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riding on a shoestring

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  • riding on a shoestring

    there were some interesting points brought up on the extremely entertaining thread on learning from books and videos. How many of you are managing on a minimal budget and how do you manage. I don't have a coach close by, I ride in what clinics I can mange to get to, and my daughter and I ride together inconsistently, but she has a fantastic eye and no patience. Work means I don't ride nearly as often as I either should or would like to. One of my jobs is flagging on the highway, and for some strange reason, standing on the road all day leaves me simply exhausted by the time I get home. I found it extremely rewarding to just throw a bridle on my guy and spend a short time in the riding ring bareback.
    I am not a dressage rider, per say, I do low level eventing and not very often. I haven't evented in 3 years, I am bringing along a curly tb gelding that I intend to event on next year. Our dressage has the potential to be quite good, he has the balance and paces and mind to produce good marks. And, I'm 63.

  • #2
    If your job is getting in the way of riding, then riding has to be fun, meaning it has to *not* be a job.

    Don't put huge expectations on yourself. Keep riding and build the relationship with the horse.

    There are lots of low key things you can do like working on your lateral movements at a walk, in hand or in the saddle, that will improve his fitness and topline without exhausting you.

    Also, I have to say, for those of us over 50 (arbitrary age point here), I think we get to say each and every day "It is so amazing that I am still riding, still healthy, still loving it, and this in itself is something to be profoundly grateful for." Start from that position and don't compare yourself to anyone else, and see where that takes you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Suggest that you have your daughter vid your rides so that you can watch them and see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

      Each ride, pick one thing on yourself that you will concentrate on improving: quiet hands, stable leg, giving hands, etc. Every 5 mins, check yourself. Dressage is all about the rider. If the horse isn't doing what you want, then you are doing something wrong (bad position, asking wrong, asking too much).

      Since you are tired, choose quality over quantity. Don't over train a movement. If you can't get it correct after 3 tries, change exercises. Don't over repeat. Many use a rule of 3 or 4 repeats of an exercise.

      Use youtube vids of clinics by solid trainers (research and know the trainers you get information from because there is a ton of awful). Buy a few good books and follow one method of training. Don't waste time and effort changing systems. Walter Zettle is good, straight forward and easy to understand. And don't over think it. Dressage take TIME TIME TIME.

      Have realistic expectations. But have expectations. If things don't improve after a set number of rides or weeks, think over what you are doing and maybe take a step back. Break things down into smaller steps.

      Most of all have fun!

      Comment


      • #4
        agree!! have fun, but still have goals!! I think you have more fun if you have goals, because improvement will make you feel better. And I agree with the videos too!!
        https://www.facebook.com/Luckyacresfarm
        https://www.facebook.com/Ulrike-Bsch...4373849955364/

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't do dressage any more (except in the old sense that every ride you are training your horse). My current horse is gaited and was born to do trails - the more challenging, the more keen he is.

          But even with him, I also have the limitations of time, demanding job, age, and I'll admit to some personal laziness. I find it interesting to do two things every time I ride: bending patterns, and work on the quality of the walk. My guy gets stiff easily, and this interferes with the quality of his running walk (gait). So any bending exercise pays big dividends. And one of the ODG's used to say "the most neglected gait is the walk, and the walk is the foundation of everything". So if we can do 20 minutes of a really good quality walk, with the hind stepping under and a good sway through the back, I call that a good day.

          Then, every now and then, can you get a lesson in? Telling the instructor your situation: that you have neither the time nor the money for regular lessons, but if s/he could give you 3 things to work on, you'll be back in 3-6 months for a check-up?

          Best wishes to you and your curly TB! Post a picture when you get time.

          Comment


          • #6
            Riding on a budget means something different to everyone. I know people who are in full training, and buy a new custom saddle every few years, whose horse cost more then $30k, and consider themselves on a budget. So - there is a lot of perspective to consider... Budget priced horse can mean $2k, $5k, $10k, $50k - all depends on where you are coming from.

            My own situation - my horses are at home, I bred them myself or they were freebies someone else couldnt ride, I take a couple of lessons monthly when I can afford it and can make it work in my schedule, clinic a few times each year. Because I ride at home (and live in a very rural area, and people here are not into sport horses), I don't have a lot of video opportunities.

            I have found I can NOT ride at the end of the day either - so I ride in the morning - early if necessary. When I had a "regular" job (now I travel part time for work, so my schedule is kind of erratic) I would ride at 5 a.m., twice or 3 x weekly. I found I had more energy to ride well, and did fine at work, as long as I didn't have any night meetings to deal with. Not sure if early mornings work for you, but just a thought.

            Video helps a LOT! I don't have that option (again, rural area - longing for one of those robot camcorders!). But at shows, I sometimes order a video. The other thing I do - anytime I take a lesson, I write down some key things I'm going to work on. And before every ride, I review those notes to remind myself of what I am working on.

            Comment


            • #7
              Back in the day, when I was competing on a shoestring AND trying to balance running a barn/coaching students with working on my own riding, I found the most helpful and cost effective way to improve my own riding was to audit clinics with good clinicians. I probably audited three for every one I rode in. And this is very important - while I audited, I sat by myself and took notes. Way too easy to get involved with kibbutzing with other auditors and miss stuff in the clinic.

              I am one of those learners who has to understand the concept intellectually before I can feel and ride it, if that makes sense, so I tended towards clinicians who taught that way.

              Digital video wasn't as prevalent then, but I did buy video of my performances and had my lessons videoed occasionally - that can be invaluable.

              Two other techniques I used to help pay for my riding education, more or less successfully - if I had a visiting clinician teach at my barn, essentially meaning I lost the ring and lesson income for the day, I built a session for myself into the clinic cost for other participants. So hosting the clinic meant I got to ride in it.

              The other strategy (not my idea, suggested to me by my wonderful students/clients) was to have a group of students "sponsor" my participation in a clinic. They divided the cost among themselves. In return, they all audited, and I then taught them all a "mini-clinic" later, reviewing with them what I had worked on in the clinic.

              Once or twice, my local Pony Club offered me a similar deal - they sponsored me to ride in a BNT clinic with the agreement that I would teach a clinic for the Pony Clubbers on what I had learned.

              Last edited by McGurk; Nov. 24, 2017, 12:20 PM.
              The plural of anecdote is not data.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by McGurk View Post

                Two other techniques I used to help pay for my riding education, more of less successfully - if I had a visiting clinician teach at my barn, essentially meaning I lost the ring and lesson income for the day, I built a session for myself into the clinic cost for other participants. So hosting the clinic meant I got to ride in it.
                I agree, that can be a way to get a free ride in, but... Depends on the cost of the clinician, AND the clinicians rules. We have one super clinician in our area that does not allow clinic organizers to "make" any money on her clinics - she has a "per ride" rate, and that is all that can be charged.

                And the other issue I've run into (as a clinic organizer) is that when the clinic gets too expensive, it becomes harder to fill. So if I build in enough to cover "my ride", that adds about $25/rider to the other rider costs - and that can be the price point where I can no longer fill the clinic.

                Most of the clinics I organize, I end up charging actual cost of the ride, or maybe just a bit more to help pay for a gift for the clinician (nice bottle of wine for example).

                Originally posted by McGurk View Post
                The other strategy (not my idea, suggested to me by my wonderful students/clients) was to have a group of students "sponsor" my participation in a clinic. They divided the cost among themselves. In return, they all audited, and I then taught them all a "mini-clinic" later, reviewing with them what I had worked on in the clinic.

                Once or twice, my local Pony Club offered me a similar deal - they sponsored me to ride in a BNT clinic with the agreement that I would teach a clinic for the Pony Clubbers on what I had learned.
                That works for a professional, but remember, may riders are AA, and a "sponsor in exchange for teaching" means a person is a professional. I love the idea for a local trainer though!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I got my Equine Canada level 1 coaching certificate in '89. I have not stayed current, and don't have time to coach if I did. One thing I do is invite riding buddies to come play in my jump field with me. They get riding pointers and I get someone to ride with. I've gotten to the point in my old age that I really don't enjoy riding alone much anymore. Phones are super handy these days for video, and I do get to see myself ride. The big thing I lack is simply consistency.
                    Also, it's not so much about affording riding money-wise, it's mostly about juggling time..

                    All my horses have been relatively cheap, and I have always enjoyed whatever I have regardless of their limitations for competing. I have never paid more than $2500 for a horse. I do sell the occasional horse, but focus on getting a home more than simply selling for $$'s. It can be argued that if a buyer can afford to pay the money they will give the horse a good home. That's not always the case.

                    I never intended this thread as a whine-fest, or to complain about lack of coaching or the expense of coaching. I think there are a lot of riders out there that are working fairly independently because of a lack of coaching. I do have access to good coaching, but it's an hour's drive away, and that isn't possible to do on a regular basis.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sunhawk View Post
                      I got my Equine Canada level 1 coaching certificate in '89. I have not stayed current, and don't have time to coach if I did. One thing I do is invite riding buddies to come play in my jump field with me. They get riding pointers and I get someone to ride with. I've gotten to the point in my old age that I really don't enjoy riding alone much anymore. Phones are super handy these days for video, and I do get to see myself ride. The big thing I lack is simply consistency.
                      Also, it's not so much about affording riding money-wise, it's mostly about juggling time..

                      All my horses have been relatively cheap, and I have always enjoyed whatever I have regardless of their limitations for competing. I have never paid more than $2500 for a horse. I do sell the occasional horse, but focus on getting a home more than simply selling for $$'s. It can be argued that if a buyer can afford to pay the money they will give the horse a good home. That's not always the case.

                      I never intended this thread as a whine-fest, or to complain about lack of coaching or the expense of coaching. I think there are a lot of riders out there that are working fairly independently because of a lack of coaching. I do have access to good coaching, but it's an hour's drive away, and that isn't possible to do on a regular basis.
                      Living on your property and not liking to ride alone is a conundrum. I board but love riding alone and getting away from the barn chatter. But would I love getting up alone on my own farm every day and riding alone? I honestly don't know.

                      Anyhow if you add not liking to ride alone on to tired from work and lack of time, it might be the culmination of everything that's keeping you off the horse. I've read threads on COTH from riders who are younger, less employed, and have more physical energy who nevertheless get the blahs when stuck on their own acreage. Some end up moving back to boarding barns.

                      I started a thread on the farm section a few years ago asking how many people kept up active riding once they got their own acreage. A surprising number did not. That made me more resigned to being in a suburban barn.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, if we are talking about a time shoestring...

                        I had to give myself permission to take shortcuts. Like doing minimal grooming, like skipping the saddle, like riding for twenty minutes some days. It was hard for me, but it's easier now.


                        If we're talking limited coaching...

                        Many digital cameras have video capability. Sure it can't follow you around, but I have set mine up in a corner with the corner at the far end of the long side at one edge of the frame and get more than half of the other long side. I get most of the action that way. If I am doing something specific I might set up the camera at A with C centered in the frame.

                        But 90% of improvement is riding with attention. Ask, assess, ask for better. Assess always. Then ask for better. Better can be anything. Softer. More or less bend. A rounder outline. Bringing the hind leg further under the body. A sharper response. Steadier (rhythm, contact, outline). More energy. Assess, what could be better, and how can I do that? Then do it.

                        Better is not perfection. Better may not be as good as yesterday. Better improves today. Get better and then do something else and make that better. Better means correcting the lazy transition to trot. Several times if needed. Better means you are making progress.


                        I do have two horses. It would be a lot easier time and money wise to have one. But I chose to have them both knowing that it would restrict my budget for lessons, shows and clinics. For new tack, blankets and such. For me it is worth it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                          I started a thread on the farm section a few years ago asking how many people kept up active riding once they got their own acreage. A surprising number did not. That made me more resigned to being in a suburban barn.
                          I think what tends to happen when you're on your own acreage and have no one to ride with, is you just get more picky as to when to ride. You want the ride to be as enjoyable as possible.

                          So you wait for perfect weather, you wait for a day where you're caught up on all your chores, have no errands to run -- a day when all things fall into place. A day that feels like a riding day. Those days can get far and few between for me, but they are glorious.

                          I do wish I had someone to ride with. I miss being at a boarding stable for that reason. But since my horses would not be as happy elsewhere, I make the sacrifice. It's a thrill to watch them at full gallop across their pastures, bucking and playing. I try to let the joy in their lives cancel out the blues of being all alone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One thing I'm doing now is an online course. While it's self-paced for the most part, it's motivating to get new areas to focus on with each ride. It also makes me feel like I'm "doing something" when it's too cold and dark to ride, and I'm catching up on the videos or journaling about it and reading about other course members' rides and seeing their videos. After all that, I usually can't get out to the barn fast enough when there's a chance to ride. It also is working better than in-person lessons for me at the time because my horse seems to be made of glass, so I've had to cancel lessons a few times due to her delicateness, and when she's going well, I worry that an instructor would push us past what she's physically ready for. With the online course, I can structure our rides and the exercises so that they fit with her physical capabilities on a certain day, or if she's not having a good day, we just do ground work and come back to the riding the next day.

                            It sounds like riding alone for you is a little like going to the gym for me. What I've found works is that I make a "deal" with myself to go and start a workout, but I can quit after 15 minutes. It's really getting started that is the hard part, so once I get changed and go to the gym, I put in the full workout 90% of the time. I suspect that if you just get in the saddle for a quick spin, you'll end up having fun and riding a little longer.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by danacat View Post

                              I think what tends to happen when you're on your own acreage and have no one to ride with, is you just get more picky as to when to ride. You want the ride to be as enjoyable as possible.

                              So you wait for perfect weather, you wait for a day where you're caught up on all your chores, have no errands to run -- a day when all things fall into place. A day that feels like a riding day. Those days can get far and few between for me, but they are glorious.

                              I do wish I had someone to ride with. I miss being at a boarding stable for that reason. But since my horses would not be as happy elsewhere, I make the sacrifice. It's a thrill to watch them at full gallop across their pastures, bucking and playing. I try to let the joy in their lives cancel out the blues of being all alone.
                              I set goals. My horses get ridden at least 3 times weekly - for me, it is work that dictates days I can't ride - I travel, so if I'm gone, there will be no riding. I'll ride as long as it isn't raining (drizzle is OK, showers are OK, soaking rain is not), or gusting 50 mph wind. I look at my work schedule and weather forecast each week and set out my riding days. Then I ride before lunch - if other things need to get done, they get done AFTER lunch. That way, the day doesn't get away from me before the gang gets ridden. My goal is 4 days/week on average, 3 days minimum.

                              I think it is like anything else - you need to set a schedule and stick to it. Like going to a gym, or working out. Or making Thanksgiving Dinner. I do miss riding with others, but I don't miss the drama and politics and BS. When I hear my friends talk about the crap that goes on at the barn, I realize riding alone has its perks!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I like the idea of the online course, and could definately look into that, and....the friends I ride with might be willing to go that route with me, which could make it more fun and rewarding too.
                                For sure, sometimes the hardest part is simply getting tacked up and on the horse. Once there, riding is simply a matter of knowing what we need to work on and getting to it. I never work my horse hard after days off, I tend to hack around the field, ask for bend and stretch, and day 2 get a bit more technical. I try to ride for blocks of 3 or 4 days, then however long it takes before I can get back on, plan for another block of days, so I can build each day on what we did before. I really enjoy having a horse that I can get on bareback and not have to deal with issues. Yeah, he often bucks in his canter when he's fresh, but he's a curly cross, and those bucks aren't hard to sit.
                                Goals...I would like to show-jump 3 feet this year, and get to pre-training eventing. So far, our max jumping has been 2'9, as his balance isn't quite what I would like it to be between the fences. Most of our flat work is been about getting him up through his back and really reaching into the contact. When I ride more consistently, it can be quite easy to get and keep him there. I get awesome feedback from dressage judges as to his capability, and I am more excited about pursuing dressage on this horse than any of my previous horses that I was more happy to focus on jumping....dressage was just that thing we had to get through before cross-country.
                                At 63, I am finding I'm not as confident jumping as I used to be, and that is making me want to focus on dressage more too.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You might want to set some shorter term goals too - I find that helps. For example - this week, I want to ride THESE days, and by the end of the week, have established a 20 meter circle where my horse feels more through and up in the back... I find breaking it down sometimes helps. A 'big goal' is so far away, I can put it off. An immediate goal is - immediate.

                                  I will set an agenda for the week - this week, we are working on forward trot, even on a 10 meter circle. OK, got that done, so THIS week, I'm taking that forward energy and have to maintain it, even on Shoulder In (my mare tends to back off when the work gets harder). And so on... Sometimes it takes me longer then a week, sometimes my agenda has to shift because of what is going on with my horse, but setting weekly goals helps me to achieve my bigger goals.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    oh, yes, for sure, I do pretty much the same thing, but those kind of goals tend to become, I hope, the common denominator for a horse that is fairly established. Cressie, for the most part, is light to my leg, and I have to focus on maintaining a good even contact and getting the bend and lift from my seat and leg. I'm quite lucky as he is the kind of horse that tends to lock into and stay on the contact and seek it. A bit stiff to the left, hollow right, and I have to really set him up to get a good canter transition. He tends to be a bit tight in his back in canter, so lots of transitions trot, canter, trot. So I guess my short term goal is to get him as springy through the back in his canter work as he is in trot.
                                    I am also very lucky in that the neighbour across the street has a small coverall that I can use when I want. Price to be my being her eyes on the ground if we happen to be riding at the same time. She is a level 2 western coach who has been getting into western dressage.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by danacat View Post

                                      I think what tends to happen when you're on your own acreage and have no one to ride with, is you just get more picky as to when to ride. You want the ride to be as enjoyable as possible.

                                      So you wait for perfect weather, you wait for a day where you're caught up on all your chores, have no errands to run -- a day when all things fall into place. A day that feels like a riding day. Those days can get far and few between for me, but they are glorious.

                                      I do wish I had someone to ride with. I miss being at a boarding stable for that reason. But since my horses would not be as happy elsewhere, I make the sacrifice. It's a thrill to watch them at full gallop across their pastures, bucking and playing. I try to let the joy in their lives cancel out the blues of being all alone.
                                      If you're waiting for the perfect day to ride, you're probably not motivated to develop in a serious way up the levels. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it takes a certain drive (insanity?) to keep up with the work and to keep the horse fit year-round. You really gotta WANT it.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LarkspurCO View Post

                                        If you're waiting for the perfect day to ride, you're probably not motivated to develop in a serious way up the levels. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it takes a certain drive (insanity?) to keep up with the work and to keep the horse fit year-round. You really gotta WANT it.
                                        That's a bit presumptuous.

                                        I don't WANT anything. No goals, no 'levels' (???) -- no need for year-round fit horses. I just trail ride around my farm and do just enough flat work to keep my horses responsive. I'm totally retired from my extensive horse career....and so are my horses. Now it's just riding for pleasure.

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