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Former low-level eventer turned adult re-rider. What would you do?

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  • Former low-level eventer turned adult re-rider. What would you do?

    First time poster, long time lurker looking for a bit of advice...

    I am trying to be an adult re-rider. I've been out of the saddle for about 20 years. I rode for about 15 years and was competing in low level evening and third level dressage when I dropped out. Life just got in the way...
    I have ridden as often as I can, but not consistently since I stopped taking lessons. I have some friends with horses that I try to ride as often as possble, but it's infrequent at best.

    I am now trying to get back in the saddle, but feeling discouraged.

    For now, I would like to get back into weekly lessons with the hope of riding twice per week fairly soon after. Right now, my focus is just getting back in riding shape. I feel like my seat is pretty solid still and my basics, while rusty, are still pretty good. I'm out of shape and out of practice. I'd like to really work on my ground work to determine just how far I want to get back into things. I do not have my own horse. As much as I'd just like to go out and buy one, I feel as though I need to be honest with myself as to where I'm at and where I want to be as a rider after taking some lessons. I anticipate I will eventually buy, but my stretch goal would be to compete lightly at low levels at best.

    Ideally, I'd like to train at an eventing barn since that has traditionally been my area of comfort. There are not many eventing trainers here and those that are, do not have lesson horses. There was one trainer who offered very kindly to try to find a horse I could lesson on, but after a few attempts at following up and not hearing back, I think I am out of luck there.

    There is another barn close by that has a dressage trainer on staff and they seem to have a couple of lesson horses, but no jumping trainer. I might be able to eventually find another trainer to help with the jumping piece, but I would certainly prefer a one-stop shop.

    What would you do in my position? Do many of you train with separate h/j and dressage trainers? How do you find that experience?
    For those of you who were re-riders without a horse, how did you get back into eventing? How long before you were back in the saddle did you feel like you were ready to buy?

    I'm feeling a little stuck, likely because I'm over thinking things. Any insight y'all have would be most appreciated.

  • #2
    So much of it is just TIME IN THE SADDLE, especially if you've been away for a while. I wouldn't worry about what discipline--find the best riding situation you can and just start riding. Even western--why not? If you work with a trainer for a while and show that you're dedicated, reliable, and eager to do more you might find some opportunities opening up, either through your trainer who will know you are seriously looking (part lease? conditioning rides? occasional extra lessons?) or from barn-mates who might need help keeping their horse fit.

    I'd go to the dressage barn and start riding. Keep your ears open. Ask around. Get to know the school horses and the instructor. Suggest a clinic, or ask if you can do some basic gridwork once in a while--I'd be surprised if a decent dressage instructor had NO experience with jumping, but I could be very wrong on that.

    Keep in touch with the eventing trainer, and maybe after a little bit of time has passed you could figure out a way to do a half-lease at her barn and get that jumping going.

    Good luck! Where are you located?
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      time in the saddle is right. I'm in your shoes - I've had my own horses for the last few years, but I've lost confidence jumping.

      For ME - I'm considering going to an H/J barn for a while just to get on a safe schoolie and jump often and big.


      • #4
        There are several people who train with different trainers for dressage and jumping. If it's what you have available go with it. I'd start lessons with the dressage trainer on a lesson horse and spend some time getting your riding legs back. Being in the horse community will help open up some options and you may very well find contacts at that barn for a lease or something. Find eventers on your area by going on the eventing websites and searching your region.

        Instead of putting money towards boarding, vet, farrier fees just ride a few times a week on the lesson horse. How fast you feel ready to buy a horse will depend on you and your own life. Welcome back!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Still wishing for a pony View Post

          What would you do in my position? Do many of you train with separate h/j and dressage trainers? How do you find that experience?
          For those of you who were re-riders without a horse, how did you get back into eventing? How long before you were back in the saddle did you feel like you were ready to buy?

          I'm feeling a little stuck, likely because I'm over thinking things. Any insight y'all have would be most appreciated.
          I am also an adult re-rider. I grew up with horse trainer parents, stopped riding in early high school when a divorce forced the sale of the barn, and only picked it back up after grad school. I took lessons with a local eventing trainer on every broken-down broodmare or insane green bean that she could throw my way. It took me 2+ years of bi-weekly lessons and eventual leasing before I jumped in the deep end the pool and bought my own horse. It was the best decision of my life. All my fears and over-analysis melted away and I fell completely in love with him, with eventing, with horses in general.

          Based on my experience, I'd say ride with whoever is supportive and available. H/J, dressage, etc. will all be relevant to eventing in some way. Just find someone you enjoy and trust and respect as a horse person. Ride as often as you can, but realize that lessons will never be as wonderful or as fulfilling as owning. I don't know why, but something magical happens when you write that check. I would say go into this with the intention of saving up and buying as soon as you feel "un-rusty." Half the fun of getting back in the saddle and growing as a rider will be doing it with your horse (not someone else's horse).

          As a side note, I too do not have a great event trainer within a reasonable distance of me. I used to commute 1+ hour each way to ride with an event trainer, but it got to be too much so I moved my guy home. Now I can ride every day, but like you, must kind of cobble together event training between a dressage trainer, h/j trainer, and clinics/schoolings at local venues. I think it's a very American idea that everyone must have a trainer and only do things with that trainer. As a safe, responsible, educated, and experienced amateur, i think you can be successful and have a lot of fun eventing at the lower levels with a medium amount of trainer input. I don't think you have to be in full training with an "eventing" trainer. I think you can make due with what's reasonable or available, have a blast, get as much help as you can, and just learn to ride by riding. Read lots of books. Visit blogs. Ride as much as possible.

          Good luck!


          • #6
            Everyone has good suggestions and I'd echo them: just get in the saddle wherever, however.

            Fwiw, having moved from horse country USA to middle of nowhere Washington, I spent months cobbling together a place to ride out here. I wanted an eventing trainer close by, with horses I could ride (since I didn't bring anything out with me), and I lost fitness from being out of the tack while trying to find something. Very similar to you.

            After visiting and meeting multiple trainers (including just h/j, just dressage, just backyard scary), I finally found an eventing instructor who rocks. She's about 50 mins away, even with my lead foot

            Since this area isn't eventer-dense, I couldn't just use then usea instructor list (no one within 2h of me :/), so I had to broaden my search net. I used the chronicle forums to get suggestions on trainers, emailed the DC's of local pony clubs, "liked" the area 7 Facebook group, and emailed dozens of random people whose barns I found on google. I put together a little bio on my riding & what I was looking for. Perhaps you've already done that but if not, it might give you more options about getting some tack time.

            Best of luck!
            Last edited by La Chasse; Mar. 21, 2013, 01:33 AM. Reason: I forgot how to spell
            And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."


            • #7
              Still Wishing,
              Can I echo Deltawave's request? - please give where you live either as a new post or, better yet, as a location in your handle. That way you'll get much better, local advice. It doesn't matter where you are in North America, there will be people on this forum who either live there, have lived there or have friends in the area.
              Welcome back!
              Brock n. (Anglo-Saxon) badger as in Brockenhurst, Brocklebank etc www.area35.us


              • Original Poster

                You are all so right, of course. I think I got lost trying to find the perfect situation when really what I need is time on a horse. Any horse.

                Thank you all very much for your kind words of advice and for weighing in with your experiences.

                I am in Arizona. North Phoenix. The problem here is that it's all so spread out, but the barn with the dressage trainer is literally right down the street. It seems so obvious now and it looks as though I'm super lucky to have a situation close by.

                I have thought about volunteering and going to hang out at local horse shows to try to make some connections as well. I'm mad at myself for losing touch with all of my contacts over the years, but I just need to start somewhere.

                I'll call the barn tomorrow. Thank you again for the encouragement. You have all made me feel much, much better.


                • #9
                  I agree -- just get on a horse. I'm actually teaching someone in almost exactly your situation how to ride my older horse. He got injured and can't work at my level, but he can still take someone (very quickly, LOL) around Maiden or BN. She is very busy, so we only get to work together about once a week, but she's already made great progress; the muscle memory is still there, she still has a great seat, balance, and leg. She's just working on getting stronger and remembering how to focus and coordinate aids.

                  She randomly contacted me through email, we did not know each other -- we met, she met my horse, everyone clicked and we're having a great time. So connections can be in unexpected places. Volunteering is a GREAT idea. I'd also join your Area Adult Riders and I bet there are people who'd love to have horses ridden -- we often have someone with an older packer who'd love to keep moving.
                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                  Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                  We Are Flying Solo


                  • #10
                    If I were you I would start taking lessons at a qualified Hunter Jumper barn with a good emphasis on flatwork. Many hunter trainers know enough about basic flatwork to get you going and you would have the added benefit of being able to jump.

                    There is no difference learning basic jumping skills from an HJ trainer especially if you lean more toward jumpers. After you're more comfortable over fences you could purchase a horse and move to an eventing barn.

                    You could always supplement your lessons with lessons from a dressage instructor on a school horse but I have found that more HJ barns have lesson horses then other types of riding.


                    • #11
                      Along with time in the saddle, add exercise to your program. Pilates, yoga and take a look at the Success in the Saddle DVD program.
                      1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.


                      • #12
                        Nothing to add, just wanted to welcome you back!

                        BTDT and it was worth every Advil
                        Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                        The Grove at Five Points


                        • #13
                          Go with the convenient dressage barn. You don't need to be jumping for a few months while you get your body back with flatwork. Volunteer at local h/j and eventing shows and I bet you will find some avenues for continuing with jumping once you're riding regularly.