I first posted here -- 5 years ago? -- because I was an adult rerider and wanted... advice, reassurance, and validation I suppose.
Me: Wanted to be a ballerina as a child and discovered, alas, that I was no Gelsey Kirkland or Suzanne Farrell. (Ballet claim to fame: I was a soldier in the Nutcracker that was staged at Nassau Coliseum when I was young and, unrelatedly, at age approximately 11, I got to pet Mikael Barishnakov's golden retriever!)
I quit ballet and rode, until about age 20, the equivalent, probably, of a year once-weekly. From ages 14 - 20, all riding was trail riding (I'm sure you could count those rides on one hand, too.
Then, a few years back, I was working on a political campaign. Beautiful summer day in a New England town and boy, was I sick of trying to talk to people about my candidate. A woman in riding clothes walks towards me and instead of launching into my spiel, I asked her about her riding.
It was like pressing a button. She GUSHED about her horse -- bought for the kids who lost interest, so she decided to ride. Her instructor was awesome. She loved the "not a show-horse" barn she boarded at. And I, who had occasionally thought about going on a trail ride and being competent enough to be allowed to canter, thought -- huh, I should take some lessons.
Ended up visiting that barn and started riding. Planned on an hour week, which quickly became twice-weekly hour-long lessons. And then... Political campaign was over and it was time to return home to NY.
By this time, it wasn't just a matter of wanting to be confident enough to canter. I wanted to get better. Get GOOD. And then I watched an event at Town Hill (Lakeville, CT) the following summer and.... well.
Right now my count is
Nine instructors later (plus my original instructor plus, as of this year, 2 "summer" instructors)
Four barns (plus my original barn plus 2 "summer" barns
Three leases (one sold, one ended, one current)
Sounds crazy, yes? However, in my defense...
2 instructors and 2 barns were ones I was smart enough to walk away from after 2 lessons each
I realized one instructor was probably advancing me too quickly (as fun as it was, 2'6" courses was probably not what I should have been doing with only 6 months of riding experience. Especially on horses that had behavioral issues. One in particular liked to turn his nose to your knee and canter off in the opposite direction. Wheee!
1 instructor I didn't like, another I did, but our schedules were incompatible
1 instructor was injured and was out of commission for more than 6 months. By the time she returned, I had moved on
1 instructor I was with for quite a while but lateness, inattention during lessons, and not showing up finally led to strain in the relationship. When I took a summer off to ride in another state (to try to get some experience cross-country cuz I wanna event one day) the relationship ended
Then there's my current instructor who I rode with on-and-off until switching permanently (she taught on a day the above instructor didn't -- each knew about the other)
As for the "summer" barns: my parents have a summer place in an area that's eventers' heaven for lower levels -- 3 events within a 30-mile radius! I rode at 2 different barns with 2 different instructors hoping to further my eventing dreams (both instructors were fully aware of this, and that I was there for the short term)
In addition there's my original instructor who I still ride with during the summer. She's NOT an eventer -- doesn't like jumps that don't fall down, in her words. But she has some really great exercises that no other instructor has done with me that really hone in on my weak spots
Of course, despite all that instruction, there are still weak points in my riding.
I struggle with keeping my shoulders even.
My upward transitions from trot to canter aren't always... good
I drop my inside hand, particularly when cornering at the canter
I drop my eye at the jumps on occasion
I don't trust my ability to judge distances to the jumps
Will I EVER be able to consistently sit the trot?
And, and, and...
To this day, despite multiple falls, the thing that scared me most was... cantering a circle. I was convinced I was going to crash into the jump standards for MONTHS. Really, really made me tense. (I'm over that now, though.) I do admit that UNmounted, my biggest fear was that the horse I'd just fallen off of and was charging up a hill, reins flying, was going to get tangled up, fall, and break a leg. He was fine, though.
Speaking of falls: I've had 'em.
In the realm of "check your tack yourself and don't assume others know best" -- my horse was tacked up for me and the girth was on the last hole on either side. I assumed that person who tacked knew what they were doing and went to lesson. Last ten minutes of the lesson, trotting on a circle and... you guessed it. Saddle slipped. (I'd been riding for... 4-5 months at that point.)
I have no clue. One minute I was cantering towards the jump, the next I was on the other side, hanging off the horse's neck
Horse slipped (sloppy footing), fell to his knees. I sort of plopped off the side
Uh, don't use crop on recalcitrant horse while in 2 point. Makes it REALLY easy for them to dump you.
Near crash. I do a diagonal down, another rider does a line up, we "meet" in the middle of the line. My horse does perfect western-style 180-degree rollback in self-preservation and I... bite the dust
Cantering to the right, horse decides hell no, let's go left and by the way, BUCK!
Same horse really, REALLY wants to canter up a hill. I really, REALLY don't. Horse wins.
Spook. One of those where time slows down and I actually manage to think "If I can get my foot down, this will hurt so much less." and... I do. Also, this is the only one of two my falls where I fall off to the left instead of the right.
Equipment failure either due to defective saddle (I'm trying it) or defective user (me). Stirrup leather slips off of bar at the trot, stirrup/leather hits horse in butt, horse spooks forward, jump in our path, we go over jump and I... don't stick the landing.
Same horse objects to sudden appearance of a deer the next day (and... I now have to buy a new show helmet in addition to another schooling helmet)
Windy as hell day rips strip of aluminum siding off of exterior of indoor. Siding makes scary-ass noise as it vibrates, flaps up, hits window and my horse spooks massively.
I think that's it, but there may be one or two missing.
Overall, though, I'm happy with how I've progressed, and think that riding helps keep me sane. For me, it's a 4- to 5-hour vacation that I get to go on 2 times a week, every week. And when with horses, your mind should BE on horses, not on work or whatever other "real life" frustrations you may be experiencing. (For horse professionals, of course, your horse frustrations may BE your real-life frustrations...)
So, adult re-riders and new riders. What's your story? Where are you now, how far have you come, and where do you want to go? Who has made the jump to horse ownership, or showed in their discipline? Or changed from one discipline to another (and if so, why?)
I rode as a kid. Was always "horse crazy", finally my parents relented and let me start taking lessons at the age of 8. Did that for about a year, then we moved for about a year (Dad was in military) and I didn't take lessons all that time (I think we went to look at one barn but for some reason lessons never materialized). Then we moved back "home" permanently (Dad got out of military at that point) and I picked up lessons again. Later, the barn I was riding at (in conjunction with another local barn) started a pony club and I did that too (but never made it up the levels, alas). Did this for a couple years.
Then, the summer before junior high started (so I was almost 12), my parents start looking for a horse for me. We go look at a few (I remember seeing a TWH mare I thought was amazing but my instructor talked us out of. And some QH somewhere that I never got to ride, we just looked at. I thought it was weird those folks had a covered arena [I had never ridden in one at that point and now living in MD I'm totally used to having an indoor!]). Ended up getting a little QH mare who turned out to be pregnant. That's a whole long saga in and of itself. Suffice to say that after I got my very own horse, my parents had me stop doing lessons and pony club, "because I have my own horse now". By the time I started high school, I had no horse at all (not by my own choice, let me tell you!). Thus began a good ten years of horselessness.
Finally, I got out on my own, moved to Maryland, had a good job, and realized one day, "hey...I have my own disposable income, there's lots of barns around here, I should take lessons again!" That would have been in January 2008.
Ended up choosing a local lesson barn with a huge program (mostly because they do the "free intro lesson" thing, hah.) Anyway, did the intro lesson, got sorted into a class, signed up for a block of lessons, went out and bought myself some paddock boots and a helmet. (I rode that first lesson in a pair of street boots because I figured if I didn't like the place, I wasn't going to buy paddock boots I'd never wear but like hell was I going to show up to ride with sneakers on!)
They have a "working student" program there where if you work for so many hours, you get to participate in an extra lesson. But you had to be a student there for so many months (three, I think), before you could join up. I waited the exact number of months, then joined up and ended up spending the entire day after my lesson (at the time I was doing lessons in the morning on Saturday) helping out around the barn. It is entirely possible I may have forgotten I had a dinner date with a friend later that evening because I was so caught up in the horsiness (and had left my phone in the car). Aheh.
Did that for a while. Then, that summer (June? 2008) I started volunteering at Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue. Somewhere in there, I started taking lessons at the rescue (they have a small lesson program) alongside the other lessons. Eventually, I switched to doing lessons at the rescue completely (partly this was a monetary issue, partly it was just liking the lower key program better, partly it was because I was spending so much time at the rescue anyway, LOL).
Januaryish 2009, I was in love with one of the rescue horses and wanted to adopt her. Was half talked out of it, half waited too long before she was adopted by someone else (who ended up being a better fit for her).
Spring 2009 saw another horse I liked, but I didn't think I liked enough to adopt and keep forever. Someone else adopted her, too.
Summer 2009, I started seriously looking for a horse to buy. Looked at a couple in person, looked at [i]many[i] online (and in print ads!), eventually ended up with a horse completely unlike any of my shopping criteria through word of mouth. He, of course, turned out to be exactly the horse for me, hah!
So now it's Spring 2011 and I still have that horse, am still taking lessons at the rescue, and I'm still volunteering there in all my spare time. My horse has gone from being completely green to riding to being able to w/t/c quietly (and on the correct leads!), to jumping low jumps, to riding out on trails (behind, in the middle, in the lead), to running down the beach, to riding in parades, to doing basic drill team routines...you get the idea. We've even gone to some local shows and come home with a few ribbons.
Me, I've progressed from not remembering how to post properly or ask for the canter to someone who can comfortably ride most any sane, schooled horse, and even a few green ones. Even if I don't necessarily look pretty doing it.
Still have issues getting my heels down, still have issues keeping my shoulders back, still need to not resort to crumpling down into the 'fatal fetal' position when I get tired of two point, hah. But hey, at least now I know what I'm doing wrong, even if I haven't fixed it!
I started riding with lessons in 7th grade, I had always wanted to ride. My parents could afford only one lesson a week, but I took that one lesson every week until I graduated from high school. I shoveled a lot of stalls in the hope of earning extra riding time, but not much was available. However, I did learn a lot about mucking
Stopped riding, except for a rare trail ride, until I was 43. Spotted some ads on Petfinder for horses available at a rescue. Now that I was grown up and could finally afford it, I decided that I wanted a horse of my own. I went to a local barn to check out the boarding situation. The BO pointed out an aged mare, said that the current owners had no time for her and would give her away for free. Being new at this stuff, I did not see the GIANT FLASHING RED LIGHTS around this offer. Took the horse. That horse, Banner, was a 21 year old Angle/Arab-Connemara cross who was the equine incarnation of Elizabeth Taylor..lovely to look at, irresistable to the boys, completely taken with her own attractiveness...and a diva. (To be fair to Ms. Taylor, I'm sure my horse was much more a Diva than she ever could be).
Still knowing little, I spent the first month getting to know my horse, practiced in the ring, then headed out, alone, on long trail rides. Banner was cantankerous and headstrong, but I thought, I just have to be the boss and we'll be fine. Miraculously, that worked for....6 months...until I took her out on a windy day in March, and she demped me a mile from home, kicked me & broke my arm, and took off running, leaving me to walk back with steam coming out of my ears.
Eventually, after the break healed, I did get back on Banner for a year or so, and even returned to trail riding, but things never really went well with her, and after she was injured at 23, I retired her. Retirement made her very happy until her demise at 26 from a lipoma/colic.
During her retirement, I was fortunate enough to "borrow" horses from my friends at the boarding barn, and progressed to leasing the wonderful pony I now own, Mahindra. She's very different from Banner, a pony who's fun, and sane, and reliable.
I've worked with the same trainer since my return to riding, and have progressed to jumping small fences (2'6" at most). I often take lessons with kids, and I have a great time with them.
My time with Banner (and the MANY falls, bucks, and bolts that she provided) made me a fearful rider, but I'm slowly gaining confidence.
I've recently tried foxhunting, and I'm completely smitten with it. I hope to practice and train my pony with hunting as my goal, and perhaps in a year or two, we'll be ready.
I had two week-long summer sessions in the riding program at Girl Scout camp when I was little--got to ride about half an hour a day.
Got a year of weekly western lessons when I was eleven, but parents couldn't afford them after that.
Occasionally saved up enough money to go on a trail ride, and a couple times to rent a horse at my friend's barn--usually one of the crazy Shetlands that had just come off winter pasture; I thought it was hilariously fun to spend $40 for an hour trying not to get bucked off. d;
Then when I was 23, I got my first full-time teaching job and started up lessons at a big h/j show barn. Stayed there a year doing weekly lessons, not progressing much, until a friend of a friend gave me a horse. Beautiful dun QH mare with super severe navicular. The farrier convinced me that she would eventually be rideable, especially since I'm a small and lightweight person... not the case. After a few months, I gave her to the farrier as a pasture puff.
Then I bought my horse, Sam, who had just turned four and was totally green. I resumed lessons with a new trainer, who also came out and helped me not ruin him or get killed. She moved after a year, and I found a really great h/j barn and a great new trainer.
Now it's been three years, and I'm still progressing slowly, but at least my horse is smart and good! My biggest challenge now is jumping--I can't find a distance to save my life. But I'm still going to plug along in weekly lessons, plus I'm also doing another weekly flatwork lesson, and started reining lessons as well. I just want to be a non-sucky rider for my good horse, and continue having fun with him...
I never really got to ride as a kid, despite being bonafide horse crazy. I think I did a handful of nose to tail trail rides, and two week long "camps" at some podunk barn on this woman's rescue/rejects and ex-barrel racers. Best times of my childhood, actually.
Fastfoward to me being 24, with a good job with regular hours and FINALLY able to get some consistent lessons. Wanted to learn how to ride well, since my goal at the time was to be a trail rider and buy a TWH but I wanted to know what I was doing. Started out at a local college that offered a beginners program on their school horses, rode once a week. Left that program after hours/pricing changed (and looking back, thank goodness I did. Sometimes I wonder why I started there, I would have gotten a much better foundation at a private barn. But I digress). Proceeded to go through a string of local barns, which I left for various reasons (horrible conditions, uninterested/uneducated instructors, etc). Took a four month break after I got married, and was a little discouraged about the whole deal so didn't know if I wanted to continue. Finally started searching again, ended up at a fairly decent barn with a well known local trainer, where I resumed doing lessons once a week. Started jumping, and wanted to up my progress (since one a week you're basically just a recreational rider) so I started taking lessons at another big show barn. Had a fabulous instructor there, and progressed a TON. She ended up leaving, which was a huge bummer so I stopped lessoning there and went back to once a week at the other barn. Did that until there was some barn drama, decided at this point I better s**t or get off the pot, since once a week wasn't getting my anywhere and also wasn't doing the horses I was riding any favors. Started searching for another barn, where I found my awesome current trainer that I've been with for about a year.
So to sum up...did once a week lessons for about 3.5 years. Interesting learning experience. Started riding at my current place 3 times a week, did my first real half lease (in the initial 3.5 years I also leased a trail horse to see if thats what I really enjoyed doing. Not so much) and then bought my first horse just this last October. An older (14) ex Grand Prix jumper mare, who can be a challenge but I love. I never would have imagined things turning out this way, or that in wildest dreams I would be riding the horse I am now in the 4.5 short years I've been into horses. But, I'm so happy they did!
ETA: oh, and I did my first show this fall, and didn't fall flat on my face. It was actually one of the most positive experiences I've had yet.
And, OP, I still can't sit the trot sometimes to save my life. I would like that to be one of my goals this year. Also, to stop being in my head so much sometimes and just FEEL the horse. You know, like teens seem to be able to do because they aren't worried about their old brittle bones breaking
Oh, and just to add a few stories of falls I've had since re-riding, since the OP talked about theirs.
1. That intro lesson I mentioned? Where I couldn't post right and couldn't for the life of me get the (well schooled) horse to canter? Yeah, upon dismounting I misjudged the distance and fell on my behind practically underneath the horse. Talk about embarrassing!
2. At the rescue one time, riding this one mare around bareback. She's 17hh or so. I'm standing on a three step mounting block and still couldn't swing my leg over her back so have to do the thing where you flop on their back like a sack of potatoes on your belly and then swing up. I flopped...a little too hard and ended up throwing myself over her back and landing on the other side. Luckily, only one other person was there to see that.
3. Another bareback episode, this time just moseying around after a ride on this slightly nervous TB. Leg isn't on him at all but hey, we're just walking around, right? Yeah, my toe hit the side of the wall and made a nice bong sound and he spooked one way and I slid off the other, landed on the kinda hard stonedust ground flat on my back with the horse a few yards away looking at me all wide-eyed like, "How did you end up down there???"
4. Riding in a lesson at big lesson barn. Just trotting around, la dee da. My inside foot slipped out of the stirrup and somehow I apparently (unconsciously) perform an emergency dismount while still trotting. Next thing I know, I'm standing beside the horse, reins in hand, with no idea of how I got down there. Instructor is like, "why are you on the ground?" All I can say is, "I don't know!"
5. Few weeks after I get my horse, he's been to the trainer and proven sane. So of course we go camping with him. This is on a big trail ride trip that leads out to the beach and we've been having fun riding in the water and along the sand bars and stuff. Part of the group wants to get in one last canter down a sandbar, the other part of the group stays on the beach. So of course as soon as we get cantering, the horses veer back into the water to re-join the "herd". Which is okay, except that it's belly-deep or so and the horses start doing a bit of a dolphin impression to get through it. I bounce bounce bounce right off the side of my guy and get a soaking. Oops.
6. Finally, my most recent fall was a few weeks ago. We've been learning jumping and decide to try him over a couple of barrels (because it wasn't technically any wider/taller a jump than anything we'd currently constructed for him out of poles. We might've been fine except I came around the turn and the whole way up to the barrels, I'm staring at them like they're going to eat us. "Fine," he says, "I don't want to get eaten!" and he juked out at the last minute and I slid off his side and landed, somehow, in front of him (luckily, he stopped). That fall brought home he needed to take a step back and I need to look up.
So, adult re-riders and new riders. What's your story? Where are you now, how far have you come, and where do you want to go? Who has made the jump to horse ownership, or showed in their discipline? Or changed from one discipline to another (and if so, why?)
I went to a college that had it's own barn and horses, competed ANRC and IHSA and offered equestrian classes. So, I took a class -- English/Hunter Equitation -- and got a pretty big shock. Come to find out I really didn't know jacksh-- about riding and horses. Go figure.
So, I took the class for the next 3 semesters and learned SO much. As it was an actual college class and not just a riding class, we had a very good amount of 'other' information -- discussing other disciplines, horse breeds, colors, conformation, etc. That was fantastic. Since some of us were quickly recruited to join the IHSA team for walk-trot, we took our time progressing through walk-trot-canter-jumping. (In fact, it was 4 months until we started cantering and another 3 months before we popped over our first crossrails.)
My trainer was an absolute angel of a man and loved what he did as well as the program. He even lined up clinics for the team with judges like Jimmy Cantwell and Scot Evans. Even if you were just at the barn hanging out (which I did a lot of) he'd offer up advice or knowledge about everything horse related. He definitely wanted to make us horsewomen and not just riders.
I had two other trainers, during the summer and after college. Both were dressage riders, and it didn't last long with them. Mostly due to schedules, moving, etc.
Well, with a real job and 60 hour work weeks, working a split shift at night, having little money, living in an English riding desert, I put riding on the shelf.
10 years later ... I got the bug again around September, looked around in my area and found some barns about an hour away in Fla. Thought about it, debated it. Decided to look up my old trainer from college whom I hadn't kept up with. Turns out he died a few years ago due to cancer. And at that point, I KNEW I had to get back to riding. So, I called a couple barns and lucked out on the first one I lessoned at.
Currently: My new trainer is 6 or 7 years younger than me, but knew my college coach, rode IHSA in the same region/zone, and is very laid back and friendly. She knows when to push me and knows when not to. Right now, it's been three months almost exactly since my first lesson with her, and I'm back doing walk-trot-canter with my next lesson slated to be crossrails. I'm so excited!
Disciplines/Goals: Right now I'm doing the same discipline/area (equitation) and plan to stay here for a while. I never got to do fences over 18" when I was riding before, so my goal is now fences and doing some local shows by the start of summer. (Be it flat or fences or both). Ultimately, I'd like to do an 'A' show just for the experience.
In the distant future, well, I don't know. I'm so anal that I LURV equitation. But I don't think I'm anal enough for dressage. I suppose I'll have to wait until I know how I do jumping courses. But ultimately, I see myself showing some, owning my own horse in the next few years and learning as much as I can about horses.
Owning horses: I *did* free lease a 14.2 Arab gelding from my cousin. God bless her, but her and her hubby couldn't feed the 3 horses they had, so I took him for 4 months. I fattened him up, got his feet done and gave him enough saddle time to make him a decent little horse again, so she could find a good home for him.
Past that, I am looking at horse for sale ads, but have decided to wait until I know I'm going to stick with this for at least a year. Although I may end up with an on-site lease of some sort. I just know I want a packer who can do up to 2.5-3', something sane and safe and sweet that I won't grow out of for a few years.
I've been re-riding for almost 6 years now, starting back at
51. As a child and teenager, I had sporadic lessons and occasional rides on the neighbour's horses. I was almost pathetically in love with horses and spent a lot of time watching a friend ride at horse shows, thrilled to fetch a bucket for her or hold her pony.
I started back when a friend wanted to take Western lessons, so I joined her, somewhat skeptically because I felt too old and out of shape for it, but ended up getting totally hooked. Went from one lesson a week to two or three. Spent the first year of Western lessons unlearning what my body remembered from my English lessons as a kid, then another year unlearning the Western as I transitioned to dressage.
I leased a been-there-done-that ex-eventer (a perfect first horse), and then bought a greenie. I still have the ex-eventer who is my trail mount now.
Let's see, falls and near-falls (not too bad so far, knock on wood):
A year after starting: was riding canter in two point for the first time (not my regular instructor, went to a neighbour's barn to try out a lesson--won't do that again), horse went right, I went left. Deep bruising on my butt which took 2 1/2 years to fully heal.
A couple of very minor falls where I forgot to tighten my girth at a horse show or stumbled when I dismounted.
A couple of near misses when horse went down on his knees, the reins got caught around my leg, etc.
Latest fall: old mare tripped when we were cantering, fell to her knees and rolled over, I fell on my head. Sprained wrist.
I think my highlight has been my relationship with my horses, both somewhat quirky and opinionated TBs. Did Training Level dressage with my mare, hope to make it out of Walk-Trot purgatory with my greenie soon. I did a little jumping with my mare but I'm not crazy about jumping at this point in my life. Although he's calm and super quiet, my gelding can be a bit argumentative at times and has very powerful gaits compared with my mare so I've been taking it slow with him. My goals are to get to Training Level with him by the end of this show season and have a pleasant summer trail riding both of them. I foxhunted my mare a couple of times; would love to do that with another horse--maybe my gelding, we'll see.
I started riding 6 years ago at the age of 35. I always wanted to ride but had never really had the opportunity. I rode for a short time when my oldest son was about a year olds but then I got pregnant for my second son and stopped riding until I started back 6 years ago.
I found a nice family barn to take lessons at and really enjoyed it. My middle son started riding too. I could only do once a week because of cost restrictions and time restrictions but I loved it! Fast forward to last year and my trainer left that barn to start her own so I followed her.
At the new barn I met the horse I would end up buying! Fell in love with him from the start and the planets all aligned and I was able to buy him. I also did my first shows with him. We only really showed on the flat, did one show over 18" crossrails and actually got Reserve Champion! I only so small local shows here. I am in this for the fun of it.
In August my barn closed and my horse and I needed to find a new home. The barn we are at now is awesome! My new instructor pushes me out of my comfort zone enough to make me try new things and get better. I think I had stagnated at a certain point but now I am moving forward again.
I need to work on my legs though! And I can't sit a trot to save my life either.
Falls I have had:
First fall was when I was first going over small crossrails, my horse stopped and broke left and I kept going and ended up breaking 2 ribs.
Second fall I was riding a friends mare and she lost her mind at the canter. I flew off the side of her and skidded across the area on the back of my head. Broke my thumb that time.
Third fall was off my horse, we were in a covered arena riding and their sprinkler system came on, spooked him and he was rearing and spinning so I dumped off the back of him.
Most recent happened about 5 weeks ago, my lovely horses decided the boogie man was in ditch a leapt over it and i was not ready and I did not stick the landing! Broke my wrist.
Waiting now to be healed so I can ride again. In the meantime I go see my boy, lunge him and groom him. I have a friend ride him so he stays in shape.Can't wait to get this blasted cast off. I am hoping to do some shows this year as well.