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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2009

    Default First Dressage Lesson with New Trainer...what to look for?

    A very long time ago, I did combined training (I was 14), and since then I've ridden hunters. Due to some major confidence issues that I've posted about in off course, I've decided to start riding again, but to switch disciplines to dressage (for many reasons).

    There aren't many dressage trainers in my area at all (in fact, I know of only two who concentrate on dressage, although many lesson barns offer "dressage"). So I did call one, and spoke with her and am going to take a lesson in the next few weeks.

    What should I be looking for to ensure I am in the right place? I remember some things about my dressage experience from before about the training scale, not to shove the horse into a frame etc. but I'm unsure as to where a good dressage trainer might start from the ground up. I haven't ridden at all in 6 months (and that was just a mount and walk in a circle) and haven't ridden seriously in about two years. I fully expect to be working through mainly my fear at first, but I do want to concentrate on the discipline and so want to ensure that I'm with someone who I can trust.

    Unfortunately, I don't even know anyone who rides dressage in my area, so I really can't ask anyone here.

    Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2000


    Is there any way you could go out before your lesson and watch a few lessons with riders/horses that are comparable to your experience level? I think that would be very helpful.
    A GOOD instructor will not only tell you what to do, but why and how. This is how you will learn to put the process together and have improvement. So I suggest watching a few lessons and really look at the instructor's teaching ability and communication.
    "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Spotsylvania, VA

    Default Having dealt with my own confidence issues

    If you can end the lesson feeling more confident than you were when you started and looking forward to the next lesson it will have been a good beginning.

    Will you be riding your own horse or one of hers?
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2009


    I will be riding one of the trainers' horses at first, not my own. My horses haven't been ridden in as long as I haven't ridden so I thought it best to perhaps start with a schoolie and then once my horses are back in work, I will take them.

    She seemed very interested in talking about the whys on the phone, so I'm hopeful that that will be her teaching style as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
    Montreal, Qc


    If you can, you should try to go watch her giving lessons to her students, beginners and more advanved ones.

    As far as for good training, since you have that goal of overcoming fear issue, I would be looking as the trainer has a quiet horse in a nice secure environment and probably start you back on the lungeline.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 26, 2010
    in the woodwork....

    Default I went through this too

    I watched instructor give a few lessons to a friend first. Then when I took a lesson, after introducing my self we talked about my goals and what my issues were.

    Some of the things that I like when checking out new trainers is , correcting me as a rider (fix the rider, fix the horse- to get out of my horse's way) before working on the horse. I have learned to avoid trainers/instructors with quick fixes- more metal, harsh techniques (if you feel any doubt- walk away)

    Also, teachings based on the training scale, in my case relaxation. For example, I couln't go beyond without achieving relaxation.

    Next, I think 'deep down inside of our subconscious' we know what our issues are but we don't know how to voice them and sometimes our egos or fear get in the way. The really good trainers will help you 'go there' and push you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2010
    San Diego, CA


    When I picked DD's trainer I went and observed the trainer with adults and kids. Then I went to the next show and watched her deal with horses, kids, parents and chaos of horse shows. Placings weren't important to me it was HOW & WHY. I LOFF my trainer and bonus she's a certified therapy trainer as well. I looked for a covered arena with decent footing and gave bonus for correct letters. I met all the schoolies and watched how the other riders treated their mounts. I looked for a show/clinic calendar and how many were interested in it.
    FYI Trainers: It doesn't look good when you are yelling "This is why you will always ride INTRO! Do you want to be this bad all the time?" At your students and especially children. It does not encourage me to want my child in your program.
    Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
    Originally Posted by alicen:
    What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Western Washington


    If you have fear issues, I would expect you to spend quite a while on the longe, developing a balanced and independent seat. This will be the basis for you developing confidence on any horse.

    There should be a specific set of exercises for you on the longe, and you should stay there until you can do them at WTC.

    The school horses should be happy and relaxed in their work.

    Some instructors do better with children, some with adults. Find someone who will encourage you and be supportive, while pushing you to stretch. It should be fun, but may not always be easy.

    Have fun!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2007
    SF Bay Area


    With a good trainer, you will feel like you're making progress in the first lesson. Maybe it's small, maybe it wouldn't seem that way to others, but YOU should get the feeling that the trainer is sympathetic to you and the horse, and you feel like you're doing something a little better by the end of the lesson.

    If the trainer has you do things that frighten you, speak up. There is no shame in that. (I had to do that myself in jumping lessons, I looked pretty comfortable up there so the trainer had me do more difficult stuff right away, and I had to slow her down... She listened and still pushed me --which I needed, but in a more careful and re-assuring way.) Needless to say that if the trainer does not seem to listen to your needs, it's not a good fit.

    And don't think you're boxed in with the choice of only two "real" dressage trainers. At the lower levels, some event trainers really do a much better job than those who only do dressage. What was the saying -- when the student is ready, the teacher will come! : )

    Good luck and enjoy!
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2006
    Albany NY


    I wouldn't get all worked up about it - take a lesson, that's the best way to see if she has something to offer you. You'll see her style and what she wants to teach you. Tell her your goals, first, tell her what you are concerned about. She may or may not address that first, she may watch you and address other basics before she goes to the things which concern you (always a good thing imo).

    So see if she is going to teach you something. Get what you can from her, and when she stops benefitting you, look for someone elses, and there may be someone else when that time comes.

    I believe you can always learn something from every teacher, even if its t5o learn that they aren't the teacher for you.

    I wouldn't bother watching a lesson - you only have two choices, and what you want to know if how SHE teaches YOU, not someone else. Heck, I hardly even recogize my trainer watching her teach someone else. Its all about me, after all, the lessons. Take one. That will answer your questions for yourself. What you should watch for? Watch for the things you want from a trainer.
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 3, 2010


    First I want to say have fun! Riding is supposed to fun and the right trainer can be a huge proponent in this. Be honest about your fears and be sure to have a little courage to try something, even if it scares you.
    My daughter had a terrible fall and lost all of her confidence. Her wonderful Dressage trainer worked with her and she is a really good rider now. I think what really helped is her instructor is very positive and doesn't yell. She also has the patience of a saint .
    Their are wonderful trainers out there and I hope your lesson is awesome.

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