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First Dressage Lesson! Recs? - Update lesson taken, now onto more questions....

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  • First Dressage Lesson! Recs? - Update lesson taken, now onto more questions....

    So I am venturing out of jumperland...and I have a lesson booked at a BNT's farm this weekend. I am very excited (getting nervous in fact), but I realized I am not sure about protocol. Are breeches and half chaps appropriate lesson attire? I am used to schooling without my helmet, is that what I should expect during the lesson? I realized after my confirmation call this morning that I did not ask if I should come early to get the horse ready. I got the impression that they don't teach too many "beginner" lessons, but I thought that I might as well get a correct start, even if it breaks me. Any other advice would be great.

    TIA
    Last edited by Pony Soprano; Feb. 9, 2010, 07:24 PM.

  • #2
    I would try to arrive at least 15 mins in advance of your lesson...not only does that show courtesy to the instructor but will allow you time to get your tack set to your liking and possibly warm up a bit at the walk.

    Breeches and half chaps should be fine...I know it's cold but please try to dress as professionally and neatly as possible. I would wear my helmet...I would assume a lot of barns have helmet rules.

    Have FUN!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Luckily it's not too cold here, for the moment.

      Comment


      • #4
        Forget anything you thought you knew about riding and listen. I like to arrive very much earlier if I am going in to a new situation. It gives you a chance to sit and watch another lesson which can help.
        ... _. ._ .._. .._

        Comment


        • #5
          ride in your familiar equipment. don't make changes right before lesson. and relax, being nervous takes the enjoyment out of it. just relax, be calm, be open to a new method/instructor.

          Comment


          • #6
            I assume you are riding one of the instructors horses, not your own. Is that true? If so, arrive about 30 minutes proir to your lesson time. Typically the lesson starts at the appointed time, it is not an arrival time.

            Yes, half chaps are acceptable for you lesson, but bring your helment. Most places do require them. And if you don't bring your own, they may let you borrow one - that other sweaty people have worn. Yuck.

            If you are bringing your own horse, arrive in plenty of time to let you and the horse get comfortable in the new surroundings. Also be on your horse and ready to start your lesson at the appointed time.

            Have fun and let us know how it went.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I am not bringing my horses for this first lesson. It is about 2 hours away and I thought that I'd better see how it goes before I trailer them there.

              I don't know why, but I was having a mental block about whether people wear helmets at all in dressage. Most of the websites that I have looked at do not have anyone wearing one, but I assume being a lesson person is different.

              This is one of the first years that we don't have a group on the road showing and I have lost motivation. I am hoping this will reinspire me so my riding doesn't feel like it is just my 9-5. (haha actually it is more like my 7-7)

              Comment


              • #8
                lesson=helmet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes. Wear a helment.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    My lesson went very well. It was cold yesterday morning, but felt fine was I was riding. I did get ahold of the BM ahead of time and they are full service so I didn't need to tack up. I was still there about 30 minutes early because I wasn't really sure of driving time because it is pretty far.

                    My lesson horse was very sweet and nice to ride, although apparently she doesn't know any dressage either as she has only been doing it for about two weeks and "doesn't know squat about dressage".

                    I was familiar with everything that we worked on but I haven't really been pushed in a lesson in a long time, so it was a good workout. I was surprised that my instructor did not address my position at all. I did have to shorten my reins regularly, but that is something that I have to think about on my own horses and usually know when I need to do it.

                    I am going to try to get there once a week for at least a month before I make my decision if this barn is a good fit. I am afraid that I might be too small a fish in a big pond for them to be interested in me as a client. I am not sure whether I am better off at a super top barn or somewhere closer and less expensive where I can take more frequent lessons. I feel like I want to buy the best instruction that I can afford, but might get blown off a little because I am so inconsequential by their standards. An example of this during my lesson: I was using the end of the ring in a circle that was about 20-30 meters. Multiple other riders would ride into the end of the ring, sometimes with spooking horses, to the point that there might be three horses on my circle. I don't mind riding with other horses, but that is a little rude when there is obviously a lesson going on and 75% of the ring is available for open use. Not a big deal, and extremely tame compared to a warmup ring, but this was a pricey lesson and I want to be able to get the most out of it.

                    No matter what I do have one horse that I am going to have assessed for potential and I wouldn't mind possibly sending him for some training. I know that this sounds negative, but I am trying to figure out what the best plan is for me. I loved getting to watch the horses being worked after my lesson. They all looked like they were ready to head to the grand prix ring as far as I was concerned.

                    A few questions on pricing.....

                    What is a typical lesson price? BNT or LBNT. I was a little surprised by the cost of the local lessons, which is why is decided to bump up to the BNT, but have only priced the two.

                    What does a nice used saddle cost and what are some good brands? I have Butets but also like Devacoux in jumping saddles. Price is an object, so I probably would like to get a high end used saddle. What do people think of the Butet dressage saddles?

                    It is nice to have a "community" to help me think these things through, so thanks for any thought or advice

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My 2 cents after reading about your lesson experience...I wouldn't necessarily go back.

                      #1. You went to take a dressage lesson and you rode a horse that "doesn't know squat about dressage." This horse may be a great lesson horse because of temperament - but how will you get a feel for proper connection and use of seat on a horse that isn't trained in these things.

                      #2. Your problems with other people interrupting your lesson. I have ridden in lessons where other people are riding - but they go out of their way to be unobtrusive. If the trainer didn't ask the people to leave or give you room - I'd be pretty upset. I don't know what you paid - but you are paying for the trainer's time and you should get the most out of your lesson and as a beginner dressage rider - distractions make it hard to concentrate on what the instructor is saying and makes it hard to focus on your lesson.

                      #3. You're already having reservations about whether or not the trainer/staff will take you seriously and will think you are inconsequential. A good trainer will make you feel as though you are the most important person to them during your lesson because they will be genuinely interested in helping you progress. If you had these thoughts - it's probably because something was going on that made you feel that way.

                      I'm a hunter rider that made the switch to dressage - I pay 120.00 an hour for my lesson - I know it's on the high side - even for a BNT - but to me, it's worth EVERY PENNY! I have progressed more in the past 8 months with him than I progressed in 3 years of trying to figure it out on my own. He keeps GP and PSG horses for his lesson program so that riders can feel instant response and learn from it. The lessons are private - only the barn manager is allowed to ride during lessons and I ALWAYS get my hour and sometimes a bit more because I'm always welcome to watch any lessons that are before or after my lesson.

                      I take one lesson a month - it's all that I can afford, and I know that I'm not a client that is making him tons of money - but he makes me feel like he cares, he makes himself available for Q/A and he will help me with issues on my horse even though I don't board there and don't trailer her there for lessons. There are other trainers in my area (northeast) that are anywhere between 80-100 dollars and hour.

                      I had a Butet hunter saddle, haven't sat in a Butet dressage saddle - I fell in love with Albions and was able to get a used Albion Style for under 1200.00.

                      Hope this helps!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with Reddfox. I have never had a trainer let other horses in my "area" during a lesson, usually not even in the arena, depending on the size of it. I think sometimes people get awestruck by BNT's, when in reality there are tons of lesser known people that are really great trainers, are more affordable and are willing to cater to all of their clients.

                        I have an OTTB that I'm retraining to be a jumper, and I ended up at a barn owned by a dressage trainer/rider. I have brought him along so far with dressage lessons only, and it's also my first experience taking dressage lessons. The instructor I have now is the best I've ever had, and I wouldn't trade her for the world. I see you are "down south"- where exactly? I have a fabulous dressage trainer, and if you're willing to travel 2 hours away, you might be close enough to try her out. She gives me her full attention every second that I pay for, and no one else is allowed in the arena!

                        I'm glad you are wanting to try out dressage. I have no desire to compete in dressage, but I cannot believe how much my riding and jumping has improved. She really connected some dots for me that no one else ever has.
                        The best is yet to come

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Don't let your first lesson in dressage discourage you, I'm actually quite shocked and a bit disgusted at the level of professionalism you experienced. I would go back once more and if the things Redfox mentioned as negatives are still there, they aren't worth your money.

                          If you are located in GA, N. of ATL I can recommend a lady to you that will knock your socks off
                          www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                          chaque pas est fait ensemble

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My lesson went very well.

                            great!

                            It was cold yesterday morning, but felt fine was I was riding. I did get ahold of the BM ahead of time and they are full service so I didn't need to tack up. I was still there about 30 minutes early because I wasn't really sure of driving time because it is pretty far.

                            That's good, coming in a little early helps them keep things moving.

                            My lesson horse was very sweet and nice to ride, although apparently she doesn't know any dressage either as she has only been doing it for about two weeks and "doesn't know squat about dressage".

                            That's a good horse to start on. If you used to ride hunt seat, there's a lot of position change and tack differences to get used to.

                            I was familiar with everything that we worked on but I haven't really been pushed in a lesson in a long time, so it was a good workout.

                            So you have dressage experience, or these were exercises used in hunt seat?

                            I was surprised that my instructor did not address my position at all. I did have to shorten my reins regularly, but that is something that I have to think about on my own horses and usually know when I need to do it.

                            Some instructors try not to throw too much at you at once. I would not be concerned.

                            I am going to try to get there once a week for at least a month before I make my decision if this barn is a good fit.

                            That's 4 lessons...I would try to give it longer. It might help to watch some other people's lessons, though it's good not to converse with the instructor while others get their lessons.

                            I am afraid that I might be too small a fish in a big pond for them to be interested in me as a client. I am not sure whether I am better off at a super top barn or somewhere closer and less expensive where I can take more frequent lessons.

                            I would not assume you are 'too small a fish'. Most facilities rely heavily on 'the small fish' to support their facility. Students who arrive on time, pay on time, and are enthusiastic and eager to learn, are welcome at every facility.

                            I feel like I want to buy the best instruction that I can afford, but might get blown off a little because I am so inconsequential by their standards.

                            Souns like you're kinda copping an attitude! Why?

                            An example of this during my lesson: I was using the end of the ring in a circle that was about 20-30 meters. Multiple other riders would ride into the end of the ring, sometimes with spooking horses, to the point that there might be three horses on my circle.

                            Unless you are truly frightened or really in danger, I don't think what you're talking about wanting is fair. A trainer doesn't usually get the ring exclusively to himself, and you're better off trying to ride with other people in your 'circle' AND with horses occasionally bouncing around, if you ever want to show...or get moved up the dressage ladder....

                            Your horse you said was sweet and kind, and if she is not bolting or throwing you off, I'd count it as good experience with the real world. It's all part of learning to ride.

                            I don't mind riding with other horses, but that is a little rude when there is obviously a lesson going on and 75% of the ring is available for open use. Not a big deal, and extremely tame compared to a warmup ring, but this was a pricey lesson and I want to be able to get the most out of it.

                            I think you're taking a very firm position - maybe you think the ring or that circle should be exclusively yours - that just isn't how most places work. The instructor doesn't always own the facility or have much say in what other boarders do.

                            No matter what I do have one horse that I am going to have assessed for potential and I wouldn't mind possibly sending him for some training. I know that this sounds negative, but I am trying to figure out what the best plan is for me. I loved getting to watch the horses being worked after my lesson. They all looked like they were ready to head to the grand prix ring as far as I was concerned.

                            It's intimidating to go to a new place...best to just relax.

                            A few questions on pricing.....

                            What is a typical lesson price? BNT or LBNT. I was a little surprised by the cost of the local lessons, which is why is decided to bump up to the BNT, but have only priced the two.

                            It varies. One internationally medaled rider charges 75 an hour, and another, with no international experience but a lot of 'name-heard-value' charges 150 an hour. There is no blue book for lessons.

                            What does a nice used saddle cost and what are some good brands? I have Butets but also like Devacoux in jumping saddles. Price is an object, so I probably would like to get a high end used saddle. What do people think of the Butet dressage saddles?

                            I haven't ridden in one. Many people like Albions, I like Nidersuss Symphony. Depends on what type of saddle you like (flatter, less padding, or more padded). Used saddles run from about a grand to 2000, depending on brand. Some of price of saddle is based on popularity of brand.

                            It is nice to have a "community" to help me think these things through, so thanks for any thought or advice

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I am in the Tampa area. Sarasota is not too far. Orlando and Ocala are as far as I am willing to go, but I would ideally like somewhere a little closer for long term practicality.

                              I am currently paying $150/ hour. Even though it has nothing to do with the barn, for my own budgeting, I have to mentally add about $30 for gas and tolls in addition to 4 hours of driving time.

                              I do not have any dressage experience, but my jumpers are used to doing leg yields, counter canter, shoulder in, out, etc... Admittedly my flat work was not always particularly great, but I worked in Holland at a sales farm in 2008, and it definitely improved while there.

                              I do have two horses that I can take for lessons that hopefully will be good dressage candidates. One was in training with George Morris for a number of years competing in Grand Prixs and the other has been doing upper level jumpers and mini-prixs with me for about 4 years. (Technically the second horse did dressage on one of Chester Webber's teams before I bought him, but I am assuming that doesn't count )

                              I still believe that other riders should not interrupt a lesson while it is going on, but that is not a deal breaker for me. I think I am going to try to take one of mine next time and see if the experience is any different, and will also ask if it is better for me to come at a different time when there is less going on.

                              I am relatively sure that this barn does not do many individual lessons, but primarily has horses in training or horse/rider combos that are in training.

                              I unfortunately did not look to see what kind of saddle it was that I rode in because I didn't unsaddle the horse. I like it alot and was surprised at how comfortable I felt in it. I have a feeling it was a pretty nice saddle, because my instructor said that they don't have any school tack, so it was probably one of the girls that works at the farm. I am hoping that I will still be able to borrow a saddle if I take one of my horses.

                              Thanks for the input, it is really helping me think all of this through As a young professional myself, I do not have unlimited cash to spend, so I want to try to spend my dollars as wisely as possible.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I believe these folks are close http://www.woodsdressage.com/lessons.html
                                Local GMO http://alphadressage.org/
                                ... _. ._ .._. .._

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Where are you located exactly?? I'm in Odessa- North Tampa. I have a wonderful recommendation for a dressage instructor..
                                  PM me if you are interested!
                                  On the other hand, know anyone around here that is worth "my time" in the show jumper ring.. Currently driving past Orlando- and he is wonderful to ride with. But $100/lesson plus gas is like a $300 trip...
                                  Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Pony, what were the instructor's initials, if I may ask? You can PM them to me if you rather. Just curious becuase I have a friend who trailers into a BNT in Deland, I beleive it is and wondering if you were going to be riding at the same place. Good luck in your transition to the dark side, lol.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by jumpingmaya View Post
                                      On the other hand, know anyone around here that is worth "my time" in the show jumper ring.. Currently driving past Orlando- and he is wonderful to ride with. But $100/lesson plus gas is like a $300 trip...
                                      I'm just being nosy here, but I think I know who you are talking about. PM me? (if you want, I'm just being curious).

                                      But anyway, I would give this barn another chance and then see what you think. I do think you can find a closer trainer though... especially since you're just starting out. Especially since you're riding an inexperienced horse, it doesn't seem worth the drive for that. Maybe look around some more?

                                      Comment

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