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Full training with BNT - how long do you stay?

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  • Full training with BNT - how long do you stay?

    If you were in my place (or are in my place, or have been..), what would you do?

    I have had my horse in full training for 6 mos. to bash through the "2nd level" wall

    Me riding 4 days per week with supervision + at least 1 ride by trainer or more as req'd per week.

    Wall has been smashed. Horse is going better than I imagined possible. Big, clean changes have been installed. Trainer can easily get steps of P&P. I am extremely pleased with the trainer and the value that I got from the time and $$ spent.

    But I now have about 1000 things that I need to work on and improve, primarily with my position, but also just things to improve horse's way of going (bigger, freer, more expressive etc.). I know what these things are, I know the exercises I need to do to work on them. It will just take a lot of time to gradually work away and improve them.

    So - do I stay or do I go?

    It is a lot of money, but I can afford it if it is important to me - part of me thinks I am absolutely crazy to leave when things are going so well.

    BUT...at the same time, it just doesn't seem like good value for dollar to hear "good - that's nice - thumbs on top, eh?" for the next 6 mos, when I know I can make progress on these things myself, maybe with a few trailer in lessons per month, then return in the fall when I am ready to add some new challenges (tempis etc.). Constant supervised rides does get to be a bit of a hassle too. I am getting kind of sick of the structure although it is obviously working.

    (And I can't imagine there aren't days when trainer would rather poke red hot pokers in their eyes than spend an hour telling me to "sit up" - again - for the 4th time this week)

    I am going to discuss with trainer, I suspect the answer will be that I should do whatever I want to do. What is that?...

  • #2
    I think that learning is layered, you and your horse seem to have just gone through a steep and successful learning curve. Time to consolidate what you have.

    You know your home work, make sure you have eyes on the ground to ensure you are not back sliding. If there is anyway you can get more saddle time, that would be good. Consolidate your current position, then go back to BNT for the next steep learning curve!

    Ain't dressage fun, just when you have climbed a steep mountain, you find yourself at the foot of a steeper mountain!

    Comment


    • #3
      Do what you want to do.

      Any replies you get here will be based on vague impressions from your vague post and past experiences of other people with other abilities, other horses and other trainers which have not a whole lot to do with your specific goals, your specific abilities, your specific horse and the value you are getting from this specific trainer.

      You could do a trial month off, booking yourself in for regular lessons and see how it goes. BUT if your progress is as fantastic as you say it is, and you can afford it, why leave? BUT if you are paying the trainer to say thumbs on top , why would you stay.

      See what I mean, how can anyone here know the answer to your question based on the information you have given?

      Comment


      • #4
        Could you bring the horse home and trailer in once a week ? That is what I would try..if all goes well you could do the twice a month thing.

        Congrats on your progress BTW !

        Comment


        • #5
          The question is not should you stay or go based on some principle in your mind, but will you learn on your own and get to the level the horse could be at on your own, if your trainer is saying to you every day things like 'thumbs on top' and 'sit up', will you go home, work by yourself and fix those things that are taking alot of time to fix even with daily reminders.

          My own observation has been that the anwer for most people usually is 'no', they will not change these long standing habits without someone there reminding them. And believe it or not, without the thumbs on top and the sitting up, the horse can't piaffe or passage or do any of those wonderful things for the rider, whether someone has taught him to or not.

          Of course there is also a very, very long road between 'the trainer can get him to do a few steps' and 'i can teach him to piaffe', but i won't even go there for the moment

          I get the feeling you're frustrated that you aren't doing the piaffe, passage, and 'stuff' the trainer does with the horse, and are instead being told, 'thumbs on top' and 'sit up', and maybe THAT'S why you want to go home, maybe you feel now that the horse knows it, you can just do it yourself, and don't need the help any more.

          My own observation has been for many years, that that doesn't work, either.

          I would recommend 3 years full training instead of six months, if you can swing it financially and time wise. That's a more realistic period of time to learn the things you're describing.

          Comment


          • #6
            The best test would be to take some time off and go it alone. See how you do.

            Comment


            • #7
              I get the feeling you're frustrated that you aren't doing the piaffe, passage, and 'stuff' the trainer does with the horse, and are instead being told, 'thumbs on top' and 'sit up', and maybe THAT'S why you want to go home, maybe you feel now that the horse knows it, you can just do it yourself, and don't need the help any more.
              I think that's all just in YOUR mind slc, because you always seem to assume this sort of thing about people. Please. What exactly did she say to give you that impression?

              Comment


              • #8
                Wow! you've got to be thrilled!! I think the right answer depends on your situation and goals.

                In my experience, it made sense to stay. My horse and I showed up at my trainers as a horrible example of 2nd level with many huge holes in our basics. It is a testament to his generosity that he let us stay! Since, as you are noticing, progress is not linear, there were times when we appeared to be treading water as new skills/ degrees of self carriage/ strength/etc were developed. Had I left to solidifiy this on my own, even with once a week lessons, I would have slipped back into my old comfort zone and it would have happened so gradually, I would not have noticed for a while. My new skills were just too new. I found it took years before his technique and philosophy became part of the fabric of my riding....that I truly owned it.

                Also, by being in great trainer's barn, we learn so much by osmosis.
                We get a back stage pass to watch the training, care, cross training, etc of top dressage horses. We get to see the process from start to finish and it helps as we move our own horses up the levels. We also glean valuable knowledge in the discussions while cleaning tack or just hanging out ringside.

                My horse and I have also progressed beyond my wildest dreams (and the wildest dreams of most everyone else! lol!) I do not believe that would have been possible without being in a full training environment for an extended period of time.

                What a great position you are in! Enjoy the journey!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Why not take a month or two off and then go back? Would that offend the trainer?

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                    I get the feeling you're frustrated that you aren't doing the piaffe, passage, and 'stuff' the trainer does with the horse, and are instead being told, 'thumbs on top' and 'sit up', and maybe THAT'S why you want to go home, maybe you feel now that the horse knows it, you can just do it yourself, and don't need the help any more.

                    My own observation has been for many years, that that doesn't work, either.

                    I would recommend 3 years full training instead of six months, if you can swing it financially and time wise. That's a more realistic period of time to learn the things you're describing.
                    ???

                    No, I am not at all frustrated. I don't expect to progress faster and start P&P next week if I go home. I am the opposite of this. I feel like a big baby for paying $$$ to have my hand held during things that I should be able to execute myself and think I should "grow up" and do some practicing and learning on my own.

                    If I do stay, I know that trainer will continue to work on higher level things bit by bit during his rides, so that when the day comes that I AM good enough to work on it, they will be all installed and ready to happen (as with flying changes).

                    Which is one of the huge benefits of staying. However, note that I am planning on returning in the fall (I think you may have missed this part). So, this can pick up where it is left off. I am far from riding a GP test, there is no rush. (horse is 7)

                    The lacking self disipline that you mention is a concern. However, it is the one thing that will get tested if I take a break, that I won't develop if I stay in training, and that I do think every rider does eventually have to learn to succeed (no one will be there saying "thumbs up" in the ring).

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by papony View Post
                      Since, as you are noticing, progress is not linear, there were times when we appeared to be treading water as new skills/ degrees of self carriage/ strength/etc were developed. Had I left to solidifiy this on my own, even with once a week lessons, I would have slipped back into my old comfort zone and it would have happened so gradually, I would not have noticed for a while. My new skills were just too new. I found it took years before his technique and philosophy became part of the fabric of my riding....that I truly owned it.

                      Also, by being in great trainer's barn, we learn so much by osmosis.
                      Thank you for sharing this, papony. This is exactly the type of experience I was hoping to hear about when I posted, and I like your comparison of "treading water" - very good description of the period I feel we are entering now.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        good! you don't make a lot of those assumptions that often backfire on people.

                        papony said what i was trying to say. really good post. i have had the same experience she describes.

                        but i never said anything about self discipline being lacking. ...what i mean is that it is just really hard for anyone to correct something when they aren't aware they're doing it or when they are working alone! i've watched people try for many years.

                        for many people, too, they get so focused on something else that they'r'e trying to learn, that the sitting up or the thumbs up winds up not getting in the forefront if their mind.

                        the trainer being there really helps the rider 'multiplex' (that's the biggest advantage of working with the trainer frequently), he can work on his seat, aids, figures, and at the same time, get reminders to correct other things that could slip past him when he's working on these other things.

                        i don't think that's always because of a lack of discipline, it can just mean the person is trying to learn so much at one time.

                        i did catch that you were planning on returning in the fall, my point is, why leave for the summer if you don't have to. to me, this stage is one point at which i would fight like **** to STAY in training, whatever it took. to me this point in a rider's development is one of the worst ones to get off alone.

                        i usually think that getting a lot of help is - ah - helpful, egon.

                        when i think it's really crucial is when the rider wants to move up to a new level, when the horse has just received a lot of training past what the rider knows, when the rider is trying to change long term habits, when the rider feels unsafe or is unsure what to do, etc....i'm not suggesting the last applies to you, only listing various situations in general, when a rider benefits from training.

                        i think people can struggle alot and get on the wrong track alot when they work alone at the wrong stages. working alone can be really good at times, and it can be a problem at times too.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would take a short "break" meaning you trailer in once a week or so for lessons, have FUN with your horse for a month or two, then return with a refreshed attitude for learning. Sometimes both horse and rider can use a break from a lot of intensity in training. I find sometimes when I am "stalled", that I take some time off from lessons and then when I return, I am more ready than ever to learn.
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                          "There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            congrats!! it must be super exciting to really make a breakthrough.

                            if i were you (and i can sympathize; i feel "stale" after too long in very regular lessons/training) i would, after discussing with trainer, take a break from the kind of intensive full training that you're doing. in order to both keep on track in your riding, and to stay kind of "in" with the trainer, i would continue to take lessons, say, once a week, or whatever interval feels right for you. that way you'll continue to make progress, and once you reach your next "wall" it would probably be quite easy to make the transition back into more intensive hands on training with your trainer; you'll still have been a paying client for the duration, and she/he will still have eyes on your progress, compare to say, if you took a complete break from lessons for a month, or rode with someone else for any period of time.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You're getting lots of good advice here. Just a thought - if you do decide to bring your horse home, do you have someone who can video your rides periodically? Video is a super way to check progress when you're by yourself, especially on the little stuff like thumbs up and hands down.
                              spriesersporthorse.com | farm on Facebook | me on Facebook | blog

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I've never had my horse and I in what I think you are calling training. But does it have to be all or nothing? Could you stay at this barn taking fewer lessons and riding more on your own at least as a transition?

                                I board with my instructor and take two lessons a week. That gives me one or two days between lessons usually to work on my own. My instructor doesn't ride my horse regularly but does ride her when I'm away or have to miss more than one or two days for work, etc. And instructor always asks how my ride went when she sees me after a ride or at the beginning of my next lesson. I'm always striving for "lesson quality" work when I ride on my own, but I'm not there yet. However, if I go too long without a lesson, my memory of "lesson quality" can slip a bit.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  i would see if you can keep the horse there but take a 2 week break from the full training to give yourself a mental break and to test the waters of working alone without leaving the barn and having your space go to another horse. if you had to, probably worth it to continue to pay the full price despite getting less service for a short time -- remember, its not just you getting fewer lessons, its also your horse not getting the tune ups that keep him honest in his training in the areas that you are currently weaker in.

                                  does your trainer do 1/2 training as an option?

                                  i get overwhelmed with too many lessons in a row, but once i was in a daily program with someone i trusted and worked well with i would suck up as much as i could for as long as i could -- there may come a time in life that you may not be able to be in daily training, i would take advantage of that while you can......it may be a boring lesson to sit up and have thumbs on top, but having someone constantly monitoring even those 2 things can help you change your muscle memory in a way that you would be unlikely to accomplish on your own as we all tend to remind ourselves of those mistakes less often that the person on the ground sees them.

                                  or maybe you could change to a less structured lesson -- instead of full attention lesson, maybe you can ride in the ring while your coach is doing other tasks so that you are more on your own but still getting the reminders that will help you to progress.......

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Lowroller--

                                    I recently took a two week-no lessons break with my trainer. I've been riding with her for the past 6 years, and I was having some issues that I just couldn't get resolved and they kept getting progressively worse with each lesson (primarily due to my level of frustration). It was the best thing I could have done!

                                    When I had my first "return" lesson a couple of weeks later--I had time to practice on my own, take the time to try and understand what was being asked of me and my position, why it was so important to get the movement correctly, and understand why I was so frustrated and blocked. It also gave my instructor the opportunity to evaluate and take a new approach. The results have been fantastic since! I came back with a renewed sense of what I needed to learn and accomplish and some more appropriate goals.

                                    This is not necessarily what you need to do, because it sounds like you are right on track, but it might be a good test for you to take a break for awhile and absorb what you have learned. I can see the benefits both ways. If I was in your position--I would be tempted to drop back from 4 lessons per week to two and make those two days "practice" days. The trainer could still work with you and your horse regularly, you are still in the environment of the BNT's barn, and if you need help with something, you can get it before you backslide too far and lose what you have worked so hard to gain.

                                    GOOD LUCK! and Congrats!
                                    Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
                                    CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thank you to all for your replies,

                                      To answer some final questions... I got a PM asking with implied skepticism re: how this miracle worker trainer magically created a wonderful horse in 6 mos.

                                      Actually, I did have the horse in a less intensive program with a excellent young trainer from backing to 2nd. So it is not as if I showed up with a remedial project, the horse had excellent basics from day 1 and was very ready to learn the next steps.

                                      Secondly - it is all or none at the trainer's barn. It would be great to be able to dial it down! I wish! But unfortunately not an option.

                                      Lastly - my decision is to leave, and have scheduled return date of Oct. with trailer in lessons as req'd (it is only about 15 mins away). Also, will probably have trainer's working student come to ride horse periodically to act as a barometer and hopefully catch any problems quicker than I might if I only ride alone.

                                      Thanks again to everyone who shared your thoughts!

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