Absolutely, thoroughly demoralised

jillaroo

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Hi all,
I had a really, really pooey lesson tonight that has left me feeling thoroughly demoralised. I'd be really grateful for any thoughts, criticisms and suggestions. I have a group lesson once a week, and I've been on the same mare now for a couple of months. Mostly she's pretty good to me - she's been a school horse for years and years and knows all the tricks, which can work to my benefit but also make for a very tense lesson. Tonight the weather was uncharacteristically cold and Annie had probably been stalled all day. Right from the word go, at walk and trot, I could not keep her on the wall and could not get her to turn when I asked. Doing figure-eights at the trot was useless with Annie refusing to go to the wall, cutting corners, trotting slowly and then cutting the corners to catch-up because she hates to be at the end of the line, and yet all my efforts to get her to trot faster were totally ineffective - she'd rather just cut the corners. Then we cantered: Annie is always ridden with a martingale and is considered to be a go-er, but tonight was insane. Normally she gets testy when she has to wait in line for her turn to canter or jump, refusing to keep walking around the ring until it is her turn, preferring to turn in circles and walk backwards, but then when we head off for our turn at canter it is usually (but not always)a nice brisk canter and I feel pretty well in control and enjoy it. But tonight she went off like an exocet missile. When it came to our next turn, the ears went back, the head went down and she took off again but this time I was better at checking her and keeping it at a more modest pace, but I felt like I was battling her the whole time. My instructor told me that I had the reins too short and that the reason she was going so fast was to get away from the bit, but my other instructors normally tell me to shorten my reins (I'm always being corrected for not having my reins short enough on Annie). My feeling was that she was able to rocket-off the first time because my reins weren't short enough. In the end my instructor had me canter behind another rider to help stop Annie from taking-off in a hurry to get to the back of the line.
I guess the thing is that while I know Annie was at the extreme end of her behaviour tonight, I also feel that it's my inept riding that is the problem and that with another rider Annie would be on the wall because they wouldn't let her off! But I just don't know how to keep her going straight and to the wall when she decides to turn at the same time as the horse in front. I keep my back straight, I keep my hands facing the direction I want to go (straight ahead), I have the reins at the appropriate length, but the minute the horse in front turns so does Annie and I'm buggered if I know how to stop her doing this. It really is a case of when Annie decides to let me do my turns etc well, we do them well: I know where my hands and legs should be (...I think!) and when Annie plays along we go up the centre line and turn nicely, but then if Annie decides "Nup. Not gunna happen" then it all goes pear-shaped and I appear to be totally unable to do a thing about it. Some sort of Annie carry-on happens to some degree each lesson, and it's getting to the point where I wonder if it's just that she is a more difficult, less 'press-button' horse to ride or if it's that I suck and am the remedial rider in the class who should get out so that the others can get on with things at a more progressive pace. The instructor we had to night hasn't taken our class for about 5 weeks and I swear after my effort tonight she must be wondering just what the hell I've been doing these last weeks and talk of past weeks jumping must just seem like a total fabrication!
Heck, I've just realised how long this post is. I guess what I can't resolve is whether a horse in a bad mood can be a disaster for even good riders or whether it's me. I'd be really grateful for any thoughts. Ta.
 

Wally

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Congratulations and welcome to the world that is riding. We ALL have days like this. Horses and riders alike. By experiences like this you will learn. Don't be demoralised, it was not a wasted experience. Horses do have bad days, if you were having a bad day too it just all turns to manure. Keep going get a copy of Enlightened Equitation, it is a really good book for someone in your position. Don't feel demoralised.
 

Flo

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Hi Jillaroo

Horses definately have good moods and bad ones, which can both make a great rider look like a learner and a novice look at the least competent. Where I ride we get changed around almost every time and rarely get the same horse twice running. The one I got this week is normally a completely loopy arab type who enjoys nothing better than prancing about head in the air - preferably sideways - and trying to get his head up the backside of the horse in front. This week, aside from biting me, he behaved amazingly. Seeing as only a couple of weeks ago he did his arab act with me, and has a reputation for doing this with anyone , I can't attribute it too much to my riding.

Anyway, as a suggestion, see if you can have a change of horse for a couple of sessions - preferably one that normally goes well. See how you do on them. Remember, normally the better riders get the trickier horses - the less experienced tend to get the plodders (or the push buttons if they're very lucky!).
 

jillaroo

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Phew! Thanks so much Wally and Flo. I know you are right, that every rider has experiences like this and I just have to get over it and get on with it and stop whinging. I think it's just starting to wear away at me because I feel that every lesson the attention is on me because I can't get Annie to do something or other. So I think I'll take your advice Flo and request another horse, just to see how I go. But guess what - I have a little orange slip of paper in hand telling me that my copy of Enlightened Equitation is waiting for me at the post office!!!!! There's hope yet!!!!
 

Emarmite

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Hi,

Just saw your posting and would just like to say,
please do not let a bad lesson get you down. As
Wally said "welcome to horse riding". I do think
that you should ask for a different horse for a while.

I ride in a group lesson and ride a different horse every
week. I felt I drew the short straw last night, because
I had a horse, although 8 has been backed late and is
still very green. It was a battle for an hour, but I
saw this as a challenge, I did not handle her brilliantly, but I did it and tried my best. I have seen the other riders handle her a lot better. I know this probably sounds silly but I was glad the instructor thought me capable enough to put me on her.

Anyway keep perservering and do try to change horse for
a while to build up your confidence.


Let us know how you progress


Happy riding


Beverley
 

judyl

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Yup, that's horses for you!! You must persevere and you should just stop and think - I bet a couple of months ago you wouldn't even have got as much work out of Annie as you did in your last lesson. Riding takes a lot of time and patience but if you have the right attitude, you do get there in the end!

Good luck for your next lesson!

Judy
 

Sharon H

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Everyone has these types of feelings every now and again don't woory too much about it. Do you think it might be to your advantage to ask to ride a different horse from time to time?
 

jillaroo

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Thanks a lot all, I really appreciate your thoughts and especially the time it must have taken you to read my grizzle! I'm embarassed when I scroll past it and see how long it is!!! Annie can be a handful and as you say Judy, riding takes a lot of time and patience, so I just have to keep at it (and ask for a different horse for a few weeks I think).
Mind you, something else I have been wondering is if the saddle is uncomfortable for her. At the stables I go to (and every other stables in this area that I know of) riders bring their own saddles and plop 'em on whichever horse they are given. I don't feel happy about this and cringe every time I think of Wally's analogy of putting thickly socked feet into boots. But, that's how they do it and there appears to be no alternative. When I have asked about this I've been told that with a blanket and a fleecy numnah the horses are fine (like a thickly socked foot squeezed into a boot). So maybe Annie's surliness and uncooperative nature is because she's in pain. I really hope not...
 

jillaroo

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Ooooo, cringe, it's English! The thing that gets to me too is that every school that I know of in this area does it and it seems that it is a common thing in the US - a while back there was a thread going that discussed this same issue and it seemed that students in the US were expected to buy their own saddle eventually whereas in the UK you were allocated a horse and its saddle. When I discussed this with an Australian friend of mine (I am Australian but here in the US) she was aghast and thought that it was just straightout negligence at best, cruelty at worst. Apart from giving-up riding until I go back to Aus in a year or two I don't know what I can do, and even if I stopped, there are a lot of horses still being subjected to this and it shouldn't be happening. The only thing that I can think is to get one of the more senior instructors to stand with me when I tack Annie up and also at the end of the lesson to have a good look at how the saddle is fitting - but then he is not a saddler so I'm not sure how expert he would be. This is just horrible.
 

Wally

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I'm surprised that this actually goes on in America. The US has a terrible reputation for litigation. I would say that if it could be proved that a rider was thrown from their horse through the practice of students using their own saddles, this would stop overnight due to insurance companies refusing cover.

Why is it so widely accepted? I wish it was the case that one saddle fits all and the client provided the saddle, it would save us thousands!

Mind you, things aren't all that brilliant in the UK. The place where I took my Instructors exam had a lot of very ill fitting saddlery. I actually requested a different saddle for one horse during my exam. I thought that would get me a reputation for a trouble maker and they'd fail me. Tankfully they didn't! They really hadn't noticed that the saddle was a bad fit.
 

jillaroo

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Hi Wally,
I was really hoping that you'd read this thread about saddles - I know I've asked you before for your thoughts on this matter. I really don't know why things are this way in the US, and I hope that if there are any other US riders out there who can tell me that this isn't the case across the US that they will say so. And you are right about this being the Land of Litigation! If I felt that the instructors at the stables where I ride didn't care about the horses I'd be out of there and doing a lot of jumping up and down about it, but I really think that they do care, very much. In summer it gets very hot and humid here. One day I overheard a rider wanting to book a private lesson for an hour but she was refused because the instructor felt that half an hour was as much as the horse could be expected to deal with in the heat. And just in talking with the instructors you know that they respect the horses very much and have a great affection for them. Praising the horses for a job well done is always a part of our lessons. So, maybe they just don't realise that one saddle does not fit all horses and no amount of padding is going to change that, or they have turned a blind eye to it through necessity...I don't know...
 

Yvonne M

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part of the answer!

Hi Jillaroo,

I think you have answered part of the question yourself!! I was agast that people bring their own saddles & 'plop' them on any horse. No wonder Annie has the odd off days! When I think of the times people have had the back man out to check horses' backs after riding them in an unsuitable saddle & finding that they would have problems if they carried on without getting a different saddle. As you say the anology of fitting feet into the wrong size of shoe is so apt.Imagine if you were a size 6 & had to wear size 4 shoes I think we would all be a bit grumpy at times. I am sure it is not your riding!! Anyhow, we all have off days!! Or in my case, off weeks!!
I guess there is no easy answer as changing things re: the saddles is going to be very difficult. Does anyone else at the stables find it unacceptable or is just a generally accepted way of riding?

Best wishes, Yvonne
 

Elaine

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I'm switching barns but my old one just took any old saddle and put it on the horse. It was absolutly horrible. One horse had constant back pain and I told them this but they just blew me off. The saddles were never cleaned and they needed a serious re-stuffing. All the horses were grumpy and they wondered why!!
 

Anne

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Absolutely demoralised

Sorry Jillaroo you've been feeling like this but hope you're feeling a lot better after reading all the good advice.

Wally, I think Heather's book is fantastic also, and it has helped me understand so much better what I'm doing wrong and how to improve things, and it actually works.

Unfortunately, and I hope if you're reading this you'll forgive me mentioning it Heather, but there are people at my yard who will not hear anything of this ... why, when your methods patently work? When I went up to the yard today, I was "frozen out" by quite a number of people and I can only think that they believe I'm arrogant and not willing to learn, which is just not true!

I'm pretty depressed myself right now, particularly as I was feeling so much better and more confident ... I've arranged to have a new saddle fitted, and everything seemed to be fine yesterday .... now it isn't and my "maturity" doesn't seem to be helping in the "don't be silly woman, just get on with it" attitude I can normally manage.

Sorry folks ... I'd better sign off now as I'm sure I'm not helping!

Good Luck Jillaroo, take all the good advice previously .. you'll be fine ... :)

Anne
 

Wally

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Anne.

YOU ARE NOT THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM!! Any instructor who is not willing to learn and admit his techniques could be updated, is not fit to instruct.

Imagine how I felt, when after discovering Heather's methods and reading her book, I had to go back to my clients and tell them to forget what I had been reciting to them, BHS chapter and verse and tell them you get better results with these new techniques. I hope they saw me as an open minded insrtuctor who is willing to try anything once!!
Most folk who tried the new methods saw that they worked and realised that what I was telling them worked.

As they say "Keep your words soft and tender, for tomorrow you may have to eat them"
 

ClaireB

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It's certainly true that a good instructor should be open minded. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I go to a classical riding instructor in Herefordshire a couple of times a year for a long weekend. As I now know her pretty well, it is our habit to discuss what we've read/heard of/ tried over the last few months. Her answer to 'What do you think about Heather (or anyone else)'s ideas?' is "Have you tried them? Do they work? If they work, and you and your horse are comfortable with them, then they are right for you". She is always encouraging us to observe the horse; is it going well? if you change your riding position how does it react? If one of your habits/faults is remedied, even if only for 2 strides, does the horse show that it is more comfortable?

And for Jillaroo: everyone has said lots of useful things. I would also ask if you could ever have a private lesson on the horse to see how she goes away from her mates. Does she listen to you more? We do all have days of despair.

all the best
 

Old Grey Mare

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US and saddles: partial answer

Jillaroo:

You mentioned it made you cringe to see horses get fitted with any old saddle..that's not the case at the stables where I ride in Maryland. I am a brand new rider (@2 months now) and it appears that each horse is matched with it's own saddle. Each horse's stall has a number, and in the tackroom, you'll find the saddle on a tree under the corresponding stall number. I will say there are times when an available saddle is put on a horse, but more often than not, these guys have a dedicated saddle that I presume has been fitted to them.

I have also had times when I requested a particular horse because he is such a sweetie and canters like a dream, but I have been told, sorry, he was out hunting today, and needs to rest. Or, he had two lessons already, on top of yesterday's show..so it's his down time now. I was disappointed, but happy to know that they pay attention to the work their horses put in, and watch out for whatever is going on with them. I have also been instructed to put the saddle on GENTLY, and to girth the horse gradually, not just yank the thing taut. Again, that was reassuring.
 

jillaroo

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Thanks all for the boost and for your thoughts on saddles etc. Anne, as the others have said, you are most definitely not the one with the problem and in the long run you will be a far better rider than any of them. You've tried Heather's methods and they work, so stuff the lot of them - I just feel sorry for their horses. And as for them thinking that you are "arrogant and unwilling to learn", well, the fact that you have bought a book and are trying to improve your riding off your own bat shows completely the opposite to be true! Please don't let a bunch of insecure, narrow-minded so-and-sos get you down. Maybe they are too afraid to listen to alternative ideas and new concepts because it makes them feel threatened and shakes what little security they have.

Hi Yvonne: I've not discussed the 'one saddle any ol' horse' thing with anyone except one of the more senior instructors because I didn't want to be seen to be rousing dissention but there are a lot of riders who have their own saddles and so I assume they are all OK with the idea. And we have been told that if we think we want to keep riding then it is a good idea to get a saddle that you are comfy with, and certainly there is no need to have your own horse. So the idea seems to be that this is how one does it and you take your saddle with you wherever you go, just like you would your riding hat and boots and you're all set!

Good on you Elaine for letting them know what you think!

Hi ClaireB: when I have ridden Annie alone she will still sometimes turn in circles rather than walking and will head into the middle of the ring, but at least once I get her behaving and trotting or cantering she stays at an even pace and seems not to get too wild and wooley - there is no end of a line for her to scoot up to. Also the instructor has his/her attention solely on me and so at the first sign of mischief Annie is told to get on with it and stop playing up. Actually, I think I'm pretty well determined now to sign up for private lessons rather than keep on going with the group lessons - I just think I'll get a lot more out of it, can go at my own pace, and if Annie (or whichever horse) is not going as I would like I can ask why not and how do I fix it, and get immediate attention to solve the problem then and there (rather than coming home, bursting into tears, and then boring you lot with my whinging).

It's terrifc to hear that you are at such a good place Old Grey Mare. I guess it's just a rotten reality that different people will treat their horses in different ways, some better than others. Reading some of the stories Heather tells in her book about top level dressage riders/coaches abusing their horses and really seeing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what they are doing just goes to show.

Alright, better scoot. Thanks again everyone for all your beaut thoughts.
 

marge

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school horses-hack line horses

I think that poor Annie is burned out or fed up. I have discovered that not all horses are alike and some do not do well when more than one person rides them. I found this out when I have relatives visit. I have a 23 yr old horse that anyone can ride, so when the grandkids or daughter in law ask to ride he is the most trustworthy one of the three to ride. He behaves himself, but the next time I ride him I can see a difference in his attitude. I have started to make excuses as to why he can't be ridden when they come to visit.

So if just one extra rider can make a difference I can imagine that many riders would have a big effect on some horses attitudes. Especially if some of these people have no knowledge of riding. I realize that there have to be school horses and hack (hired) horses). Some horses might get along with this but some don't and I think if they don't work out they need perhaps to be sold and become a one owner horse. It's hard enough for a new rider to learn to ride without having to battle with a poor horse that is not happy and trying to show this to humans.
 
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