive mouth that the rider will later want the horse to take up the connection with. My RI would definately have words if she saw that.
    By all means pick up bad habits later on but please don't take up any suggested to you on here. ;)
     
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  7. Jessey

    Jessey Well-Known Member

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    I would chat to the RI, or perhaps if you feel you really can't approach her, talk to the old RI (if she still works there) and see if she can perhaps put a good word in for you with the new one :) but really talking to the new RI directly is the way to go, it does not have to be negative, I would totally go with "I felt more confident when I was allowed to carry a crop on this horse before and he really seemed to know I had it, though I never really used it....and that meant I was able to keep up with everyone else in the lessons" or just take a crop with you and don't even ask :p

    I know my old riding schools really hated use of the reins as a whip and doing that would get you a stern talking to, English reins are simply not long enough to use like that without effecting the horses mouth, its a bit different with western split reins which are 8ft or so long.
     
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  8. Cortrasna

    Cortrasna Grumpy old nag

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    Please never, ever flick the reins when riding English style - I know it is well used and accepted for western riding and marginally more forgivable as the reins are long and NOT buckled and an experienced western rider would not be tugging on the horse's mouth to do so. . English reins are usually buckled and you are effectively hitting your horse either side of its neck/withers with a metal buckle. I would think any half decent riding instructor would come down on you like a ton of hot bricks for doing that to the horse.

    Can you perhaps have a word with this RI after a lesson (assuming you can catch her when she isn't still too busy) tell her that you feel you are going backwards and riding this very stubborn horses is ruining you confidence and ability to ride, perhaps ask her can you use a whip and would she teach you how to correctly use it to back up your leg when the horse is unresponsive. I would have thought a half way decent instructor would respond positively to that reasonable request?

    I have had a few stubborn horses that only had to see me slip a crop down into my long boot as I go on board and they would pick their feet up and walk off at a nice sharp and responsive walk - rarely had to use it on them, that was enough. Horses can be quite crafty ;)
     
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  9. Skib

    Skib Well-Known Member

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    A good point Cortrasna - May be I will have to unbuckle my reins next time! Horses go forward easilly for me and I rarely use anything, which is why I am so often asked to lend my whip to other riders.
    But for certain I have never hit a horse with a metal buckle. Nor swung them from side to side.
    You have a picture of Western practice but the OP is unlikely to have any image of that as the norm.
    I am citing clinics for English riders. Unlike riding Western, I have the (UK) rein held in both hands. And I am not flicking them from side to side. I have flicked the rein against my own leg in the past and sustained no metal injuries.
    Rashid taught UK riders these things only because he said English women were reluctant to use whips! And if I show the horse that I have reins there - or use my hand on my thigh - it is to signal, like your whip in your boot. I may hand over my whip but I remain a serious rider.
     
  10. Orenoko

    Orenoko Active Member

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    I agree you definitely need to speak to the instructor - after all you're paying for these lessons and you don't want to end up resenting what you're doing. You could try a couple of private lessons as well but definitely let the instructor know, as she may not be aware. Good luck!
     
  11. newforest

    newforest Opinion, a view not always based on knowledge.

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    I get confused with some replies I am afraid.
    Skib you have just advised someone learning to ride to flick the reins on the shoulder, no mention of undoing these first and selecting the one without the buckle. But then you say you will need to unbuckle but you rarely use and certainly not in the neck which you just suggested. :oops:
     
  12. carthorse

    carthorse Well-Known Member

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    Never mind that @newforest, I was wondering either how long her reins were or what her leg position was if she could slap them against her leg! And I literally laughed out loud at the comment about English women disliking carrying whips! I own to being a bit disappointed too, one of the things that I thought made Mark Rashid a cut above many others of his ilk was that he didn't make sweeping & ill considered generalisations, but maybe I was wrong :(
     
  13. joosie

    joosie horse slave

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    I agree with the others, talk to your instructor.
    What did she say about the fact that everyone else was doing canter work and you were stuck in walk? Did she even notice? Obviously in a group lesson the instructor can't spend ages focusing on one person, but if the main focus of the lesson was canter work and one of the riders couldn't even get into canter, I would expect her to give that rider a little bit more help!
    Assuming it's your instructor who allocates the horses for your lesson, there may be a reason she's putting you on this horse - for example maybe she thinks you're more likely to motivate them than the other riders in the group. She probably thinks you're happy with them because you haven't told her otherwise (in which case she might keep allocating them to you if you don't speak up!).
    In any form of teacher / pupil relationship the most important thing is communication, and it has to work both ways. She probably doesn't know how much this has dented your confidence and made you unhappy with your lessons, so you need to tell her. If she doesn't know what the issue is it's not going to get fixed!
     
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  14. Mary Poppins

    Mary Poppins Well-Known Member

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    I have spent thousands of pounds in riding lessons over the years, and have learnt that the riding instructor really is key. If you don't click with this RI or you don't feel you can approach her, I would look for another one. She shouldn't leave you struggling in walk while everyone else canters. That is not fair on you and no wonder you are left feeling let down.

    As someone else suggested, can you change the day of your lesson so your old RI can teach you?
     
  15. Dazzle

    Dazzle New Member

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    Thank you everyone for your replies, it really has helped reading through them. Unfortunately there are only 3 riding schools in my area and the one I'm currently going to is the only one that has an adult group. In any of the others I'd either have to go back to private lessons (so expensive!) or join a group of children which I don't think I could face! I will see how things go this week. If I'm allocated one of the old ponys again I will say that I want to carry a crop because it makes all the difference in the world with them. If she says no then I'll have to consider my options. I suppose I feel quite offended about the fact that I'm always allocated the old plodder ponys and never get to ride a horse. I don't quite know why that is. It also means I'm stuck at the back of the group behind 5 others and have to go last every time. At my previous RS, when I first started riding again I was on a real plodder pony, but that was okay because I was a nervous novice and it made me feel secure. Eventually I moved on to a lovely large cob and the difference was astonishing, he was so responsive. I keep asking myself whether the problem is me (I'm a rubbish rider) or the horses I'm being allocated. I don't want to blame the horses because that seems wrong, but I just remember the difference when I switched to a more responsive horse at my previous RS.
     
  16. newforest

    newforest Opinion, a view not always based on knowledge.

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    Definately speak to the RI. They should have helped you when others started trotting really.
     
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