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Is it wrong to not want to be a better rider?

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  • Is it wrong to not want to be a better rider?

    Maybe it's because I'm on the downhill slide to 40, but I had an epiphany today whilst out on a solo trail ride with my OTTB...

    It's been ages since I've had a lesson-- probably 3+ years. I've been riding fairly consistently since I was 5 (more than 30 years ago), so it's not like I'm a beginner, but I am by NO means an expert-- I can get around a 2'3" course without embarrassing myself and my Eq is decent, but you won't be seeing me at any "A" shows anytime soon; I'd be laughed off the property.

    Anyway, I board at a low-key barn with no in-house trainer but a variety of disciplines (from Pony Club to Parelli)... Most of my peers are working on SOMETHING-- instructors come in, they haul out to clinics, etc. My horsie friends on FB talk about shows they're planning, awards they've won, and on and on and on. In a nutshell, most of my friends have GOALS and PLANS.

    On one hand, I'm envious (who doesn't love a blue ribbon??), but on the other?? Meh.

    I was out on my horse today, all by ourselves, and he was a bit goofy (it's that time of year, after all)... Used to be that he'd get stupid and I'd get nervous, maybe jump off, but I've had him long enough now (5 years) that I think I have finally reached a confidence point with him-- I know how far he'll push, I know I can sit whatever he throws at me, so I don't really get nervous anymore. I'm not sure that's something that could have been learned in an arena; Horse and I just had to "get there," if that makes any sense.

    So we were headed home today and it was like a light bulb went off... I really like JUST RIDING. Seriously, if I did nothing but trail-ride for the rest of my life, I think I'd be OK with that. (I just wish I had a trailer so we could REALLY go off on our own, but I digress...)

    But but but......... So why do I feel guilty?!

    Am I the only non-lessoner on here?? Those of you who aren't on the Lesson Path of Enlightenment... Are you making a conscious decision not to? Or do you still take lessons even WITHOUT any aspirations of show-ring glory? Am I missing something without lessons?
    *friend of bar.ka

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

  • #2
    I've had lessons, but none recently. I am that person that doesn't like blue ribbons. The ones I have earned have been thrown away or given back, because they don't mean anything to me at all. I like it if we do better with obstacles on a trail challenge than I expected, but that's about it. The fun to me is all in the time spent with my horses, son, friends - out in the woods, seeing the lake, mountains in the peace and quiet, a solo canter in the woods with no signs of other people around. I did some goals a few years ago, and that was fun (crossing that scary bridge my horse hates without a pause, doing an entire trail ride bareback, etc) and that was cool.

    Comment


    • #3
      I love training, so when I am "just riding", I am still training, more or less.
      Of course having goals of checking fences and water holes and cattle and this and that helps make your goals more clear than "just riding along" listening to the birds sing.

      It is not that what you do also, with breaks here and there to just mosey along, then some more conditioning or work on something?

      Now, once in a while it is good to have someone else tell you how things are going, in a formal lesson or just a pair of "eyes on the ground" when you try something for size, that you have been working on.

      We find our horse play and work in all kinds of ways and places, not necessarily in lessons and competition and all are just as valid.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Well, I DO really enjoy hunter paces, so once the weather gets nicer, we'll stop just moseying around the fields and do some trot/canter sets for fitness. So I guess that's a "goal," but not so much one that requires an instructor.

        I guess the older I get, the more scorn I have for "ring work," which is, I guess, what I equate to lessons.
        *friend of bar.ka

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

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Actually, I think my guilt isn't so much for ME, but I feel like I'm sometimes doing my horse a disservice... I feel like he'd have enormous potential with a rider who actually gave a crap, lol... Mostly because he's so brave, there are days when I feel like I don't deserve him. And I wonder where he'd be if he had a rider who actually TRIED...

          Case in point... Today, at the end of our ride, I pointed him at a ditch to jump. Wasn't a huge ditch, but a ditch nonetheless, and he hasn't been asked to jump a ditch in at least 4 years... Heck, he's only schooled ditches once before anyway. And he just hopped over it like he couldn't have cared less.

          All this wasted potential!! I feel like I'm constantly apologizing for him and to him... But them again, his idea of a perfect day is probably one where he gets to hang out in the pasture all day and never has to even SEE a saddle, lol...
          *friend of bar.ka

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

          Comment


          • #6
            I just enjoy riding - I have no desire to compete in a totally subjective discipline. The only ones that interest me are endurance riding and eventing...both are based on only what you and your horse can do, not what someone else scores you at. I do like training and taking an occasional lesson, and am contemplating jumping lessons to see if I really am interested in low level eventing, but if I am not having fun, then I don't want to do it anymore

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            • #7
              I like lessons because I like the feed back on ways that I can make my horse happier and more comfortable through my actions but shows are ok. My favorite mounted activity are hunter paces, second favorite is schooling cross country and third is trail riding. None of which are real competitive but lots of fun.
              McDowell Racing Stables

              Home Away From Home

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              • #8
                I do take lessons, probably more cuz I love my instructor. We dabble in different things, she just got into reining, so she will show me things that she is learning, basically, keeps things interesting. I practice the stuff I learn while on the trail and it gives me things to do while the weather is crap and I am stuck inside the arena during winter. So, lessons do not equate to showing. It does improve your riding and that transfers to every horse you ride. I have a lot of horses available to ride, so I find that helpful when I am on a different horse than my own.

                I am like you. I just like to ride. I play w/cows, do a few Endurance and CMO rides a year, but mostly, I trail ride.

                I have gone to several Dressage shows, and just do not see the point. I dont need a judge to tell him how my horse and I are as a team. I can tell that w/every ride I have.

                I can NOT think of a bad ride I have had on him, really, kinda like you. I have had him for 10 yrs and KNOW him, so everytime I ride him is fun.

                At one show, my friend got a really low score. She was really upset, that is when I decided showing really wasnt for me. It is a subjective judging, so of course, people see things differently.

                Not to mention the costs, I see that most people that show rarely just hack out alone just to enjoy their horse. I am speaking of what I have SEEN. Most stay IN the arena, that makes me think they never really just enjoy being on their horse.

                I never feel guilty! Everyone should do whatever they like. I feel a lot like you and am very happy Taking my horse and dog out on a trail ride is what I love to do! I do what makes me happy I am at the age where I realize that life is too short to do anything else, lol.
                Riding is NOT meant as an inside sport, GET out of that arena!!!

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                • #9
                  You do have a goal -- to enjoy your horse. Go ahead and do that in whatever manner makes you happy.
                  If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                  Desmond Tutu

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                  • #10
                    If you are riding in situations that a few years ago would have made you anxious, and you are enjoying your horse and giving him confidence, then I think you *are* getting better.

                    I don't think your horse cares one whit about his potential and whether he's working hard enough.

                    I think some people take lessons because they don't have the confidence that you have. They want to be told they're progressing, or what they're doing *wrong.* Seems like you and your horse have figured it out.

                    Congratulations!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cnvh View Post
                      Actually, I think my guilt isn't so much for ME, but I feel like I'm sometimes doing my horse a disservice... I feel like he'd have enormous potential with a rider who actually gave a crap, lol... Mostly because he's so brave, there are days when I feel like I don't deserve him. And I wonder where he'd be if he had a rider who actually TRIED...

                      Case in point... Today, at the end of our ride, I pointed him at a ditch to jump. Wasn't a huge ditch, but a ditch nonetheless, and he hasn't been asked to jump a ditch in at least 4 years... Heck, he's only schooled ditches once before anyway. And he just hopped over it like he couldn't have cared less.

                      All this wasted potential!! I feel like I'm constantly apologizing for him and to him... But them again, his idea of a perfect day is probably one where he gets to hang out in the pasture all day and never has to even SEE a saddle, lol...
                      Everyone rides for their own reasons and the horse doesn't care. Especially if they have never done it - they don't know what they are missing. So, do what you want with your horse and don't worry about what he, or anyone else, thinks.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        IMO - There is a balance one should strive for, a balance between celebrating the Joy of riding and the work/study of riding.

                        Often one can be so focused on improving oneself and the horse that you lose the joy that brought you to horses and riding in the first place.

                        Personally I love and will lesson/compete again. But in the meantime I am enjoying the heck out of every possible ride. Even if all we do is 'pole bend'' around the pine trees at a walk. This to keep him moving, bending and not spooking and spinning. Once he settles down then we head out for the trails!

                        Enjoy your horse and your time now. Take a lesson from our horses and live in the now. You may or may not make plans to lesson and/or compete in the future. These trail rides and jumped ditches are all part of the proper training of a good saddle horse. Plus these rides provide a great base if you decide to compete in most any discipline!
                        "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                        Courtesy my cousin Tim

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                        • #13
                          I highly doubt your horse is fretting over his unused potential. As long as both he and you are happy, enjoy riding, enjoy each other, and enjoy life. Not everything we do has to be about constant striving to achieve more.
                          Last edited by laskiblue; Jan. 27, 2013, 10:51 PM. Reason: clarification

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I have countless friends who, for whatever reason, don't ever set foot outside an arena... And very few of the arena riders seem to enjoy riding. Either the footing is NQR, or their horse spooks at a blowing leaf, etc., etc. Meanwhile, we head out to the woods, and some of them look at me like I have two heads: "It's muddy! It's windy! Aren't you worried about X-Y-Z??"

                            Um, no???

                            Honestly, I think there need to be more TRAIL instructors, lol... Some days I wish I could bottle and sell the simple pleasure of just heading out for a ride without an agenda. Seriously, I don't understand why people don't do it more often.... It's like the guilt of eating cake for 3 meals a day, lol...
                            *friend of bar.ka

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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I enjoy taking lessons and going to clinics because I like learning new things. I don't necessarily stick to one discipline either. We went to a cutting clinic last year because my friend's mare lost her marbles over some cows. We figured the best way to get her over that was to go learn to cut them! So we spent a Saturday learning to cut cows. We had a blast, the horses had fun once they got over their initial fear of them.

                              I like learning and getting better as a rider. Not so I can compete, but I just like learning. I don't take a lot of lessons since its just not in the budget, but I take them when I can.

                              My favorite things to do are foxhunting, endurance rides and the hunter trials our hunt puts on. I enjoy taking dressage lessons because I learn something new every time and they make both of us better at doing the even more fun things.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think lessons ( or at least educated eyes on the ground) are good once in a while. It is easy to build bad muscle memory and end up with a chair seat for example all the while thinking we have a great position.
                                At my barn, everybody does lessons together on the week-ends. Dressage riders, Western riders and several Trail (both Leisure and Endurance) riders. The basics are the same for horses as well as riders. Individual lessons focus more on a particular discipline. And yes, we do some actual lessons out on the trail.
                                I think we owe it to our horses to strive to be the best riders that we can, and I also think that trail riding DOES take a lot of skills.
                                "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I've never had a lesson in my life. Yes my poor horse! All we do is trail ride. I don't want to compete, don't want to jump, don't want to ride around in an arena. Though I have an arena and sometimes work in it like to train her to step around to me when I raise my arm and cluck (great for on the trail to mount from a log or rock, she sides right up to me!) or work on sidepassing or crossing the bridge (she seems to need refreshers).

                                  I just love a good trail ride out in the woods and fast gallops or canters down a sandy road!
                                  I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                                  Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.

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                                  • #18
                                    Have you thought of joining a hunt?

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I would LOVE to join a hunt... And I think my most local one is really more of an organized trail-riding group than anything, lol... As soon as I have a trailer and am mobile, this is going to be first on my agenda!

                                      OK, so I guess I have a goal after all, lol...
                                      *friend of bar.ka

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

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Having fun and enjoying your horse's company IS a discipline!!! And you are training him even though you don't know it...otherwise he would not have popped over the ditch with such ease!! Horses - IMO - do not aspire to greater heights...their only interest is their mouth/digestive track, comfortable living facilities and a nice ride with a thoughtful rider. You ARE a success!! Just enjoy what you enjoy!!! I'm there with you!!!
                                        www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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