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View Full Version : Spinoff: How do YOU know you're riding correctly?



Velvet
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:37 PM
This is a spinoff thought from a couple of threads, the USEF memo being one of the main ones.

How do you judge whether or not you are riding and training correctly? Especially when people seem to think the scores aren't a good enough 'test'.

What is the standard you hold your trainers and instructors up to? Even if they are winning, do you understand that there are often different techniques and some may and may not work for you and your horse?

I'm really curious because over the years I've seen people stuck with one trainer (for fear fo leaving and having been told that they can't come back if they go away--a sure sign of a bad trainer/instructor) and they never get anywhere. Or they lower their standards and expect less of themselves and their horse. I've also seen people with completely unrealistic goals for themselves and their horse (combination most often) and then blame their trainers/instructors for not teaching them correctly nor quickly enough.

It's interesting to me. How do you judge for yourself, especially when you don't really know the big picture because they are just starting dressage??

angel
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:47 PM
For the most part, there is no way for a beginning rider to know...other than just to trust blind faith.

exvet
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:49 PM
Good question and one I've often wondered myself. I am anxiously awaiting some revealing answers because other than the opinions of those I respect (specific trainers, clinicians, etc) and judges who I've come to develop an eye for what they consider correct (and for right or for wrong I agree) that then deliver a score to one of my rides.....I don't know that I have "the" answer. I do know from all the reading I've done on the various boards and lists, especially lately, that it is easy to second guess and question oneself; but, then I have to keep in perspective that many of the opinions are levied without ever having seen me ride. I guess one other parameter I use is my horse's attitude, soundness, and well being. If he or she is telling me that things are going well then I do tend to listen. What I also find very telling since I start my own horses and have a handful to ride....are if I hear or read the same critical remark over and over.....then I know it's me and I have to fix it. For example - I have a weak left leg and stronger left hand, my right hand is weak. Not a great combination, I know and I continue to work on it....I know these "challenges" because each of my horses tell on me - to the judges, to my riding instructor, etc.

pintopiaffe
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:20 AM
Where I am now, the horse tells me.

But I think I have to agree with Angel--as a beginning rider, you really don't have a way to know except for the instructor telling you 'that's it.' It's only later that you can begin to process what 'it' feels like when it's right.

But now, I absolutely know when the horse is going correctly. He feels like a dream. He's soft and grows a hand and his front end dances, and back end sits... Lateral work is effortless, transitions are a thought. It's very clear.

I definitely think once you know what it feels like to have a horse's back, or what true throughness feels like, then you are able to judge if the technique is working for you both.

I stay with my teacher because I see every horse he works become more beautiful, more proud, and more soft. I watch some of them genuinely play with him (especially the in-hand work). I knew that from the first time I saw him ride and I saw his horses go. I knew I wanted MY horses to be that happy in their work. I knew just enough then to know I was seeing correct work too, not just circus tricks. As we've both changed in the last 8 years, he's become far more demanding and the work more exacting for me, but the end result has never changed--the horse becomes more beautiful and softer, lighter... He's become incredibly technical in some ways (or I am just getting to that level) and every word of it agrees with the old masters.

I don't know that you get to the point of being able to judge for yourself without an intense desire for the knowledge. You have to read and digest--memorize some even-- the ODGs to know if what you are being told agrees with them. You have to constantly seek to educate your eye and expand your understanding. (I'm not sure that BB video critiques are quite the method I'd choose--you can begin to educate the eye a little, but the contradiction is you still have to have the discernment as to whose comments are correct, useful, and valuable to your education; so it's a dilemma in itself. )

I spend at least as much time watching my teacher ride and teach other lessons as I do riding myself under him. Every single ride I see something new, or put together something that I didn't quite get. My last two lessons have been breakthroughs though. I *thought* I understood some things before. I didn't. I had no idea what I was truly seeing. I saw *parts* of it, I knew those parts were good or bad or right or not... but I had no clue. Just the last two lessons I began to even get a glimmer of the truth of that.

I saw several other teachers at Equine Affaire in MA this fall. The one I would love to see more of was Anne Gribbons. Very different school, methods and type of horses than I deal with usually. And I loved her. I couldn't get enough of her. The horses relaxed, became proud and beautiful. (it didn't hurt that as one of her riders left the ring, I overheard her say "I am very proud of you." ) She was all about the horse.

I think it's a very thought provoking question. Because looking back, I'm not sure how you figure out what is 'right'. Other than experience. And experience means making mistakes and going down garden paths and figuring out exactly that--what is right.

Hazelnut
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:32 AM
I consider myself a novice, have only been riding dressage since 2000 after a VERY long break from riding. The single greatest thing a novice dressage rider needs to remember is that the owner/rider is responsible for their horses health and training and their progression as a team. No matter what coaching or training situation a rider is in they need to understand and be the final say in decisions related to horse care and training. Any training situation that does not take a wholistic approach to educating the owner/rider so they can become more and more independent is not for me.

My horse will move more correctly when I ride with confidence and follow the training scale. Also, knowing how my horse moves is important so I observe him on the lunge and when my trainer rides him.

I seek positive and correct trainer(s) who help me work toward my goals and help me understand how to improve.

Good eyes on the ground. Friends I trust who can give me a tip when the trainer isn't there.

Video tape rides so I can see improvements and better understand where I still need to focus so I can continue improvement.

Watch other people ride, esspecially if they are more experienced and skilled. Make an effort to train my eye to see what is correct both in the rider and horse.

Read.

Listen to my gut. I am a novice, but I know when there is no progress or the training is not correct. When things aren't progressing in a manner which promotes the horse's health I take responsibility for my horse and myself and make the changes necessary. I want my horse in a safe and positive atmosphere and I want to be trained in a supportive atmosphere.

Without giving any details, when I was even greener I was in a training situation that was not right for my experience level...the horse reflected the ugliness in the situation daily...I was constantly told I was the problem, (and maybe I was). My gut told me,as a team, my horse and I were overfaced. Against everyones advice I made a plan, moved, and never looked back because I know when something isn't working. Now we are in a postivie situation for our experience level and we are growing as a team under the direction of supportive trainers.

It doesn't matter how experienced one is, it matters how much responsibility one is willing to take. The less one knows the more diligent one must be to educate ones self.

slc2
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:37 AM
It's a huge problem, partly because there are so many people new to dressage, partly because so many people in dressage thrive on deceiving themselves - some have been doing this for many decades. Many people suffer from the huge distances in this country and the lack of instructors with real experience or guidance themselves. Others suffer from 'Platitudinality', LOL.

Dressage is deceptive. One can feel like one is doing it right when one is not - which is the most difficult thing in dressage.

I might not have thought so ten years ago, but now I feel the only real way is a mixture - learning oneself, and seeking guidance. Trying to do too much oneself without guidance leads to a mess, being too dependent on someone all the time, is also a mess.

I think it means just hanging around the best people one can possibly get access to, and making a conscious decision to be realistic, and reading, thinking and riding alot.

This goal thing is very hard. Goals tend to be outrageously ambitious and impossible, or far too conservative.

Yes I think a modest goal can ALSO stand in the way. At one clinic a man said he'd had his dressage horse 7 yrs and hadn't tried a leg yield yet. The horse was stiff and straight legged, badly in need of suppling. 'When he's ready', he said, stroking the horse protectively...he WAS ready. it seemed more so the rider was afraid to try. We can all agree that case seems excessive, but a modest goal that holds one back isn't always so obvious.

Despite lip service to the concept, there tends to be very, very little tolerance for the learning process in most people's minds, that requires a lot more instruction than most people will tolerate, and a lot better instruction than most people want to pay for.

I used to know an older man who wanted all his adult life to show at Dressage at Devon. He was doing tolerably well with his gentle schoolmaster, but he INSISTED on going to Devon and was the bottom scorer in an FEI class. He got what he wanted - a breed award, accolades from his pals who didn't understand what the score meant...that he was not ready. His trainer was absolutely mortified . The rider thought there was no other valid goal, and he wanted to go, so there, trainer and student parted ways, the trainer thought it was better to stay home and practice. That's an obvious case but it isn't always that clear when someone gets a rigid, unrealistic goal.

And figuring out who to ask isn't all that easy. There are tons of 2nd and 3rd rate clinicians around who are ALSO hungry for students, and work very, very hard to get students of local trainers going to them. But people tend to be very un-consumerish when it comes to choosing clinicians too.

If the person lacks confidence, some trainers will play off that. Some trainers benefit a great deal by making us think we need them a wee bit more than we do, but students can also let themselves get lured into a 'comfort zone' where they feel insulated. The deception is often mutual!

If the person is more a brash type, some trainers will play off that.

Because they get paid so much to instruct students (fifty dollars and up an hour is nothing to sneeze at) there is motivation for a lot of deception. Since many students are a homogenous group in some ways, a trainer can get VERY good at manipulating students - it's almost too easy as the delusions many dressage lovers have are very consistent. In the new USDF book the author writes eloquently if too briefly about this.

The most difficult problem is that if the instructor is really realistic and honest, students tend quite often to make that trainer very, very unpopular.

Hazelnut
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:19 AM
This goal thing is very hard. When I was bike racing our coach asked us what our goal was for next year, the first guy said 'Take 10 min off my 25 mile time trial time'. The coach burst out laughing. 'That's great, except that it can't be done, not even by you. Not in one year'. The rest of us tried, 'take 4 minutes off our time trial time', LOL.

What team do/did you race for? In Ohio? My husband has road raced (stage races, crits, time trials,road races, tours) since the early 80's in the midwest and north atlantic states, as well as a stint in Colorado. He races regularly and organizes races in Ohio. He might know you? There are still only a handful of female competitors at the local/regional level.

Mental toughness techniques, goal setting, and fitness concepts are interchangable in any sport be it dressage or cycling.

redhorse5
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:43 AM
Oh God, It's Sunday already. Blah, Blah, .........................

ToN Farm
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:06 AM
All good replies so far.

I think it's a lot easier now <to assess your competence> than it was when I started riding. Then, there was not internet or videos to help.

If you are looking at yourself or your trainer through rose colored glasses, then you are unlikely to ever see the truth.

First you have to know what is correct riding. Of course, what some of us think as correct, others do not. Therefore, you have to choose to emulate those riders and horse you have decided are good, even if they are ODG's.

Once you've done that, watching videos of yourself riding, getting occasional feedback from trainers and other good riders, and listening to your horse, should give you sufficient information. I DO think show scores are very helpful in assessing your competence. While high scores may not mean you are great, a series of low scores send a true message that you and/or your horse are not up to snuff.

Kathy Johnson
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:17 AM
It's pretty simple to me. I know I'm NOT riding correctly. You're not, the Olympians aren't, and lord knows the beginners aren't even far enough along to make real mistakes. They're just learning to stay on. We're all human. If the horses aren't making that clear enough each and every day, we're either not riding enough or not listening enough. Once that becomes a fact of life, the scores, the judging, the competitions become clear as subjectively and arbitrarily imposed human regulations that are surely fraught with mistakes as well. I've pretty much given up on having much control over that, the same way I've given up on nuclear disarmament.

I do hold myself to the highest standards of patience every ride. No force, no fear. That's the best I can do, and if it's not "correct" enough for the judges or the railbirds, I don't really care. Show to train, don't train to show. For instance:


I used to know an older man who wanted all his adult life to show at Dressage at Devon. He was doing tolerably well with his gentle schoolmaster, but he INSISTED on going to Devon and was the bottom scorer in an FEI class. He got what he wanted - a breed award, accolades from his pals who didn't understand what the score meant...that he was not ready. His trainer was absolutely mortified . The rider thought there was no other valid goal, and he wanted to go, so there, trainer and student parted ways, the trainer thought it was better to stay home and practice.

I think the trainer was rigid and unrealistic, not the student. More power to the man who wanted to do something hard and unrealistic, went for it and met his goal. There's more to life than a qualifying score or a making a good impression for the trainer. If the trainer had his way, this student would NEVER, ever have gone to Devon. The older gentleman knew that life's too short and I'm sure he learned a ton, as well as fulfilling a lifelong dream. What's so wrong with that?

YankeeLawyer
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:23 AM
Where I am now, the horse tells me.

.

That was my thought, as well! I think it also help to get feedback from different trainers. It is always helpful to have a fresh eye on the ground and some new ideas. Also, if everyone is commenting that you are doing X wrong, you probably are!

slc2
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:35 AM
I don't agree with you for this case, but I understand your sentiment in this matter is going to be VERY popular here - much more than my statements will be.

He hadn't mastered some very basic things and I feel his trainer was right. And I am a person who has limited horses - and I do feel riders should go as far as they can with the limited horse - as long as the rider scores indicate they are ready. This was not a limited horse. This was a rider who couldn't sit the trot. That is first a requirement at first level.

But this is precisely what I mean about setting practical, realistic goals. I think everyone is going to disagree as to when a rider should do something, depending not on the situation, but their own emotions...and that I think is a huge problem.

redhorse5
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:52 AM
So what if this mythical 40 percent score was embarrassing. To whom? The rider, the trainer, the judges, maybe the horse. Just as believable as the 7 years without a leg yield. Oh heck, you couldn't ride a horse for 7 years and not do one by accident. Bad dressage riding is not the same as over facing a jumper over a GP course. I'll bet that a great rider like Slc could correct the horrible problems of a bad leg yield on one or two thoughtful, totally correct rides.

I apologize in advance. I just come here to really learn what I can and sometimes I just want to barf. Here are some thoughtful great replies that are relevant to the subject and then there is the mythical 40 percent ride at Devon and the 7 years without a LY. I'm not saying that there haven't been some but geeesh. Maybe some people would be better off riding on Second Life or some such drivel. Virtual reality might just suit some better.

Leena
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:55 AM
I know I am not riding well when the horse tells me and when my scores are poor...

What I have found really difficult to reach was the correct contact, the good communication with the horse.
Also what was difficult was to separation what belong to my riding and what belong to the horse. If a horse has a supple problem..I need to work to help him get through..It is not just my riding at this point.

YankeeLawyer
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:58 AM
I think the trainer was rigid and unrealistic, not the student. More power to the man who wanted to do something hard and unrealistic, went for it and met his goal. There's more to life than a qualifying score or a making a good impression for the trainer. If the trainer had his way, this student would NEVER, ever have gone to Devon. The older gentleman knew that life's too short and I'm sure he learned a ton, as well as fulfilling a lifelong dream. What's so wrong with that?

I tend to agree. If just participating at Devon was his goal, I really don't have a problem with that at all. It is a SPORT, not neurosurgery. If he wasn't harming his horse and at worst was only offending the sensibilities of some dressage queens, who cares? Someone has to have the lowest score.

Rhiannonjk
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:04 AM
I haven't fully read the replies, but want to give my answer.

I worked witha blunt, straightforward, german clinician a few times, and became very frustrated that everything she told me seemed to contradict everything I had ever learned. When it was over, and she was sending me home, I said "But how do I know if anybody that I am working with in the future is teaching me the right way?"

She informed me that this was totally my responsibility, and that I should always be checking what I learn from an instructor to books from the masters. Then she gave me a book list (which I don't believe I still have) and said that I should constantly read, because the basics were in those texts, and if an instructor was telling me something that contradicted those texts, I should question it.

Now, I BUY a lot of books, but don't entirely read them. But, if you follow this idea, you could essentially be checking what your instructor is saying against, for example, what Herr Zettle teaches. The principles are very basic, and if you stray too far from those principles, you should be concerned.

I always work with instructors that are open to discussion of the theory behind what I'm doing. I also SEEK the clinicians that are known for being "Rude" or "Mean." I find that those are more likely to tell you the truth when you need to hear it, and when I get a "Very good" from them, I know they mean it!

slc2
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:18 AM
i respect kathy and redhorse saying that they don't agree, and i'm not here to make them agree with me. i am sure they never will.

i have been with both types of trainers. one who really encouraged people to move up, and one who quite often advised them NOT to move up, or if she could, moved them down when they came to her.

BOTH were accused of terrible things. one, of having people make very poor showings at upper levels assuming that other potential customers wouldn't understand all the mistakes and would be dying to do the same levels, and the other of soiling and destroying people's dreams.

i am saying that what may really give people a warm fuzzy feeling, and really sound great, is just not how everyone else always sees it. i know for sure, a lot of trainers wouldn't agree with kathy, some would, some wouldn't.

there are a LOT of trainers who would disagree very strongly with a student who wanted to show a level before they were ready to score a minimum amount. it's not a matter of some railbird or dq not liking it for me, either, and i usually can't stand how they pick and pick from their comfy seat. they aren't hanging their butt out there in the ring trying. i agree with that.

at the same time, i do think the rider should have some sort of minimum level they're at before they try to do a certain level.

i may not agree with exactly how the qualification system proposed is trying to achieve that, but i don't think it's ALWAYS right to go in any level one wants inspite of basic problems.

and i do have a right to say so, you have a right to disagree, but i also have a right to express how i feel about it.

egontoast
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:36 AM
methinks she doth protest too much.

Slc, fercrissakes, NO ONE CARES if you disagree with them. GET IT? It bothers you, obviously , because you constantly bring it up but no one else cares. Your opinion is no more important than anyone elses. Seriously. Wake up. It's a discussion. Disagreement is the norm.

In answer to the OP, you find a trainer you trust (watch them ride, watch them teach, watch how they deal with horses) then you trust them and take their advice. If you constantly question your trainer, she can't help you much. It's a bit like sailing. You have to trust the skipper.

Do your research. If you don't like the skipper, don't get on the ship.

MistyBlue
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:50 AM
Originally Posted by slc2 http://chronicleforums.com/Forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?p=2916430#post2916430)
This goal thing is very hard. When I was bike racing our coach asked us what our goal was for next year, the first guy said 'Take 10 min off my 25 mile time trial time'. The coach burst out laughing. 'That's great, except that it can't be done, not even by you. Not in one year'. The rest of us tried, 'take 4 minutes off our time trial time', LOL.
What team do/did you race for? In Ohio? My husband has road raced (stage races, crits, time trials,road races, tours) since the early 80's in the midwest and north atlantic states, as well as a stint in Colorado. He races regularly and organizes races in Ohio. He might know you? There are still only a handful of female competitors at the local/regional level.



Hazelnut...something tells me you probably will not get an answer on that question....since that section of the post is now deleted. :confused:

~Freedom~
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:53 AM
This goal thing is very hard. When I was bike racing our coach asked us what our goal was for next year, the first guy said 'Take 10 min off my 25 mile time trial time'. The coach burst out laughing. 'That's great, except that it can't be done, not even by you. Not in one year'. The rest of us tried, 'take 4 minutes off our time trial time', LOL.

Actually riding a bike uses all the wrong muscles needed for proper horseback riding.

If you were racing then maybe that is why you struggled in dressage and didn't do very well ?

ride-n-tx
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:56 AM
I like what Hazelnut had to say. I read a lot, watch those more experienced than me, video tape my lessons, and attend clinics. I also scribe at dressage shows and this helps me keep everything in perspective, and understand what i am seeing.

I also trust my instructor and rely on her a lot. When i first moved to the area and saw my current barn for the first time i loved it immediately. there were horses in training from training level to fei and what impressed me the most was that all of them were happy.

i think that dressage is about working with the horse and eliminating any resistance in training. I believe in the training scale and the foundations of dressage training that were set in place by the "dressage masters". On dressage tests one of the judges remarks is submission, and i believe that this is an important indicator of how things are progressing. you can't force these huge animals. you have to earn their trust and keep them comfortable and happy.

Therefore, i think the horse itself is an excellent barometer of how training is progressing. you can just look at a horse's muscles to get an idea of whether or not their training is correct. a well trained horse is beautifully muscled and athletic looking without any strange muscling (i.e. bulging on underside of the neck, behind the withers, hump in the back, lack of hindquarter muscle, etc), or other visible injuries. Then the general attitude of the horse is indicative of proper training. If there is too much resistance in training then something needs to change. I firmly believe that a well trained horse at any level should be a happy horse.

Kathy Johnson
Jan. 6, 2008, 11:26 AM
With regard to the older gentleman and his schoolmaster, when I was in college, I had an insane goal to show at the Pin Oak Charity Horse show. I did not own a horse, saddle or bridle. My goal was to take a (barely) Western trained Appaloosa stallion who was only 15.1 and show him at Pin Oak. Jericho had been repossessed by the stable owner for $500 in unpaid board. He was a quiet guy, but barely trained.

We worked really hard. My trainer did NOT discourage me. He encouraged a small group of students to go and do it. In fact, the trainer showed at Pin Oak himself that year on a school horses. We joked about getting T-shirts, "I Showed the App at Pin Oak."

There were no real qualifying requirements. The lowest division was 3'3 or 3'6". We worked very, very hard to be ready to show. We did not stand ANY chance of ever, ever even remotely getting a ribbon against six figure horses at this prestigious A show. I learned to braid for that show (they weren't very good). I borrowed boots and a coat, but I forgot to borrow gloves.

We got around the courses clean, no run outs or refusals. As Yankee Lawyer so wisely said, someone has to come in last. I'm sure we would have been were dead last, but a couple of horses had refusals. I'm not even sure the judge bothered to watch our rounds with more than 50 horses in the class. But, it was really one of the best moments of my life, to reach for an impossible goal and to do it. I'm proud of my accomplishment, and I'm glad that my trainer encouraged me, even though we probably set the development of the hunter discipline back 50 years.

Here we are:

http://www.kathyjohnsondressage.com/jericho%20copy.jpg

slc2
Jan. 6, 2008, 11:55 AM
well that was a well played hand. should bring a tear to every eye here, and send them on a lynch mob after me, :D:D any app owners should be especially stirred.

i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jan. 6, 2008, 12:02 PM
Well, I was at the rank bottom. And we started out in Intro, just wanting to stay in the ring and approximate a test. We ended up with quite decent scores through mid First (high 60s to 70s in Intro and training, mid 60s first).

But I think that was because Ted was steady, we were precise, we presented a good picture, we approximated the test better than others.

Now how do I know? Because I haven't shown in 2 years. I know when I have improved my horse's stride, or the relaxation of his back, or he is no longer traveling on his forehand. And most of all, when he is content, and willing, and relaxed throughout.

But wow. What a time it's taken me to even start to get to that point. I had so much to unlearn.

canticle
Jan. 6, 2008, 12:16 PM
My horse tells me when I'm doing it right. :yes:

Velvet
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:00 PM
methinks she doth protest too much.

Slc, fercrissakes, NO ONE CARES if you disagree with them. GET IT? It bothers you, obviously , because you constantly bring it up but no one else cares. Your opinion is no more important than anyone elses. Seriously. Wake up. It's a discussion. Disagreement is the norm.


Eggie, you're starting to worry me. I think you're going to have a stroke if you keep reading her posts. :lol: Try the ignore option, and make sure you log on before reading any posts. :winkgrin: It really does help with lowering the blood pressure.

(BTW, I wanted to start this thread because I really am curious how many people do any research and checking before riding with someone--even at the beginning. And if they recheck and are willing to leave, and what drives that decision. I'm just curious. :) )

Whisper
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:07 PM
The last dressage trainer I had was working with me on shoulder-in, haunches-in, flying changes, etc., then told me I couldn't show at Intro, after about 3 years of lessons with her, because my seat and hands were so bad that she didn't want me to be representing her as one of her students. She'd given lots of "this is getting better" along the way - it really emphasised that I *don't* and really *can't* know how well or quickly I'm progressing.

The horse can tell me to some extent if I'm doing better, but lots of good horses basically cover for me and go well in spite of me, rather than because of me, when I get out of their way the tiniest bit. ;) The owners of the horses I ride for free on the weekends have told me that they are really happy with how they've improved, and sometimes ask me to ride a particular one to address an issue. I can usually do so, but that doesn't mean that I'm not collapsing in my waist, or blocking their shoulder by half-halting at the wrong instant, etc.

When something that was difficult for me before starts to become second nature, and my instructor doesn't have to remind me about it, I figure I've improved in that aspect, but it is really difficult to have an objective feeling of riding better, much less correctly, without getting an outside opinion. :( For running, weight lifting, and even to some extent vaulting, there are objective things I can measure, but riding feels more subjective/ephemeral.

I have gotten referrals ahead of time, checked out their credentials/other students, but what works for students A and B won't necessarily work for me as well. :(

~Freedom~
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:15 PM
well that was a well played hand. should bring a tear to every eye here, and send them on a lynch mob after me, :D:D any app owners should be especially stirred.

i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.

Maybe not SLC but where are your recent riding experiences. All I have ever heard is how you once did this and once did that. Most of it is so unbelievable that a 6 year old holding scissors in their hand with the drapes newly cut stating they didn't do it, is more believable.

I believe if you still have that infection you said you had and are taking meds, maybe a long long rest in bed is a better idea for you.

I am worried about you, I really am.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:25 PM
(BTW, I wanted to start this thread because I really am curious how many people do any research and checking before riding with someone--even at the beginning. And if they recheck and are willing to leave, and what drives that decision. I'm just curious. :) )

It's hard, when you are such a newbie, to know what is "real" and "good" and what is not. I made some terrible mistakes with some lousy trainers, and I have asked my horse for forgiveness for my rank stupidity.

What I read in books and tried to emulate didn't seem to connect with what I was doing with these people. Somehow, I think, I knew there were gaps, but I couldn't verbalize what was missing - how do you describe what you have never seen or observed, or if you had seen it, wouldn't have recognized it?

My horse is now the happiest and healthiest (KNOCK ON WOOD) he's ever been. But I didn't know he could be that way, because he seemed happy enough, and I didn't know where he could be.

Now I know, so I won't ever go back. But I think I was lucky, and it was the academic in me, always questioning, and thinking, "Why doesn't it connect?"

claire
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:34 PM
I have gotten referrals ahead of time, checked out their credentials/other students, but what works for students A and B won't necessarily work for me as well. :(

Good point Whisper. You can have a great trainer who is bringing their students up the levels, has all the credentials, referrals but if their teaching style or personality just doesn't gel with yours...

It isn't going to work for YOU and might be best to move on.

At some point though, you are going to have just go with the best in your area, one who you (and your horse) feels comfortable with and Trust.

merrygoround
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:46 PM
Back to the OP.

I let my horse tell me. And then too I rely on an instructor to catch the little, and not so little things that could slow down an even better result. :)

merrygoround
Jan. 6, 2008, 01:49 PM
And yes, I watch and listen to an instructor before I leap in. :yes: But then I"m a cheapskate and hate to waste my money. :lol: :lol:

egontoast
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:05 PM
well that was a well played hand. should bring a tear to every eye here, and send them on a lynch mob after me, :D:D any app owners should be especially stirred.

i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.


Kathy J was 'playing a hand?" No. Not her M.O.

You have a very serious problem that antibiotics won't solve.

slc2
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:28 PM
disagreeing with something someone writes on a horse bulletin board, yes, that's in the dsm and is a tragic condition, right up there with darfur and global warming. and it makes a h*** of an abbreviation :)

and actually, those 'stories' are quite true, they all happened as described, and i always say 'long ago' no matter when they happened. you've never heard of anyone showing at a level their trainer didn't approve of? you feel the trainer must be wrong in all cases, without having heard ANY details? i think that's why the committee wants qualification, because people are showing above their level - which of course is true, because people write that here all the time TOO :) .

YankeeLawyer
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:44 PM
i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.

As a former A circuit hunter rider who knows what Pin Oak is, I think it is a fairly apt analogy to riding at DAD.

egontoast
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:53 PM
[QUOTE]disagreeing with something someone writes on a horse bulletin board, yes, that's in the dsm and is a tragic condition, right up there with darfur and global warming. and it makes a h*** of an abbreviation:)[ /QUOTE]

Think harder. It's not about disagreeing on a bulletin board.

Everyone does that!

I'll see your fake :) and raise it :):):)

~Freedom~
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:55 PM
because people are showing above their level - which of course is true, because people write that here all the time TOO :) .

You noticed that also? Looks like I need to raise it. :):):):) and one :cool:

Equus34
Jan. 6, 2008, 04:08 PM
It has been my experience both in giving lessons/clinics and riding in them. You learn to over time get a feel for what is right. If your trainer tells you to do something, and you do it but you cant feel any change, then it's probably being done wrong. But on the other hand if the trainer or clinician asks you to do something and you can actually see and feel the difference then you are probably doing something right.

Like I always tell my students your horse is going to tell me if you are doing it correctly or not. When a student gets it right I ask them to take a moment and just feel the movement, feel the horse underneath them. Then relax and try to ask again for the same movement to see if they can replicate it. Sometimes they can sometimes we have to start all over again until they get that feeling back.

Like anything it takes practice, but your horses won't lie to you, usually if you are riding correctly they are pretty eager to please, and complacent. If you are wrong, they usually let you know, ears back, tail swishing, head tossing.

But you do have to find a trainer whom you can trust, one that once you surpass their level of expertise can recomend another trainer to take you farther, not just hold on to you because you are $$ in their pocket.

www.cmmbarnbrats.com

Kathy Johnson
Jan. 6, 2008, 05:01 PM
i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.
As a former A circuit hunter rider who knows what Pin Oak is, I think it is a fairly apt analogy to riding at DAD.

I suspect the gentleman's ride at DAD meant just as much to him as my ride did to me. I also suspect that aside from offending a few sensibilities, riding above our level had the exact same impact on the sports as a whole: 0.

I LIVE to stir up App owners :)

Ghazzu
Jan. 6, 2008, 05:39 PM
i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.


I dunno.
I thought it was spot on. (no pun intended)
Certainly more relevant than some nonsense about bicycle racing.

MistyBlue
Jan. 6, 2008, 06:04 PM
Certainly more relevant than some nonsense about bicycle racing.
I dunno...the referrence was about trying to show the bike at a high level. :winkgrin:

ride-n-tx
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:09 PM
(BTW, I wanted to start this thread because I really am curious how many people do any research and checking before riding with someone--even at the beginning. And if they recheck and are willing to leave, and what drives that decision. I'm just curious. :) )

I do put a lot of thought with who i am taking lessons from. We all spend quite a lot of money doing all this horsey stuff, so i want to make sure it is money well spent!

I did have a "lesson" once with a "dressage trainer" that went horribly wrong. She was stressing both me and the horse out! I tried to do what she was instructing but my gut feel was that it was all wrong. Now, i know i have my limitations and i have a lot to learn, but i also knew enough to realize that this was not a good situation. what's more is that she was arrogant and condescending when i tried to discuss what i was feeling from the horse. I promptly got off the horse. thanked her for her time and left.

Hazelnut
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:12 PM
Eggie, you're starting to worry me. I think you're going to have a stroke if you keep reading her posts. :lol: Try the ignore option, and make sure you log on before reading any posts. :winkgrin: It really does help with lowering the blood pressure.

(BTW, I wanted to start this thread because I really am curious how many people do any research and checking before riding with someone--even at the beginning. And if they recheck and are willing to leave, and what drives that decision. I'm just curious. :) )

I observe a trainer or clinician before taking any lessons. They have to be willing to work with and be supportive of a lower level rider.

pintopiaffe
Jan. 6, 2008, 07:41 PM
BTW, I wanted to start this thread because I really am curious how many people do any research and checking before riding with someone--even at the beginning. And if they recheck and are willing to leave, and what drives that decision. I'm just curious.

Someone who knew me and what I was looking for (moved far, far away from where I could ride with Walter Zettl) made the recommendation to me for my current teacher. I audited for a very long day before committing to a lesson, and then took quite a few lessons (and much more auditing) before bringing my own horse down.

It's funny you ask about the recheck and willing to leave part... I hit a very rough patch with my teacher about a year and a half ago. It was very frustrating. And I was half-heartedly looking for another teacher. But then I'd teach, and know that what I am learning is good, because I can pass it along and the horses go sooo much better.

So, I was chatting with him at a show I was scribing at, and said something disparaging about my own progress or lack thereof, and he pointed out to me how much higher my expectations are, and how much more aware we become of the smallest mistakes in timing, balance etc.

You have to be discontent, to some extent. If you get off, thinking the ride was perfect, you are fooling yourself. Certainly you can get off thinking that's the *best* ride to date... but if you're not always wanting more, wanting better... you're not learning.

I have scribed a lot and find that extremely educational. One thing that is really fun is to scribe for shows at my teacher's farm. While he is considered quite classical and by some to be just an exhibition rider (he does train horses to airs etc. and certainly does do exhibitions at times) it is always a treat to sit in the trailer and write down the exact same things you're hearing in the lessons. Proof in the putting and all.

I do think my teacher must be very frustrated with me at times and the lack of progress. But *I* am bringing along my own horse. Every step and misstep of the way. And life gets in the way. The progress is very, very slow. And it is actually a compliment that he is not always Mr. Sunshine to me. He's NEVER rude or mean--don't get me wrong, but I am treated at times almost like staff. Which is far from a bad thing. I really feel it is a privelege to ride with him and his Assistant. They are fabulous, the facility is amazing, and my horse adores both of them.

I have ridden with just two other instructors since going to my teacher. One was a very well recommended Centered Riding person, supposedly doing upper levels, whom I hoped could help some of my health related issues. I did NOT get along with her ideas or methods at all. They contradicted both Herr Zettl and my teacher. The other was with Richard Ulman, and was the ride of a lifetime. I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to ride with the real deal SRS. He had me do just one technique that my teacher can't stand. Every other moment was completely in agreement. It was progress and a great compliment.

I have also met a handful of other folks from around the country at my teacher's who also ride with or rode with Walter Zettl. I find that very telling.

There's only a handful of others I would like to RIDE with. And then probably only a dozen I'd *pay* to audit. I'll audit anyone I am able to for free ;)

There's a quote from Oliveira that goes something like this...(not exact--my bad) "Above all it is important to ride often, while not entirely letting the books gather dust on the shelves."

Pony Fixer
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:15 PM
I suspect the gentleman's ride at DAD meant just as much to him as my ride did to me. I also suspect that aside from offending a few sensibilities, riding above our level had the exact same impact on the sports as a whole: 0.

I LIVE to stir up App owners :)

Well, one of my goals ALSO was to show at DAD. I knew I would never have a horse I could show at the FEI levels, so my only shot was when I got a young horse. A draft cross. A 6.5 mover. Not a prospect for upper level, not a breeding prospect. I entered the 4/5 yo materiale. I spent $1000 for the week. My trainer at the time was very supportive, but realistic. I planned to come in dead last, regardless of the number of entries. I just wanted to be in the Dixon Oval, to not just watch but BE part of the history. There were 20 horses originally entered, I think only 17 actually made it into the ring. My husband video taped it, turning off the camera at the final line up. All the riders (all professionals) were so nice to me. Cute horse, smile, have fun, etc.

Too bad we don't have them announcing our 10th place on that video, but I've got the ribbon and the memory.

Oh, and I kept my trainer. Cryin' yet slick?

Goals are goals. Some are lofty, some are meager. Mine have certainly changed over the years. I try to always do right by the horses and myself. I have not always succeeded. So then you step back, re-examine, reassess, and start again. I think I'm on the right track now, but ask me again in a couple of years:lol:

Whisper
Jan. 6, 2008, 10:17 PM
Velvet, I've rarely switched trainers unless there were logistical issues involved (moving to a new home or new job, or starting a part-lease on a horse with a defined trainer).

In my case, I mostly have felt that the trainers *were* knowledgable people - maybe a few things I didn't like (like I prefer longe lessons on a horse who I can knot the reins up on his neck and really work on my seat, rather than just riding with a "leash" attached). For the most part, I just wasn't aware enough of what my body was doing, both in terms of not being able to feel it, and overcorrecting a lot when my instructor had me do something. I also tend to be too tense. I have the same issues in non-horse-related exercise things like some martial arts and some kinds of dancing, but it's harder to put together on a horse. Vaulting really helped, and my instructor's approach really helped (lots of awareness exercises, different ways of putting the same thing, etc.). I think some people feel like the problem is the instructor's fault, and it isn't always, but some instructors are better than others at addressing the issues.

J-Lu
Jan. 7, 2008, 12:17 AM
well that was a well played hand. should bring a tear to every eye here, and send them on a lynch mob after me, :D:D any app owners should be especially stirred.

i don't think jumping a 3'6'' course at pin oak charity 20 yrs ago is what i'm talking about though.

This reply doesn't make any sense and is...odd. Sometimes it's better not to post, slc. BTW, look up Pin Oak Charity show online.

atr
Jan. 7, 2008, 12:56 AM
Some interesting and thoughtful replies here.

I've learned over the years to become more selective in whom I work with. Whether that be in an equestrian or "other life" capacity.

I've learned to look at both the way the trainer rides and treats his or her horses, and how the products of his or her training are fareing--either competitively if that is their thing, or just how they are doing with their horses.

I've only had one really bad experience--and really, I didn't have that bad an expereince out of it because I did stand back, look at the bigger picture, protect myself, my wallet, and my (despised) horse, and get the hell out of there before things got openly abusive. I learned a lot from the whole experience. Not a whole lot about dressage, admittedly, but a lot about human nature and the gulibility of easily led people who don't do their research.

My current trainer and I interviewed each other quite thoroughly. She was a bit dubious about taking on a completely unknown person (I dropped off the face of the earth dressage-wise for about 5 years so I had no credentials at all) with (for goodness' sake!) an appy! (There you go, Kathy :))

However, I'd watched her ride and show very successfully, which is important to me, and really bring on horses of all kind of breeds over several years, watched her interact with her horses and clients, and liked what I saw, so I asked her for a trial lesson, which she gave me because we share a mutual (non horsey) friend and she would have felt rude not doing so :)

She obviously liked what she saw, because she asked me back, and she's still persisting with me and the appy (who she loves, and who is really a warmblood in pajamas), and has stuck with us through major illness and lameness and all kinds of disasters. As well as preparing me to show at an appropriate level (there's no doubt in her mind that I will qualify for regionals in the first two shows of the year...) she makes me think, and offers me all kinds of opportunities to further my education, pushes me to work with other people for particular issues, sticks me up on all kinds of horses if I'll let her, and generally works on making me a more rounded horseperson.

A maxim to live by is that you are judged by the company you keep. Stick with the respected and the respectable, and you won't go far wrong.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Jan. 7, 2008, 06:14 PM
My schoolmaster let me do a flying change that was pronounced clean and straight by my trainer. That horse will not/can not do a good flying change if he's not totally together, on the aids, straight and happy :winkgrin:

Elegante E
Jan. 7, 2008, 06:56 PM
Hate this question as I'm always questioning what I do. I know when things feel right or wrong and in time can decide whether or not things have worked but during some points of training, I am just guessing. Ugh.

~Freedom~
Jan. 7, 2008, 06:59 PM
I know I am riding correctly simply because what my horse produces is correct.

Isn't exactly rocket science.;)

lexhex
Jan. 7, 2008, 11:38 PM
atr,
I wonder about that negative experience you had... would it be helpful to share?

I am new to Dressage (h/j, trail, Eng pleasure and --*gasp*-- a little polo in college), a lot of my riding I had to go along by myself and take what lessons I could along the way usually borrowing horses. So now here I am looking for a trainer (and in the midst of purchasing a second horse, this one trained 3rd level).... if you haven't seen the trainer perform over time, what sort of things to you go by? I like a few that I have met.. I have seen 1 or 2 ride and they are stunning.
My thought was to take a few lessons (which I have already) see if we 'gel' and go from there.

Additional thoughts?