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Where am I going with my riding?

Discussion in 'Confidence Club' started by Orenoko, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Orenoko

    Orenoko New Member

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    Hi,

    This is my first post although I have been lurking on here for a few months before signing up. I've been riding for nearly 2 years now, it was something I'd always wanted to do throughout my 20s but never had the money for until recently.

    To give some background, when I started, I really knew nothing about horses and just wanted to go for a little plod, so I found a local place that gave me the basics and then took me hacking. In hindsight I know I should've had tonnes of lessons before ever really doing this but we live and learn! I was going probably once a month and then upped it to twice a month, still just really hacking and not doing anything in the school or learning how to be a 'good' rider.

    I decided to book a mini riding break and that's when I realised that I had gone about it wrong and didn't know much at all. It was on that break that I finally did my first canter, and thought I needed to step up my riding in order to really crack it and become more competent. I also started volunteering fortnightly at my local RDA to learn more about horses in general and working with them on the ground etc. Then my school got really busy and I couldn't fit in as many lessons. I didn't think much of it, they're a specialist place so they do a lot of shows, particularly in summer, and they were also doing TV work. But then they stopped returning my calls, texts, you name it. That in itself really knocked my confidence as I didn't know if it was something I had done to annoy them somehow and I had nowhere else to go.

    Eventually I gave up and last summer found a new school which was highly recommended to me by the few horsey people I know! They all suggested group lessons to help keep costs down, and at first these were fine and I would go three times a month if I could. I learned LOADS which I hadn't previously ever been shown, although because I was in the beginner's class it was walk and trot, with a little canter at the end. Then gradually different people came into the lesson and it felt like I had to take a backwards step just when I was ready to start cantering again.

    By October/November time last year I started to get a bit frustrated with this, so moved to private lessons. As these are more expensive I can only really go twice a month. I prefer private lessons as you get that one to one focus but by this time I'd completely lost the confidence to canter. Now when I ask for canter, I feel like I have no control over my legs at all and that they're just flailing around and that I can't steer the horse. I know I get tense as well because I have lost that confidence. I even booked a hack with a different school to see if I could get the canter outside the school as this is where I'd first tried it, but I couldn't. Now I think I'm really over-thinking it, get tense, the horse doesn't know what I'm asking for etc, and I get a few strides before they drop back into trot. I think the most I've done is about 4 laps of the school in canter.

    By the end of the year, my confidence was gone and my frustration was growing so in January I just did a couple of hacks to get back the 'enjoyment' I had had when I first started riding. I've taken February off as well and don't have a lesson until March. I want to pick up my lessons but am so fixated on this canter business that I don't think I'll enjoy it. I haven't spoken to my RI yet about my frustrations and lack of confidence, but will do so when I have my next lesson.

    Long story short, should I perhaps take a step back and focus on something else and then work back up to canter? Or do I just keep trying and trying until I get it? My confidence is so low that if the horse does something like a small crow hop, I'm freaking out inside whereas a few months ago I could've handled it. I (foolishly) thought that I might be competent enough to look for a share by this point, but I don't feel like I've progressed all that much, and am starting to wonder what it is I want/need from my riding? I know I could ride for the rest of my life and always be learning something, and my instructors tell me I'm doing okay, but this inability to canter has really got to me! I have no ambitions to jump or do any competitions, but I would like a share one day, and if I can't become more competent and learn to handle the tricky things then it'll never happen, particularly as I know most people prefer a more experienced sharer.

    Apologies for the rambling post, any advice would be most welcome!
     
  2. Trewsers

    Trewsers Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't fixate too much on cantering. I've been riding as an adult for over thirteen years and still only do it once in a blue moon. I had a lot of falls when cantering during my early lessons which knocked my confidence. Only when I got my own horse and built up to it alone with lots of good trot work and generally getting to know my girl did it become something half enjoyable. I also continued to have one to one lessons which also helped. There's nothing worse than feeling you ought / have to do something. Riding is meant to be a happy, healthy enjoyable activity. Not something with parts we either dread or over think. I would personally just chill for a while and try and enjoy your lessons. There's no rush.
     
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  3. Mary Poppins

    Mary Poppins Well-Known Member

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    I think that you are feeling frustrated and want to progress more quickly, but is this realistic? It takes years and years to learn to ride well and after over 35 years of riding, I still sometimes struggle with cantering! I think that you should just relax and take it as it comes. A lunge lesson may help you focus on balance, but there really is no substitute for time spent in the saddle. Just give it time and you will slowly but surely improve.
     
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  5. sophie33

    sophie33 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I am also an occasional canterer and no longer stress about it. I would focus on other stuff and come back to cantering when you are feeling a bit more confident. When I was first having lessons I found doing lots of sitting trot really helped me as it helped me to get the canter transition with less bouncing around. I also found that a RI who didn't warn me that she was about to ask me to canter and then sprung it on me helped. But she was a very good instructor who could tell when I was feeling chilled. She'd tell me 'canter at the next corner' when I was halfway up the long side. of course I was allowed to say no but it meant I didn't have time to get tense!
     
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  6. CharliesAngel

    CharliesAngel Well-Known Member

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    have you had any lessons on the lunge so you can just concentrate on sitting to the canter and let your RI control the horse?
     
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  7. Skib

    Skib Well-Known Member

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    Why what a whole lot of things you believe you did wrong. Rubbish.
    First, there are many ways to learn to ride and hacking is one of them. You enjoyed it and you made a fine start. Never say or think that you should not have done it.

    Secondly, there are many views on how to ride and how to teach riding and almost every time you go to a new teacher you will find they find fault with what the previous one said and may be take you back to the start.

    I am gong to go back to the hacking now - I myself was having a hard time in lessons and in learning to canter in a school and my RI advised me to start riding at a RS that specialised in hacking. I did still have lessons but I also hacked regularly and you can learn to canter out hacking too. When you feel ready. Lots of people still cant canter after a year. And eventually we end up loving canter and doing it very easilly.

    A good but expensive way to learn canter and improve your balance and safety on a horse is to have some skilled lunge lessons. But it isnt essential. Just bear it in mind.

    Now back to the class you went to - That is what happens in some excellent and highly organised riding schools . You stay in a particular class while learning to canter and then you move up. Some students may have a private lesson as well, just to experience their first canter. Then the next class up will be for people who are confident in canter. So tho you felt left behind you probably were still in the right class, and bear oin mind that some peopple may havbe been riding more often than you were.

    Now back to the hacking - you may think you are not doing anything just sitting on the horse and following the teacher but it is what my OH calls saddle time. He says that is all you need to learn to ride a horse. You body picks up the feel of sitting easy on a horse - You are balanced, you begihn to feel the slowing down and speeding up of the horse and to respond with tiny directions. You are communicating with the animal under you and observing its behaviour and response. Moreover on a hack you are more likely to be left to make your own choices. Not just be dictated to or guided by a teacher. There is a sort of privacy between you and the horse which is the foundation of good riding, the communication between you and the animal moving under you.

    If you enjoyed hacking, allow yourself a treat and go on a few hacks - You are not going anywhere with your riding. It is more like getting to know a person - build some relationships with horses. And when you do go back into a school for lessons you will be just fine.
     
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  8. Orenoko

    Orenoko New Member

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    Thank you all for your super quick replies! I'm glad to know that this is normal and that it's not just down to me struggling! Lack of patience and being a bit of a perfectionist are probably two of my worst traits, which doesn't help when riding!!

    I think I "assumed" that it just went in a linear way - you walk, you trot, you canter etc. So in my head the fact that I can't quite "get" it makes me think I'm not progressing although I'm sure if I made a list I've learned a lot!

    I had one lunge lesson on that riding holiday so I might ask if that's something I can try in a lesson. I know I'm still at beginner level so any experience of different things will be beneficial I'm sure, and taking focus off the steering would help relax me too!

    I'll be sure to post after I've spoken to my RI/had a few more lessons and asked to try lunging.
     
  9. Bodshi

    Bodshi Well-Known Member

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    I love Skib's answer and agree with everyone else. This is supposed to be your fun hobby. Don't put yourself under too much pressure to canter, it's not the be all and end all of riding and there's no prize! I predict you will find it comes back to you quite naturally once you relax and start enjoying yourself again.
     
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  10. Flipo's Mum

    Flipo's Mum Heavy owner of a Heavy

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    I think your route into riding has been quite refreshing and lovely. It emphasises what enjoyment you're looking for rather than focusing on the technical. My pony taught me to ride. I had the very odd lesson but nothing much. My aim was just to make it a pleasant enough and safe experience for horse and I to go hacking. No high ideals about being a fantastic rider, I don't care!!
    I did struggle with canter aswell and a few well placed lessons have helped. I think it sounds like you're being overly critical of your ability so I'd suggest you watch others do it and hear what they get told, get your instructor to video you doing it and then watch it back and I think you'll maybe realise you don't look as bad as you think and it may help your confidence.
     
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  11. orbvalley

    orbvalley Well-Known Member

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    Woaahhhh! If only it went that way:cool:
    The reality is more like - you learn, you plateau , you plateau , you plateau, you take a step back, you take a huge leap forward, repeat repeat repeat! Very frustrating but I' m sure all sports are the same.
    I like to think of it as a lifetimes learning, the more you learn the more you want to know, the less you understand:rolleyes: Until suddenly one day - huge leap forward again.
    I think you're doing really well, if you could find a school that has a class suited to your level I think, at this stage and for a good while, group lessons are much more helpful than private. You can learn just as much from watching others in your class as from doing it yourself - even if you only learn how not to do it! Its all good experience and saddle time at a cheaper rate than private.
    And remember always - its supposed to be fun:cool:;):)
     
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  12. Skib

    Skib Well-Known Member

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    The reason an excellent lesson is followed by a disappointment is a well known phenomenon. It cropped up in the training of air force pilots. If a student performs above average, the next time will most probably be worse. Because averages are based on what happens most of the time.
     
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  13. Orenoko

    Orenoko New Member

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    This makes complete sense, I suppose when I have a good lesson I think the next will build on that and then get frustrated if it doesn't happen. Hearing that others have had similar experiences and getting suggestions is a great help in itself - I don't know many "horsey" people so sometimes feel a little lost!
     
  14. Kite_Rider

    Kite_Rider Cantering cabbage!

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    I never had a formal lesson until I came back to riding in my 40's - all my riding prior to that was hacking on farm ponies/horses, I could still ride, just not technically well, hacking taught me loads and certainly a secure seat, so personally I doubt there's anything wrong with your introduction to riding. Just go and enjoy it.
    Also, not everyone is looking for an experienced or technically correct rider as a sharer, I know I'm not, I would just want a sharer who was willing to learn and who loved and cared for my horse. :)
     
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  15. Orenoko

    Orenoko New Member

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    I don't think I'll ever be 100% technically correct hehe :p then again, that's not my aim and I know my limits! I look at shares from time to time, but in my area nobody wants "a novice" or someone "straight from a riding school" o_O but I'm sure once I feel competent enough I'll be able to find something.
     
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  16. Skib

    Skib Well-Known Member

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    These are sterotypes . RS or novice. If you have ridden for a couple of years and can canter safely then you are fit to sharesome horses. It doesnt hurt to expand your horsey education either. Ground work and horse care.
     
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  17. Orenoko

    Orenoko New Member

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    Thanks, I have learned a lot from RDA but know there is still so much I don't yet know. There are people at my RDA who have forgotten more than I will ever know lol
     
  18. Kite_Rider

    Kite_Rider Cantering cabbage!

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    Don't be so hard on yourself, we all have to start somewhere, when I first shared I didn't have a clue about how to muck out a stable as all the horses I'd ever helped with had lived out, I couldn't even put on a rug properly, I didn't know school letters either, but I do now. You'll get there. :)
     
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  19. Orenoko

    Orenoko New Member

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    Just thought I'd update, I have been offered the chance to try a couple of horses for share. Both are cob types and owners say would be safe for my level of experience. Both are flexible and have the opportunity to hack (no roads!) and to hire an instructor. Going to meet them and then see what happens from there. Wish me luck!
     
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