View Full Version : Is it crazy to take lessons at a h/j barn if you don't want to jump?

May. 18, 2009, 11:31 AM
Background: I grew up riding hunters and did the 2'6" to 3' divisions. Even when I rode every day, jumping never came easily to me-- I did OK with it but had to put forth a lot of effort. As an adult, I did some hunters but mostly dressage with my now retired horse until he became lame. Bought another horse and had a really bad fall while hacking out at a walk (nervous horse, bolted out of the blue, off I came). Got back in the tack a year ago, taking lessons at a h/j barn, basically just trying to get my confidence back up and went there because they had a nice indoor and decent schoolies. I've enjoyed it but have realized I'm just not interested in jumping anymore-- it is too frustrating to me. Plus having been nearly paralyzed in my bad fall, I'm not looking to take a whole lot of risks. :sadsmile:

My current barn is discontinuing lessons soon (unless you are a boarder). I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do. I would love to do dressage again but am located in h/j land and it is nearly impossible to find anything nearby with school horses except h/j barns. I actually have a dressage lesson tonight, at a private barn where the owner offers lessons on her few horses. If that goes well, I'll probably just ride there for a while. If not, I found out that my current trainer may be heading to another h/j barn, plus I looked at another h/j barn over the weekend that I liked.

What I'm wondering is, is it crazy to lesson at a h/j barn if I don't really see jumping in my future? I get frustrated even over small stuff and just can't seem to get the motion down anymore. I have no aspirations to show again, just want to ride for fun. I'm wondering if most h/j trainers will try to "convince" me I want to jump, or if some are OK with a student who just wants to flat.

Also, I do have my own farm, and have my old retired guy and his pony companion there. I may eventually get an arena in and buy another horse to ride, but at this point am not comfortable with the idea of riding at home alone.

May. 18, 2009, 11:45 AM
If you don't want to jump, then you don't want to jump. There is a plethora of things to learn on the flat, and most schoolies need a break from the jumping anyway.

I would just talk to any future trainer, voice your concerns and reasoning, and allow them to accomodate you. (I would.) I would plan to have to pay for a private lesson, unless you like watching other people jump.

May. 18, 2009, 11:46 AM
I don't think so.

I've had (and have) a lot of students that don't jump. As far as being at a h/j barn, if they have a horse you can lesson on that does the eq, he should be pretty good at teaching you a lot of dressage. Think of it this way, if you are horseless, and you can flat a horse with the best of them, then you could maybe help the barn hack some horses. Not saying that you want to do that, but it would be an option. There is a lot to learn about h/j type riding other than actually jumping.

As long as you have discussed this with your trainer and she has no problem with it, I don't think it's crazy at all.

May. 18, 2009, 12:03 PM
The problem I'm finding is that a lot of the h/j peeps don't seem to take me seriously about not wanting to jump. Even my current trainer, who I love-- but I told her I don't want to jump and she still has me cantering poles and lines of poles in our lessons. It's like she thinks I'll change my mind, and I don't think I'm going to. Then one other person I'd talked to about lessons said, "well, once you get your seat right, the jumping is easy." I'm thinking "that's great but I still don't want to jump."

I hope my dressage lesson goes well tonight, if so, maybe I won't have to worry about being a non-jumper in a land of jumpers! :lol:

Desert Topaz
May. 18, 2009, 12:25 PM
If the barn is a good fit for you and your goals then there shouldn't be a problem whatever discipline it's based on. If the barn is pressuring you to jump, then it's not a good fit.

Good luck :)

May. 18, 2009, 12:37 PM
The use of poles and lines of poles doesn't necessarily have to lead to jumping. Poles can be used to teach a LOT of non-jumping exercises: lengthening and shortening of stride, lead changes, steering, focus, etc. The use of poles can help keep your lessons a little more interesting without jumping.

May. 18, 2009, 12:47 PM
I agree that poles are a GREAT learning device, not just a step toward jumping.

While a dressage trainer might be more ideal, if you like the HJ trainer and barn, then just flat lessons should be just fine.

May. 18, 2009, 01:10 PM
Not crazy at all, and I would think the h/j barn would be happy to have a student who wants to work on the flat. They get lesson money, the horse gets worked/schooled on the flat and doesn't have the wear and tear of jumping.

Mimi La Rue
May. 18, 2009, 01:50 PM
I ride with a h/j barn and don't jump (well a lot). I have been leasing horses the past year from my h/j barn but recently just bought a new horse a little over a month ago. My new horse can jump -- he was previously shown in hunters and is pretty much a packer. I want to jump so I will have a lesson every now and then doing small x's or a vertical but that's it. I also only jump when I am feeling brave but I am mostly a wimp and just want to stick to flat. I am happy doing flat. All the horses I leased prior I never jumped. My trainer never gave me a hard time about not wanting to jump. My new horse is my confidence builder so hopefully one day he will take me there but if not, I am more then happy riding flat because the most important thing to me is having fun. Right now we are doing a lot of pole work and working on distances and stride length. I haven't really jumped since 2004.

May. 18, 2009, 02:15 PM
.....understands your goals, it shouldn't be a problem! I ride with a group of middle aged women in lessons at a HJ barn. None of us have any desire, nor business, jumping. But our kids ride/lesson there, and some of us board there. We have a great time, work on lots of "goals" but never jump.

I also agree the poles make our lessons interesting, but still no jumping. Our Trainer loves having us, we always laugh, sometimes fall off, and always have fun!

May. 18, 2009, 11:29 PM
I would look into dressage barns. At a certain point, that's what your h/j lessons will become if you find a good trainer willing to work with you on the flat. If you ever decide you want to compete, then dressage has more to offer you. That said, if you find a h/j trainer you like and they're respectful of your wishes, then go for it because a good trainer is a good trainer.

May. 19, 2009, 03:45 AM
I take h/j lessons from a great trainer who is willing to work with my old age fear/balance issues. She comes up with great exercises some over poles to work on turns, changing gaits and pace. It has been great for my confidence. I doubt I will ever show or jump again, but she understands this and there is no pressure from her. So, no, I don't think it is crazy.

May. 19, 2009, 09:44 AM
I don't think that's crazy! There are several people at my barn who join in the group lesson's flatwork and leave or just watch when it comes time to jump.

May. 19, 2009, 09:52 AM
Depends on the trainer. My teacher let me decide if I wanted to jump with the rest of the class. When my turn came up, if my horse was too excited, I'd just circle the arena and get back to the end of the line. No big deal. If he was calm and collected I'd try the jump (we are talking nothing higher than 2 feet).
I had a very good teacher who understood older re-riders. So that was key. I do think it can get sticky when it comes to areas where the two disciplines differ, like seat position, or how much the horse needs to be on the bit. You may find you will be corrected for something that might be right in dressage but not in the hunter world.

May. 19, 2009, 10:54 AM

Dressage rider here, may turn to hunter/jumper but my TB and I aren't there yet.

We did a clinic with a h/j coach last month and doing another clinic with her this week. We didn't jump last month (had serious issues) and there's a slight chance we're not going to jump this clinic either as I am going with a riding buddy who is not ready for jumping.

The h/j knows we have issues and is willing to work with us on it. Why not get a dressage trainer you may ask- well we get along great with this h/j coach and the horses adore her even though she really makes us all work! :lol:

After the first clinic - she had us moving ahead 20 steps and we continue to go even further as we go along. I am really excited about this weekend and I am going to spend a week at her place later on in the summer but by then, we will likely have converted fully to h/j :yes:

So I think you need to look around- sounds like there's a few barns, and ask the coach whether not jumping is okay and to just work on flat. If they start to balk/argue- then its not the right match for you. So keep looking and you'll find that right coach!

May. 19, 2009, 11:24 AM
Doesn't make any difference IF it is a good H/J trainer.

One thing though, if you want to take advantage of the price break by taking a group lesson versus private? That might be tough because the group will be jumping for roughly half the lesson. That might mean you will need private lessons to make up the time you will be paying for without jumping.

But, basically, you are the client and should be following your own goals. If you don't want too jump, they should accomodate you and never make you feel pressured.

May. 19, 2009, 02:42 PM
Right off the top of my head I would have said it is pointless, but what other folks say is true, it totally depends on the trainer. If the trainer can work with you to keep you busy and improving without the jump part, you're golden. And poles aren't something that automatically leads to jumping - lots of Western trainers use them too, albeit slowly.

May. 19, 2009, 03:28 PM
its absolutely not crazy, however, you may find that it will be harder to find someone who's willing to take you in, if you know what i mean--sure, anyone will welcome business, but you need to make sure it's going to be a trainer that can take you seriously, regardless of the fact that you do not wish to show or jump. that's where the hard part is, because most of them are going to expect you to jump, or at least work towards jumping. make sure that you make it very clear to the trainer that you have no interest in jumping, explain that you only wish to ride for fun while still learning and enhancing your riding, just without the jumping. you have no wish to compete anymore. if they tell you "this isnt the barn for you" or if they try to reason--leave it at that. it's obviously not going to be the best situation. look for the trainer that says "i totally understand! if you dont want to jump, you dont want to jump." besides, plenty of trainers move right into jumping and don't nearly spend enough time on flat work, and im sure some of them know it--granted, it's probably what keeps lesson kids who don't own horses coming to their lessons (for a kid, what fun is it if youre not doing new stuff all the time? kids grow bored quite fast) and would probably welcome someone happily who wanted to just work on the flat improvement.

May. 19, 2009, 10:14 PM
Now, I always hoped and had intentions to jump again, so I'm a little different than you, but I just spent the better part of the last year working exclusively on the flat with my new trainer (h/j). Let me tell you, I got my tuchas kicked by her flat lessons!! She is super detail oriented, and I never had a lesson where I didn't learn something new. Now, a lot of that was because I was very out of shape, and coming back from a big mental set back (accident(s) I had 2 years ago at a horse show haunted me pretty bad), but even though I'm now getting back into jumping a little bit, we still spend lots of time on the flat.

Honestly, any jumping trainer worth their salt will acknowledge that jumping is really just flatwork, interrupted. And by having impeccable flatwork, you set yourself up to jump successfully. So... find a trainer who believes in impeccable flatwork, and who also believes that you, as the client, have the power and self-insight to decide you want to get so perfect you COULD jump, but will not, and will not pressure you into it.

I think it IS hard for people who don't understand what it's like to not enjoy jumping to fully appreciate and trust your opinion/decision. I'm so lucky that my trainer is a WONDERFUL lady who always lets me set the tone for the lesson, and never pressures me to be bigger- just better. But there were people at the barn, especially the younger junior set (who I am not much older than...) who had a hard time understanding why I couldn't possibly jump right now.

In short (after a long post), I think that a GOOD h/j trainer could offer you a lot of good training, and as long as you're enjoying it, who cares? Maybe think about a trainer with a solid equitation background/interest? That's what mine did back in the day, and I think that is why she is SO intent on all those wonderful little details that keep my mind and body "on my toes".

May. 20, 2009, 06:10 AM
There are barns that would be happy to have an advanced rider interested in "flat only." It give them a chance to give their horse a break from jumping while still getting a good ride. Most flat lessons are for pre-jumping riders and they can be rough on the horses.
The challenge may be finding a group in which to ride. Since most flat lessons are for riders with less experience than you, you need to find a trainers that either a. requires ALL riders to do extra flatwork or b. has good ring management skills and can teach one lesson with several levels of rider.

Be sure you and your instructor are of one mind about your goals. If you do change your mind, I'm sure you'd be welcome to try jumping but if not, I can't see not jumping being an issue in most lesson programs.

May. 20, 2009, 11:02 AM
Thanks guys! :) I feel a little better now about looking into new hunter lesson programs. My dressage lesson the other night sucked, really nice lady but she rides really front to back which I can't stand. I taught my now retired gelding the basics about 10 years ago with the help of a good trainer, so I do have some knowledge of "good" dressage and this wasn't it. :eek:

I'm going to see where my current h/j trainer ends up and have another heart to heart with her about my goals. I'm also considering taking a lesson at the other nice little h/j barn I went to see the other day. The trainer there is supposedly a big GM fan so I'm sure she believes in good flatwork. :winkgrin:

I do understand that poles can help with rhythym and other things, I guess I just feel like I'm still having trouble with the canter itself sometimes and I need to get that down a little better before I add poles into the mix. I've figured out that is one thing that I need and that my current trainer doesn't really get about me-- I need to feel like I have one thing mastered before I move on to the next step. I'm fine at the trot, can ride it as good as ever, but still have problems with my seat at the canter, I think mostly due to my bad back. I think she's used to teaching to people who get bored easily and want/expect to "move up" quickly. As I said, if I do stay with her we will have to have a talk about this.