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More frequent/less expensive lessons vs less frequent/more expensive?

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  • More frequent/less expensive lessons vs less frequent/more expensive?

    I'm trying to get us on a better winter "program", dressage-wise, and have set some good goals to work towards in our itty bitty off season. I've sussed out the best options, instructor-wise, and have arrived at two choices. I'd love some insight on making this choice.

    The horse in question is working at First level, schooling some Second. Basic concepts are there but I need some help really properly developing his gaits for mediums and collected work.

    Quality of each trainer is relatively equal - but one has successfully competed through GP (gold medal), while the other has only competed through 3rd (bronze). Teaching styles slightly different, but again, both produce very correct work. One has been said to be pretty tough - the other less so, but again, both sticklers for correctness. Both great riders, one male, one female.

    WWYD? The less expensive trainer is also the less experienced - but at this point in our training, do we really NEED someone capable through GP? We could potentially afford to work with the less expensive trainer twice a month, versus once a month/6 weeks with the other, more expensive/experienced.

  • #2
    Unless you're trying to learn things that you can't get from the more expensive, upper level instructor, it seems to me that what most of us benefit from the most is regular work with good eyes-on-the-ground. Assuming less expensive instructor is more available to you, unless they aren't knowledgeable enough to help you, I'd probably vote regular and consistent program over once in a blue moon with a big name. But more importantly, have you ridden with both? I'd take a lesson with both and see if one is a better fit for you/your horse/your program before making any decision.

    Comment


    • #3
      Competing at the tip top of any discipline is often a function of money and luck, as much as anything else, so I am always surprised when it appears at the top of a student seeking an instructor, particularly when they are not competing at that level themselves.

      That's not to say the instructor doesn't need upper level experience, knowledge, and teaching ability but currently competing at GP vs Third level? ... not so much.

      Comment


      • #4
        Since both are well above the level needed for training the obvious choice would be the lesser cost/more lesson time. Training new things,whether human or horse is a repetitive, muscle memory process. Bad habits can results quickly when working on something new so the more often one has to be "refreshed", the less time it takes to learn and solidify the education.

        At one time I took lessons from a "R" rated dressage judge about once a month, when I was still very green behind the ears. The lessons were amazing in the moment. She knew my horse in the first few minutes, definitely had me figured out for the noob, but her instruction so elevated our riding...In the Moment...that I could not believe what we were doing. A week later most of it was gone and by another 3, I was slightly better then before, but nothing like lesson day. I could only afford once a month (or more) and I LOVED the lessons, but started to see that we were not ready for that level/duration of training.

        These days I get training with a "r" dressage judge (who rides GP), more often and for less money. She's taken us to some new levels I'd not had before in dressage much quicker then had I stayed with the advanced trainer. This is because she corrects our slips (less time consuming as we get to know each other) before they get habitual and then adds more to the tool box.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would suggest like above, take a lesson with each of them and really get a feel for them and how they understand you and your horse and go with the one that fits best for where you are now and can help you along in a correct, comfortable and enjoyable manner!

          Good luck

          Comment


          • #6
            Ditto the above. Both of them are above where OP is at the moment, both know how (we assume) to develop gaits and teach OP so there is no real need to go above the lower of the 2 more frequently.

            IME, less experienced horses learn better with more frequent repetition over shorter time spans then some long boot camp thing it's hard to follow up with when you get home.

            Maybe save a little to clinic a couple of times with a more advanced instructor.

            Remember the horse does not care about the trainers resume. We sometimes do but more for our vanity then any good said resume actually does our horse.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


            • #7
              Which one is the better trainer and which one do you like working with? Either would be effective if they work well with you, inspire you and improve your riding and the horse. Not much point in spending ANY money for a trainer you don't like or who doesn't help. Maybe a test drive with both before you pick one?
              "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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              • #8
                I would say take a lesson with each of them and see what you think after that.

                The more expensive trainer might give you SO much info that it's worth it to only go once a month. And the same might be true for the less expensive trainer.

                I currently ride with two dressage instructors. Yes, the more expensive one is more experienced. But I get an equal amount from both lessons. They actually complement each other quite well, as one is very much a position perfectionist, which the other is great at helping me problem solve with my oftentimes difficult mare.

                So I think you should try a lesson with both and go from there. :-)
                Take Your Equestrian Business to the Next Level: http://www.mythiclanding.com/
                Follow me at http://mythiclanding.blogspot.com or http://twitter.com/mythiclanding

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by SevenDogs View Post
                  Competing at the tip top of any discipline is often a function of money and luck, as much as anything else, so I am always surprised when it appears at the top of a student seeking an instructor, particularly when they are not competing at that level themselves.
                  I don't think that I implied anywhere that I wanted a trainer competing at any particular level, and would be perfectly happy as long as we are in capable hands. My favorite trainer is a former GP rider that doesn't really ride much these days, but alas, she's too far and too expensive (though worth it) for us right now. Competition scores are just an easy way of describing their respective abilities, and to separate them from the gaggle of so-called "dressage" trainers in my area that couldn't ride out of a paper bag, much less down a centerline, but would lead clients to believe otherwise.

                  Both are relatively the same distance from me - ~25 miles, give or take, with a price difference of about $30 per lesson.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Whichever way you go, I wanted to suggest a few things that might help with retention, whether you're taking lessons twice a month or every 6 weeks.

                    Make notes immediately after your lesson, while things are fresh in your mind.

                    Try to get someone to videotape your lesson so you can review.

                    At the end of each lesson, take a quick couple of minutes to verbally go over what you learned/worked on with your trainer--it will help it stick in your brain. Also a good time to discuss what to work on between lessons.

                    Videotape yourself working on your own, and spend some time going over that with your trainer.

                    Consider trying to take a semi-private lesson. I can be like you, in that of course I can do it with someone giving me constant instructions, but it sticks with me more if I have a few minutes to try to figure it out for myself. Semi-privates give you that--few minutes of instruction, then a few minutes working on your own while the instructor is focused on the other student. I usually prefer privates for dressage, but once in a while I'll do this, because if I'm just following instructions, my brain seems to disengage and I can't do it later on my own.

                    Just some thoughts! When money and time are limited (as it is for most of us), some of these tools may help you get more bang for your buck.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It depends on what you're looking for in your lessons.

                      I like to have my dressage instructor's eyes on my horses to help me decide what I should be working on in any given period of time (primarily to have an independent opinion of physical strengths and weaknesses). The more times her eyes are on them the better. If I felt the overall instruction was equal, I would pick the less experienced of the two that you could ride with more frequently. But that's coming from the perspective of someone who lately has ridden with a trainer once every 3-4 months (and only that frequently if we're both organized enough to make it happen ).

                      And I agree with Snugglerug. I take detailed notes the minute I get my horse(s) back in crossties, before any of it escapes my [terrible] memory. And I try to incorporate everything we worked on in my rides until I ride with her the next time.

                      But mostly I'm trying to improve my horses' jumping through dressage, so the details often aren't as important as the general idea of where to head next with our flatwork. If I were trying to ride for the sake of competition I would definitely aim for the more frequent lessons. And I don't think that the level someone has ridden to always corresponds directly to their ability to teach and the quality of their eye. So I'm not sure that factor would have a place in my decision.

                      I guess my approach would be to ride with each of them once and decide which coaching style fits you better. Because I think that's more important than the other details.
                      __________________________________
                      Flying F Sport Horses
                      Horses in the NW

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have to trailer out, so for me, going cheaper but going more often is not as cost efficient as it sounds.

                        Find the one that gives the best homework. It could be the more expensive one or it could not.

                        I usually dont feel like I get alot out of lessons ( I dont do it enough) completely my own issue. But, if I have someone that can pinpoint issues and send me home with a good bag of tricks and ideas I can work on it at home.

                        This works for me as im very aware of budget and my inability to trailer out.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by SuperAlter View Post
                          I have to trailer out, so for me, going cheaper but going more often is not as cost efficient as it sounds.
                          I will be hauling to whichever one I choose - so fuel costs are a concern for me as well. They are both about 25 miles away.

                          I am leaning towards the less expensive of the two. I actually know the woman on a personal/casual level, but the other trainer was suggested to me by a friend.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                            We could potentially afford to work with the less expensive trainer twice a month, versus once a month/6 weeks with the other, more expensive/experienced.
                            I was going to say "I dunno, it depends, I can see the argument for either route" but then you said this.

                            For me at least, two weeks is enough time that I have almost completely processed the "homework" and am ready to see the trainer again before I develop new bad habits or over-exaggerate something they were asking me to do.

                            However, if costs allow, I ditto GotSpots' advice to try the expensive trainer at least once. Then you can compare apples to oranges without guessing what the oranges taste like, if that makes sense.

                            FWIW, this is how I do it: I have fairly regular lessons locally with my local trainer every week or two. She has schooled to PSG and competed successfully through 4th level, so she's well beyond my weenie work at Training/First Level. But every few months, this local trainer brings in HER trainer to the barn. Her trainer, a BNT, has competed several horses up to Grand Prix. The BNT costs $45 more per lesson than my local trainer, but it's worth the money because she's basically saying the same things my local trainer says, but in new-to-me ways that often get faster and better results. If the BNT and local trainer were working at cross-purposes, this might not work as well.
                            Last edited by jn4jenny; Oct. 17, 2012, 08:31 PM.
                            Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              take what you can get whreever

                              take what you can get, or, find, works for you...
                              for years the only instruction I got were the remarks on dressage tests, fortunately, we have lots of qualified people judging in this area; I had a memorable lesson after our first 2nd level test, from a "R" who, I had known before as a fellow employee at Potomac
                              horse Center; also from a Centered Riding instructors clinic. She helped me with the "danger spots"" in the test as well as improving the quality of our collected trot work; I consider that the best, i.e., most appropriate and productive lesson I ever had; anywhere, including Austria; as best I could tell it lasted only 20 minutes

                              others, also found it good; our next show was a recognized one judged by the late Col. Thackery, we won not only the 2nd level class and championship; but, also, the non F E I championship and also the overall high score championship; She, the horse, is now in California, continuing to win at 2nd, and 3rd levels with a child rider; not bad for a little, plain bay TB mare , a "domestic brand" dressage horse so, the training held
                              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

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Carol Ames View Post
                                take what you can get, or, find, works for you...
                                for years the only instruction I got were the remarks on dressage tests, fortunately, we have lots of qualified people judging in this area; I had a memorable lesson after our first 2nd level test, from a "R" who, I had known before as a fellow employee at Potomac
                                horse Center; also from a Centered Riding instructors clinic. She helped me with the "danger spots"" in the test as well as improving the quality of our collected trot work; I consider that the best, i.e., most appropriate and productive lesson I ever had; anywhere, including Austria; as best I could tell it lasted only 20 minutes

                                others, also found it good; our next show was a recognized one judged by the late Col. Thackery, we won not only the 2nd level class and championship; but, also, the non F E I championship and also the overall high score championship; She, the horse, is now in California, continuing to win at 2nd, and 3rd levels with a child rider; not bad for a little, plain bay TB mare , a "domestic brand" dressage horse so, the training held
                                This is what I've been doing, Carol, and on a plain bay TB (gelding, not little at all!) to boot. With some pretty good success, most recently being half a percent off the high point score for the entire show. The comments are helpful, scores great, and I'm comfortable with where we are at, but I'm leery of continuing to do this as an approach to the medium and collected gaits in Second level. I'm capable as far as the lateral work, counter canter, simple changes, etc. asked for, but my education on progressing him to the medium and collected gaits is where I'm weak. He has fantastic gaits, so I'd like to avoid screwing it up as much as possible.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  go with the Grand Prix trainer. If they have taught/trained horses/riders through the levels it's even better. Beware of someone that rides Grand Prix but does not actually train horses and students through the levels. I ride with a Grand Prix trainer. He knows how to get me and my horse to progress, and always gives me homework as I only school with him once or twice a month. I am a lower level trainer myself, teaching beg/intermediate riders, starting horses, working with problem horses and can take them through first level and working on second/third. I have learned more form my current coach, and willingly, even happily pay his high rate as he is good and is worth it. Our goal is FEI with my current young horse. everything he teaches me has the feel of, "we are not riding for first level or second level...we are riding towards Grand Prix."

                                  Make sure the FEI coach is a fit though with you. If you do not click, or it does not click with your mount....do not be afraid to try elsewhere. You have to really believe in your coach, and know they are taking you down the right path.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    It depends on what kind of student you are, how you get along with each coach, and if you can get what you need from each.

                                    I go for "expensive" (she's actually not that expensive, but because I have a limited lesson budget and can fake my way through dressage, I spend most of it on jumping lessons) and less frequent. That's because the lessons I DO take are so great that they last me awhile. I get lots of good advice and exercises and am good enough on my own to do the homework. Sure, I would like to take more lessons, but quality over quantity for ME. I work well with the trainer, she understands my issues and my appreciates my horse, and he thrives under her eye.

                                    If you are someone who needs a bit more guidance, you may find that going to someone with a little less experience (assuming they can meet your needs and their teaching style suits you) more frequently is a better use of your lesson budget.

                                    The biggest thing is taking lessons from whoever works the best FOR YOU. You can take 2 lessons a week from someone, but if they don't work well with your learning style, it is just a waste of money. But if someone really clicks with you, it is better to take one lesson a month and really gain a lot from it.

                                    In other words, take a lesson or two from both, then decide.
                                    Amanda

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm going to disagree with the majority here due to my experiences. You get what you pay for.

                                      First let me tell you a little story of my mother, who is a dressage rider. She rode for 4 years with 2 different coaches at different times. Both of these coaches were and are UL riders who coach, average lesson price 60-70$. My mom took two lessons a week during this time and was upgrading from Training to First level. Over the years she did ok at shows, placed well but nothing spectacular. She really wanted to show second level but her scores were just not great enough at First to justify the move.

                                      She was growing ever frustrated and contemplated giving up competition thinking she is just a crap rider. We discussed it and I suggested she find a new coach. In the meantime she rode alone, then a friend in the area started bringing a more expensive coach once a month to the area, $125 a lesson, also an UL rider though not currently competing at that level. Within a few lessons she had pointed out a number things that were wrong and took my mom back to square one. A year later she was First Level Champion for her division in the province, second in the entire Province and was high score at the Championships. She is now ready to move onto second level.

                                      The point to this story is that with a more expensive trainer they are likely (not always) worth the money. Even with one lesson a month I get more out of it then weekly lessons from someone who is not as good. We work on specifics and then I spend the next 3 weeks focusing on my homework.

                                      With a young horse it is particularly important to start them correctly so you are not having to redo the training properly later. Don't cheap out.
                                      Fillys By Vibank - 2017 Road to RRP
                                      https://www.youtube.com/user/jealoushe

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        $$ don't = teaching talent

                                        It is not what you pay!! It is all about what you can learn from a particular instructor. Some wonderful UL riders are completely incapable of teaching, some are great teachers. Some not BNT's can teach way better than others, and are capable of explaining things that are no longer within their own ability.

                                        Try each instructor. See which one relates best to you and your problems, and where you are going or want to go.
                                        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.

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