Getting worse, not better!


New Member
Jul 23, 2005
My riding seems to be getting worse, not better! I've been riding for about 4 years now and have a lesson once a week. Over the past few weeks, I seem to have had lessons which have made me feel fed up and really rubbish (and in one lesson in tears which really isn't becoming for a someone who is almost 30!:rolleyes:)

Its not a confidence thing. I just don't seem to be getting the best out of the horse, particularly in terms of turns/circles. I just end up getting frustrated:mad:, which makes me tense, which must transfer through to the horse I'm riding and make the situation worse. The other riders in my group are much better than me as have been riding since kids and I worry I'm getting in their way. Also I always feel I must be really annoying to teach as I can't seem to do what my instructor is telling me to do to correct the problems.

Has anyone else gone through this? Did you get out of it eventually? Any suggestions as to how I can get out of this phase of rubbishness?:D

[email protected]

May 21, 2007
I cant really comment on riding - you have been riding longer that me! - but I do think that when we learn a new skill (whatever it is) we get to a sort of "plateau" when we don't make progress and even seem to go backwards. This can last a few weeks or even a few months before we make progress again.
So hang in there and try not to worry. Even try to enjoy what you are doing if you can, 'cos its too expensive not to. If you can do this you'll probably find that you relax and things start to alter again.

And don't worry about the tears thinng either - I do it too sometimes and I'm nearly 50. Just make sure you have a a hanky up your sleeve!

Hope this helps a little - you'r not alone and its normal, honestly.


New Member
Jul 12, 2007
If you can have a shorter private lesson, then you wont have anyone to compare yourself to and if you dont understand something its easier to ask without feeling a numpty.
Dont worry about things either - that'll make it worse.
Good luck

Skippys Mum

New Member
Nov 25, 2007
Ditto wonkeywoody. Private lessons are much better. But if it makes you feel any better, despite having had my own horses for over 20 years, I recently discovered that I cant even trot now without hanging on to the reins for grim death (and I used to do dressage, showjumping and eventing:eek:). Now I can barely manage a wander down the lane.

Dont feel pressured. This is supposed to be for fun. Relax and enjoy yourself and dont let anyone bully you into anything you are not too happy about. Just take your time and keep on smiling:D

go max!

New Member
Apr 25, 2008
This is not your fault - just remember you are paying for lessons, to enjoy yourself, to learn and improve your riding. If this isn't happening, have a word with the school or the instructor - maybe a change in instructor, or private lessons would make a difference. Take some time out and maybe go for a hack, or just go to some shows, demonstrations etc - just enjoy the whole horse scene - remember this is fun! Sometimes I just likek to watch other people being taught, and seeing different instructors - it's amazing how much you can learn from that.

Dont lose heart - I find just being around horses is the best thing ever!!


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
I agree that as you progress there is less visible progress.

But after I'd been learning four years I too felt very stuck. I wasnt improving and I wasnt learning the things I wanted to know.
Supported very much by people on NR, I went off and had some lessons at other schools. Great remedy. I had input from different teachers, rode different horses. I learned some new things, including how to canter in the school.
After a break, I returned to my normal teacher because I preferred her classical style of riding. But you may surprise yourself when you get to ride a different horse. I did.


Active Member
Aug 15, 2005
I could have written your post about five/six months ago. Been riding the same amount of time and had similar frustrations. Near tears in several lessons. Plagued with self doubt that fed a cycle of negativity that led to me to fulfilling the (self-driven) prophesy and riding "badly."

My struggle was compounded by the fact that I had become friends with my instructor. In the end I bit the bullet and switched instructors. It was a difficult thing to do and I know I hurt her feelings despite trying to handle it sensitively. But it was the right decision. I ride at a RS, so I spoke to the manager about my issues, who listened objectively and helped me choose another instructor. She also made sure my former instructor didn't lose business overall and helped me make sure that the decision was positioned tactfully.

After a couple of wobbly lessons w/ my new instructor, I haven't looked back. We took things back to basics to some degree. Worked on subtle changes in my position, forgot all about "striving" and injected some fun back in the lessons. My new instructor reminded me that after four years I am, in fact, a pretty good rider (allowing for only riding once or twice a week and not having started until I was 38!). She really worked hard to highlight small steps forward . . . if we had been working on something in a lesson and I did it right or well five minutes before the end, we'd stop there and spend the rest of the lesson going for a walk (me on the horse, her on the ground) so that we ended on a high note. She restored my belief in my own abilities. And last weekend I came second in a small dressage competition on a very sharp horse. She's recently been teaching me flying changes . . . !

So . . .

a) Think seriously about changing instructors
b) Give yourself a break . . . do some hacking or find some ways to inject "fun" into your lessons or your time on the horse
c) Try and end every lesson on a good note, no matter how small
d) Try to remember what you enjoy most about being on a horse and bring that to your lessons
e) Watch some other lessons . . . I spend time watching people who are more novice-y than me (yes, they do exist!) and riders who are a level above me . . . I get an enormous amount from both

It's highly unlikely that after four years of lessons you are rubbish . . . the probloem is that I think we tend to measure ourselves against impossibly high standards. Try and celebrate all you CAN do, rather than beating yourself up for what you feel you CAN'T. When I was practicing for the dressage test recently, I would ride it through and then K (my instructor) would ask me what was good about what I'd just done and then what needed work . . . this helped me break the "well that was rubbish . . . " dialogue in my head.

One other thing that might work for you is to quite literally give yourself a break. Don't ride for two or three weeks. It might give your brain a chance to stop that negative cycle and you may well find that when you go back, you're better.

Best of luck to you . . . I can hear the frustration in your voice. Just remember that this sport is very difficult to master . . . but we amateurs do it because it's fun! Try and find the fun!



New Member
Oct 26, 2006
brisbain, qld, Australia
don't worry I'm going through the same thing right now! and having the same problams,circles! grrrr I hate them!

The good thing is they don't last very long,and you normaly bounce back better then you were before!

And don't worry about crying,I nilly do it every bad lesson,but I hold it in ,takes alot not to though!

chin up,it will end soon,you'll see!


New Member
Jul 23, 2005
.....I'm glad I'm not alone on this one!

Thanks so much for all your advice everyone!:D Its always nice to know that other people have had similar problems and got through it! (And that I'm not the only one who's burst into tears:p)

You're right, I'm meant to be doing this for fun - I tend to forget that sometimes.:rolleyes: I'll definately take the suggestions on board - I'm thinking of having a couple of lunge lessons, for example. Hopefully 'getting back to basics' will make me realise how much I've progressed and iron out a few bad habits! And I might look for somewhere to have a hack (my RS doesn't do them) - a good gallop may help things along!


New Member
Jun 14, 2007
Deepest darkest South Yorkshire.
I am so glad I came on here today & saw this thread! I've just posted cos suddently I've started loosing my stirrups, never been a problem before. Think we must all go through phases of suddenly being a bit loopy for no aparent reason. Very relieved to hear it's not just me :)


Crazy Mare

New Member
Sep 9, 2005
I know it's difficult but try not to get frustrated as it really does make things worse.

This is a problem of mine. When I'm struggling with something I get frustrated (with myself rather than my horse) and then it's down hill all the way.

Now when I'm riding and it's not quite going to plan we switch to doing something I know me and my horse are good at to relax us both and give our confidence a boost.

Then when we're feeling calm and collected we try again. If at first you don't succeed and all that ;)

Good luck


New Member
Nov 11, 2006
I know exactly how you feel! I have been riding for 5 1/2 years and I found help in the form of my share baby Splash: i can practise what i know and learn so much mroe, putting all sorts into practise and broadening my experiences to develop as a rider. I found that, in my weekly lessons, I was not improving and was stuck in a rut. My riding confidence had been slowly diminishing since an unforgivable previous instructor frequently gave sh*t lessons, put me down, criticised and was generally very negative about my riding. Already fighting low self esteem and confidence, it has taken about 3 years for me to get where I am now. However at my current RS, when i felt stuck in a rut, I couldn't really move (and loved the horses too much) the lessons weren't that good but improved once the RI grew to like me (!) as we for about 6 months did not get on at all, with evry conflicitng attitudes 9which still exist, though we can work alongside each other now). I simply thought to myself, hell, if these people can't or won't teach you, then you'll hage to do it yourself. My whole horsey life I have read and researched via all sorts of resources, as i have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Deep down, I know that horses aare the one thing I truly love more than anything, and if I want to get anywhere I have to be independent to a degree. So while I listen toa ll advice given to me, i also use my own knowledge all the time. I am doing ym Prelimninary Horse Riding Level 1 certificate soon, have worked at a yard for 2 1/2 years and now share a horse who, after just 4 days (he is mine for just 1 day a week) is proving to be developing into my best friend.

I naturally have poor balance and was thought to be dysphraxic when I was very small, so am very clumsy. So I find it a little more difficult than others to balance and achieve harmony with the horse when riding. However even this is improving.

I have very limited resources, being 16, unable to drive, and have worked hard for 6 1/2 years to pay for lessons and now Splash. It can be done if you just oput your mind to it and make your dreams and aims happen, however big or small!

You can do it hun. Don't let other's choices dictate your development asa rider; instead, begin your own journey as an independant learner and rider so that you fulfill yourself and be the best you can be.

:) Good luck!!


New Member
Aug 8, 2006
Austin, TX
Maybe you need to change something up, like everyone here has suggested. Also, I echo what everyone says about sometimes having a really bad month or two of riding. Soemtimes, as one rider I know says, things need to get worse before they get better. Once you get through the difficulty, things seem to get better very quickly. You just have to hang in there!

One thing I do that helps is keep a riding journal. I write in it every time I have a ride that really strikes me as being positive or negative. Sometimes it is hard week to week to see how we are improving. But if you look at the big picture, the improvement is there if you have a way to see how things were last year versus how they are this year.


New Member
Nov 23, 2007
North Carolina USA
Lottiboos, You have been riding longer than me, so I cannot comment on everything. But I can definitely relate to the phase you are in now and your frustration. I recently switched barns and RI's because I wasnt learning as much and not enjoying my lessons with old RI. I love new RI, but in the process of working through some bad techniques and dependencies I picked up from old RI/barn, I have been frustrated and tense in lessons:confused::mad:. It is very upsetting because I used to enjoy them, but count the minutes now because it seems more difficult. RI reminds me that my arms are tense, and I am not breathing. I think some of my tension translates to the horsey as well. I can only say I relate to your rubbish, although I am sure you are a beautiful rider after 4 years!!! And I am just trying to work through it with my RI. I have increased my groundwork and spent 4 days each week at the barn doing things that do not involve lessons - I think this has set a more positive frame of mind, as I am visiting for other things besides my lesson. Now, when I for lessons I am a bit more lighthearted. You will certainly pull out of it. Also consider change of RI? I have already learned so much more from my new RI, in working through this!! Good Luck!! :):)
yep, i'd go for lessons with 4 or 5 different instructors - you're current one isn't good or bad, but you can learn different stuff from everyone and one of them may click with you more than the current one and help you improve. I went through the 'bit i ride for hours and i dont improve' phase too, and all it took was a teacher who looked at things a different way, and i learnt HEAPS and improved my horse & horsemanship no end. Quickly too :)

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