Frustrated! Am I the only one who wants to know WHY?
I'm starting to feel like the odd man out here. I'm trying to better myself by taking regular lessons and riding green and "difficult" horses, yet I always feel like I'm not getting the whole picture.
I am a person that learns better by knowing the mechanics behind something, if I know what is going wrong then I have a better idea of what will fix or correct it. Apparently, this is very rare or I just keep finding trainers that teach in a style not conducive to my learning style. That's not to say that I'm rigid, I try to apply what I'm being taught but sometimes I just don't understand what they are trying to convey.
Yesterday, my trainer set up lessons with a H/J trainer she uses regularly and is well known in the area. I was on the fence as I rode with him once before, but I really didn't feel like I got a lot out of it. I chalked it up to that he doesn't really know me or my horse or maybe he had an off day. My trainer convinced me that this was a "great opportunity" and I rearranged my schedule to do it(it was scheduled fairly last minute). I rode 2 horses, one green horse who was just going for exposure (who ended up actually jumping around great in the low group) and one of my trainer's horses that I've been riding regularly who is labeled as "difficult" to ride.
I apparently "crouch too fast" over the fences. I was told this repeatedly. I got what he was telling me, but I had no clue as to how to correct it or why it was such an issue. On the green bean, we were just hopping over some small fences (maybe 2'3" max) and I felt like if I held my 2 point position any longer I was going to be on her neck(which is really short!) upon landing and unbalance her.
I guess I don't get instructors/trainers/teachers that repeat themselves. If I understood, I would change it. Stating an observation isn't really teaching (to me anyways). I asked a question regarding how to ride in 2 specific local arenas, it wasn't really answered, more of a general "why you should ride into corners" explanation. I dropped it, as it didn't seem massively important and I didn't want to hold up the lesson.
It's gotten to the point that I've stopped asking questions because I feel like they are met with disdain. I'm not questioning the teaching, I just want to understand! I read a ton in my spare time, EN, ULR FB/blogs, COTH, books, articles to try and better myself and at times I feel I get this "silly girl, where'd you get THAT idea?" tone when I try to discuss something...
You're a technocrat. I'm a technocrat and often my constant questioning just annoys the snot out of people. I understand, you're not trying to be a pain, you're just trying to get clarification, and the tools you need to improve. So you need to find a trainer who can speak to you in "technocracy" when needed. You need someone who is going to take a video of you, sit you down and go through it saying -"see here? See what you're doing, you need to change it by.....". I bet you're not going to be offended at all. If you're like me you'll thrive on having your work taken apart constructively, and it will help you visualize, and then realize the improvements.
You're not alone. But this makes us hard to take sometimes. Find that kind of trainer, even consider paying an extra lesson fee for the sit-down analysis. I found that kind of trainer and I am grateful.
He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).
It doesn't sound like you want to know why as much as how. I personally get disgusted if I don't see a student at least attempting to correct what I am telling them needs correcting. If I see them doing apparently nothing to fix what I tell them to fix I will ask if they understand how to fix it or understand what I mean, but it would save us both time if they just said "Huh?" or something to that effect if they didn't know how to do what I was asking.
Can't answer your last question
I am someone who does better with trainers who are receptive to questions. I try to not ask too many, but I do much better when I can ask some questions like clarification of something they have said or ask about what I am feeling versus what they are seeing. Then again, I know I am not the easiest student out there
There are definitely trainers who don't like any questions but I have come across more that are receptive to at least some questions as long as it is clear that you are not questioning/challenging what they are telling you but just trying to better understand what they are telling you.
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)
Unfortunately, it's called bad teaching. Maybe it WAS an off day, or maybe you just didn't click, but an instructor should be able to give you the why it's not working/is working and how to fix it. I'm not terribly cerebral as a rider (I am very much a KISS type rider. You tell me to weight a seatbone and I'll probably hit you), but I still need to know the mechanics of what I need to be doing if I'm not getting the intended results.
I go back to the same example, but I took a lesson on a whim with a very popular BNR a few years ago on Vernon. We were a solid prelim pair. Very capable. It was one of the most frustrating lessons he and I ever took together, because the instructor would tell us what do (jump xyz), but give us very little else to go on. If it worked, we got a "Good." If it didn't, we got a "Come again." After jumping poorly into the same gymnastic line three times in a row with ZERO feedback on how to improve our entrance, I griped to my coach, standing at the rail, under my breath as I trotted by him. He whispered the solution, I did what HE said, and, lo and behold, we got in correctly. "Good" was all I got from the instructor. Ugh.
So, I don't think you're alone, and I don't think you want too much from your coaches/instructors/clinicians. If this is a regular thing with your regular coach, maybe you need to think about shopping around?
I don't know if you are THAT student but regarding crouching...
I used to do it too. Then I took a few months of H/J lessons and that was probably the main thing we focussed on. It did used to frustrate me, but I could totally feel the difference between the horses jump when I crouched vs when I held my position flat and released more. He was so much rounder the 2nd way. I would just always think in my head, "jump hold....hold....sit up."
Did you ever try to hold your position/release more? If you never even tried then I can see why the instructor may have been frustrated. If you truly did try and just didn't "get it" then that is different. Part of teaching is knowing different ways to explain things, and being able to do so until the student "gets it."
I think there is plenty eventers can learn from H/J lessons. If you want to know why, ask. If the trainer doesn't answer, then....yeah, I would be frustrated too.
I get misunderstood too with the questioning. There might be a whole bunch of social faff around how people generally ask questions that you're missing. I know I miss these social cues. Fortunately, I have found a trainer who for the most part can see past this and hear my actual question.
For example : out XC schooling, I'm on my much more advanced pony, and the group is mostly very inexperienced riders. She directs each individually over a very small log. Then she sends me over the very small log and I ask "why" ... which, in hindsight, sounds obnoxious - as though I thought I was too good to go over the very small log. So she looks at me and remembers it's me, and says "because I want you to work on being extremely correct with your upper body before you do anything with any height". So then I had a goal and it was perfect.
It might be that your actual questions about the mechanics of what you're being asked to do are being misunderstood and people are thinking you are either questioning their judgement, or being resistant to the advice etc.
If I read the OP correctly, while you want to understand, to explain some things abut riding is like teaching a child to walk by telling them what to do. Or, teaching them by having them read about it. Much of riding is innate and is not easily described, e.g. theory rarely matches actuality.
The video idea is great. Use multiple learning styles. Then you can compare what you felt versus what you see. They rarely actually match. For example, you may feel you are leaning backwards when you are actually sitting up straight.
Many trainers never develop teaching skills because riding is so innate to them. They never have actually thought about what they do on a horse. You questions thus end up falling on deaf ears.
In the end you need to take some responsibility and figure things out on your own to get that innate response. If a trainer tells you only what you are doing, try the exact opposite and see what happens. If you "crouch too early" try not "crouching" at all. As William Steinkraus wrote, "I took all my lessons, went out in a field and practiced on my own to figure out what worked best for me. Then I threw out the rest."
It probably has a lot to do with how I learn and process things but "because I said so" isn't enough for me.
In order for me to learn and improve I like an explanation or details of some sort. For me "bring your elbow back" isn't as helpful as "bring your elbow back so you can be more stable with your core."
I also think that a lot of riders teach based off what they know and not what the student knows. You might know how to hold your body over a fence and the mechanics involved but the student doesn't. It helps me when the instructor explains what I'm doing wrong and then how to correct it.
"stop doing that" doesn't help me at all! If I could stop doing that then I wouldn't need so many lessons!
As far as the crouching, this is my explanation.
As part of how a horse goes as a "hunter" we want them to be slow, off the ground, in the air, and on the landing side. We want an even, steady, non rushing pace. Crouching down quickly on take off tells your horse to go faster. Especially if you fold before the horse takes off. It's a reflex action by eventers who are used to galloping XC fences, riding green horses, and pelting around stadium courses. It's a defensive mechanism for horses that jump big or early but when it becomes ingrained you can MAKE the horse leave early and rush.
You have to think of slowing your body down in the air, and waiting for the horse to jump up into you.
Now if I could do all that I could save money on lessons!
My trainer is really good at explaining the "whys" so I'm lucky, but you may find it beneficial to watch other people's lessons with her to see what her program is leading towards, if that makes sense. I watched so many lessons with my trainer when I was starting with her, I really understood her exercises and their goal, even if I didn't understand the small puzzle pieces leading up to it. It helped to see the "big picture" when I was struggling with the nitty gritty.
Some of the problems people have with lessons is not understanding their own learning styles. Once you understand how you learn best you can find a trainer that teaches in that way.
I know a BNR who I really like and we get along great on a personal level. In a lesson we just do not connect. I've watched her teach lessons and I think she is very good but her style and my style are like two ships passing on a foggy night.
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.
"stop doing that" doesn't help me at all! If I could stop doing that then I wouldn't need so many lessons!
Sometimes "stop doing that!" is the only thing you can say (always in a joking manner, from me, anyway!)
I have a new student who will turn her hands down and double up the reins by her ponies neck to steer, half halt etc. I explained to her why it was incorrect, how it was not really safe and what she should do to fix it. Then, as she went around, I would say "watch your reins... don't do that with your hands..." and then when she was jumping, since habits are hard to break, of course, she kept on... so all was left to say was "stop doing that!!!!"
Her mom laughed so hard she cried. And the kid quit doing that.
You are not alone. I was delighted to broom my ex-trainer who simply chanted instructions and never broke anything down and move onto a new trainer who actually CAN explain why doing something a certain way is better AND how to achieve it.
She will also study what I am doing to see if she can understand why I am doing it wrong. So she will be able to tell me something like my right leg sliding is forward because I'm slouching and actually allowing my right shoulder to rotate back. I can fix the whole thing by stretching up, not just pulling my leg back.
I honestly think very few adult riders can learn by pure kinesthetics. I know that when I help my friends ride, they always do better if I explain the reasons to do things (like recently, "You want to bend your horse around your leg so his hindlegs are under his center of gravity and not off to one side with him leaning like a motorcycle. You'll know it's right when he doesn't feel like he's rushing/falling.") And the light goes off. I've found that even kids respond well to "the bigger picture."
My last horse was a bolter, anything she didn't like and she was outta here. By the time I took lessons on her it was only %50 of the time but I had developed a nifty habit of raising my hands up by my eyeballs any time I thought she was going to bolt.
It was ingrained and I didn't even know I was doing it until someone yelled at me. I'm sure my last trainer was frustrated (and she ended up being a poor match) but I was even more frustrated. I knew it was a bad habit, but it was almost instinct and it took FOREVER for me to stop doing it even with someone reminding me.
Every student has an optimal learning style. Every teacher has an optimal teaching style. This doesn't make either student or teacher "good" or "bad", but it does mean their are optimal pairings and suboptimal ones.
If you can find a teacher who ideally suits your learning style, that's wonderful. However, I firmly believe that any reasonably competent instructor can have something to offer any reasonably receptive student. (this is a general statement, not just about riding lessons)
If you are in a clinic situation with a new instructor and you realize that their style is not optimal for you, you have two choices: tune out, write the experience off, and go home in frustration; or try things their way, even if it doesn't seem like it will work at all, and pick up a small fragment of a pearl if you can.
Education is a two-way street. If your learning style is very technical, it may make something like a physical art (like riding) more difficult. Similarly, a very, very right-brain person can often find very technical and rigid things difficult to learn easily. It's FINE. Not everyone has an "ideal" learning pattern for all things. You do the best you can with the limitations you have, just like everyone else.
Oh my gosh - we could be sharing the same brain! Thank you, thank you, OP, for posting this and everyone else for contributing as well! Special thanks to paulaedwina for providing a word for me to use to describe this condition - technocrat!! Now I know what to say in my 12 step meetings - My name is abv1269 and I am a Technocrat!!
Wow- I thought I was the only one. This need to know why and how, and to question and understand was, I feel, a big part of why I was asked to leave my last barn. My former trainer felt my need to ask for more clarification, or to understand what an exercise was designed to accomplish, was a questioning of her authority, competence, or training system. I also had a problem with fear and eventually went to a mental coach for some advice on how to handle it. I'd felt that going back to basics was what would really help and my trainer disagreed. I went to a couple clinics, and the clinicians (very respected riders at the top of their sport) also suggested going back to basics, which I shared with my trainer. My intent was to be an active participant in my learning process, and I spent a lot of time trying to communicate this to my trainer using all the "I feel, I think, can you help, can we work together to try" language I could come up with. Didn't work. Was asked to leave barn.
The good news is that I'm in a new place and was able to say to my new trainers, "This is what I've been feeling and what I see as contributing to my current inability to progress. This is what I feel I need. Can you take a look and can we figure out a way to work through this." We've gone back to basics, worked on nothing but rhythm, and lo and behold, jumping is fun again and I am progressing!! (Cue choirs of heavenly angels).
Some people can do, but that does not mean they can teach. I've learned that by being a parent. Things I can't explain in a way that my kids will understand, I find someone who can. Seems like the same with any kind of learning -- in school, in riding, or in life. Everyone has different learning styles, and the trick is finding the right teacher that fits with your learning style. It's funny, a lot of what my new trainer says my be in different wording than what I have heard before, but when I sit and process it, it correlates with the universal truths I've always heard and read from the great ones in our world, like Wofford, Emerson, Steinkraus, Morris, etc.
Anyway, not sure if all that helps anyone but, dang, am I thankful to the OP for this thread -- so nice to find others like this.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
The problem could also have been that you were "guest lessoning"--you were not a student the trainer was familiar with at all. They were probably watching you to see what your issues were, and honestly, weren't going to invest a great deal of effort into fixing your issues because, well, you aren't one their students. Backward as that may sound. Did you talk with him/her beforehand? Express your concerns with your riding--the things you need work on? Did you ask, specifically, "but how do I not crouch? what is the mechanism I'm not getting?"
Not being critical, but I've seen folks come in for a single lesson with my HJ Trainer (who began as an eventer a million years ago) to work on their SJ for Eventing. One lesson. They tell HJT what their issues are, but there is no way that they can solve them in a one hour lesson...they can get homework, sure, but one lesson does not a cure all make.
As a teacher of humans, I've certainly encountered kids with your learning style. You are hard to teach! (In a good way) because sometimes....the process is hard to explain in a coherent, step-by-step way, and diagnosing where you've gone off the rails in the process takes time.
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
While I also usually want to know why/how, I grew up with the instruction style of "do that, now do it better", and one of the best things I learned from one of these less than verbal instructors was "DO SOMETHING" up there - if you are told to not crouch, try leaning back the next time. If you are looking down, look up at the clouds - exaggerate to the opposite whatever it is you are suppose to stop doing. Sometimes the biggest lightbulb moments come when you get it yourself, then you can ask later "so tell me why this works and that doesn't".
There are instructors who will spend 20 minutes of your hour on theory and elbow placement before you get to move off. That's not my style, but they are out there and some people love them.
So I'd chalk it up to a learning experience about how you and this instructor don't mesh.