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Thoughts needed on trainers...

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  • Thoughts needed on trainers...

    Obviously posting under an alter.

    Some background: I am a rerider coming back after several years off. Before taking a break, I could comfortably jump 2'6" bareback with no issue.

    Trainer A: I have been working with for about 3 months. I started working with her on hunt seat after a dressage trainer managed to shatter my confidence (and my horse's). Old dressage trainer pushed horsey and I too fast without building enough of a foundation, and we went from happy team just getting solid at all three gaits to being scared to even work together. Horsey hated being ridden, I was scared to even sit on him. Trainer A started me on her lesson pony to build confidence and had me do groundwork with horsey until I felt good to get on horsey. We started on the lunge with horsey, and still do mostly walk/trot work. Cantering was (and still is, although to a much lesser extent) terrifying for me, since with the dressage trainer horsey would buck like no other going into it. We usually do half the lesson on the lunge line working on things like seat and leg, and the other half off the lunge doing things like leg yielding and ground poles with the occasional small crossrail or cavaletti thrown in. Trainer A has been introducing the canter by having us pick it up over a 6 inch crossrail or low cavaletti, which is working for both horsey and I. We're usually both too focused on doing everything right getting there to panic about the canter. We have started working on canter without the crossrail, and that is getting more and more solid. We mix it up with trotting out to keep horsey listening and responsive.

    Trainer A has been focused on correcting the mental/confidence issues, and getting horsey and I to a point where we're having fun. I never feel unsafe in her lessons, or challenged above what I can handle. Horsey is calm and relaxed, and enjoys the variety in the lessons. Rather than freaking out when something new is introduced, he takes new things in stride and is learning quickly. Both horsey and I are happy in lessons, and trainer A and I agree on what the goals are, and she has suggested a dressage trainer that she thinks would be suitable to really help refine our groundwork. She is planning on watching so she can get another perspective on how horsey and I are working. She's also helping me sort out a potential clinic schedule for next year, looking at who is a good fit for us, and she also plans on auditing to get more ideas for helping us. Also, she has a couple other trainers she recommends for when she's out of town, and offers to watch a lesson with them when she comes back to get a feel for what they are doing. We haven't run into that yet, but I like that she has a plan for it. Trainer A and I both know up front (and have discussed) that I'll eventually graduate her program and move to another trainer's, so this is helpful there as well.

    Enter Trainer B (who I am not riding with). She's new to the barn, and really sweet. Always happy to offer advice. A lot of what she says does make sense. She's had no trouble saying she doesn't think I have any business going over cross rails if I am not comfortable cantering on the flat. I appreciate that she's at least not saying this in front of Trainer A, and normally I would agree with her. Given the background, and how well this has worked for us, and how much I've talked with Trainer A about the why's of what we're doing, I'm not too sure anymore. Several people from the barn are telling me I'd do better with Trainer B, because Trainer A is pushing too fast.

    I am grateful that Trainer B is so generous with her knowledge and advice, but I also trust Trainer A. Is Trainer A justified in getting the canter through other means? Or should I have a talk with Trainer A about our progress and solidifying the canter without the crossrail? I want to make sure I'm not one of those who is trading quality training for more "fun" stuff.

  • #2
    When you ask for the canter not over a crossrail do you tense? Are you asking him to go "in a frame"? Are you holding back while asking forward because you are tense or your trying to keep his head down? If so I'd suggest asking for a canter on a loose type rein. Don't worry about the head, don't worry about it being pretty just canter. IMO you need to be able to relax, you and horsie, and canter before a cross rail. I don't see anything majorly wrong if this is the only option you have but have you tried on the lunge without you doing anything but just sitting? I have a feeling you are asking for more than what he is able to give right now in the depart and he is telling you, no I can't do that yet. Or you are tensing against him in your hand and ticking him off. Have you tried a loose rein canter yet?
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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    • #3
      I think trainer A sounds like a gem of a trainer who is putting a lot of thought and time into your riding!! I would stick with her. Nothing wrong with getting the canter from the cross rail....that is how my wonderful trainer teaches it.

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      • #4
        And I bet within three months you can ask for the canter with no cross rail.

        Keep us posted!

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        • #5
          A friend of mine had a horse that would go into serious bucking fits any time you asked her to canter. We found the only way to safely transition her in the beginning was taking her over small x's either by themselves or through a gymnastic. It allowed her to balance herself without the rider nagging her about the gait. After awhile of doing this, she was able to start picking it up without the cross rails. So I think your kind of on track with this.

          I also think you said it best that you trust your trainer and that you and your horse are happy in your lessons. Don't give that up for someone who will come up to you and bad mouth your trainer's plan and undermine your confidence.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Limerick View Post
            I think trainer A sounds like a gem of a trainer who is putting a lot of thought and time into your riding!! I would stick with her. Nothing wrong with getting the canter from the cross rail....that is how my wonderful trainer teaches it.
            This. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Trainers who are so good with confidence issues are one in a million- the fact that she is willing to plan to go beyond her own instruction via dressage teachers, clinics, etc, makes her extra special.
            Stick with "A."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AnotherAlter123 View Post
              I never feel unsafe in her lessons, or challenged above what I can handle. Horsey is calm and relaxed, and enjoys the variety in the lessons. Rather than freaking out when something new is introduced, he takes new things in stride and is learning quickly.
              Trust yourself and how you feel with Trainer A. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. It sounds like right now you need to focus on building confidence for both yourself and horsey. And your trainer understands that this will be a stepping stone for you to bigger and better things and will help you through the transition? Sounds like one in a million. So much of riding is mental, both for you and the horse, learn all you can and enjoy!

              Comment


              • #8
                Enter Trainer B (who I am not riding with). She's new to the barn, and really sweet. Always happy to offer advice. A lot of what she says does make sense. She's had no trouble saying she doesn't think I have any business going over cross rails if I am not comfortable cantering on the flat. I appreciate that she's at least not saying this in front of Trainer A, and normally I would agree with her. Given the background, and how well this has worked for us, and how much I've talked with Trainer A about the why's of what we're doing, I'm not too sure anymore. Several people from the barn are telling me I'd do better with Trainer B, because Trainer A is pushing too fast.
                Really - I'd like to hear what she does say in front of Trainer A - unless you approached her for an assessment, she seems somehwhat misguided in her actions regarding colleagues.
                Not every trainer will agree about a course of action & there is more than one course of action to a goal (ie both trainers might work for you) BUT I would definitely question Trainer B's experience in this scenario.

                Trainer A absolutely sounds like a wonderful coach for you & your horse
                & as she's open with regards to other trainers, you might ask her opinion of B.

                One comment I can't withhold - bucking into the canter: check saddle fit! (managed to limit myself to a single !) - even if you think saddle fits etc, if you've not had it looked at by an actual saddle fitter when this all started & again recently (no idea what your time frame is in all this), then do so.
                (I'm always amazed by how many people will not question the cost of shoeing but then lament that a saddle fitter is too $$$$ - most people I know pay more for shoes than any of the local fitters charge )

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                • #9
                  Tell Trainer B, not in so many words perhaps, to mind her own business. (An old boss of mine liked to use "I'll take that under advisement" as a polite way of saying eff off.) If you're happy with Trainer A and getting your confidence back and your horse is settling down from being brain-fried, don't fix what ain't broke. It sounds like Trainer B's poaching students.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AnotherAlter123 View Post
                    Is Trainer A justified in getting the canter through other means? Or should I have a talk with Trainer A about our progress and solidifying the canter without the crossrail? I want to make sure I'm not one of those who is trading quality training for more "fun" stuff.

                    Trainer A is fine. It is working for you. You are NOT really jumping with a 6" crossrail and it is a not an usual solution for a rider/horse with your issues. It is a stepping stone that often works to get a horse and rider over issues about cantering. Should you be jumping a course of fences at 3' when you don't canter well on the flat. Of course not. But to have such a black/white rule as Trainer B says to me speaks volumes of the type of trainer they are. They are "there is only one correct way"....They are likely either young...or just very very inflexible.

                    Stick with Trainer A...they sound most flexible and open to learning themselves and watching you grow. THAT is what you want in a trainer.
                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree that Trainer A sounds fabulous!! It's working and you and your lesson horsey are happy, so why change anything? I would be over the moon with a trainer who puts that much thought and care into lessons.

                      If all is going well and you and the horse are within your comfort zones, how could it possibly be going too fast?

                      Remember that all horses are individuals, like people. Just because your last horse bucked at the canter, doesn't mean that this one will. If he's been giving lessons for awhile, he expects rider imperfections and has learned to live with it. Thankfully most horses are pretty generous that way. No reason to expect a problem!! Just work on your confidence and position.
                      Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think trainer A is right on track.
                        You are not an inexperienced rider, but you are having a mental block and confidence issues.
                        If picking the canter off a small jump helps you and horse mentally I don't see anything wrong with this.
                        For a completed beginner I am not sure that this is the approach I would take.
                        I would trust yourself and trainer A. You are progressing in her program and feel safe in how it is being managed.
                        Personally I don't like it when a second trainer puts down another trainers program. It always makes me wonder what they are trying to prove. In the horse world there are so many ways of doing things.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What Limerick said!!

                          Trainer A sounds absolutely wonderful in so many ways including getting you and your horse past your 'issues' and helping you progress enough to where you can actually make plans to ride dressage again. Really, you are improving, you are having fun again, your horse is having fun again, and you are getting your partnership back. WHY CHANGE ANYTHING?!?

                          Trainer B may be nice and knowledgeable, but right how I would not discuss training with her. Too many cooks in the kitchen, you know? You are still working through some significant issues (thank goodness you found Trainer A to help you through them!) and too many training opinions are just going to make you second guess yourself and maybe set you back.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AnotherAlter123 View Post
                            We're usually both too focused on doing everything right getting there to panic about the canter. .
                            And you mentioned you never feel tense, scared, or overfaced with trainer A? Trainer A sounds like she knows what she is doing and is helping you overcome your fears. Id stick with her.

                            A few steps of canter after a crossrail is a great confidence builder vs only working on the canter flatting; rather than knowing you are about to work on canter and having time to freak out about it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think Trainer A sounds absolutely fantastic, and the "trick" of getting the canter over a small crossrail is an old one, and tried and true for many people at that. It helps take nerves out of the equation for both horse and rider, and I found it helped IMMENSELY when I had my greenie gelding who was sensitive and nervous himself and made me even more so. It helped build our confidence as a TEAM.

                              If everything is working for you, stick with it and tell Trainer B to shove it, in nice terms.
                              Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                So what's your question?

                                Trainer A who you are making great progress with or trainer B who is new to the barn, whom you have never worked with, who has rather rudely dissed you for not doing as well as you should despite never, ever talking to you and who has never asked you what YOU want? Plus obviously does not mind going behind trainer A's back to tell you how much better you would be with her?????

                                Don't see any question there. Imagine trainer B is going to be asked to leave the barn after acting the drama llama trying to poach trainer A's clients.

                                Not worth more then 30 seconds of thought on that one.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                                • #17
                                  I'm with everyone else - stick with Trainer A. She seems to be doing a great job with you, you're happy, you're progressing, your confidence is improving, etc. I see nothing wrong with a rerider who used to jump hopping over little crossrails to help with a canter depart.

                                  Trainer B should MTOB. There is little I dislike more than unsolicited advice...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I agree with all those who have said stay with Trainer A, she sounds like an ideal fit for you. She obviously takes you and your goals seriously, is willing to invest her own time and money in auditing clinics herself to make sure she is giving you the best ideas/methods she can, and is invested in helping you and horsie get past the brain fry as easily as possible. In your situation with what you described happening prior to Trainer A, the crossrail method to the canter is just FINE. You aren't "jumping" you are simply using a material object to focus your efforts and attention on so that you don't give incorrect or conflicting canter depart signals. It is a great way to make the transition an easy, relaxed one which is what you both need right now. Once you and horse are both confident at that gait again, you can work on picking it up without the crossrail. Think about it - if you go back now to trying to get that canter depart when you are still nervous about cantering and horsie is nervous about you being nervous, what is going to happen when you ask?


                                    Trainer B is new to the barn and trying to gather clients, she is going to tell you whatever it takes to get you to drop Trainer A and go with her - and I am guessing if other people from the barn are also telling you that you should drop A and go with B that Trainer B is already talking about you/your horse/Trainer A behind YOUR back as well and encouraging others to "tell you" you should switch. Sounds like the opposite of "sweet" to me. I would never want to train with a person who would behave that way.
                                    If you love me let me go....

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Let me put it this way...

                                      Trainer A is tailoring her program to suit YOU and YOUR horse. She has based her plan for YOU on what you have told her and what she has observed. She is rebuilding YOUR confidence and relaxing the horse.

                                      Trainer B has no idea what your needs are, has never spoken with you about that or your horse's background. But SHE needs some clients who can jump so SHE can get more business. SHE also need a a few client horses who can get around a course tomorrow so she can look like she trained them. SHE does not care about your confidence or if your horse was fried-long as it can get HER around a few courses. She doesn't care about you. Or your horse.

                                      Like I said, no brainer. But a bunch of barn drama for sure.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Trainer A sounds great to me. You are happy, horse is happy, a six inch cavaletti is just a cavaletti to help you get the canter, not exactly a jump. So relax, it sounds like you are in good hands.

                                        Trainer B is entitled to her own opinion, but it doesn't sound so sweet to me that she is offering unasked for advice. Neither does she sound terribly knowledgeable, she's right that cantering generally comes before "jumping" but a six inch cavaletti or a little x-rail isn't jumping. Learning to trot over cavaletti is a fine exercise for riders who are still primarily working at the trot. Learning to get the canter over a small x-rail is also a fine thing to do.

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