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Spin off: Teaching your spouse or SO to ride without divorce!

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  • #21
    So let's dissect this for a moment:
    Example: (me) ok babe, push your heels down more, and it will help anchor your position down. Him: my heels are down. His toes were pointing down, with his heel digging into mares side.
    This ends up feeling like he doesn't trust you to give him accurate information, even if it's really just starting out as frustration and confusion. If you are going to teach him, the first lesson is that he always has to trust you and that "my heels are down" is never an acceptable answer. Obviously, you would not have said they were not if they were.

    So, if you are to teach him, he has to learn to say instead, "I don't understand what you mean by that" or "I don't know how to make that happen any more than it is, can you help me?"
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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    • #22
      Good for you for making the effort, I have been there. i came to the conclusion that it is like the old " a husband should never teach his wife to drive", only going to lead to heartmache and hard feelings. Good luck!

      Comment


      • #23
        The ring finger of my right hand is permanently disfigured (unless I opt for a second surgery with no guarantees) due to the last round of attempting to instruct my husband with a horse involved. So I say just don't.
        "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

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        • #24
          My husband tried to teach me how to play guitar and I was so PO'd at him that for the sake of our marriage I took lessons. Even now, 10 years later, I have to explain to him how I learn things and that his explanations often make no sense to me. At those moments, I stop and discuss and we work our way through the chord change or whatever. But I can only do this in small doses. So yes do not teach.

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          • #25
            As the poster of the original thread, I can say that I did have four very important factors in my favor.

            1. I am a former riding instructor of beginners to intermediate level riders.

            2. The horse was a former school horse and, when you meet people who obviously skipped the line where common sense was being handed out...well, he picked up their share as well.

            3. DH loves to learn.

            4. And I can't stress this one enough...I didn't try to teach him at first. As G mentioned, I would interject in matters of safety. But I knew he was still in the mindset of all the things he did with a horse as a little boy. Thanks to the horse in point 2, I could simply let him ride. Once he realized that his abilities were not up to par with what he was wanting to do, he asked me to teach him some basics.
            "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams

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            • #26
              Plenty of good advice that I agree with here.

              1. If you're not already a teacher or isntructor of sorts - DON'T

              2. Even if you are wonderful teacher - make sure SO really, really, REALLY wants to learn. Not an appeasing "okay, sure" when you suggest it, but SO is coming to you interested, asking questions.

              3. Even if you're a great teacher, SO has decided this is their dream - Don't. Pay for lessons.

              In my expereince, my SO was happy to come to the barn to me, feed and brush the horses, go to shows and help out here and there. He started asking more and more questions, which i happily answered, but didn't push it. I used to work at a place that did trail rides, and I did successfully get him out on a horse without mishap. Though that horse was a former guide horse, knew his job and SO didn't even have to steer.

              Background: I learned to ride each gate bareback first, then a saddle with no stirrups, then finally stirrups. Let's not go crazy people. I see how this seems insane... and trust me, I was not without falls as a kid, but by the time I was allowed to ride with stirrups and show - my but never came out of the saddle, and I had some of the best eq. around.

              My first, ONLY and also amusing attempt to teach went like this. Even though I don't teach my current lesson students in the manner I learned, I obviously thought this was the best course of action for SO. God knows what I was thinking. I pulled out our giant Percheron mare, built like a Mac truck, rides like a cadillac. Sweetest thing, great for beginners. Lead her out to the mounting block. Hold her for SO to get on... One leg over and the mare takes one step forward, SO squeeks like a little girl (this is a Manly man) and he goes sliding off her side. Lands on his feet, perfectly fine. He spent two YEARS telling anyone who would listen how I tried to kill him and the first time in a lesson he was "bucked off" by a crazy, wild stallion.

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              • #27
                Originally posted by TraceAndM View Post
                Plenty of good advice that I agree with here.

                1. If you're not already a teacher or isntructor of sorts - DON'T

                2. Even if you are wonderful teacher - make sure SO really, really, REALLY wants to learn. Not an appeasing "okay, sure" when you suggest it, but SO is coming to you interested, asking questions.

                3. Even if you're a great teacher, SO has decided this is their dream - Don't. Pay for lessons.

                In my expereince, my SO was happy to come to the barn to me, feed and brush the horses, go to shows and help out here and there. He started asking more and more questions, which i happily answered, but didn't push it. I used to work at a place that did trail rides, and I did successfully get him out on a horse without mishap. Though that horse was a former guide horse, knew his job and SO didn't even have to steer.

                Background: I learned to ride each gate bareback first, then a saddle with no stirrups, then finally stirrups. Let's not go crazy people. I see how this seems insane... and trust me, I was not without falls as a kid, but by the time I was allowed to ride with stirrups and show - my but never came out of the saddle, and I had some of the best eq. around.

                My first, ONLY and also amusing attempt to teach went like this. Even though I don't teach my current lesson students in the manner I learned, I obviously thought this was the best course of action for SO. God knows what I was thinking. I pulled out our giant Percheron mare, built like a Mac truck, rides like a cadillac. Sweetest thing, great for beginners. Lead her out to the mounting block. Hold her for SO to get on... One leg over and the mare takes one step forward, SO squeeks like a little girl (this is a Manly man) and he goes sliding off her side. Lands on his feet, perfectly fine. He spent two YEARS telling anyone who would listen how I tried to kill him and the first time in a lesson he was "bucked off" by a crazy, wild stallion.
                I don't know what it is about horses that gets rank beginners the strangest ideas they carry on forever.
                Your SO is the poster child for that, but he is in good company, that of most that only tried to get on a horse or ride once, but didn't go on with it and all they remember is that strange, wild ride.

                On the "heels down", I found out many beginners have to be talked around it, as in "point toes up", "wiggle your heels", help manipulate the feet by hand and such, until you get them like you want them.
                Don't insist on a plain heels down when that is not happening.

                Traditionally, we started riding on a longe line and with a vaulting pad and surcingle for many, a saddle for the less athletic or older riders.

                We went thru the basics on the ground, walking around and explaining gaits with examples, trot, canter, sitting on a chair with a ball between knees, then if we had one, a barrel, last on a horse.
                That preserved our school horses.

                I think that riding centers would make wonderful use of those equiziser type horses, teaching on them first and having beginners then with a better understanding of horse movement and what to expect and what to do.
                Easier on the real horses too.

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                • #28
                  When I wanted to learn to ride, my wife set me up with lessons. When my wife wanted to learn to ski, I set her up with lessons.

                  That's the best way to teach your spouse how to ride.

                  Also, when spouse is not in lessons, don't coach then either. I've seen wives try to coach or correct husbands in the hunt field and it is never good.
                  A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

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                  • #29
                    Don't do it!

                    Content yourself with picking a trainer that you trust. Talk to the trainer about your own experience and tell them that you want to be a happily married couple who both ride and ask them if you see something that's driving you over the edge or your SO makes a comment to you that might provide good insight as their instructor, is it ok if you tell approach the trainer. Then make it 100% clear to your SO that the trainer is in charge of their riding-not you. After a few lessons, tell your SO that you really appreciate their interest/open mindedness in trying riding. Let them know that if it's not something they're enjoying, that you're truly comfortable with it if they want to stop riding. Worst case, they stop but are more willing to try the next thing you suggest.

                    Did this when my husband started & he's going to local shows with my mare now. I still do my best to support his trainer as the main decision maker about his riding. If it's not unsafe or unfair to the horse, when they're not there, I just try to grin and bear it knowing a quick school will remind the horse what's correct when he lets her getaway with anything..

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                    • #30
                      There is only one circumstance I can think of where you might (note the conditional) get away with a "mutual critique" some some instructional evolution and that's if the evolution was video'd. The video will mark "paid" to such comments as "get your heels down"/"they are down" as we can look and see where the heels were. Stop action might be required, but there it is. The video won't lie. It will show what was.

                      BUT, in making any comments, they must be factual and in neutral language (word, tone, and body language).

                      Even this can be "dicey" but might be the one time it can be done without rancor (or physical violence ).

                      G.
                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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                      • #31
                        I am only now, several years into DH riding, able to give him snippits of advice. He started off by taking a PE riding class in college (which was great as I was in no way involved), then rode periodically on SUPER broke trail horses with me, then finally decided he wanted to ride more.

                        Our barn had a lot of dads/husbands who were interested in why their wives were spending so much time/money on horses, so they decided to get together and make a guys ride night. A local cowboy-type came in once a week and they pretended to rope things, barrel race, turn and steer. Since they were primarily riding their young kid's bombproof horses or using a lesson horse, they were safe and successful. Oh, and they drank beer and whiskey. It made DH love riding.

                        Fast forward to now, when DH still rides western (but will get in my English saddle to ride my horse) on his bombproof, middle aged ex-4H horse, but is taking dressage lessons and learning how to make his horse use himself better. He will go out and school his boy on his own now. I can give him advice once in a while, but usually it comes in the form of "How does River feel today?" and then letting him talk through the problem.

                        All this being said, I WILL NOT instruct him. The cost of lessons for him is far less than a divorce

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                        • #32
                          Don't do it. DH tried to teach me to ride WP and it was horrible. I had been competing in hunters for over 10 years at this point and he goes, "collect the horse and slow him down." So what do I do? I freaking collect the horse and slow him down like any good hunter would do. DH proceeds to yell at me to let go of the reins!

                          He similarly gave up after about 10 minutes in my jumping saddle and made fun of me because my hunter wouldn't neck rein Whatever, I now own both a paint and a Hanoverian hunter and they both neck rein
                          Southern Cross Guest Ranch
                          An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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                          • #33
                            In addition to my strong warning against trying to teach an SO to ride based on my personal experience, I would extend that as has another poster or two, to trying to teach one's SO *anything* that requires learning some new special skill. Even when it works out, it doesn't work out very well.

                            A dozen years ago I bought a Mustang GT 5-speed convertible from a friend moving to Manhattan. He'd bought it new, maintained it meticulously and was in a hurry to sell it late in December so he offered it to me for wholesale or maybe a bit below, since nobody replied to his ads in the winter. I didn't test drive it, however, because I'd never driven a stick shift, and couldn't. So when I bought it my girlfriend had to drive it home while I followed in my other car with an automatic transmission.

                            She volunteered to give me lessons and they went pretty well in a local high school parking lot on weekend afternoons. But it takes a while to get the hang of a stick in the real world and on hills, particularly on a really hot car not even slightly tolerant of sloppy shifting and erratic accelerating.

                            The first 'problems' occurred when I was trying to learn in the "real world". I would get frustrated, of course, and also feared backing into someone close on my tail at a stoplight going uphill. So the first two-three months out on the road, I often tended to gun it off the line rather than to risk letting it roll back. This scared the crap out of my girlfriend who preferred 'safe' little underpowered economy cars. Finally got to the point where she refused to drive with me because she thought I was going to kill us both.

                            Oddly, by the time she said that I'd gotten the hang of it and over a period of weeks and months learned to extract the intended performance from the GT, which only terrified her the more since having driven vanilla cars, she didn't appreciate having her head snapped back as the seatbelts clicked on acceleration.

                            Back to the horses -- though a Mustang is a pony car -- after taking lessons for a few years, that same GF who replaced my ex (of the original miserable riding lessons), began to disparage any equine or equestrian opinion I offered.

                            By that point I had enough experience to have at least some views of my own. This opens a fresh can of worms on this thread topic: namely the unwillingness of at least some SO's to acknowledge that a late-learning new rider SO may have learned something along the way, no longer be a total beginner, and have earned the right to legitimately hold independent views that disagree with those of the partner.

                            (It need not be that way for two folks who ride; my SO from a later time didn't know me when I was a beginner, and we never had any disagreements even when our experience led us to different conclusions.)
                            "Things should be as simple as possible,
                            but no simpler." - Einstein

                            “So what’s with the years of lessons? You still can’t ride a damn horse?!”

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                            • #34
                              Just have to add though, that riding with one's partner is just... a blast. I can remember a day we hauled up to a gorgeous area and he and I just rode, galloped down the trails, bushwacked down a stream, really wonderful. AND on one ride when my horse just walked into a random pile of wire hidden in the tall grass (!!), he was so quick to hold the wire down so my horse could walk out of it-lots and lots of adventures,but just sayin'- the END RESULT is just so much fun! Skiing with a partner is awesome (husband doens't sadly), but my ex did! He was better than me, particularly in the bumps, and his entire "critique" of me was usually "looks GREAT!". I learned a lot just watching.

                              I do think avoiding being the "instructor" no matter how much "teaching" experience you've had is the best option because all the other relationship crap comes right along with it. Its not about being a "skilled instructor". But, if it happens that way, a sense of humor (not AT the person of course, and tolerance/patience) is absolutely critical (who wants to do an activity that isn't fun, that means I'm going to be humiliated and feel like an idiot? not many people) So, it has to be "hey, here' something that is FUN to do with my partner and Hey! I can do it!") nothing like feeling like success to breed confidence!

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                              • #35
                                For what it's worth, when my husband decided he'd like to learn to ride, I gently taught him the basics (hold your reins like this, sit like this), then put him on a very safe horse and left him at it. He figured out a tremendous amount on his own, and asked questions when he needed to. I'd answer his questions, help him when I thought he needed it, but generally just didn't pick at him. He didn't want to be an equitation rider, he wanted to be safe on the back of a good horse at the walk, trot and canter, then be able to jump little things we found out in the woods. I knew he was on a nice horse who'd look after him, so made sure he was safe, then let him enjoy himself. I think we ruin it for our spouses when we insist on perfection, or try to teach to make ourselves look knowledgeable instead of for their benefit (I'm sure you all know exactly what I mean).

                                Find a good horse, keep him safe, and let him enjoy the ride. He has to like it before he'll want to learn.

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                                • #36
                                  I'm a professional educator and I'm pretty darn good at my career in adult education. But...I'm here to tell you, it doesn't matter how well you teach, when you're married to the student, familiarity breeds contempt, in both directions.

                                  My DH is a great guy, athletic, a real try-er, and yes his first horse was great to take care of him. But you still have to watch out they don't trot out on pavement w/o thinking, or tie them with 4 miles of slack, or girth them up with a twisted girth. There's so much for a newbie to learn that it's darn near, if not entirely, impossible to wear on each other's nerves. Add to that riding out with strangers, worrying about them getting kicked, loading horses w/o getting hurt- now I'm not a worrier, but if he's going to say "I want to look like I know what I'm doing" then well yeah- that takes a lot of teaching and listening. They just have zero clue of the time and effort between newbie and not very newbie...and I think it ticks them off. So then the aggravation starts.

                                  But hey- have at it. Wave that Master's degree under his nose the next time he's sitting there wadded up like yesterday's gum and insisting that he IS sitting up straight. See how well that works for ya

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                                  • #37
                                    Guess I'm just lucky It's had its "moments" but by and large been a lot of fun for both of us. Of course, I'm the student who's improving... K might have another tale to tell...
                                    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
                                    http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com

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                                    • #38
                                      My wife taught me to ride English. I rode western, with cowboys, before we married, and thought English riding was a bit silly. However jumping seemed fun and I was willing to give it a try.

                                      I fell off over the first cross rail I attempted, and from that moment I was hooked. I realized there really was something to the balance and coordination required. I sold my QH and have never looked back.

                                      There have been moments when we both wondered if it was a good idea for her to teach me, mainly because I felt more free to "talk back" if I was frustrated and wasn't getting an exercise executed correctly. But that was my problem, and once I got my priorities straight (that I really wanted to learn and get better, not argue) this largely disappeared. In lessons, I was the student, not husband.

                                      I wouldn't trade riding with my wife for anything, the ability to share our horse experiences and speak the same "language" is truly bonding. We share our highs and lows, and although we are at very different levels of riding, the basics remain the same. If you can make the trainer/student dynamic work, it could be a very rewarding experience.

                                      We are both perfectionists and take it seriously. I think this is key for us, that we have similar levels of dedication to the sport. It would never work if I regarded it as an on again/off again hobby.

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                                      • #39
                                        At this point in our life, we can only afford to be a one-horse family, but I think someday we may end up getting a horse for DH... He had never ridden before we got together, but I put him up on my old (but still feisty) retired eventer OTTB, and he sat a pretty impressive buck... later he rode a draft-x schoolie for Games Night at a barn Christmas party and did surprisingly well. I think DH has some good instinctual talent, but he'll never be interested in honing his skills beyond being trail-riding capable.

                                        But he DOES enjoy being around horses-- he comes out to the barn with me usually 1-2x/week, and he plays with my current OTTB like a great big dog. Fortunately my OTTB really likes playing with him too; they're buddies.

                                        With that being said, ME instructing HIM in any kind of riding lesson would surely be disastrous. He'll take basic instruction-- how do I get on, how do I steer, how do I stop, how do I get off-- but beyond that, forget it... he's the type who prefers to learn by "doing" rather than "listening," and I am 100% certain my attempt to be The Instructor would end in a massive argument and he'd never ride again.

                                        So I think when the times comes, Ima gonna get him a big ol' draft mule and let the MULE teach him.
                                        *friend of bar.ka

                                        "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

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                                        • #40
                                          I spose it could depend on the dynamic between you two..... Everyone is different, but the majority of stories I've heard equal it not working out.

                                          In MY case, I've ridden jumpers about 25 years... started colts, restarted OTTBs, got to 1.20m jumpers without a trainer (currently) etc. Husband, ZERO horse experience (100% cattle experience).
                                          He got a nice horse and wanted "Lessons".... A: problem is that I am I think unable to 'teach' someone how to 'just ride'.... I know how to make them GOOD RIDERS. B: I think he thought he wanted to be a GOOD RIDER but really just wanted to 'ride'
                                          C: he felt free to argue and talk back because he's husband and not student
                                          D: talking back and arguments are bad
                                          E: arguing feels like he thinks I don't know anything and is a waste of my time. The same thing I would say to a student (get your heels down, etc.)... a student would just do.... husband would throw attitude of "what, do you think I"m stupid or something?"

                                          I sent him to a cowboy friend of his to ride with him instead..... it helped his confidence a TON, but the problem arose when he'd come home and tell me everything this guy had told him and how correct it was.... well, it was the SAME stuff I"d told him that he'd argued about So now I felt disrespected.

                                          It was a horrible HORRIBLE circle of feelings being hurt, disrespect and getting no where.... It nearly ended things for us. He quit riding (he wasn't too worried....) and I use his mare for lessons haha. To this day he'll notice something and point out "well 'cowboy' says ____" and it'll be something I've pointed out hundreds of times... but its only true if 'cowboy' says it. Just once it'd be nice to have it be "hey, just like you said the other day, that guy should do _____"

                                          I wonder now if it'd be worth trying again with ME entering it knowing he just wants to "ride" and him entering with the realization of all the things I DO know. He's super observant of some things that I've pointed out with my jumper and is able to tell me if he was round over a fence, etc.

                                          We just went in it with both of us being defensive and it ended badly haha. We're older and wiser now too though
                                          Kelli
                                          Horse Drawings!

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