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Newbie - Instructor Issues

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    #21
    Wow. No video? Any good instructor knows you SHOULD see video. My husband was a rowing coach competing at national level and after MOST practices they went inside and watched. Definitely move on. And getting angry is unacceptable.

    Comment


      #22
      Definitely find a new instructor. Western isn't a precursor to English, they are very different, and you should be able to learn in the saddle type of your choosing from the beginning. I despise western saddles, personally.

      However, I agree that slow and steady is best, so I don't fault this rather rude trainer for taking it slow.

      Comment


        #23
        A no video policy is bizarre.

        I'd definitely continue to take lessons with instructor #2. Bottom line is that you are spending a lot of money on something that should be fun 99% of the time. Getting angry and insulting in a lesson are not conducive to progress.

        Unfortunately, I've found that there are quite a number of instructors in the world that fail to recognize that being a riding instructors is actually being a teacher. Understanding some of the basic ideas of teaching, and being able to explain something in a variety of ways, would surely help them.

        There is a book called Ride with your Mind that details how some instructors will shout instructions, and some of us have bodies and minds that instinctively know what those instructors are talking about. But not all of us. "Support him on the outside" likely means nothing to many people, but for whatever reasons my outside leg and hand know exactly what to do. The book is supposed to break down what instructions like that actually mean and I think would be really helpful for adult beginners. A lot of us that have been riding since childhood, and watching other people's lessons and rides, just have a lot of stuff sort of ingrained at this point. Might be worth checking out, though some of it might not be helpful to you quite yet.

        Comment


          #24
          The big advantage to starting anything as an Adult, unlike getting stuck with a bad teacher as a kid, is YOU get to pick what you want to do and who teaches you. Just doesn't sound like a match here, no matter the details, its not a helpful experience so continuing is pointless. And you are under no obligation to continue or defend your choice to move on.

          Will add both teachers are correct that you would do better riding more then once or twice a week with some long breaks, it takes hundreds of hours to train your muscles and balance and develop strength, like any serious sport, that takes dedication and time. Equipment to, including a good saddle (Doesn't need to be new, fancy French)and a suitable horse, which can be full or part leased. Learn better on a little better horse, most rent by the ride schoolies don't do you any favors. Might not be possible now but part lease and a good used saddle might be an attainable goal and definitely should be if you want to jump.

          Delicate situation but don't be too concerned with MILs remarks. Probably good thing you are still just trotting after wasting a year in that crappy program, you didn't get hurt or scared, many aren't so lucky. Look on the positive side and move forward safely under this better instructor and at YOUR own speed. Everybody is different and its between you and your instructor how you progress. Dont let the remarks of others rattle you, its about what you and the instructor think of what you are doing, not what somebody else thinks you should be doing.
          Last edited by findeight; Aug. 15, 2020, 11:07 AM.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

          Comment


            #25
            Originally posted by DisraeliEars View Post
            Hi - I'm mostly a lurker on this board as I'm pretty new to horses. I'm in my 40s and started taking riding lessons last September; I had only been on a horse a handful of times (trail rides and such). My mother-in-law (who's been riding English for 40+ years) encouraged me and is looking forward to riding with me once COVID slows down (if it does). I started with a teacher in September and she had me on an English saddle from the get-go (though she is more of a Western person herself). I've been going to her an average of 1-2 times a week since then (minus a two month hiatus during local lockdowns during March/April.
            I'd say progress has been slow: she is very exacting on body posture and hand position (which I can appreciate), but sometimes I feel she can be a bit...how do I put it? Too nit-picky. In the last month or so, she has gotten frustrated with my progress it seems. She has also relegated me to a Western saddle, telling me that she doesn't think I'm "ready" for the English yet (despite using it for months). The reason I want to learn English is because that is what my MIL uses exclusively and we plan on moving closer to her place soon and I would probably be riding with her frequently. Also once she slows down, my husband and I stand to "inherit" a lot of English tack.
            I've only put on a Western saddle a handful of times, but my teacher got angry with me and accused me of not paying close enough attention when I was trying to remember the trick to lacing through the latigo on a Western saddle last week. I was tired and I was really trying; I haven't paid her literally thousands of dollars to not be taking this seriously. I thought it was somewhat unfair of her to make that assumption.
            My MIL thinks my teacher is taking things way too slow (she said, "You haven't even tried to canter yet?") and recommended a friend of hers who lives in our area. I took a lesson with this woman last week and we got along great. I actually got to ride on a hill instead of an arena for a change. She also thinks I should be doing English (because that's what I want to learn) and working on posting ASAP.
            Ultimately, I do think my current instructor is very good at what she does. But, lately, my confidence is taking a nose-dive as I feel like I must totally suck as a rider (especially since I'm only at the trot stage).

            Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to get some educated thoughts on this from other riders/instructors. Thanks.

            And no, I don't have my own horse yet; both teachers suggest that having my own horse (or getting a lease) would be beneficial, but I can't do that at the moment.
            Just for easy reference now that we are off page 1.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


              #26
              Some people are a little nutty.
              Some horse people are a little nutty.
              Seems that you have one of those for your first instructor?
              Try other instructors and then you will have more to go by and decide what is best for you.

              in our riding center decades ago, we had a barrel horse we used to teach beginners about saddles, bridles, how to get on and off.
              That saved a nice school horse from being poked and prodded and pulled this way and another, while a newbie figured things out.
              In a bit, we would then move to a school horse, repeat and then have the rest of that first or three lessons on the longe line.
              We didn't have western saddles, that was all bareback and on an English saddle.

              During longing lessons, if suitable, some were posting and even cantering a bit, with the right horse that trotted so it was easy to pick up posting and with smooth gaits for cantering.

              After that, beginners had gained confidence and were ready to learn the rest, safe and happy all.

              Strange that an instructor is telling what is being reported about saddles, unless that was a misunderstanding of what was meant?

              Comment


                #27
                I concur with most everyone that the no video is strange (and a bit of a red flag for me) and, having grown up in Europe, I am obviously puzzled at the "being ready for an English saddle" (I mean how did we learn? 🤔). And of course, getting frustrated with one student is a big no-no - whatever you're teaching. Everyone learns at their own rhythm and that's totally fine.

                My guess - and I may be wrong - is that Instructor #1 doesn't have a suitable lesson horse for you to canter on - hence her pressuring you into buying/leasing. Does she have a variety of schoolies? Horses that actually fit you level-wise/confirmation-wise/size-wise, etc?
                If she mostly teaches Western kids, she may not have a horse she feels confident having you canter in an English saddle. But she should be honest and tell you that she doesn't have a horse that fits you at this point or that you've outgrown her program.

                And finally, riding should be FUN - so go with someone who teaches the discipline you want to learn and with whom you have fun (bonus points to Instructor # 2 for taking you on the trail!).

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #28
                  I'm glad other people thought the no-video policy is weird! Instructor two said my husband (who has pro-level video equipment) could come video us any time.

                  Second lesson with instructor two today: she already says my posting is improved over lesson one. So that made me feel good.

                  Comment


                    #29
                    OP, I am an instructor and I agree with those who have urged you to pursue lessons with Instructor #2. It is bizarre that Instructor #1 won't allow your husband to video your lessons because it is so helpful to review a ride, especially when you're new to the sport. And no instructor should be short tempered with someone who is making an honest effort to learn to tack up - her snappishness with you regarding the Western saddle was unnecessary. You are paying good money to learn, and that learning experience should not include being demoralized or belittled.

                    Yes, a good instructor will correct you if you're doing something wrong, and quite *emphatically* so, if you're doing something that could endanger you or the horse. But no instructor should make you come away from a lesson feeling embarrassed or degraded. After all, you're out there because you have a passion for the sport and the animals, and at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun.

                    Best of luck with Instructor #2. Keep us posted on your progress!

                    Comment


                      #30
                      One of the very best instructors I've ever encountered, one with many elite-level international accomplishments, used to say 'there is a way to ride a horse, and it doesn't really matter what saddle you are sitting in or what you are doing'. He wasn't talking about equitation, he was talking about the basics of being on and managing a horse. Sort of like the basic essentials of how to stand up on your skis and slide over the snow, turn and stop, before you get to what kind of skiing you want to do.

                      I don't know when Americans forgot that there is a world beyond their own borders, and a history before the 1800's west, because a "Western saddle" is really an "American Western saddle", a thing basically created in almost-modern times to help unskilled young men and boys ride a horse so they could herd and rope cattle. The horn is for the rope, not to hang on to, God gave the horse a mane for that. (The old-time British cavalry saddle had kind of the same purpose, without the cattle.) Other countries and times in history haven't had it, and that's fortunate for them, because it means they don't get lost in ridiculous ideas that they have to learn to ride in an American Western saddle.

                      Anyway, OP, millions, indeed hundreds of millions, of human beings have learned to ride a horse without an American Western saddle. So that's a red flag if any instructor ever insists that this is the only way to go.

                      Glad you are moving on and enjoying your riding time. Sounds like you are in a much better place to ride!

                      Unfortunately there are many Americans with a massive inferiority complex re riding, thinking that the only way to safely ride is in an American Western saddle, with a horn. Ridiculous. Wonder what the rest of the world is doing, being so accomplished on horses without hanging on to the horn of an American Western saddle.

                      Comment


                        #31
                        In the past I have been in several lesson barns where video taken by those watching the lesson was not allowed. At the suggestion of the insurance providers.

                        As for the western saddle: what stands out to me is that it would seem to imply that instructor #1 has concerns regarding the rider's security and/or seat. That the saddle change was made this late in the game implies it might be for a specific purpose that has not been achieved by other means. The rider being w/t only adds to the impression that the instructor may have concerns about the rider's security. Of course this is all 'reading between the lines' but all we have is the OP's account.

                        I don't think a western saddle is required for beginners. Not at all. But I can see an instructor using one as a tool toward a certain purpose.

                        Clearly the OP is happy with instructor #2 so it is a moot point.
                        No matter where you go, there you are

                        Comment


                          #32
                          We always have adult beginners and re-riders at our barn because it's good place to get started - quiet with quiet horses. I don't take lessons much now, but one instructor was amazing. She moved to another barn a couple of months ago. She could see tiny little things, like take up an inch on the outside rein and the horse's frame changed. Her adult students looked really good so I got back into lessons. She found effective fixes for nerve-damage problems in my right arm that no one figured out in the previous decade. She is working on her USDF Bronze. I miss her.

                          I've always thought learning in an English saddle helps with balance and position. Riders at our barn who plan to ride western can start lessons in either style. Most of our instructors include longe line lessons on bareback pads. It helps with balance and position especially at the trot/jog. I have a western saddle for trail riding. I was using on a charity trail ride and I was last in line. A bicyclist came up behind us silently and started passing everyone. My horse started to lose it. I still remember how secure I felt when his back end dropped. He was ready to run but I was firmly wedged between the swell and the cantle. He calmed down, though.

                          Sounds like Instructor #1 is trying to cover up for herself. Lesson horses don't seem to care what type of saddle they are wearing as long as it fits both of you. An instructor who switches to a western saddle to fix something she couldn't accomplish with the English saddle is showing a measure of incompetence. Changing tack doesn't cut it. When you are a teacher (and I was) of anything you need recognize that what works for one person doesn't work for everyone. It involves knowing more than one way to skin that cat. If that's beyond your instructor's capabilities - which it seems to be - it's time to find a new instructor.


                          "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019

                          Comment


                            #33
                            Having start life in a Western saddle, I now find them over-roomy, slippery bulky and awkward. If you want to ride English, ride in an English saddle.

                            Instructor #1 sounds overpriced for her abilities. Not only overpriced, but undereducated. Teaching requires patience, understanding of biomechanics, and the ability to convey information in a timely, effective fashion.

                            You are wise to move.
                            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.

                            Comment


                              #34
                              Originally posted by Kirikou View Post
                              My guess - and I may be wrong - is that Instructor #1 doesn't have a suitable lesson horse for you to canter on - hence her pressuring you into buying/leasing.
                              I was thinking the same thing.

                              Comment

                                Original Poster

                                #35
                                So I was curious and I did some shopping around, as Instructor #2's place may be hard to get to in the winter for me (she understands completely). I was checking out some other instructors on my side of town and they are ALL less expensive than my original instructor, bar one (which is excessively priced, IMO).

                                I just find that odd, especially since on horse groups it isn't like Instructor #1's name is being bandied around in the suggestion threads. I don't know - that could mean nothing.

                                Anyway, less expensive is better for me right now as I'm unemployed! More time for lessons, though.

                                Comment


                                  #36
                                  Originally posted by StormyDay View Post
                                  Sometimes riders and instructors don’t get along. No harm done. Move on to someone who makes you feel confident
                                  I agree. Finding the right instructor is like dating. Either the relationship works or It doesn’t.

                                  Comment


                                    #37
                                    In defense of unknown teachers everywhere, I just want to say that there are some seemingly nitpicky details that really are important for reasons that aren't always explained at the start.

                                    For example, heels down seems like just a silly detail to most beginning riders, but heels down has to do with the way the muscles in the leg works, and riding with your heel lower than your toe helps the rider to have more security on the horse, even if they don't realize it.

                                    Similarly, instructors will often say to "Shorten your reins" but what they really mean is move your hand forward so you have a greater range of motion in your arm overall, and to do that, you need your reins to be shorter or the greater range of motion isn't in effect.

                                    So, don't despair if you hear some of the same comments over and over. They are reminders that your instructor makes until the rider incorporates the reminder in their own head. Once the rider is doing a "heels down, shorten rein" check (or whatever it is the instructor has been repeating), the instructor will move to new pointers.

                                    Some of what they say is instruction, and some of what they say is internal monologue you are supposed to adopt.

                                    Comment

                                      Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      Originally posted by aregard View Post
                                      In defense of unknown teachers everywhere, I just want to say that there are some seemingly nitpicky details that really are important for reasons that aren't always explained at the start.

                                      For example, heels down seems like just a silly detail to most beginning riders, but heels down has to do with the way the muscles in the leg works, and riding with your heel lower than your toe helps the rider to have more security on the horse, even if they don't realize it.

                                      Similarly, instructors will often say to "Shorten your reins" but what they really mean is move your hand forward so you have a greater range of motion in your arm overall, and to do that, you need your reins to be shorter or the greater range of motion isn't in effect.

                                      So, don't despair if you hear some of the same comments over and over. They are reminders that your instructor makes until the rider incorporates the reminder in their own head. Once the rider is doing a "heels down, shorten rein" check (or whatever it is the instructor has been repeating), the instructor will move to new pointers.

                                      Some of what they say is instruction, and some of what they say is internal monologue you are supposed to adopt.
                                      To be clear, I don't consider heels down/shorten your reins to be nitpcking! I definitely still need reminders of those things.

                                      Comment

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