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Going at it alone-making the switch from having a trainer to riding solo

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  • Going at it alone-making the switch from having a trainer to riding solo

    For the first time in a long time, I am looking at leaving my current boarding situation and moving someplace without a regular trainer. I'm nervous about the transition. I have been in the current situation for a long time, and my horse will no longer be in regular training, but I will have access to a very good trainer on a weekly basis.

    Does anyone have any advice for making the switch? What should I look for in the new barn, and I'm also looking for ideas on how to keep on track without the benefit of having a trainer "tune-up" my horse from time to time.


  • #2
    Can you keep a journal of your rides? Have someone video you periodically?

    I find the hardest thing about being solo is being diligent about my position and not letting myself slip into bad habits. Without eyes on the ground, I sometimes find that my bad habits start to feel 'normal' to me.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks Come Shine...

      Yes, I do currently journal and video tape, and I will still have lessons on a weekly basis, but will no longer have my horse in training.

      I know I'm just really nervous about making the switch. I have worked so hard to overcome a lot of obstacles in my riding, and the barn change I'm making is a good fit...I guess I just need reassurance that it's all going to be okay.


      • #4
        I think "going it alone" can make a better rider. No one to fix things except you! You'll be fine, a good trainer will keep you on track. Mirrors in the arena are very helpful, does the new place have them?


        • #5
          Having just gone back into a training situation after being on my own for awhile, the best advice I can offer is to continue to get feedback from an educated eye on a regular basis. It was too easy for me to put off trailering out because of the hassle involved etc so I ended up letting little things turn into bigger things unnecessarily.

          I still make it point to ride on my own. Sometimes you just need time to figure out stuff for yourself or to figure out the context of instruction.

          Good luck, and remember, it's not like you can never go back if you feel you need to or just want to for whatever reasons.
          Last edited by atlatl; Jan. 7, 2013, 03:50 PM. Reason: spelling


          • Original Poster

            Thank you!!!

            I really have been nervous about this, and it's a big step for me. I know it will be a good one. It feels like when I left home for college.

            I'm not certain about mirrors. My current barn has them, and I love them, because I can check. I'm hoping they have at least a couple in the indoor, but I'm not sure.

            I know I won't be totally alone. The other trainer will be there weekly, and that is about all I'm getting for lessons now anyway (if I'm lucky).


            • #7
              You will be fine! You will be able to get to know your horse better, develop better feel for what works and what doesn't by allowing yourself to experiment and listen to your horse vs. listening to your trainer (what I mean by that is that sometimes we are so focused on listening to what our trainer is telling us in lessons that we may not hear the horse's feedback and sometimes they can be in conflict). It is great that you will still be able to take lessons, so definitely keep up with that. Sometimes, though, it takes working on your own to really develop the feel and communication with your horse.

              Good luck!
              "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


              • Original Poster

                That is what I am hoping Pocket Pony. I feel that I am getting lost in the words and trying to do everything the instructor says without really feeling the ride.


                • #9
                  Precisely what Pocket Pony said! You will do great. And you'll probably surprise yourself with how quickly you really learn on your own. There is a big difference between doing what your trainer says to do to fix something and actually deciding what to do to fix something. And remember, it is totally fine and completely normal to mess up here and there. Mistakes are how we learn! Nothing catastrophic will happen with a weekly lesson, habits take longer than a week to develop. Think of how much easier going into your tests will be now that you'll be more used to riding without a trainer

                  You got this! Ride on!


                  • #10
                    start by organizing your warm up, have a set but not rigid routine. From there flow into what ever you are working on at the moment, not forgetting to take refresher breaks. Get in the habit of thinking, really thinking of what you are doing, and how it is happening and methods to improve things that aren't quite right.

                    Be careful not to get stuck on one movement forever, and switch off on different days. This is where a diary or logbook is so useful.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                    • #11
                      I ride both dressage and hunters, but mainly did h/j growing up. While I flatted a lot on my own, I only got to jump in lessons. In one lesson, the BO, an experienced jumper, came out and talked to the trainer and sort of stepped in. She told me I was going to do the course of 8 jumps and I'd be in charge, no trainer would tell me anything. I went out and felt/saw and reacted - the BO had seen me hesitate before making decisions, as I was waiting to hear what the trainer would say! So, riding alone and feeling and deciding is especially helpful. And with weekly lessons, you will have enough guidance to keep you on target.

                      Only question I'd have is if your horse was getting regular training rides before? If so, will you be riding/working the horse as often as the program was doing? Only trade-off I could see is if the horse is at a level that demands a high level of fitness, and you weren't able to provide the necessary exercise, that could be an issue with moving up or maintaining. But otherwise, you'll most likely improve from this experience!


                      • Original Poster

                        Wow! Thank you all for the vote of confidence. I really need this! This has been such a huge decision and it is going to be a hard change.

                        I see myself riding more, and he will be ridden as many days as he is now, only it will be my me and not the trainer. My concern is that she is riding him at a higher level than I currently am able to, so I just worry about him slipping back.

                        I also don't need a horse trained past the level he is currently at (about 2nd level)...at this point in time. I am looking at that as a goal to move up to (I'm currently riding training and some first level).


                        • #13
                          They do not forget!!! So when you are ready to move up, he will be able to correct you.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14
                            I had a boarder try this at my farm for three months. It didn't work for her, she rarely rode, I'm an amateur and since I board, I did not ride her horse. Her trainer had initially thought she'd be able to come help, but it never panned out, so she moved back to her trainer (at a further location - which had inspired her to try out the change). I also do not have an indoor.

                            So, being at a private farm with no trainer doesn't work out for everyone.


                            • Original Poster


                              I'm moving from a private barn with a horse in full training, to a more populated barn with a trainer that comes in weekly. I'm currently riding solo up to 3 times a week (when the weather is good), no indoor. To a facility that has more ammenities. My hope is that because the barn will be closer to work, I will be able to ride even more. Right now, I'm having to schedule around when the trainer rides, and at most, I'm getting one lesson a week with the trainer if that. The current barn is a partial-care situation that I just can not handle any longer. I'm doing the barn more than I have time to ride, and I just don't want that. I want to be able to ride and work with my horses, instead of doing chores constantly.

                              Merrygoround...thank you!!

                              I'm not wanting anyone to sugar coat things...I know this is going to put more responsibility on me for the training and progress of my horse. That is the part that scares me. I'm not going to be doing it completely alone. I will be losing a lot in the move, but I hope to be gaining some back as well...especially my sanity.


                              • #16

                                You don't need to justify your move to me! I was just giving an example where someone changed and it didn't work out.

                                I'm certainly not going to discourage anyone from taking over the training of their horse. I ride and train all my horses. It is fun! No doubt I would have progressed faster in full training, but that is outside my budget, and I really like riding my own horses.

                                I hope it is the right time & place for you and your riding time greatly increases.


                                • #17
                                  I made the change about three years ago. It was the best thing for me and my horse. I now ride with a local professional about twice and month and a BNT once a month.

                                  I've made mistakes but have learned to really feel things rather than wait to be told. I understand more and have lots of those "that's what they meant times" . It was very scary in the begining and I find myself still lost at times. But when things progress it's really a great feeling.


                                  • #18
                                    greenapples, I made a similar move just over 3 years ago. It's been up and down (mostly due to soundness issues) ... and perhaps my biggest "issue" if you can call it that is that dressage tends to fall by the wayside when there are more fun things to do (There are trails right off the property and I trail ride a LOT now.) But I am at a place in my life where "moving up" is on hold so this is not a terrible thing.

                                    I take two lessons a week, one dressage and one (tiny) jumping.

                                    I do agree that it can be a bit harder to stay focused. Having a plan for each ride helps, as long as you realize that you'll need to abandon your plans when the horse isn't on board!
                                    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

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


                                    • #19
                                      I find that taking lessons once a week actually helps me. I just make sure I get my homework done when riding alone. It helps to make sure you get "an assignment" for the week. Go over the assignment with the trainer before he/she leaves, write it down if necessary and just WORK on it.


                                      • #20
                                        I actually very much prefer being largely on my own with weekly check-ins at lessons. I like having 'homework' to work on, and get flustered when I haven't had enough time to absorb the info from my last lesson before my next one. When I was in full training this would inevitably happen, and I would end up getting too wound up and progressing more slowly than I do when I have more time to process.

                                        So I think if you're up for it, it could be a great adventure!