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First lesson on a schoolmaster in forever...and, self image/confidence issues?

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  • First lesson on a schoolmaster in forever...and, self image/confidence issues?

    I feel like a little kid again, waiting for my weekly hour of horse time. It's been about a year since I've had a regular lesson on one of my own horses, and this Saturday I've got a lesson with a fantastic trainer/instructor on my gelding - and then with a different lady I've been wanting to ride with on Sunday on one of her horses. I haven't taken a lesson on a schoolmaster since I was a working student, nearly 10 years ago.

    I've been struggling lately with some self-confidence issues; it's not fear of riding, or lacking confidence to ride or work on a particular thing or with a particular horse, just feeling like I'm not as good as I think I ought to be, like I haven't improved enough, and it seems like I've been stuck in this same rut for the last 5+ years. I'm hoping a new instructor will provide a fresh perspective and help us break through that invisible ceiling.

    Has anyone else felt like this at one time or another? How did you break free?

  • #2
    I feel like that everyday..LOL. It really helps to have someone who you "admire" give you some feedback (if it is good feedback...) and new things to work on. It should inspire you. Negative self-talk is the pits.

    Comment


    • #3
      Break free? Is that something that need to break free? Hell, I never feel I'm as good as I ought to be, and I am taking regular lessons; which mean, I "should" be much better than I ought to be. None ever held me back though.

      Anyway, I'm guessing your real concern is whether your instructor will approve of your riding ability, or whether you will embarrass yourself somehow? Here is the thing, I don't think any instructors, or any auditors will ever wonder whether you are as good as you "should" be. Why would they? They have no reference point. All they see is what you are that day and all the instructors care is how to get you better. Besides, I'm certain that they would much rather have a student who thinks she need to improve, than have a student who thinks she is a stud.

      Comment


      • #4
        A previous horse of mine was so difficult that I lost confidence and eventually the desire to ride. I did everything I could to get along with this horse, but when she dumped me big time and HARD, that was just about the last straw.

        I found a new instructor, who helped me through my apprehension with this horse. We began progressing, but it was still a struggle and the self-doubts came back. I questioned if God and Nature were trying to tell me to quit riding now. My instructor kept on encouraging me, and eventually I had some success with one of my client's horses. My self-doubts diminished -- unless I was riding my own horse.

        Time went by. I got the opportunity to purchase a wonderful dressage prospect -- an injured jumper. I bought him and coincidentally, a friend (the same one who found the busted jumper for me) offered me some rides on her PSG schoolmaster. I was apprehensive, but with my encouraging instructor, my rides on Mr. Poet helped me regain confidence.

        Not everything was easy for me on him, but I learned I wasn't as "bad" as I'd imagined, and was, in fact, pretty darn good! Keep in mind this is coming from the mindset that maybe it was time to quit.

        With the horse that destroyed my confidence, I never got past First Level, really. We schooled Second and she could even do a nice Piaffe in-hand, but our one attempt at Second Level was dismal. I decided I'd NEVER earn my Bronze medal. Not with that horse.

        With my busted jumper, we're now going Third and schooling Fourth. I got my Bronze. The rides on Poet played a part in helping me regain confidence.

        Relax and enjoy the journey!

        Comment


        • #5
          I almost made myself sick with worry about riding in front of a new trainer (on one of his schoolmasters) because while I know many of my problems, I didn't know how to *fix* them, and felt like I was banging my head against a wall, which would then bounce it back into another wall, then knock loose a brick to land on top of my head.

          Anyway, yes, I get the worry. I've seen images of you riding (I think in video, maybe only photos) and suspect you're worrying too much! But if the instructor is a good fit for you, rather than any kind of belittling, you will get help to fix the things you feel are making you stall out. If the instructor makes you feel lesser than for anything other than bad attitude, move on.

          That said, in my first lesson on a schoolmaster he honed in on exactly where my problem was (tension in the shoulders) which had been preventing my ability to improve my seat and stop blocking my horse. The next day he put me on a different schoolmaster briefly after she had finished a lesson with a 12 year old and warned me in advance that I would be unlikely to get her to trot more than three steps at a time, but that he wanted me to feel what I was doing and she would give me feedback more quickly than he could. Sure enough, we could manage about a 20m circle before I blocked her.

          Anyway, it could have been embarassing and horrifying but because he was a good fit for me, instead he put it in a way that I understood why I was going through the exercise and learned from it. (I also rode that same stopping mare two weeks later and had no problems.)
          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


          • #6
            Schoolmaster lessons are so invaluable, but they really do make you humble! They are wonderful to help you progress, though, so I think it's a great idea for you to be doing it.

            I took about 6 months of lessons on a schoolmaster last year, and to start I could barely steer; horse taught me pretty quick not to lean (bad habit of mine). The first lesson was so frustrating and embarrassing I cried. But I stuck with it and eventually I fixed a lot of bad habits on that horse and was able to take the skills I learned back to my own mare and see improvement. Definitely a worthwhile experience and something I will do again in the future.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think you have already taken a great concrete step. Taking a lesson on a schoolmaster will give you the opportunity to receive great feedback and feel subtle things that might not be clicking with your current mount. I bet you will feel so much better after your first lesson. Have someone video it if possible so you can see how you and the horse change in response to guidance from the trainer.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by netg View Post
                Anyway, yes, I get the worry. I've seen images of you riding (I think in video, maybe only photos) and suspect you're worrying too much! But if the instructor is a good fit for you, rather than any kind of belittling, you will get help to fix the things you feel are making you stall out. If the instructor makes you feel lesser than for anything other than bad attitude, move on.
                Thank you, that is very kind. It's difficult not to get wrapped up in the self-doubt; I chose this horse as a "keeper" because he was a challenge to ride, yet also the most fun. He was the first horse I'd ridden in years that slapped a silly grin on my face that couldn't be wiped off, even as I was being bounced out of the saddle. He's big, and he moves big, and when we get things right it's fantastic - and generally pretty obvious. There are moments where I can nearly hear him saying 'It's about damn time you figured this out, lady'. But there are things he struggles with, and it's easy to forget that I picked this challenge (and that even though HE struggles with X, and together WE struggle with X, that *I* am still capable of doing X correctly).

                I'm excited to ride a schoolmaster, and not all that nervous or afraid to ride in front of someone else. I'm just tired of this perpetual feeling that I'm not good enough to move up or move on - it's time to quit being such a perfectionist and a self-doubter and to start asking (and expecting) more of myself and my horse. We're both capable and talented, and I suppose I need to remind myself of that more often.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I feel you! I know the feeling with my PC grandbaby. The smile and the bounce....

                  I'm sending you a PM!
                  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


                  • #10
                    I recently had my first schoolmaster lesson in years and felt much the same way you describe! I think what helps me focus on the positive (and not spend too much time thinking "How can I be this terrible after devoting so many hours to this sport?") is to think more about how much the schoolmaster will teach me that will help me teach my young pony.

                    But I totally understand the "stuck in the rut" feeling as I'm often there myself. As such, I can't really offer much concrete advice, but I can commiserate.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                      I'm excited to ride a schoolmaster, and not all that nervous or afraid to ride in front of someone else. I'm just tired of this perpetual feeling that I'm not good enough to move up or move on - it's time to quit being such a perfectionist and a self-doubter and to start asking (and expecting) more of myself and my horse. We're both capable and talented, and I suppose I need to remind myself of that more often.
                      I really think, this feeling is stemmed from a hiatus from lessons. You feel you are not good enough to move up or move on, and perhaps you are right. But that is the whole point of getting lessons. It is virtually impossible to improve on your own. Even top riders seek instructions regularly. I know one of my friends who has been a trainer for more than thirty years start to get brighter outlook on her own riding and ability to move up once she starts going to clinics on a semi-regular basis. All these melancholy just went away.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You know those days where you're in a bear-awful mood, everything p*sses you off or causes you to beat yourself up, and you can't seem to snap yourself out of it? Then a simple encounter with a stranger - the mailman or gas station attendant (we still have em in Jersey) or a neighbor - can just jolt you out of your funk, leaving you to wonder what the heck you were so nasty for before?

                        Maybe you have been stuck in yourself and you need that chance for a new opening, as it were. Both the lesson on your horse and the lesson on the schoolmaster will do that for you

                        I gave quite a few lessons on my guy, a veteran GP horse, because I loved giving my good students a feel for straightness and collection. They often expressed your same trepidation to me, but once we got to work, we always ended with big smiles all around! There's nothing like giving people their first taste of changes, X trot, and piaffe, not to mention a simple but correct SI or HP.

                        Even if you aren't yet in a better headspace by Saturday, once you hit the saddle, it will be all good. With the schoolmaster, you'll most likely be working so hard that you won't be able to do much except live and ride in the moment It will be grand!

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Well, my Saturday lesson on this particular horse isn't going to happen - whatever is going on with him, which I thought was maybe just tender feet, is still going on. He's getting front shoes put on Saturday afternoon, though farrier thinks it's in the shoulder/wither area more than his feet . I may be pulling my mare out of the field and working with her instead - which could be interesting. She's had the last few months off, and while very sweet - is a little sensitive.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            To answer your question about HOW to do this.

                            1. You get way, way into riding the horse underneath you.

                            You do what you know is right and work toward getting form him the feel you always want in a horse--ahead of your leg, symmetrical, supple, light in the bridle (or pushing into if it you are of the German persuasion).

                            This also helps give you so much to think about that you forget to worry about the audience.

                            2. You accept ahead of time that you won't just you, the horse or the instructor by the first lesson. IME, especially in DressageWorld, it takes some time to get the instructor's vocabulary lined up with yours, and both of those lined up with you making a change in your body. Then, too, you have to line up the changes you make in your body with the horse's reactions.

                            1.5. I find it very, very hard when a dressage instructor starts instructing from the first minute of a lesson on her horse. I see why they do it, but it usually produces a bad ride and all the feelings about yourself that you fear.

                            I might drive them nuts, but I ask them to let me warm up the horse the way I would. I tell them what I'd do and what I'm feeling for. This gives me at least a little bit of time to figure out the horse. The instructor, too, gets to see what I already have-- good, bad or ugly.

                            The only bad lesson I have taken in my life was a catch-ride with an inappropriate horse and a DQ who wanted to start "riding the horse through me" by micromanaging me on a 20m circle. I was so busy doing what she asked (in terms not quite clear yet), that there was no room for good timing and change on my part... so I got no feel for the horse... and the horse got a piss-poor ride.

                            We never left the circle, the mare ended up grinding her teeth, and I was pissed. Yeah, so that's how *not* to do it.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              (Fold out pedogogical appendix to my last post).

                              1. At your stage of the game-- you can ride and train, and Schoolmaster is a schoolmaster-- a riding lesson is really a 3-way consultation between you, the instructor and the horse who she knows how to ride.

                              Your job (which you *can* do, and do with your own horses) is to produce the changes in the horse that she wants. So it's fine if she wants to micromanage how the horse looks, leaving you to your own devices, and then tell you want to do differently with your body to get a change that you can't.

                              2. The warm-up period is a Godsend. It is where you find the horse's basic buttons. IMO, it will really, really help if you have a tad of freedom here.

                              3. Since the "consultation" method of instruction is the one that works for me, I like to ask questions-- How does the horse like to warm up? If, for example, the instructor wants long and low, I'll do that and ask if it's enough or should it be bigger, lower or whatever? This way, I'm learning to figure out what makes the horse do what the instructor wants, and how to ride him with the aids and timing that he knows. That sets us up for a ride that is consistent with what he has had in the past.
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You are very fortunate to be able to ride a school master.


                                I'm so rusty and have developed such bad habits(at least I think I have) that when I get on a school master, its hard to ride them. I want to shoulder in, and sometimes get a leg yield.

                                I did get lucky with Luna though, she makes me ride properly.


                                Hey, when do you wish to meet up for coffee sometime? I'm unemployed at the moment and am studying for my securities exams so I can go back to work as an ins agent. I'm pretty open.
                                Originally posted by dizzywriter
                                My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Oh boy do I relate!!!! I fight this battle on a daily basis, and I've noticed that the more I let myself become enveloped by that "not achieving enough" feeling, the worse rider I actually become. For me, when that kind of self-analysis creeps in, I find it not only breeds tension in my body, the doubt makes me subconsciously hesitate just a microsecond with my aids and then I end up with timing issues as well.

                                  Things that are helping me are:

                                  1. Setting ultra-attainable goals to build confidence, especially at the beginning and end of each ride...just like you would with a horse.

                                  2. Analyzing without judging, especially in the couple hours before and after each ride. I've noticed that once I'm in the saddle things aren't as bad because I'm pretty good at riding in the moment, but if I let myself get into that "not a good enough rider" mindset in the hour or two before or after a ride, it really subconsiously impacts my upcoming or next ride.

                                  3. Learning to be more mindful and emotionally detatched from my thoughts, if that makes sense. I'm working on this when I run, out of the saddle, in the hopes that it translates.

                                  4. It helps me to remember that loving and being grateful for and enjoying being around horses is -- or should be -- the core of everything I do. I have to keep in touch with that feeling so I can keep disappointments or "lack of progress" in perspective. Ironically, reminding myself that that is No. 1 is what makes me feel free to progress and strive in a positive way.

                                  JMO. Good luck!!

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Jane Honda View Post

                                    Hey, when do you wish to meet up for coffee sometime? I'm unemployed at the moment and am studying for my securities exams so I can go back to work as an ins agent. I'm pretty open.
                                    You're in OR! That's right. Are you going to the expo this weekend? I'm not planning to, but if you'll be down this way I bet we could make something work. Or really any other time I'm not at work, riding, or sleeping.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Isn't that why we are dressage riders? Addicted to the endless search for eternally elusive perfection?

                                      I'd talk to the trainer at the start and tell her more or less what you've said here. Then you both know where the other one is coming from.

                                      Have a great ride! Actually, have two really great rides! Sounds like a fun and challenging weekend once you get past the "stuff."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                        You're in OR! That's right. Are you going to the expo this weekend? I'm not planning to, but if you'll be down this way I bet we could make something work. Or really any other time I'm not at work, riding, or sleeping.
                                        I do believe you have my cell #? I'm not going to the Expo, I have to go pick up my kiddlings from the coast that weekend. Shoot me a text, and I can meet you somewheres!
                                        Originally posted by dizzywriter
                                        My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.

                                        Comment

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