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asking a brand-new trainer to change?

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  • asking a brand-new trainer to change?

    I recently had my first lesson with a new trainer and while I liked her general demeanor and exercises, I feel that she really rushed my mare.

    Going into the lesson I told her that we are an intro/training level pair and that most of our issues stem from my personal anxiety/tension. As the lesson progressed I felt that there was an emphasis on impulsion (lots of walk-trot-walk transitions, pole work, increasing the heigh of my post to encourage a longer step, etc) and going forward, forward, forward.

    However, in working on this I strongly felt that we were compromising rhythm and relaxation and by the end my mare felt tense. The trainer remarked that my mare was behind the vertical and we started to address it but it was as the lesson was drawing to a close.

    As a whole I felt that the lesson was asking too much to soon and as a result we compromised the training scale which resulted in tension and evasion.

    I didn't really come to this conclusion until day or two later when I sat down and really thought about my lesson and tried to pick apart where it went wrong. I know that as a rider it is my job to "speak" for my girl, especially when working with a new trainer and I definitely failed to do so.

    Is it appropriate to send her a brief, polite email explaining that I really enjoyed working with her but that in future lessons I really want to emphasize rhythm & relaxation even if it means our lessons progress at a much slower rate? As a trainer would you be offended? Is there a better way to handle this situation?

    Thank you

  • #2
    I wouldn't tell her how you want lessons to go in that sense, as in writing it sounds slightly as if you want to sacrifice forward progress altogether.

    I would bring it up at the start of your next lesson. Let her know that reflecting back on it you felt your mare had too much tension, and you would like to back off slightly/take things slower to keep the relaxation. Don't tell her how you want her to teach you, but that keeping the relaxation is important to you. Let her tell you how she wants to handle that - she's the professional, which is why you go to her... but if she doesn't give an answer which is satisfactory for you and you think works for you, you are also fully within your rights to go elsewhere.

    Keep in mind, if you tend to be anxious and tense, any time you do something new YOU are likely to be and transmit it to your horse, making the first time at something new more tense for her, too. But you need to push past that some - at whatever speed you are ok and comfortable with. Definitely don't let anyone else push you to a speed faster than you want to go, and speak up for both your horse and yourself, but accept that in progressing there may at times be some tension.


    Your lesson actually sounds like a similar first ride I had with a clinician. We had a slow and steady rhythm down, but were lacking true hind end engagement. She had us working on walk/trot and forward a LOT. It was totally uncomfortable. However, it made a HUGE difference in the gaits I was getting from my horse, and actually increased his relaxation as we both became comfortable with going more forward. Rhythm doesn't just mean a steady beat like music, but also true gaits - and often you need to get moving forward to get your rhythm into a true working trot.
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

    Comment


    • #3
      It's possible she's not the right trainer for you, but it's also possible you just need to give it a bit more time to adjust.

      If you did your homework in picking this trainer and liked her, then I think you should give it some time. It takes a lot of people more than one lesson to adjust to a new teaching style, and it may very well take your trainer a couple of lessons to get in the groove with you and your horse as well.

      I would not send an email - it makes it seem like too big of a deal. I would sit down and discuss your lesson with the trainer whenever she has a bit of free time (maybe for a few minutes before your next lesson). She may be able to better explain what she was trying to get out of you and your mare. A simple, "Hey, I had a few questions about my lesson the other night - do you have any time to break some of it down for me? I think it might help for our next lesson."

      I will often stop my instructor and discuss things for a bit in order for us both to have a better idea of where the other is coming from. It can help clarify things for both parties. If you're feeling rushed, stop and feel free to ask questions. Most instructors welcome that (unless you happen to be the type who uses too many questions in order to avoid work that is making you a bit nervous and really shouldn't - then she might tell you to get back out there and work, haha.)

      You might be surprised what your trainer has to say and what her reasoning is for what she was asking you and your mare to do. I've given many lessons where I felt the rider needed to be pushed out of their comfort zone a bit in order to progress. You have to do it tactfully, and it may take more than one lesson for them to get it, but it can be very helpful - especially for nervous nellies who are capable of much more than they give themselves credit for = )

      I'd say: give it another shot and express your feelings and questions to your trainer in person - an email might come across kind of strange in this particular circumstance. It doesn't have to be confrontational at all, just an educational chat - that's what she's there for, afterall, to teach you. If after another couple of lessons, you really don't feel she's the one for you, you can always try another.

      Just relax = ) There's more than one way to skin a cat, Rome wasn't built in a day, and all that, haha.

      Comment


      • #4
        Give it another couple of lessons. By all means mention that you felt tense/rushed, but it could also be that she's approaching the issue in a different way than you're used to.
        "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thank you for the different ways of looking at the situation and different advice. I really appreciate it and would love to hear from anyone else who has a experience something similar or has some advice on how to approach this.


          Originally posted by netg View Post

          Keep in mind, if you tend to be anxious and tense, any time you do something new YOU are likely to be and transmit it to your horse, making the first time at something new more tense for her, too.

          I just wanted to clarify that the exercises we were working on such as rapid transitions, shoulder in, cavalletes,etc are very familiar exercises for both my horse and I.

          My concern stemmed not from the exercises but rather that I felt we progressed very quickly from one exercise to another (about 6 different exercises within 20 minutes) without addressing the increasing tension.

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with giving it more time and keeping an open mind. Forward is very important and also is variety. A couple different exercises can work together when ridden correctly. It is true that sometimes riders get stuck and need a little push to accomplish their goals. That said, it is also possible that you are getting shown too much at once which increases your tension, therefore your horse also gets tense and that can negate what could have worked to create balance, or impulsion or ? for another pair. Speak to the trainer and discuss your ideal method of learning with her and maybe there is a compromise to be found here.
            As an example, if your horse is not going forward or is behind the bit, you may be better off just working on that one piece of the pie for the first part of the lesson, without contact or trying to incorporate other exercises along with 'going more forward.'


            Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              I appreciate it when students give me feedback and their opinion in those situations... They know their horse better than I. We can discuss it and decide what to do...win/win
              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
              ---
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

              Comment


              • #8
                Most of us don't like to move beyond the comfort zone. So unless your trainer is a phony, I'd give her a chance. I have found that it will take me 3 to 4 lessons before I am able to understand and execute what I'm being asked to do.
                Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.

                Comment


                • #9
                  She may not be the rigt instructor for you or for your horse. If nothing changes, move on! Don't waste months or years struggling to communicate what YOU know you need!

                  The last few years, I've struggled to find the right instructor that suited both me and my horse. I struggled to come to terms with the 'forward, forward, forward' kind of trainingI tried to embrace it. I was told to always go for gaits, go for gaits, more, more, more. Frankly, not every horse needs that. Tempo, Rhythm, relaxation and balance are as important. Esp. with a lot of the sport horses that are being bred today- they are built lighter, to be more forward, to have a quick hind leg.
                  "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
                  "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
                  Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                    I just wanted to clarify that the exercises we were working on such as rapid transitions, shoulder in, cavalletes,etc are very familiar exercises for both my horse and I.

                    My concern stemmed not from the exercises but rather that I felt we progressed very quickly from one exercise to another (about 6 different exercises within 20 minutes) without addressing the increasing tension.
                    6 exercises in 20 minutes does seem a little bit excessive but there could be very good reasons for that, especially seeing as it's a first lesson. First lesson with a new trainer always involves a bit of that "getting to know you" tension and she is still at the point where she is feeling you out and seeing what you're capable of doing. She may have been jumping from one thing to another in order to test you and your mare and see where you are at, how your mare would respond to the different exercises, what works, etc.

                    I know with my own trainer, there are days when we spend a very long time working on one thing, and there are other days where we work on several different concepts. It all depends on the goals for the day, and what we need to accomplish. I know I am a very active participant in my horse's education (and it sounds like you are too) and so sometimes the lessons are more about showing me a set of exercises (giving homework) and it might seem like a rapid-fire set of new concepts at first (because it is) but then we are able to go home and practice these things more slowly, and it all comes together. Then at our next lesson things will be totally different and we will be working on finessing one or two of these concepts.

                    So, as others have said, I wouldn't e-mail but you should definitely bring it up in person at the beginning of your next lesson. And then give it another lesson or two to see how things settle.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                      I recently had my first lesson with a new trainer and while I liked her general demeanor and exercises, I feel that she really rushed my mare.

                      Going into the lesson I told her that we are an intro/training level pair and that most of our issues stem from my personal anxiety/tension. As the lesson progressed I felt that there was an emphasis on impulsion (lots of walk-trot-walk transitions, pole work, increasing the heigh of my post to encourage a longer step, etc) and going forward, forward, forward.

                      However, in working on this I strongly felt that we were compromising rhythm and relaxation and by the end my mare felt tense. The trainer remarked that my mare was behind the vertical and we started to address it but it was as the lesson was drawing to a close.

                      As a whole I felt that the lesson was asking too much to soon and as a result we compromised the training scale which resulted in tension and evasion.

                      I didn't really come to this conclusion until day or two later when I sat down and really thought about my lesson and tried to pick apart where it went wrong. I know that as a rider it is my job to "speak" for my girl, especially when working with a new trainer and I definitely failed to do so.

                      Is it appropriate to send her a brief, polite email explaining that I really enjoyed working with her but that in future lessons I really want to emphasize rhythm & relaxation even if it means our lessons progress at a much slower rate? As a trainer would you be offended? Is there a better way to handle this situation?

                      Thank you
                      I had a similar experience in a clinic recently. This was my take on it: She could have been a little hard on you two to see just exactly what you two are comfortable with, and what you're breaking point is.

                      I'm sure if you spoke to her and told her how you felt - you'd get a different result. Do you know her as a reputable trainer in your area, or are you going out on a whim with trying her?
                      "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" -Winston Churchill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        6 exercises in 20 min, and you say you and the horse are familiar with the exercises? No problem from my interpretation of the situation you have presented. Perhaps it seems challenging, but perhaps that is needed for your next phase of training????

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mickeydoodle View Post
                          6 exercises in 20 min, and you say you and the horse are familiar with the exercises? No problem from my interpretation of the situation you have presented. Perhaps it seems challenging, but perhaps that is needed for your next phase of training????
                          There is more than 6 exercises in a 5 minutes dressage test. And if you were familiar with the ones being asked, what was the problem doing them one after each other? Maybe if you were good enough on both sides, your trainer didn't bother with practicing them over and over?!

                          Maybe she was building a sequence of exercices to fix an issue you have.
                          This is something you should in fact practice!

                          Give yourself and this new trainer some time and don't panic!
                          Good luck!
                          ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                          Originally posted by LauraKY
                          I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                          HORSING mobile training app

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by netg View Post
                            <snipped>
                            Your lesson actually sounds like a similar first ride I had with a clinician. We had a slow and steady rhythm down, but were lacking true hind end engagement. She had us working on walk/trot and forward a LOT. It was totally uncomfortable. However, it made a HUGE difference in the gaits I was getting from my horse, and actually increased his relaxation as we both became comfortable with going more forward. Rhythm doesn't just mean a steady beat like music, but also true gaits - and often you need to get moving forward to get your rhythm into a true working trot.
                            THIS. Sometimes your perception as a rider is not as good as someone standing on the ground. I had a similar issue with a young horse - I thought she was motoring around pretty well, soft, etc. Clinician said my horse was basically correct and being very polite - but had much more to give me...she had me do transitions, etc. and wow - the power from behind ramped up considerably. Perhaps this is what you are feeling. My horse felt very much energized and 'dancier' but I have ridden many young horses, so recognized what the clinican had me do was much better than what I was doing on my own. There is more than one kind of 'tension' in riding, I think - what I think of as 'positive tension' is what the clinician had me get out of my mare - and perhaps you are confusing positive tension - born of 'forward and engaged' with the negative tension which comes from nervousness, etc.

                            I would talk personally with the trainer at the start of your next lesson, and give it a bit more time.
                            Donerail Farm
                            www.donerailfarm.com
                            http://donerailfarm.wordpress.com/

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thank you for all of the different opinions. I still am not sure if this women will be the best match for us but at the same time the majority of y'all seem to agree that I should give it at least one more lesson.

                              Couple of quick clarifications:

                              sunsafire: Although I live in a fairly "horsey" area it is nearly impossible to find a reputable quality dressage trainer who will drive to my barn only to teach one horse 2-3 times a month and doesn't charge $50+ a lesson. This women also works with another rider at my barn which is why I gave her a chance. I am open to other trainers, I've just had a very hard time finding someone.

                              Cyndi: I know what feeling you are talking about when a horse goes from trucking quietly around the arena and starts to sit and BAM you're on top of a sports car (quick, cat-like, very powerful). Unfortunately this felt more like we were trucking along and then someone put me on a motorcycle with no way of steering (lots of speed but no power, breaking at the 3rd vertebrae, jigging at the walk, shortened irregular stride)



                              To those of you who were pushed outside of your comfort zone during a lesson or clinic, where do you draw the line? For example my mare was jigging at the walk and ducking behind the bit (very uncharacteristic) which to me signaled that the progression was not working for her. In retrospect maybe I just needed to push a bit harder and give her more time to adjust to the new demands. How do you decide when an exercise is not beneficial or do you always go along with your trainer/clinician?

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I don't always go along with a clinician or trainer. BUT, sometimes it takes a bit to break through. I had a TB that would get jiggy when I asked him to take an honest connection with the rein. On my own I backed off, with the trainer we pushed him through his "comfort zone" and showed him he could feel contact, move forward and not rush.

                                Give your trainer another chance. If you still feel the lesson wasn't right for you or your horse, talk to her about it.

                                I'm leery of the riders that always want to discuss what they think is the issue with the trainer, when they really should focus on riding and feeling. (I'm not saying this about you) This is something you see a lot at clinics.
                                Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I hate to say this OP, but $50 for a drive-in lesson is perfectly reasonable for most areas - therein may lie the problem. However, I suspect that you and your horse may be quite comfortable in a conservative but not-quite-correct way of going, and this instructor may have been trying to instill true FORWARD for both of you. I see so many novice horses and riders toodling along with relatively good basics but lacking the essential impulsion to move up. Learning this is uncomfortable at first to be sure, as both of you must learn to cope anew. It's possible your trainer pushed you too far too quickly, but at the very root of your description I detect a trainer honestly attemting to improve the fundamentals of the training scale. Whether she has the appropriate skills to actually achieve this is another matter. Give her one more go and if you still feel shaken then look elsewhere. The trainer-student relationship is a complex one, and mutual respect and communication should be the top priority.
                                  Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                                    How do you decide when an exercise is not beneficial or do you always go along with your trainer/clinician?
                                    I pay my trainer to train me and so I do what she says. Of course, she is quick to recognize when something is not working, and will then approach from a different angle. But such occasions are pretty rare--usually she is able to get what she wants from us or at least put us on the right path so that by next lesson, we have made progress and have 'building blocks' for her to work with for the next concept.

                                    As a teacher myself (music, not riding) I am familiar with pushing students outside of their comfort zone in order to achieve a desired result. It's always difficult at first and may not sound all that great and some students tend to get anxious. But sticking with it yields results and they say, "aha, now i know what you were getting at" in the end.

                                    we all know there are quack trainers out there, and some trainer/horse/rider combinations just don't click. But if this one comes with good reviews, give her another lesson or two before making a decision, and just keep communicating and asking questions about things you're not quite comfortable with. If she's worth her salt she'll have good, rational answers for you!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                                      <snipped>Although I live in a fairly "horsey" area it is nearly impossible to find a reputable quality dressage trainer who will drive to my barn only to teach one horse 2-3 times a month and doesn't charge $50+ a lesson.
                                      Where I live, it IS impossible to find a good dressage trainer who will come to you for $50 or even $75 - $100. The only time I've been lucky enough for this was when I had a young, but very good trainer who had not established a local reputation or large clientele yet. And I would take two lessons each time.

                                      Now, even when I drive to dressage trainers in my area it's $60 - $100 for lessons. These are people who have trained and ridden GP.
                                      Donerail Farm
                                      www.donerailfarm.com
                                      http://donerailfarm.wordpress.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I would wait and see.

                                        You may think doing the same old low and slow will deal with your tension. She may think that pushing you harder and asking for more will get you out of your head and into the saddle. The mere fact you want to email her and critique your lesson this much, this early, reeks of ...over controlling. Tense.Worried.

                                        What are you so wound up about

                                        I pay 50/lesson if bought in a package. Otherwise it's 70. That's just what it costs at a minimum.

                                        Let's turn this around; What did you WANT her to do with you for that hour?

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