Mine is more advice that I have learned over the past year that has helped my riding tremendously.
I agree, getting on is the first step to making improvements.
1. Last winter I quit my job and moved to Florida to work as a working student. I left my husband at home for three months, and it was a struggle to be able to pay the bills without a second income, but it was completely worth it. Riding every day under a more than qualified instructor changed my riding forever.
2. Listen to everything anyone tells you. You don't have to actually do it, but take it into consideration and see if it would enhance your current training plan.
3. Take notes! It's nice to have something to look back on when you can't quite remember an exercise, or how exactly your instructor worded that theory.
4. I'm unable to ride due to a high risk pregnancy, but I am still going to every clinic that my barn offers as an auditor, and am trying to absorb as much as I can from watching other people ride.
5. Have patience. You aren't going to build Rome in a day, and keep in mind that you are not the only person that has ever had the training issue you are dealing with. Other people have worked through it, so can you! Just take the time to reach out for the advice, and give your horse the benefit of the doubt.
1. riding as much as possible (5 days per week)
2. listening to my trainer (it really shocks me how many people don't seem to do this), 1 lesson per week 3. learned to not be afraid and to push through when my horse tries to bully me when we're working on new or difficult things. if i allowed myself to be afraid of her size and strength, we'd get nowhere. now I just laugh when she throws one of her freak-out tantrums because its not going to work!! I think this is a big issue for people...being afraid of their horse and what they 'might' do.
4. learning to appreciate small successes (like 3 strides of half pass), and building on them...suppressing my inner perfectionist has been one of the hardest things for me to do as a rider (especially as a former gymnast)
5. realizing that nothing is going to be pretty the first few times
I have more than one horse. My biggest issue was fear due to a training incident and accident that I had. All of my horses are in the beginning stages of training, so I didn't have an "old steady" to help me overcome my fears.
Out of desperation, I called my trainer, almost in tears, and asked her for lead line lessons. Yep, after riding and jumping all of my life, I went back to square one. I was gripping with my hands and gripping with my knees...all of the time swearing that I was not doing it (I certainly know better!).
She put me on her VERY lofty GP horse and took away my reins. She was hesitant, as she thought that I would not be able to sit his trot because of my fear and resulting muscle tightness. So, just 3 strides of easy trot. OK, that was good, let's do a full circle. Wow, that went really well. Let's ask him for a big trot, then, for just a few strides...it was awesome! Wasn't scared of HIM, as he was OLD. LOL! I could do lofty and forward all day long sitting his trot. Thank you, big boy!
After riding every day on him lead line style for a week, I came back to my safest horse-in-training, got on her, and SWORE to myself that I would ride her with my thighs off the saddle and semi-loose reins. She went "woo-hoo! I can GO, and GO SHE WENT! I kept my cool and just went along for the ride, and she went "huh?" and eventually slowed to a nice, cadenced trot. We have been riding that beautiful trot every ride since, and she has made more progress in 2 months than in the previous 3 months that I was riding her. Of course, I was holding her back with my fear.
My horses are all much more relaxed and forward now, and my young guy is not challenging me anymore, because he doesn't sense any fear so he has nobody to intimidate.
I am ready to do it all again, and I'm having fun. So are my horses.
My horse and I are teetering on Second Level right now. We've never actually shown a Second level test (no money in the last couple of years - saved it for lessons ) but he's pretty solid and we are working on some Third stuff.
One of the major things I did was to change coaching patterns. I had trouble finding a coach after mine took another opportunity that meant she couldn't coach me any more. After a brief period with another coach that just wasn't working out I quit taking lessons for a while. I had a couple of sessions with a clinician who came to the area 3-4 times a year and things started moving along again. I really find I need time to mess around on my own with the information from lessons, and for the last six years I have been exclusively riding with this clinician. Each time he comes I take as many lessons as I can afford (once it was four lessons in five days), and he reviews, corrects, pushes for more, and then introduces a new exercise with explanations of the goal, the pitfalls, and the progress I should see. My horse and I are always soaked in sweat at the end of the lesson, but it's rare for me to feel we didn't get somewhere. The time between visits is usually just long enough for me to get to the point of feeling "I need a lesson."
The biggest thing that has happened in the last few years has been my horse stepping up his self carriage, and changing his gaits. I'd never experienced it before and didn't recognize it when it happened, but once I did I felt it was the coolest thing ever! He is a TBxQH and doesn't have the wow natural self carriage, but he tries to do what I ask. That improved self carriage has become his prefered carriage and even after time off/losing fitness he will step into that lovely trot the first time. He couldn't hold it for long of course, but that's what he offers.
I have really gotten into details, and looking for the little problems/resistences/partial efforts and then doing exercises to specifically address those issues. Little things like how we finish an exercise - straightening from shoulder or haunches in, or finishing the half-pass, or balance in a transition, relaxation of bend in a walk pirouette, and so on. My horse has become so much more responsive, and light, and he is a real joy to ride.