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Not too happy with my instructor

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  • Not too happy with my instructor

    I'm still fairly new to riding. I started with lessons last summer, and I'm riding dressage which is my main interest. But I'm having some issues with my instructor. Mainly I'm not getting in very many lessons. I want to ride consistently at least once a week, but it seems like I get on average one ride every three weeks. Sometimes it's because of rain and I know that's not her fault. But many other times she's busy or unavailable. I can't count the number of times I've gotten there for an hour lesson and she says she only has time for 30 min. Last time I rode after 40 min she was ready to end the lesson, but if I'm paying for 60 I want closer to the full hour! I would understand if sometimes we went 50 and sometimes 70 and sometimes 60, but I'm lucky to get past 30 even if I'm scheduled for 60. I asked to be put in a regular slot on a specific day and was told sure. I rode once and Then the next week that time was no longer available. And I'm regularly told that the speed I ride the different gaits at is no where near enough for a show. I was able to canter a quarter of a circle for the first time last lesson and I was so excited. And she points out that it's not a real canter because it's so slow! And on top of it all I feel like I'm missing a lot of the basics. We work on things like frame and collection and half pass but I can't post on the correct diagonal and in pictures I have a chair seat! Not to mention she asks me when I'm going to start jumping. I have no desire to jump and I keep telling her that. I guess that's just what she's into at the moment. That and cross country.

    I know I'm just venting. She's an excellent rider, and if I was more experienced and had my own horse I could probably learn a lot from her. But I don't have my own and I have to rely on her to get any time in the saddle. I wish it wasn't so hard to find a lesson barn. I keep looking but most of them are more than an hour away. Sorry for the long rant. I just want to be part of the horse world and enjoy it!

  • #2
    wow. find a trainer that will give you what you want. because to be honest - you will not learn to ride this way. or maybe you will but it will take 2 lifetimes!


    • #3
      Sounds like your instructor is not keen on teaching the basics. Too bad, since that's KEY to success.

      She wants you to jump, but you're barely cantering? That's not a good instructor, IMO.

      Keep looking for another instructor. This one isn't doing right by you.

      What part of the country are you in? Someone here might be able to point you in the right direction.


      • #4
        Oi Vey!

        Oh there is so much wrong with this scenario I am amazed you're still there!
        1. Sporadic lessons while not really an issue, can be if you actually want to be successful.
        2. If you are paying for a lesson get your money's worth ie. Lesson starts at 2pm and ends at 3pm. I'm the bitch that actually keeps track of that, ie my phone has an alarm set on it. I am also a stickler for this as my time is JUST as valuable as the trainer's and I expect their undivided attention for the time I bought.
        3. I would HIGHLY recommend lunge line lessons. Highly effective to teach a plethora of things and will get you more attention from the trainer as they will be attached to the other end.
        4. Frame work at this point is not really beneficial if you can't even get the diagonal right. (FYI Many people including myself are in the SAME boat.)
        5. You want dressage lessons not jumping or cross country lessons. You should be getting what you want.

        Personally, I'd draft up a plan with a time frame to get it there. Sit the trainer down and get her feedback on getting it done. My trainer makes a file for each of her students and has us write down our goals at the beginning of the year. Every few months or so we go back over that plan and make adjustments. Currently my goal is shoulder ins without man handling the horse under me. Last goal was getting the gelding to get off his fore hand and engage his back.
        Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
        Originally Posted by alicen:
        What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


        • #5
          Go to a local show, talk to the other riders and see who they are riding with. It sounds like you need a new instructor. I had to leave a perfectly good instructor for almost the exact same reasons. She would call and cancel a lesson and say it's raining at her place. I passed within 3 miles of her farm on the way home from work and it would be blue skies everywhere. There was always an excuse. It sounds like she doesn't really want to teach.
          Some instructors are really good with beginners and that's something to keep in mind. Your current instructor might just not really be all that excited about teaching at your skill level (although it seems like there are multiple issues going on).
          Also, many dressage instructors - not saying all - prefer not to teach from rank beginner. You can get perfectly good instruction from a non-dressage instructor until you can WTC safely with a good seat and hands. Then the dressage instructor can go from there.
          Good luck!


          • #6
            A couple of things ...

            1. typically "an hour" lesson typically means 45-50 minutes of instruction. Sometimes ya quit early to end on a good note, and sometimes, yes ... have to push on a little longer, but my experience has been not to expect sixty minutes.

            2. a good rider does NOT make someone a good instructor.

            3. It might be worth an hour+ drive to work with someone who respects your time and takes your goals into consideration. Even if you only ride once a week, it sounds like you'll have a more consistent experience than you're getting now.


            • #7
              I think its time for a new instructor. If you show up on time, have the horse tacked up and ready to go before the lesson, and are focused and doing your best during the lesson then the instructor should show you the same respect. I would be upset about scheduling times and then having the instructor bail out at the last minute. Things happen sometimes, but if its happening several times in a row then that's a problem.

              Dressage is much more physically demanding for both horse and rider than it appears, so the lessons don't always go for an hour. It is not uncommon for lessons to end "early" sometimes, but again, when this happens more often than a full length lesson that would be a problem for me as well. Does she charge "per hour" for lessons, or is it a "per lesson" charge. If she is stating that lessons are an hour long and charging accordingly, I would hold her to that or change instructors. If she is charging per lesson, then maybe she is ending the lesson when she notices that you are getting tired and not riding as well.

              It sounds like she is really not focused on dressage at the moment, and while she may be a great rider, she doesn't sound like she is a very good instructor. If you have poor body position and can't feel your diagonals, she should not be moving you into more advanced techniques. It sounds like you are aware of your flaws and are trying to overcome them, without much support from your instructor.

              Is leasing or part leasing a horse an option for you? If you are able to lease it would expand the selection of instructors available, and you would be able to practice more between lessons. Where are you located? I'm sure that people on here can point you in the right direction for instructors and/or horses for lease.

              By the way, congratulations on cantering! It is really a lot of fun. Your instructor is wrong on that point, as long as it is a true 3 beat gait it is a canter, even if its slow. A veeery slow canter is called a lope by western riders, but, technically its still a canter.
              It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
              Theodore Roosevelt


              • #8
                I just started back after a long hiatus.

                The only quality instruction I could find is 1 and 15 minute drive in both directions with absolutely no traffic. It is double the price of the last place I tried.

                The fabulous schoolmaster I get to ride and the superb lesson make it worth every penny and every minute sitting in the car.


                • #9
                  Many great riders can't teach to save their lives, and I firmly believe that it takes special talent to teach beginners. Unfortunately it seems rare to find a good teacher to teach beginners.

                  From your post, it seems a case of mismatch between rider and instructor. I will find another instructor ASAP.


                  • #10
                    It sounds like you're taking dressage lessons from an eventing instructor. That might not suit you at your stage of development as a rider.

                    Do some research - look for an instructor who focuses on dressage only. Attend local schooling shows and especially the Intro and Training level classes, and observe the riders who seem to be working well, and ask them who they study with.

                    Find out where the local dressage club is, get a copy of their trainer directory, or else disclose your location and get some suggestions from folks on the board here. Or do the same on the Other Board (UDBB).


                    • #11
                      There has to be someone else who can do a better job for you.

                      Maybe you can find someone who isn't part of a lesson barn who could help you? Are there any local boarding barns rather than lesson barns who's brains you could pick?


                      • #12
                        You need a trainer that will meet you half way.

                        There are plenty of people out there that can help you at this level.. You dont need more than just a friend with good experience when you are learning canter or basics
                        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                          Many great riders can't teach to save their lives, and I firmly believe that it takes special talent to teach beginners. Unfortunately it seems rare to find a good teacher to teach beginners.

                          From your post, it seems a case of mismatch between rider and instructor. I will find another instructor ASAP.



                          • #14
                            Well I agree with most answers here...
                            But there are two things to consider...

                            First when I take a lesson with an instructor I don´t look at my watch. I take instructions and when the lesson is finished when I have the feeling it was a sucess I don´t care for the time.....
                            Usually I do warm up my horse before the lesson even starts

                            the next thing you didn´t mention..
                            How do you feel about your improvement?? Did you learn a lot in her lessons however long they lasted??? or are you unhappy about your progress??

                            I think the right answer to your problem really depends how you feel about your progress...

                            Sorry I didn´t read the second part of your post. I posted too fast... I think it sounds like you should look for a new instructor...
                            Last edited by Manni01; May. 14, 2012, 09:24 PM.


                            • #15
                              time for a change!

                              You DO need another instructor; you should not be working or concerned at all about frame/ half pass are there other lessons hers or another instructors you can watch? It is true, good cimpetitors do not ncesssarily nake good instructors; keep looking!
                              breeder of Mercury!

                              remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                              • #16
                                IMHO, this is NOT a good instructor and good for you for seeing that! This is a bad fit for so many reasons. Pushing you to jump before you are comfortable cantering is just one indication of a poor match.

                                If you are paying for an hour, then your lessons really should be an hour - or quite close. I know some barns will say an hour but they will tell you that really means 50 minutes. But 30 or 40, no, that's not right unless your average time is really pretty close to an hour. Or if your trainer discusses it with you - i.e. When you agree to end early on a good note or other reason. I'm not sure it's even worthwhile having that discussion with this trainer, but it might help to discuss with the next one.

                                You will definitely find someone better. Ask around. And, yes, folks here probably can recommend someone in your area.
                                Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                                • #17
                                  learning to ride!

                                  I agree with whoever said take basic riding lessons, pecializing in dressage is not appropriate at this point, diagonals and leads are Basics; look for a Lesson barn where you can learn them; as well as a balanced seat
                                  breeder of Mercury!

                                  remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                                  • Original Poster

                                    I am looking for someone new. I like the idea of going to some local schooling shows. Since I'm not having any luck finding someone local (30 min or so) maybe someone there can point me in the right direction. I may end up driving more than an hour but I'd really like to avoid that if I can. I already do a lot of commuting, and I'd love to get in 2 lessons a week but can't afford the gas! I live about an hour south of the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex if anyone has a recommendation. Most barns I find are in north dallas which can take 2+ hours after work. While I want to do dressage I'm looking for someplace that can give me a strong foundation, so a H/J barn would be fine too.

                                    I wish a lease option was possible but it's just not financially or time responsible right now. Hopefully it will be in 6 months or a year. That's why I rely so much in a lesson barn. And I know an hour lesson can be more or less but at my level the horse is definitely not overworked and I want to keep going. I'd be fine with it if I was getting regular lessons that balanced out, but unfortunately I feel like I'm just getting taken advantage of. I probably wouldn't be as aware of it except my trainer always says "i don't know how long we've been out here. Or I'm running behind and only have time for 30 min because my next lesson's here."

                                    I have made progress with her but nowhere near what I feel like I could have. So in the meantime I'm taking what I can get and looking for other options. Thanks for the encouragement!


                                    • #19
                                      Another vote for getting another instructor!!!

                                      A good instructor will be able to get inside your head as well as the horse's and help bring you both to a new level. You should expect to have questions answered in a way that helps you perform better during the lesson and to make steady progress over weeks and months. A good teacher will also be able to sense and encourage your enthusiasm and find positive ways to work on weaknesses.

                                      Ok, so even if your canter was "too slow", a good teacher shouldn't squelch your enthusiasm for getting something right. A more appropriate respond would have been for that person to have said "I'm so pleased to see that you achieved X...now the next step is to bring up the pace. We will continue to work on that"

                                      Some people just can't teach this way. I definitely agree that there are people who are great trainers but not great teachers. Then there are people who can't or don't want to teach the basics. It's just like with dating, there are people who are a good match for each other and those who aren't.

                                      As for time, if a lesson ends a few minutes early, I don't see a problem with that. But 15 or 30 minutes early? The former is annoying and the latter unforgivable unless the instructor says specifically that you will be charged less. However, if you've scheduled 60 min. and didn't get some advance notice, I would still consider it rude if the instructor said he/she could only teach for 1/2 the normal time.

                                      There are definitely times when it is appropriate to end early, particularly if it's on an exceptionally good note. I experienced this today in my own lesson. We were working on particular elements of the tests I will be riding soon and at one point came down centerline to do a halt at X. The turn down centerline was great, my horse was round and balanced the entire time and the halt itself was picture perfect. I couldn't believe it. My trainer was so excited that he could hardly contain himself and said, "I know it's not an hour yet, but that was so good that I think we should end on that note".

                                      I think it may have been 10 min. early but that was totally fine. It was a wise decision in this case. Besides, there are plenty of times when my lesson goes over. And it wasn't like my trainer left the ring. We chatted about theory and other stuff while I cooled my horse down.

                                      Definitely move on from your current trainer. It sounds like you aren't that happy. When things begin to get aggravating to the point you're coming on a board to seek advice, that probably says something...


                                      • #20
                                        Agree with almost everything in the replies so far. You should absolutely be looking for a different trainer. I would recommend immediately switching to one of the far away trainers you know about. Even if it's too far for a long term option, it will be better than your current situation. I would't give your current trainer another dollar. Cutting your rides short and canceling on short notice is unacceptable. I also agree with "trainer shopping" at local shows. All the trainers I've ridden with in my life are obvious, loud , fixtures in the warm up rings. There is no question as to why they're their and what their priorities are. If you go to shows it should be pretty obvious which trainers are worth talking to. The hard part will be finding time to talk to them because they'll be so busy doing their job - teaching!

                                        I firmly disagree with all the comments that's it's okay for your lessons to be cut short. At your level it is 100% unacceptable. When you are farther along, training your own horse, and the focus of the lessons becomes teaching you how to teach your horse, then yes, sometimes they end early to reward progress by the horse; to "end on a good note". At your current level, and as long as you're riding school horses with full focus on improving your riding, balance, etc. your lessons should not end short. Their is no reason for it. Even if you're exhausted your trainer should come up with less strenuous but still beneficial exercises for you to work on. A big part of learning balance and other basics is just spending time in the saddle. If you're paying for 60 minutes of saddle time on a lesson horse, you should get 60 minutes of saddle time (plus 10 minutes or so of cool down). If your trainer conveys to you that you are scheduling 1 hour lessons, they should go 1 hour with all her/his attention on you. For example, if your trainer gets a urgent phone call that they have to take, she/he should take you past 1 hour so I you still get 60 minutes of their full attention.