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Can someone just not be able to learn how to ride horse?

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    #21
    I can so relate to your problem that I actually clicked this thread out of fear that one of my trainers is here under an alias and would post about me!

    In addition to the great advice everyone else has already given, I'd add that I have found that some really good dressage lessons have been immensely helpful for me in getting a feel for the horse and using my hips and seat more. I honestly wish that I'd started with dressage and think it would have made a world of difference with my riding.

    I have found the lessons helpful in that dressage isn't all about faster and bigger (which it shouldn't be in any discipline, but sometimes it can feel that way with some but not certainly all h/j trainers) but more about understanding how the horse moves. Sometimes the patience of an adult can be helpful in dressage (or with good flatwork in general) and knowing that I can bring some strengths I have as an adult that a child might not possess has been uplifting after years of being frustrated that I don't have the mind or body of a bendy, brave, athletic adolescent.

    Even if you don't want to go that route, dropping your stirrups a few holes and experimenting with your position and the movement of your seat might be useful.

    Just out of curiosity--how did you feel jumping a 2'6 course? Like others have said, I can't believe that you "can't ride" if you felt comfortable doing so, even if your equitation wasn't so-called textbook quality!
    Check out the latest Fortune's Fool novel, Courage to the Sticking Place!

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      #22
      Have you ever had anyone video you? I am a very visual person and have to SEE what's happening. Also, it will give you the opportunity to see the changes that are taking place and the improvements in your riding. Video your next lesson and then put it away (don't watch it YET). In a month or 2 video yourself again, then watch them both. You will be surprised
      On another note, have you ever just had a "fun" ride? Going out for a trot through the woods, twisting through the trails, going for a canter through the field? Where you aren't focused on anything except the scenery and how amazing it is to just BE on a horse? (with all of the safety precautions in place of course )
      Sometimes you just need to relax a bit and shift your focus. Let yourself enjoy the horses and riding!

      Comment


        #23
        I just had to pipe in here because you are articulating everything I currently feel. Only difference...I rode as a kid, did the juniors, did the eq, dabbled in dressage and jumpers. I used to teach. I catch rode. Then I had a kid and a job and life as a whole changed entirely. It was 9 years before I got back on a horse and it has only been in the last year (I'm 45 by the way) that I have been receiving consistent training. I feel like I utterly cannot ride. I make mistake after mistake and I beat myself up and say at least once a lesson that I'm stupid for thinking I can ride. But I keep showing up (at least I did before my horse had to go to boot camp because he got a bit too big for his britches). I keep trying. And my now 15 year old kid reminds me every time that I'm supposed to be having fun or it isn't worth it.

        I guess I'm just trying to say that it doesn't matter when you started or what you used to do. As adult riders, we are ridiculously hard on ourselves and we need to keep reminding ourselves of the joy of getting one non death defying distance, one step of a leg yield, one flying change that doesn't take 15 steps, or even one canter departure where we didn't have to pony club kick. Those are our moments. And then we have cocktails and celebrate our freaking wonderful success.

        Keep kicking my fellow adult!

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          #24
          You're being pretty rough on yourself, but honestly some people are never going to be good riders.

          I knew a guy who had a nationally know equitation priestess tell him to save his money and find another hobby.

          There's a gal at the barn I'm at who couldn't ride her way out of a box car. She's been riding for over 5 years, stated at ~8, has her own horses and can still fall off a geriatric walking horse. The gal is an older teen now, horses are no longer her first interest, who can get through a WTC pleasure class, but often isn't pretty.

          Truly, like someone else said, there are plenty of "bad" riders at any horse show. They often outnumber the good riders, especially in lower level classes.

          I have been a mediocre violinist for most of my life - just a tad bit off key and never good at reading music, but I enjoyed playing. I knew pretty early in life that a symphony career was not in my future, but it didn't stop me from playing.
          Visit my Spoonflower shop

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            Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by dia916 View Post
            Go to a horse show. Go to the closest one you can find, and also go to the highest rated show you can reasonably get to. Spend a lot of time at the warm up rings. For example, if your goal is to do the 2.6 adult hunters, get to the warm up ring well before that class and watch the trainers and the riders warm up for the class. I guarantee you will learn something that is helpful.

            The time may have come for you to half lease or lease a horse of your own. Spending time alone riding "your" horse is, in my opinion, the only way to develop "feel" and learn to relax. Its hard to relax on a horse when you are perpetually in a lesson situation (under pressure). You need time to try to apply your lessons on your own in "real life" situations. You may also need to move to a different barn/trainer. It is very hard to find a place to ride on school horses that can take you past the basic WTC lesson environment. If you have a local tack store, that is s good place to ask about different barns and trainers for what you are looking to do. Expect to spend more time and more money to advance, that's just the way it is with riding as an adult. If that is not possible for you, try to relax and enjoy the time you spend on the horse in lessons, and don't worry about what you are or are not doing. The next step for you will be a big one and you need to be 100% committed to improving your riding to get there, but if you love horses, you will make it happen. Good luck.
            I do find observing how other people do it helps ! I think for me, it is much easier to learn by watching how other people do it than being told what to do.
            Regarding the leasing option, I am still scared to ride by myself. I worried that if I do something wrong and no one is there to correct me, I will just reinforce it. There were times when I put my leg in the wrong place, pinch too much with my knee and got so tensed up and squeezed the horses too hard (without realizing it), I sort of imbalance the horse. It obviously made the horses very upset and they would either stop, and one time a horse even tripped and I fell off. Since that I am even more worried about my riding skill because it was me who caused the fall and almost killed myself..

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              #26
              We knew a guy who rode western and the apt description was that he rode like a Barbie Doll.
              The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by Impractical Horsewoman View Post

                Just out of curiosity--how did you feel jumping a 2'6 course? Like others have said, I can't believe that you "can't ride" if you felt comfortable doing so, even if your equitation wasn't so-called textbook quality!
                To be honest, my emotion went through roller coaster back then. I remember before every single lesson, I was quite stressed out. Probably because I rode only once a week. On my way to the barn (almost 1 hr drive) I will keep telling myself "I will do great, and I will stay calm" My instructor would ask me to do about 45 mins flat work (posting trot,sitting trot, cantering, posting with no stirrup, and posting 2 up 3 downs etc) In the last 15 mins she would let me jump. The first couple jumps would always make me nervous. After a few jumps, I would feel a bit more confident and in control. Towards the end, I felt really great about myself. But when the next week lesson came, it was all over again: so worried and stressed at the beginning, partially because I was worried about not doing as good as last lesson.
                It was like that for 9 months-ish, until I had several lessons when the horses refused at the jump. Phewww since then I think my confidence went down hill even more.....

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                  Original Poster

                  #28
                  Originally posted by Made In Canada View Post
                  Have you ever had anyone video you? I am a very visual person and have to SEE what's happening. Also, it will give you the opportunity to see the changes that are taking place and the improvements in your riding. Video your next lesson and then put it away (don't watch it YET). In a month or 2 video yourself again, then watch them both. You will be surprised
                  On another note, have you ever just had a "fun" ride? Going out for a trot through the woods, twisting through the trails, going for a canter through the field? Where you aren't focused on anything except the scenery and how amazing it is to just BE on a horse? (with all of the safety precautions in place of course )
                  Sometimes you just need to relax a bit and shift your focus. Let yourself enjoy the horses and riding!

                  It will be so tempting to watch it though haha But I will try it next lesson !! Just like some other people here mentioned, I may have been progressing but just didnt realize it...

                  I went to a riding trip before where I got to ride 8 to 10 hours every day on trails for 9 days in a row. It really helped with my balance and feeling the horse a lot. When I got back, my instructor and I both thought that I rode much better. But after a month or so, I went back to my old self again lol
                  Now due to the limit of space in the area I live, I don't have the luxury of doing that

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #29
                    Originally posted by red mares View Post
                    You're being pretty rough on yourself, but honestly some people are never going to be good riders.

                    I knew a guy who had a nationally know equitation priestess tell him to save his money and find another hobby.

                    There's a gal at the barn I'm at who couldn't ride her way out of a box car. She's been riding for over 5 years, stated at ~8, has her own horses and can still fall off a geriatric walking horse. The gal is an older teen now, horses are no longer her first interest, who can get through a WTC pleasure class, but often isn't pretty.

                    Truly, like someone else said, there are plenty of "bad" riders at any horse show. They often outnumber the good riders, especially in lower level classes.

                    I have been a mediocre violinist for most of my life - just a tad bit off key and never good at reading music, but I enjoyed playing. I knew pretty early in life that a symphony career was not in my future, but it didn't stop me from playing.
                    I think I belong to that category of people then lol
                    I can relate to you a lot regarding playing a musical instrument. I am a mediocre piano player too. I started learning when I was a kid, but was never good at it. But it was fine with me since I don't like it that much. But I love riding, and thats probably why I am so harsh on myself now. Goal for this month: learn to have fun in riding

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                      #30
                      Can anyone learn to ride? I think so. Will it be easy for everyone? No. It can be especially difficult as an adult. But just because it's difficult, doesn't mean it's not worth it. And like many things...the more you can do it, the quicker you will learn.

                      Originally posted by Minnie G View Post
                      Also for most of the things in my life, I feel like if I tried hard I will make progress. However, riding is completely not like that...or the progress is very slow.
                      "Trying hard" can make you stiff...which makes you bounce through your hands/arms/seat and makes your legs swing. Trying to keep your legs still, often makes you pinch with your knees. This makes progress hard...because riding well (with "feel") is about being able to move with your horse while keeping your body aligned in the position needed for that particular moment. It's a lot like ballet...you need correct posture, but you also have to be able to freely move your body parts with flow and looseness. This is not an easy thing...and it's hard to learn as an adult.

                      It sounds like you are doing many things right (lessons, yoga, recognizing the issue) but are still stuck. I agree with the poster that mentioned riding bareback to help you loosen up. Think about riding like a wet noodle. That thought probably goes against everything you think you are being taught....but it may just help counter act the stiffness that I imagine you are struggling against.

                      FWIW - I've been riding for what seems like a bazillion years...and what am I currently working on? Relaxing my back while still being able to use my legs as needed (supporting, active, etc). when I use my legs, I tighten my back. Many horses let me get away with it, some don't. But I know they are all happier when I can stay soft.
                      Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                      Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                      Comment


                        #31
                        I enjoyed reading this thread. I rode and showed as a kid/young teen, and picked up riding again recently as an adult in my early 30's. The learning process is TOTALLY different when you're a kid vs. an adult, as others have mentioned. As an adult, I find I overthink things, and get frustrated when I don't get something RIGHT AWAY. After all, if we're at work and we're told to do something, and we consistently do it incorrectly, they're going to find someone else to do it! I think, at least for me, there's this underlying thought of, "I'm a grown adult, I should be able to do this -- why is this so hard??"

                        But, of course -- the bottom line is to have fun. If you're not showing, you're not on anyone's timeline but your own. And if you are showing, set realistic goals and enter classes that are appropriate for your age and level. I canter and jump in my lessons, but just did walk/trot at a schooling show, and had a great experience. If I'd gone straight into WTC and a crossrails class, I have no doubt I would have survived just fine, but the competition is tougher, so it was beneficial for me to have this first one under my belt and boost my confidence a little.

                        Does your barn allow you to spend time with the horses before and after your lessons? If you can spend more time with the horses on the ground, that really helps to round out the experience as a whole. Maybe take your horse out to graze for 10-15 minutes, or give your horse a bath afterwards. Gives you time to process everything from your lesson while connecting with the horse in a different way. That way, you don't leave the barn thinking about how frustrated you got with yourself during a certain part of your lesson, you leave feeling good about the quality time you got to spend with the horses, watching them drink from the hose which is so cute and funny, etc.

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #32
                          Originally posted by RugBug View Post

                          "Trying hard" can make you stiff...which makes you bounce through your hands/arms/seat and makes your legs swing. Trying to keep your legs still, often makes you pinch with your knees. This makes progress hard...because riding well (with "feel") is about being able to move with your horse while keeping your body aligned in the position needed for that particular moment. It's a lot like ballet...you need correct posture, but you also have to be able to freely move your body parts with flow and looseness. This is not an easy thing...and it's hard to learn as an adult.
                          That's exactly my problem here. If i try to relax my body is all over the place (wrong place) and bounce like a sack of potato. When i try to keep my leg in position, my hands will raise up, hip also got tight. I still cannot feel the horse after 3 years of riding.

                          Comment


                            #33
                            Would you consider a different riding discipline? I don't know if the English saddle and hunter position will be comfortable and "natural" for everyone. Is it possible that focusing on Western pleasure or trail would be more comfortable and less stressful?

                            It sometimes seems that everyone has dreams of going around courses like Rich Fellers or Beezie Madden. But that may not be the right goal for someone who just wants to enjoy horses, and especially for someone who is not starting out as a malleable 8 year old.

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                              #34
                              Think about riding a bike. Do you have to think how to balance, when to pedal, how to stop, once you have done it a few times? No. What would happen if you did? You would mess yourself up so much you would not be able to ride. Many activities are done without "thinking" and riding is no different. Just let it happen-- don't think. Don't think of body parts. Just do it. Clear your mind, just ride, without thinking hips, or elbows, or wrists or whatever. See if that makes a difference.
                              A canter is a cure for every evil. ~Benjamin Disraeli

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                                #35
                                I wish I could get you a lesson with my trainer, who is the most positive person I've ever lessoned with! She's also no pressure and totally patient.
                                Telling yourself to relax is hard. Can you tell yourself to breathe? Also I've noticed that little "sayings" in my head helped me, but I had to experiment with them to find the right one. Sort of like the poster above who discovered sitting trot was more about side to side than down. So for pinchy legs my personal thoughts are to open my knees and stretch my calves down. But I don't think instructors said those things, or at least not int hat exact way. They said "sit deeper" or "relax your leg" or "you're perching" -- as a thoughtful adult we can take that instruction, and sort through it. "Ok, I'm perching, so probably my leg should be longer- what if I think about a longer leg?" And Voila!! You get a piece of the puzzle. For me it is a very active thought process each time I need to improve a skill or part of my position- which is of course all the time. You sound so thoughtful and engaged I thought that may also work for you.
                                good luck, and remember most of us are bad riders!

                                Comment


                                  #36
                                  What if the instruction/self-talk is framed in terms of what is right and not in terms of what is wrong? Like, if my leg position is good if I do X, then why not concentrate on doing X and getting the right feel? I collapse my left hip, but if I ride one handed and stretch my left arm and side, then I get straight and the hip is not collapsed. So I focus on the straight feeling and not thinking OMG my hip is collapsing. Then I try to remember that good feeling. One straight moment will lead to 2, to 3 to more and more-- riding is just moments all connected together. Getting one good moment gets you on the path.
                                  A canter is a cure for every evil. ~Benjamin Disraeli

                                  Comment


                                    #37
                                    Get thee to a quality Western Pleasure barn and take a few lessons. Seriously! The balance of Western saddles is often amazing (true leg underneath and not out in front which happens a lot in hunt seat saddles) and you will develop a following seat MUCH more easily at the jog and lope and then can transfer that experience to riding hunt seat. Yes - they also post the trot often and even that will help.

                                    Comment

                                      Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      Originally posted by MissMountain View Post
                                      Does your barn allow you to spend time with the horses before and after your lessons? If you can spend more time with the horses on the ground, that really helps to round out the experience as a whole. Maybe take your horse out to graze for 10-15 minutes, or give your horse a bath afterwards. Gives you time to process everything from your lesson while connecting with the horse in a different way. That way, you don't leave the barn thinking about how frustrated you got with yourself during a certain part of your lesson, you leave feeling good about the quality time you got to spend with the horses, watching them drink from the hose which is so cute and funny, etc.
                                      I spend about half an hour grooming and tack up and tack down before and after lesson. That's the time I enjoy the most. Sometimes it would make me feel sorry for them that they have to tolerate a sloppy rider like me :P

                                      Comment

                                        Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        Originally posted by HLMom View Post
                                        Would you consider a different riding discipline? I don't know if the English saddle and hunter position will be comfortable and "natural" for everyone. Is it possible that focusing on Western pleasure or trail would be more comfortable and less stressful?

                                        It sometimes seems that everyone has dreams of going around courses like Rich Fellers or Beezie Madden. But that may not be the right goal for someone who just wants to enjoy horses, and especially for someone who is not starting out as a malleable 8 year old.
                                        Thats a great idea. For some reasons, I never thought about that. Let me look into my area and see if there is any places offer western riding. But I really like jumping

                                        Comment

                                          Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          Originally posted by jumpsnake View Post
                                          I wish I could get you a lesson with my trainer, who is the most positive person I've ever lessoned with! She's also no pressure and totally patient.
                                          Telling yourself to relax is hard. Can you tell yourself to breathe? Also I've noticed that little "sayings" in my head helped me, but I had to experiment with them to find the right one. Sort of like the poster above who discovered sitting trot was more about side to side than down. So for pinchy legs my personal thoughts are to open my knees and stretch my calves down. But I don't think instructors said those things, or at least not int hat exact way. They said "sit deeper" or "relax your leg" or "you're perching" -- as a thoughtful adult we can take that instruction, and sort through it. "Ok, I'm perching, so probably my leg should be longer- what if I think about a longer leg?" And Voila!! You get a piece of the puzzle. For me it is a very active thought process each time I need to improve a skill or part of my position- which is of course all the time. You sound so thoughtful and engaged I thought that may also work for you.
                                          good luck, and remember most of us are bad riders!
                                          I can definitely try the active thinking process. Sometimes I get nervous and was too busy to focus on doing things right and never give much thoughts about how to do it right. Like you mentioned, sometimes I just don't really understand what the instructor mean by things like "relaxing the hips"

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