Frustrated with my riding - going backwards

numptynovice

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Just a little moan, my lessons had been going really well and confidence massively increased, but since I’ve started riding some of the horses that are reserved for more “advanced” riders it’s taken a big knock.

I have been riding a horse that more forward, can be strong and has to be ridden much more from the seat, which is fine, but I’m finding her rushing in trot and ignoring my aids on the right rein, then napping back to the other horse in the lesson. I’m not feeling in control and am tensing up and going back to all my old bad habits (leaning forwards, hanging onto reins when asking for canter).

When we've tried to do an exercise on our own we end up just trotting round at speed with me having no control, her cutting all the corners with her nose pointed out to the outside until we get back to the other horse. Very frustrated with myself because it’s like I’ve forgotten how to ride and that I’m getting worse at riding her instead of better.
 

Quigleyandme

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This happens to us all at some stage. I don’t think this horse is for you. You are having a miserable time and that is not what it is supposed to be like. A riding school horse for a more “advanced” rider should be responsive to the aids and be one on which you can be taught walk to canter transitions and 20 metre circle in canter and pole work for example not a hollow, nose poking, nappy horse. I would urge you to have a word with your instructor. There is no shame in taking a step back. When things aren’t going right with our schooling we are all advised to take a step back and jointly regain our confidence, composure and harmony doing what we know we can do. X
 

Pinkvboots

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Take a step back there is nothing wrong in that go back to riding a horse you can ride easily get your confidence then try again on the more difficult one, then I would alternate the horses so your not under pressure all the time.

I have 2 horses the one I have owned 17 years I find easy the other I don't I have always struggled a bit with him so I ride them tactfully so I never have a fail.
 

numptynovice

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Thank you - I’m in two minds because on the one hand I KNOW I can actually ride her because I’ve done it before, but in a private lesson. I think a lot of the issues are down to me tensing up after the first not so great experience. I just need to get my confidence back with her. But on the other hand, the semi private lessons aren’t great because she is more nappy and it’s affecting my confidence.

I am going to talk to the yard owner and ask for some private lessons with her on this horse. I know that other riders who are more confident love riding her and I really enjoyed riding her the first couple of times - she was very responsive when I got the “feel” for her. I would like to get that back and I think the yard owner is better at explaining very specifically *how* to ride her.
 
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I think learning to ride at a school, in a group lesson, once or twice a week is so hard. The so-called 'advanced rider' horses will simply be less tractable and tolerant, from my experience. I learnt as a kid and spent hours riding anything and everything I could find (not always with the owner's knowledge :eek: but that was many, MANY years ago) bareback and if I was lucky I got a bridle. The hardest but most helpful thing is getting to know the horse well and thoroughly and that IMHO can only be done by daily contact and interaction. Obviously, supervised.

My big break came when a kid with a herd of them moved in to the next village and let me on one or two of them, but I got to do lots of other stuff. I bought my own at 18 and have had them ever since. My kids learned the same way, but on their own ponies with correct instruction - around the bareback hoolie -ing.

I have helped several kids do this (prior to having my own to teach) and they have all gone on to ride and have their own, but I had kind and reasonably reliable horses and ponies I was happy to share in return for help.

Nowadays everyone is very liability-aware and litigation seems to the default, so you might struggle to find something like that if you're a complete novice but we all have to learn somewhere. It'll help enormously if you could have a few sessions on a mechanical horse to assess your strengths and points to address, then try and find someone who wants help in exchange for rides or ridden tuition. Be prepared to get your own insurance for this.
 

numptynovice

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I think learning to ride at a school, in a group lesson, once or twice a week is so hard. The so-called 'advanced rider' horses will simply be less tractable and tolerant, from my experience. I learnt as a kid and spent hours riding anything and everything I could find (not always with the owner's knowledge :eek: but that was many, MANY years ago) bareback and if I was lucky I got a bridle.
I’d love to share a horse but time is a big struggle for me at the moment -fairly challenging full time job, kids etc. It’s definitely something I’d like to do when the kids are older (although by that time I’ll be pushing 50!). I’d arrange through my yard - they do loan out the school horses but also will know liveries who might be looking for sharers and would be a good match. For now, timewise all I can manage is riding twice a week in semi private or sometimes private plus hacking out as a group once a month or so. I’d need a fair bit of help to get started off in a share and given I’m time poor but comparatively cash rich but would be looking for someone who would show me the ropes in exchange for a decent financial contribution.

To be fair to the more “advanced” horses, they are definitely not less tractable. The other horse that’s kept for more advanced riders is super sweet and safe, he’s just a bit more forward and sensitive and he shows up your weaknesses that the beginner horses would compensate for. But once you get the feel for him he’s much more fun to ride and doesn’t do anything nasty.
 

Wishfilly

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Private lessons with this horse sound like a really good idea. However, it may also do no harm to ride another "easier" horse in a group or private lesson in the short term. Confidence is a funny thing, and you do not want to push it too far. Some horses and riders also just don't click well- as a leisure rider, there really is no need to ride a horse who you find difficult and unnerving all the time!
 

shortstuff99

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A good tip for strong horses that throw you forwards. Imagine your elbows are connected to your hips. If the horse goes to pull you forward take your hip forward instead with your elbows still bent at the side. This will keep you upright and not give the horse anything to pull against.
 

numptynovice

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Private lessons with this horse sound like a really good idea. However, it may also do no harm to ride another "easier" horse in a group or private lesson in the short term. Confidence is a funny thing, and you do not want to push it too far. Some horses and riders also just don't click well- as a leisure rider, there really is no need to ride a horse who you find difficult and unnerving all the time!
Thank you - I will definitely be riding other horses in between :) confidence is indeed a funny thing and mine is quite fragile!
 

Wishfilly

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Thank you - I will definitely be riding other horses in between :) confidence is indeed a funny thing and mine is quite fragile!
Confidence is definitely a funny thing, and some horses react badly to nerves as well- rushing could be a symptom of this.

I would say you are probably not going backwards- conscious incompetence is very much a thing with riding!
 

Red-1

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When I read the title of the thread, my first thought was that it will be that you are no longer in unconscious incompetence, but now have advanced sufficiently to know just how much you still need to learn (and TBH, in some ways with horses, the more you know, the more you find out you don't!) but reading your posts I don't think that is the entire story.

I am pleased this riding school was great to learn at as a true beginner.

I believe they are now letting you down.

I come from a background of teaching novice adults, and agree with @Quigleyandme that, to get someone comfortable in canter, it would be done on a horse who can do walk/canter/walk transitions, starting on the lunge, until you are in charge of your own body. The horse would be balanced and rhythmic, and initially I would be balancing and controlling it (have a look at vaulting horses on Youtube). Then take it further so you can direct the horse on your own. How can you control and balance the horse, when you can't yet control your own body? And to find your own balance, you need a stable platform.

Things are never perfect though, so I completely understand using a less than accommodating horse on a semi private lesson, and think it is do-able, just not best practice.

However, I do not understand how on earth an instructor allows... "When we've tried to do an exercise on our own we end up just trotting round at speed with me having no control, her cutting all the corners with her nose pointed out to the outside until we get back to the other horse."

I do get the horse testing you. I don't understand the horse being allowed to go back to the other horse?

If the lesson is semi private, I can't see the point of working one behind the other, like a beginner group ride? A semi private lesson usually has 2 people of similar standards, who would learn from the comments to the other, having a lesson on the same basic theme, but working independently. With just 2 horses in an arena, your initial lesson would be to have the horse working independently in walk, so correctly, until he/she wasn't napping to the other. There are loads of exercises to work on in walk, to get the horse on the aids and their attention on you. Only then would you trot, and then, if it all went wrong, you would be transitioning back to walk to reaffirm lessons before doing even a few steps of trot, and back to walk, until it was all attention on you, compliant and everyone was happy.

That is a whole point of a semi-private, to avoid the one following the other scenario.

While you were working on your attention, the trainer could also be helping the other client with whatever they need to work on. The trainer would choose an exercise for them to keep them working and learning, but keeping the stakes low so everyone was safe and able to learn. It then doesn't take long for you to be doing longer periods of trot, correctly, with the attention of the horse.

If you look at it from the horse's point of view, it ignores you, tears round tense, nose out, gets back to the other horse, whereupon he/she can rest. Why on earth would they do anything different, they are having reinforcement for doing the wrong thing? How are you meant to improve, when the horse tears round, you are no doubt berated, nothing improves, the horse tears back to the other, you are probably criticised again and then rest.

Honestly? I would ask for another instructor.
 

Red-1

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I found one for you, Ronnie the riding school Cob learning vaulting...


The horse gets it wrong on occasion, drops from canter, but is able to go back to canter, keeps a rhythm, is balanced, and would be ideal for someone to find their balance.

I am not suggesting you learn vaulting, just showing what a lunge horse for a novice should look like, not having to be a 'posh' breed, but being happy, co-operative and controlled by the person lungeing. The horse isn't doing advanced dressage, but is ding his job beautifully. He looks free, forward and happy.

Canter starts about 1 minute in.

BYW, I have never seen this cob before, but looked into it, and he is a riding school cob. Ronnie did his first ever vaulting lesson on 22 May and this video was taken on 20 June, so not some specially trained horse. This is what a riding school horse should look like. They are worth their weight in gold.

But, as I said in my original post, I do understand that, for the sake of time and £, most riding schools don't keep their horses trained up, but the situation doesn't seem to be well managed for either you or your horse to learn, so I would ask for a different instructor.

I have never done vaulting, but when training novice adults I did put an inordinate amount of effort into sourcing and producing horses who would work like this, as did @Quigleyandme I suspect.
 
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Red-1

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Looked where Ronnie the Cob was, and She was in a riding school in Penzance.

ronnie.jpg

Ronnie Cob
Ronnie Cob was our riding school cob for 10 years, but sadly due to a field injury she had to retire. As the injury did not fully heal she was sadly put to sleep in 2016. Ronnie went to Olympia on two occasions as part of the BRC Quadrille National Championships, representing the Cornwall Trec Quadrille Team and she helped many a rider gain their confidence. All the team at Rosevidney will always be grateful for her service and she will never be forgotten.

True riding school cob.
 

Red-1

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Looking on their page, they do glamping and have another, current, equally as talented, riding school cob, available for lessons from beginner to advanced.

I would wait until after the summer holidays, and if you can at all afford the time and £, head on down there for 3 days/2 nights. I only randomly found this place from searching "Vaulting cob" on Youtube, don't know them from Adam, but this is how I imagine a good riding school to be, and the 2 horses I have seen videos of are exemplary.

https://rosevidney.co.uk/lessons

There are 2 videos of Lightning on there, one an all round video, the other showing a rider's progression over several lessons.

I would imagine a few lessons on Lightning, with Verity, would be transformative.
 

numptynovice

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Confidence is definitely a funny thing, and some horses react badly to nerves as well- rushing could be a symptom of this.

I would say you are probably not going backwards- conscious incompetence is very much a thing with riding!
That is why I’m so frustrated with myself, because I know I can ride the horse, but now I’m getting anxious and tensing and I know it’s my brain making it worse!
 

Wishfilly

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That is why I’m so frustrated with myself, because I know I can ride the horse, but now I’m getting anxious and tensing and I know it’s my brain making it worse!
If the horse is sensitive, she'll definitely pick up on this. I think it's a really hard thing to fight. In a private lesson, you can go at a slower pace- it may feel like you have gone backwards a bit in terms of the exercises you do or the gaits you work in, but long term it will benefit you. If it were me, I'd ask to ride something easier in the group lessons for now, as I know being in front of others can make my nerves and frustration worse.

But try not to get annoyed with yourself- your body is having a natural reaction, and learning to control that is a really tricky skill! Remind yourself that it is meant to be fun, and give yourself permission to sometimes just ride horses you enjoy!
 

Wishfilly

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Looking on their page, they do glamping and have another, current, equally as talented, riding school cob, available for lessons from beginner to advanced.

I would wait until after the summer holidays, and if you can at all afford the time and £, head on down there for 3 days/2 nights. I only randomly found this place from searching "Vaulting cob" on Youtube, don't know them from Adam, but this is how I imagine a good riding school to be, and the 2 horses I have seen videos of are exemplary.

https://rosevidney.co.uk/lessons

There are 2 videos of Lightning on there, one an all round video, the other showing a rider's progression over several lessons.

I would imagine a few lessons on Lightning, with Verity, would be transformative.

I may be wrong, as I don't know them personally, but I'm local to them, and do follow on Facebook. I'm not sure lessons with Lightning are open to new clients at the moment, although as I say, I may be incorrect!

I am sure other, similar places exist though!
 

numptynovice

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Looking on their page, they do glamping and have another, current, equally as talented, riding school cob, available for lessons from beginner to advanced.

I would wait until after the summer holidays, and if you can at all afford the time and £, head on down there for 3 days/2 nights. I only randomly found this place from searching "Vaulting cob" on Youtube, don't know them from Adam, but this is how I imagine a good riding school to be, and the 2 horses I have seen videos of are exemplary.

https://rosevidney.co.uk/lessons

There are 2 videos of Lightning on there, one an all round video, the other showing a rider's progression over several lessons.

I would imagine a few lessons on Lightning, with Verity, would be transformative.
Thank you for taking the time to look that up for me! That’s really kind of I have done a few riding holidays a few years back with intensive lessons but haven’t for a few years and would be definitely better interested to see what’s out there.

To be fair to the school, they do have some balanced easy horses who have massively helped my canter seat/transition and I could have easily done yesterday’s exercise on them - but I’m finding when I get anxious i revert to my old habits of tipping forward and not sitting deep, which ends up with rushing. The horse is not supposed to stop with the other horse, we were supposed to do two circuits, but I didn’t have control and she rushed off to the other horse and stopped. The instructor got me to take her round again so she didn’t think she could get out of working that way.

I’d managed to do canter circles over poles with her with the other horse circling at the other end of the arena in other lessons, but since I’ve lost my confidence with her I can’t seem to execute the simplest things!
 

numptynovice

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If the horse is sensitive, she'll definitely pick up on this. I think it's a really hard thing to fight. In a private lesson, you can go at a slower pace- it may feel like you have gone backwards a bit in terms of the exercises you do or the gaits you work in, but long term it will benefit you. If it were me, I'd ask to ride something easier in the group lessons for now, as I know being in front of others can make my nerves and frustration worse.

But try not to get annoyed with yourself- your body is having a natural reaction, and learning to control that is a really tricky skill! Remind yourself that it is meant to be fun, and give yourself permission to sometimes just ride horses you enjoy!
Thank you for being kind - I’m sure she’s picking up on my nerves. I am more than happy to go back to walk, I did that on the other horse who is more advanced as I was really struggling to steer, now I know what to do I’m happy to canter him. I am definitely going to speak to the yard owner when I see her and ask for a few private lessons with her on this horse as she really helped me get the feel for her initially. And yes - I will ask to not have her in the semi privates until I’m more confident as it is affecting my nerves and it is really hard when you’re struggling - you need some 1-2-1 and a different approach! I did really enjoy riding her the first couple of times.
 

honetpot

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It's doesn't sound like an advanced horse, just something more difficult to ride, and if you are struggling they shouldn't keep putting you on it, it makes it far harder for you to learn, and the horse will just become more practised in evasions. Basically practising getting it wrong, it's not your fault.
I have ridden advanced horses, not my own, and they are more sensitive to ride but usually because they are so on the aids and attentive, that if you give the wrong aid at the wrong time and place, you end up not where you expected.
If they haven't got another horse that they want you to ride, they should be teaching you how to avoid the disobedience, and giving you confidence, not putting you in a position where the horse wins.
 

Skib

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As someone who learned to ride as an older adult your post is interesting because it suggests that riding can get worse and that what matters is a standard of riding that can either improve or deteriorate. Yes, one to one and lunge lessons are the ideal solution.
But supposing you take a different view. You say the horse is doing something you havent wanted. Riding doesnt depend on what you look like nor your skills level, it depends on a horse understanding what you ask for, and then you the rider leaving the horse freedom to carry out that command. If the horse does something you dont like, it is up to you to reject it and give a No. If you tolerate something, then the horse will assume it is fine.

It is about balance which can be sorted on the lunge but also about communication. If the horse is looking to the outside, at what is outside the school, it is up to you to correct that by using the reins to adjust the direction of his nose. You have probably been told by an RI to keep hold of the outside rein in canter to prevent the horse cutting corners.

But the problem for adult riders is we want to please the teacher so we over do any instruction. I did it myself. The direction you are giving to the nose of the horse has to be applied in tiny incremental touches.

Then look on the bright side too. Many adult students find it hard to canter. Your horse is at least cantering easilly and all you need to do is breathe deep and slow, use your legs to keep the RS canter going and use the reins to guide the tip of the nose.

If the horse isnt doing as you want or listening its (mind on the other horses) it is fine to say no. Stop the canter and ask again. Remind the horse, RI and yourself that you are in charge. Right from the start of the lesson in walk, take control of the communication by asking for transitions both between gaits and within gaits. Have the horse listening long before you get to the canter part of the lesson. Talk to it if you want but set up a relationship. Riding is not about your improving or deteriorating it is about communicating with an animal under you.

The animal wont always like you for that. But the more you progress the more your safety will depend on riding in control of your horse.
 

numptynovice

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It's doesn't sound like an advanced horse, just something more difficult to ride, and if you are struggling they shouldn't keep putting you on it, it makes it far harder for you to learn, and the horse will just become more practised in evasions. Basically practising getting it wrong, it's not your fault.
I have ridden advanced horses, not my own, and they are more sensitive to ride but usually because they are so on the aids and attentive, that if you give the wrong aid at the wrong time and place, you end up not where you expected.
If they haven't got another horse that they want you to ride, they should be teaching you how to avoid the disobedience, and giving you confidence, not putting you in a position where the horse wins.
I’m not suggesting the horse is an advanced horse, I know that she isn’t, just that she is reserved for more “advanced” riders (and again, I’m in no way saying I’m an advanced rider, because I’m clearly not) because she is sensitive, is more forward, can be strong and needs to be ridden from the seat - so yes, more difficult to ride!
 

numptynovice

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It is about balance which can be sorted on the lunge but also about communication. If the horse is looking to the outside, at what is outside the school, it is up to you to correct that by using the reins to adjust the direction of his nose. You have probably been told by an RI to keep hold of the outside rein in canter to prevent the horse cutting corners.

But the problem for adult riders is we want to please the teacher so we over do any instruction. I did it myself. The direction you are giving to the nose of the horse has to be applied in tiny incremental touches.
The nose pointing out is a combination of the horse finding that rein more difficult, rushing and throwing in the right shoulder to try and cut the corner - plus me probably being too tense and hanging onto the outside rein and tipping forwards, putting the horse on the forehand. I’m SURE that if I’d relaxed, leaned back and sat deep and relaxed the rein contact and used my outside seat/ inside leg better it would have been a better experience for me and the horse. My brain knows what to do but my body goes into panic mode.
 

Ears of a horse

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Nerves are a tricky thing - I know so well myself, and then add in the frustration of knowing you can do it, but your body not cooperating. I've taken steps back at times, and ended up better for it. Have you tried something like Rescue Remedy? I find it can take the edge off and let me get on top of the nerves rather than the other way around. Also, talking or singing can help, if like me you forget to breathe😆.

Sounds like you've got a good plan - privates on this horse and other horses in groups for the time being. Try not to expect too much of yourself so that you can enjoy the lessons and horse time, and that will help you to relax
 
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