You're having fun with your horse and that means your horse is having fun with you!!! Why take on the expense and the *work* of lessons when you're at the level you need for what you are doing. If, someday, you want to do more then you have options available to you. Until then? Just enjoy the day, your horse and your contentment.
The most important thing is that you and your horse have fun and are happy together. I enjoy showing in my local schooling shows and did my first 3 day
event last fall. Lessons help me and my horse to do our best and I enjoy seeing my horse and me improve. However, if I had to pick between showing and trail riding. I would pick trail riding hands down!!! Do what you enjoy and what makes you and your horse happy!!!
Oh, Jesus, no you don't have to want to become a better rider, get all goaled-up and such.
If your horse says you are doing well enough, then you are. The only exception to that rule comes from when you want another really skilled horseman get something from a horse (or from yours) that you want, too.
With all due respect to your local compadres, maybe you just haven't seen them do anything that you'd like to add to your repertoire. That's not bad on your part. The only "bad" for you would be not watching for greatness that "might be cool."
If/when you see a great horseman, you'll get curious and then all that "goal" stuff won't have a bad taint to it. You'll find yourself wanting it. But otherwise, enjoy what you have with your horse. They certainly don't have worries about self-actualization.
I've been at that same place many times over the past several years. On one hand I feel guilty for not taking regular lessons and showing but on the other hand, I just want to RIDE my horse and enjoy doing so.
FWIW, I haven't taken regular lessons in over 10 years. Currently, I'm sort of between disciplines and sort of in-limbo between a semi-retired horse that can't do all the things he used to and a new, green horse with whom I'm not comfortable doing all the things I used to. I don't have a regular trainer. So while on one hand I feel like I should be making all of this progress and achieving all of those show goals, I have to remind myself that I ride because it's fun... so as long as I'm having fun just doing "nothing" then I'm achieving my goals :)
Enjoy your horse! :)
When my first horse was still alive, I had to make the decision of whether to continue on improving my riding skills on another horse, or remain at the level I was at and enjoy my own horse. I never wanted to be at the point where I was wishing he could do things he couldn't, or unconsciously pushing him to try, so I chose the latter. I never regretted it for an instant. Our partnership was well established, and we had a fabulous time together! Kiss the guilt goodbye, and enjoy your horse!
I feel your pain. I have a super fancy (as in placed well at Devon, people wanted to buy her) young mare. I relocated recently, don't have a trainer, ride to enjoy her. She is point and shoot, hacks along. I worry, too... am I wasting her potential? She chugs around with her ammy mom on her, takes a joke... what am I doing?? She should be out getting ready for the 3'6!
Then I have "that" feeling. The one after a super good ride, enjoying my horse, no matter if it is a hack or 2'6 verticals. Do what you enjoy, be safe and love your horse.
i take lessons because it's sort of my only option for riding regularly; but also because i'm one of those people who will rapidly devolve into a slumping chair seat with my hands under my chin w/o someone to yell at me periodically. (we have no mirrors in the arenas, unfortunately.) i don't show, but i do want to be a more *effective* rider, and when the 13 hh pony i'm riding goes zipping sideways across the ring while i think i'm asking her to leg yield out to the rail, then i'm clearly not being effective! :lol:
I'm with the OP. I haven't taken a lesson in quite a while - and don't feel the need to. My horse is the token Paso Fino at my barn and everyone else rides hunt seat or saddle seat (well, two others ride western as well). Lots of big fancy NSHorses who show nationally.
I love to trail ride and AFAIK so does my horse. Ring work does nothing for me and he doesn't seem particularly psyched about it either, but what do I know. We did start attending the regional Paso shows last year and I will continue to do that, but it's just for fun. I already don't know where to put the ribbons I won last year.
There are riders and there are riders.
Around western events, especially speed events, where what you do with the horse counts, not how, you can see all kinds of riders.
Some never had a lesson, some brag they never had a lesson and I want to say, "really?" As if that was not obvious.
That is one extreme, the riders that are from ham handed to the jerk and kick, horse upside down and scooting around.
There are some that are naturals and talented and kind of get along asking their horses to do whatever, but have uneducated seat and hands, so are not very effective.
Their horses work best they can manage for them.
Then, once someone takes some lessons, you can see a big difference.
Today, many western kids did grow up thru 4H and high school coaching and at least have some idea of those basic principles of riding, like leads and working off the hind end and being truly light on the bridle, not just uneducated and you can't take a hold or the horse is confused.
There is a place to become educated for the betterment of the horse and rider's communication and what they are doing.
That is what lessons give us.
Once the mere basics are installed, well, refinement comes from more instruction, but unless you are wanting to know more and/or even go on to compete, that is not necessary to enjoy riding and doing other fun stuff with your horse.
I would say, yes, lets get some basics, have someone evaluate our riding, then go ahead and learn more if that fits our goals, or enjoy working with what we know.
Not everyone likes horses for the same reasons and won't have the same goals all along, our needs and wants also change over time.
I love, love, love learning more, so to me lessons in any and all we do with horses is part of the fun.
To others their fun may be riding along on a pretty day listening to the birds sing.
Or, like a friend I have, that is a beginner rider and doesn't at all want anyone to teach her anything, all she wants is to ride and the faster the more fun for her. Her happiest horse moments are going to the Caribbean, renting a horse and galloping on the beach.
I say, OP, find what you like and follow your own star that makes you happy.
If that is now no lessons where everyone else is driven with lessons, shrug and keep enjoying your horse your way.
There is no Right or Wrong. It's what you want, what gives you the most joy.
I haven't taken a lesson in 20 years due to assorted circumstances, but will now be starting Dressage lessons because of an affiliation I now have with a great local barn and an amazing trainer. Plus, I just plunked down a crap load of money on a new dressage saddle from County, so am excited to take at least a few months of dressage lessons to get down the basics, get my mare and I fit again and then, as before, I'll cease lessons and go about my merry way down the trail :D
I do believe there is a right or wrong.
If a person does not have a functional relationship with their horse, and the horse's training/wellbeing/future prospects are suffering for it, and the owner refuses to get help, then that is wrong.
See: all the people who buy ottbs without factoring in the need for training and then they wonder why the horse is unrideable.
If you never take lessons and are falling off a lot, or resorting to gadgets or harsh methods, or are scared to get on, or want to get rid of your horse because you can't ride it, or the farrier has given your horse the pink slip, you are probably in this category.
If, however, the person has a perfectly functional relationship with their horse and the horse is generally a good citizen under the program the owner is able to provide, then have at. Even if you are sitting on the next Totilas, you have no obligations to develop him to Grand Prix as long as your relationship is functional and the horse's prospects aren't suffering as a result.
Lots of people who ride at the beginner intermediate level are suitably mounted on quiet, docile horses and don't need to take lessons to maintain that.
Well stated, clear and with fewer words that I used trying to say the same.:cool:
Originally Posted by meupatdoes
You're not the only one. Having spent, in my youth, probably an amount in the 5 figures on "lessoning" in quite a number of disciplines and having achieved near everything that was meaningful to me competitively, one day I came to the conclusion that the most important part, the ONLY part that really mattered, was the relationship formed between me and my horse and the activity performed was actually irrelevant. That's when MY lightbulb went off!
Originally Posted by cnvh
The nice, fun, low-key dressage scene that once existed around here is long-gone; showing is now a Serious Thing requiring a major outlay of time and money, and a few years ago I realized I'd lost the "fire in the belly" and had nothing left to prove to myself or anyone.
From that time I've consciously acquired Cute Trail Horses and am having a blast! I don't feel guilty if I don't ride, I don't worry about having to meet some arbitrary "standard" determined by fashion or money or politics.
Do I still rigorously demand correct movement, good conditioning, and manners from my horses? Absolutely! But the time has passed when I need someone screaming across a ring every week for me to have that much self-discipline.
Do what makes you happy--you have Arrived! :D
This is a great question, and one I once posed to a local trainer/judge with long years in the business and no small reputation. Her response?
Originally Posted by cnvh
"Horses don't know or care about their "potential. He's just as happy eating in a pasture and sleeping in the sun and probably rather more so than if he was having his every talent honed to the limit of his ability. If he's doing what YOU want to do and you're enjoying him, that's all that's important."
If you're trying to increase the horse's market value, that of course is a whole other set of issues. As is the fact that "higher, faster, farther" taken to the limits can greatly decrease the usable life of the horse--i.e. DECREASED long-term potential to be useful for YOU.
I haven't had regular lessons in a long time, and I do want to do more so I can make sure I am still being effective and if I can be more effective. I would love to event this spring so that goal motivates me but even without it I would like to. But that's me, and I know so many who don't take any and are effective and have a great relationship with their horse... if it isn't broke you don't have to fix it.
I agree about the ring. The girl who rides my mare sometimes mentioned a few places on the farm that would be perfect for a ring... she is right but not interested. I am lucky that my in laws are my neighbors and just put one in I can use whenever I would like but I am not all that interested in it and it has been years since I have had one. Never missed it, I absolutely love riding through my fields etc and I have plenty of flat land to ride on. While it has its place for sure, people do use it as a crutch. It should be one part of a rider's riding, not their entire riding IMO.
I absolutely do hear you (you sound like me). I have a gorgeous horse I bred, and yet will never trot up the centre line again. But I do deserve a nice horse - just because we are not showing does not mean we cannot have a nice horse.
Perhaps you can save the money from your lessons and buy a horse trailer/truck?
There is so much to do outside an arena - I've taken de-spooking clinic, trail clinics, there's hound exercises, hunting, back-country riding in groups,
back-country clinics, x-country clinics, your horse can become so versatile.
I think I ride intelligently - she is always being schooled, just not in an arena.
Dressage on the trail is quite possible, using your eyes and body to navigate around obstacles without using reins, etc.
I mostly ride alone, but do have a group I ride with, too, and I love the
social side. I feel sorry for hrses that just do one thing - train for shows.
Well, I took lessons religiously from age 5-15 (no horse of my own, so lessons were my only way to have time to ride), and I was enormously-- ENORMOUSLY-- fortunate to have spent the last 3 or 4 of those years with a really top-notch trainer who was later short-listed for the Olympics and now is a nationally-recognized dressage clinician. (I was lucky to have had the chance to ride with her when she was still on a "local" level; I could never afford to ride with her NOW, lol...) But I credit her with giving me a really awesome foundation. In fact, I still hear her voice in my head sometimes when I'm trying to work through issues as they arise. :)
But I agree, there are definitely people who SHOULD be in a program and AREN'T, and that, too, makes me sad. I don't think most people can get to a level of riding comfort without having experienced countless lesson horses (both saintly and evil), except possibly the "cowboy" types who literally grew up in the saddle.
Must keep telling self: "You DO deserve a nice horse, now shut up and ride!" :lol:
Originally Posted by Foxtrot's
I wish my gelding enjoyed the trails, because I really do. He has gotten better, but I am not sure he will ever really relax and enjoy. Spring and fall are best - he does not tolerate bugs at all.
Originally Posted by cnvh
I've been exactly where you are over the years, at different times, with different horses. I have a fancy show horse out in my barn, covered with mud, happily munching hay and trying to stay warm. I feel a little guilty when I see his scruffy self, and wonder if my decision not to show this year will somehow be letting him down. But my screensaver on my computer has the photos from last year's trail rides and show shots as well. The trail photos make me smile. The show photos don't. I'm taking that as a sign that for now I'm going to just relax, not take any lessons, and just enjoy my horse. The spring in his step when we hit the trails tells me he's enjoying it, too.