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Are you discouraged with your horse's progress?

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  • #21
    I am very pleased

    Despite our focus on just transitions within we are getting LOVELY lateral work and her overall frame is just FANFREAKINGTASTIC! lol

    I say to anyone who is really struggling with old issues to switch trainers...

    Hear me out

    Your trainer may be GREAT, really great, but you need someone who can feed you the aids and has the eye that not only matches your horse, but you and your way of learning... SHWEW that is tough to find but if and when you do it will help you fall in love with the sport all over again.

    Currently I do not have a trainer, but I am not willing to settle LOL

    I think the first hold back is the understanding, second is the ability (fitness and use of aids of the rider), and lastly the ability/fitness/movement of the horse...

    Which one do you think the trainer influences the most
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


    • #22
      Hang in there!!! It gets better!

      I was totally discouraged last week - too many distractions/not enough time in the saddle and my body just wasn't listening to what I was asking it too do. My elbows are still on some sort of other worldly trip and the right ankle is screaming the whole time I'm riding - and it's the 'good' one! But the main thing is that the horses are going better every day, right? The rest will follow. Eventually. I think.

      My best advice - focus on the small positives - things like a quiet mounting process (really - start small) or a pleasant halt with that moment of calm between you and your horse. Baby steps turn into big giant steps over time!!

      I try to look at riding progress as a 30 day flow chart - there are days when it is not as good as it 'could be' but if there are more better days than not so good days - that means it was a super month!!

      Here's my real reason for being cheerful day in and day out...still a long way to go but it's coming along! Now to work on my elbows!!
      Attached Files
      Watermark Farm
      Watermark Farm Facebook Fan Page
      You Tube Channel


      • #23
        I am starting to make notes immediately after each lesson (or I should say, after Miss Horse is comfortably groomed/rinsed off/situated with lots of food.) It's too early for me to know for sure, but this might help with the lessons, such as today's, where my trainer asked me, "Now in your warm-up, what do you need to do?" and I could not answer! I just turned 48 so it's way too early to blame it on a "senior moment."

        That said -- the horse that a month ago would not hold a canter if given a half-halt? She now canters adjustably, is capable of a 10 meter circle at the canter, and other than occasionally getting a bit full of herself, does it in style! (It's not all better riding; in fact most of it is that we are now riding OUTSIDE and she's not backed off at all. In fact, um, if anything she is a bit too go-ey.)
        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


        • #24
          Originally posted by Blkarab View Post
          But my own.

          I had a lesson over the weekend, and a friend was kind enough to tape the ride. My trainer and I watched it over the weekend...and I'm bummed out by it. I just feel like the same issues keep cropping up over and over again...despite my determination and willingness to try and correct them. Watching the video was eye-opening...but not necessarily in a good way. I could tell he was stiff and braced during the lesson...way more than what I get when I ride solo, and the video completely showed it. It just made me so sad...because I know we are capable of so much more...and it seems like whenever I ride with my trainer...all she gets to see are the moments of struggle.

          I take regular lessons...I have been riding on my own more and more with the encouragement of my trainer. I still can not get the connection from my seat to the bit right and I am still having trouble getting him over his back and to the bit, in the nice, soft round way that I know he can go. (because I can feel moments of it). We finished up the lesson with him soft and round...but it took 35 minutes to do it.

          The worse part about it all...I feel like I'm about ready to give it all up, even with my saint of a horse.

          Does it get better? Please tell me it does...so I have some hope. I know I have overcome a lot in my body...and the video did show those moments...but it broke my heart to see my boy so braced and against my hand...and my upper body so unsteady in response. I know I should be happy with what I have overcome the past few months especially...but I just want to get past this hurdle and move on.
          I don't post in the Dressage forum very often, but I read a lot here because I always learn something, or read or see something to aspire to. Anyway, I just wanted to add that I can totally relate to what you're going through, I feel the same way most of the time. I will have a lesson where I feel some clarity, like we're getting somewhere. I then might have a schooling ride on my own afterwards where I can reproduce what we accomplished during the lesson to some degree. But then it's GONE and I feel like I'm completely back to square one by the second time schooling after the lesson. I am so frustrated with myself and sometimes am so demoralized by my lack of progress. Most upsetting of all, however, is my constantly feeling that my horse deserves so much better!
          -Debbie / NH

          My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


          • #25
            Hopefully we can talk more in nicer weather in two weeks!

            Sure thing. Although this time I'll be riding my stallion and hoping for similar behavior to the pony's.
            Ranch of Last Resort


            • #26
              Cranky...that's the guilt I feel also...that my boy deserves so much better, and I'm feeling like I'm doing him a disservice by not being a better rider.

              I thought a lot about this thread yesterday, and a lot of the comments that everyone made. I feel better about things today.

              I have accomplished a LOT!!! I was barely able to trot a couple of months ago due to some biomechanical issues with my back and a saddle fit issue. It set my training back by months! I need to remember that. When I watched the video, I saw my lower back fill out in a way I have never been able to do before (all that pilates work is helping big time!!!) and I saw better balance than the last time I had a video made.

              Now..my upper body and hands are the issues...and I need to work on those things...that's doable. I know the pieces will fall into place...I just hate feeling like I'm not able to show my trainer the good rides, just the ones where I'm falling apart. I believe some of it is psychological on my part (getting nervous, over thinking, etc) and I'm checking into Jane Savoie's program to help with this.

              I have a plan for my riding going forward...which is something new...before I felt like I was at the mercy of just following directions or working on just getting the trot.

              Thank you everyone for allowing me to vent this all out. I have felt so lost and when I bring what I'm feeling up to my trainer...it's met with a certain level of criticism that I just don't need right now.
              Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
              CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle


              • #27
                Originally posted by Blkarab View Post
                Thank you everyone for allowing me to vent this all out. I have felt so lost and when I bring what I'm feeling up to my trainer...it's met with a certain level of criticism that I just don't need right now.
                Based on your other posts, it may be time to change trainers. Or at least try taking a few lessons with someone else. I've been with my current instructor for quite awhile and have made a lot of progress.

                However, there were things I just wasn't doing (like getting my horse well and truly FORWARD) and I didn't realize it until I rode with another trainer who was coming to our barn once a month. Other trainer often has me work on the same things as my long-time instructor, she just takes a different approach. Working with both of them has really helped tremendously because their strengths are different yet their teaching complements each other.

                Just a thought. And good luck.
                "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                the best day in ten years,
                you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                • #28
                  Blkarab - your posts reminded me of the time a number of years ago that I was getting ready for a clinic with someone I really enjoyed riding with. I was in a way treating it like getting ready for a show and trying to get my horse perfect in his work. Then a light bulb went off and I realized I was taking the clinic sessions to improve my horse and self, and to get help to deal with the problems we were having. Once I realized that I wasn't setting out to impress it didn't matter what happened in the session. This clinician has been my only coach for several years now and my horse and I have come a long way. Could you be trying too hard to show your coach what you can do on your own?

                  It is natural for us as humans to become tense and hold that tension when we get to concentrating on something with a narrow focus. I have several students who are at the stage of learning more finesse and feel in their riding and I have to remind them constantly "let go, ask, let go, ask, let go..." Letting go isn't dropping the horse, or even moving it is relaxing the muscles without changing position. Tension blocks the line of communication and the horse has trouble recognizing the next aid if the previous tension isn't released. Letting go isn't relaxing for ten steps, five steps or even one if you need to do lots of half halts. I say "you can ask and let go six times in two seconds if you have to" because it's not how long you let go - the fact that you did is enough for the horse. This applies to hands, legs and any other part of your body you can signal with. It can be quite dramatic when the student lets go of the tension and applies the aid again. It's not easy to do, but the letting go is critical to communication with the horse. I encourage my students to try and figure out where they are holding the tension so they can check more quickly (I tend to hold in elbows or rotator cuffs) as they are trying do whatever.

                  I did confess to my clinician/coach about trying to get everything perfect and we had a good chuckle about that.


                  • #29
                    Could you be trying too hard to show your coach what you can do on your own?

                    Wow...RedHorse..that is exactly what I'm doing. Trying to make everything perfect in the lesson and feeling bad when it doesn't go well. The moments I ride by myself...I hear her words in my head...and I focus a lot on letting go, and releasing the tension...I feel like I've got the release down in my lower body (hips and thighs) and the video confirmed it. It's the upper body where I'm holding and not releasing. I'm also at the point of learning more finesse and feel. I'm not getting the feel during the lesson...as I'm focused on what directions she is giving me...and not able to concentrate on how it is actually feeling. This may explain why I'm having good moments on my own, and having a lot of tension during the lessons.

                    MP--I do take clinics with a couple of other instructors several times a year...and I have one coming up in May. It is always nice to hear their comments and just hear things a different way. I may need to look at taking a few lessons a month with someone else...just to solidify.

                    I need to get past this psychologically, as I know the same issues will crop up in the show ring if I don't get a handle on it now. This is a fairly new issue...I never used to get nervous in my lessons.
                    Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
                    CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle


                    • Original Poster

                      Blkarab, YAY!

                      I have really enjoyed hearing all of your experiences. Laranspeedy, yours made me laugh, I love your humor. :-)

                      Oldernewbie, I have posted some of my recent experiences on your thread. I enjoyed that thread very much.
                      Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                      • #31
                        My horse and I are improving and I am not discouraged about this aspect at all - I am THRILLED!

                        However, his health problems (RAO and maybe anhidrosis?) are starting to interfere and I am extremely frustrated with my veterinary professionals!!


                        • #32
                          my biggest issue is that i want to be perfect all.the.time.

                          the hardest thing i have learned is that training is not the same as the goal. and perfect is something hardly anyone achieves.

                          instead, progress should be looked at by where you came from - not where you dream of being

                          To get good we will make mistakes, errors, look like hell and all sorts of other things... but if we aren't afraid to be those things, there will be no progress because we will be afraid of not being perfect.

                          I have started to just jot notes down each day on my calendar of the highlights of each ride. this really helps. I also set goals for each month.... I also periodically have vids done. normally when i first look at them i am horrified, but then over time i look back and think "i am a much better rider that i think i am dammit!" lol!

                          for myself, i have learned that i learn better if i can SEE what my trainer wants, so nowadays i ask him to jump on if i am having a hard time understanding something. watching him allows me to get it right away - then i can hop on and try to replicate.

                          I am ecstatic about the progress of my 14.3 Connemara pony... he is da bomb and will be so fun to bring along - just the other day i was literally blown away at how good he looked - of course the very next day i was thinking "who is this yak"? lol

                          the Mare is always challenging and we make slow but steady progress. She is difficult for me because a she is my heart horse so i am far to lenient with her and b) she is a horse with gigantic gaits so she is always pushing me to the limit of my ability to ride.

                          in regards to riding arabs in dressage - while i used to ride arabs back in the day and currently ride and "off" breed pony, i think that riding an arab and trying to end up looking like a WB will only lead to discouragement.

                          especially arabs that are bum high - it is VERY hard work for them to become in horizontal balance etc. perhaps use some of the higher level arabs as inspiration in stead of WBs? Otherwise you will be discouraged no matter how good your horse is being.


                          • #33
                            I have to say, we've made a lot of progress after I started weekly lessons over the winter. My 'low milage' (aka, little training of any kind) gelding has gotten reliably supple, through, responsive, focused and full of try...he is SOO MUCH fun to ride!

                            The biggest thing holding him back is his rider. He has all the moves for second and some of third level, tons of suspension, self-carraige, some passage, etc...but a few things need 'perfecting'. The discouraging part is that his rider needs to spend more time in the saddle and is NOT a perfectionist (how exactly did I manage to get into dressage?)

                            Anyway, I will hopefully get with the program since I am most definitely the horse's limiting factor.
                            "A good horse is worth more than riches."
                            - Spanish Proverb


                            • Original Poster

                              With my mare, I bought her because she was a great price for a second level (competed) horse. She had been a broodmare for so long, however, that I had to start from the beginning with her. She hadn't forgotten anything, but was not balanced and was out of shape. She's naturally uphill, so I knew that we had a chance of getting there, and she was affordable.

                              So it has been 6 months of pretty much daily work, and today we got a very nice "sit" during a canter transition. She has also taught me a lot about body part use and independence, and we have started schooling 3rd level movements. She already has the walking half pirouette down pat.

                              She has definitely become my heart horse. I have progressed more quickly with her than with any other horse I've ever had.
                              Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                              • #35
                                A year ago?
                                Horse wouldnt bend. Or flex. Or move correctly.
                                He was SO crooked, that we couldnt ride a 20m circle.
                                We rode a 20m square.
                                On a scale of 1-10, 10 being completely screwed up, he was an 8.

                                Since then, we have unlocked A LOT of stiffness.
                                We can now competently offer bend, flex, & stretch, and are JUST starting to learn through-ness.

                                Am I happy that it took us almost 2 years to just be somewhat supple and correct?
                                & we still have our bad 'stiff' days.

                                Thats life, I suppose.

                                Mentally, Horse can be unpredictable.
                                He's 5, came from an abusive home, and is EXTREMELY sensitive to his surroundings.
                                Progress in that department?
                                1 year ago, we couldnt even walk down the lane without him having an anxiety attack.
                                Now, we're somewhat hacking confidently, by ourselves..

                                I'm hoping to be able to compete a few walk/trot tests this summer, at some schooling shows.
                                I dont think we'll place well, and I dont think our tests will be pretty.
                                The way I look at it, it can only go up from where we're starting.