How good can I realistically get (opinions/experiences?)

Joined
10 September 2018
Messages
8
As the title suggests I am interested in other riders opinions or experiences on how good/proficient a horse rider I can realistically expect to become. I am struggling to judge whether I need to push myself significantly harder or to accept I will only ever be able to ride lower level beginnerss type horses.

For context I started riding in spring 2018 as a mid fourties unfit person who had previously only ridden as a child/ teen but had never owned/competed or learnt riding properly as a sport (more ‘hacks’ and riding in groups around a school).

Eventually found myself with the time and finances last year to devote to persuing my long held dream of riding ‘properly’ and potentially owning my own horse.

I have been having a private 45 mins lesson once or twice each week for about 9 months now and in the last month or so finally feel I am starting to understand how to ‘put things together’ eg be able to bring various aspects of what I have been taught together but still finding it hard to keep my mount listening and moving forward with reasonable energy. My OH took some video of me riding last week and 8 was shocked at how disorganised and ‘flappy’ my riding was!!

I should say that I have had what I believe to be excellent supportive tutition from a number of the instructors and I have faith that they are teaching well however whilst I am progressing it seems painfully slow and its just that I am unfit and finding to difficult to apply the teaching as much as I personally would like!! I also have the opportunity to ride one horse on a weekly basis independently at the school and I really struggle to implement all the great teaching when I am on my own.

So I am just wondering what other people feel would be a reasonable riding level for me to aim for? I am not competitive but would like to feel I could eventually be considered a reasonable independent rider and I had intially set myself a goal of doing so within two years but I am really not sure!!
 

MrsJingle

Active Member
Joined
17 September 2009
Messages
462
At mid forties I would say the world is your oyster still in relation to riding. My goodness you are a mere spring chicken ;) Ok the one proviso I would add to that is I feel owning, looking after, and doing a much more mixed lesson/hacking/schooling that you choose at your time and rate of progress will probably see you progress at a much faster rate in terms of confidence and ability.

Good instructors are invaluable for all of us riders no matter what level we 'think' we are at, but actually getting yourself out there on your own horse pleasing yourself can really be the icing on the cake to your riding education so far IMO.

Good luck and just go for what level you feel happy at, life is far too short and you are far too young to sell yourself out and settle for less than the very best you can achieve and enjoy. Suck it and see is the very best most basic advise I would give you. :)
 
Joined
14 January 2018
Messages
25
I think a couple of years is a long enough time to be a reasonably independent rider, depending on what you want to be doing. As you've only been doing it since Spring 2018 my advice would be to not be so hard on yourself and your current ability.

When you start to 'put things together' as you said, progress will appear slower when compared to your first tranche of lessons where everything was new. I'd suggest speaking to your instructor and putting together written progress plan against a set timescale. That way you'll agree milestones and be able to see progress.

Recording your riding is an excellent idea and I'd encourage you to keep doing this - being able to see what your instructor sees will really help progress. For example, you can now keep in mind to not 'flap' whilst you ride!
 

equi

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 October 2010
Messages
8,601
Location
Northern Ireland
I’ve been riding for 25 years and some days I still flip about like a sack of spuds lol

I think you’re probably doing ok but you do get to a point where riding school
Horses can’t teach you more. Some day you should be able to make any horse move on, but I say you can’t flog a dead one. Sometimes you need something with a bit more go to learn how to do other things.
 

Surbie

Active Member
Joined
27 July 2017
Messages
542
What do you want to do ideally? And given you say you are unfit, unless you've got underlying health issues that mean you can't, are you doing anything to work on your own fitness outside of riding? If I were to look at my own experience, building fitness, core strength and flexibility will help loads with riding, balance and being able to apply aids more lightly and reliably.

When you have the horse you are allowed to ride independently, what do you do to structure your sessions? Do you focus on a couple of things to improve on or try to incorporate everything?

I'm around the same age and with a similar riding history I think - I had lessons 2x/week before getting my loan horse, and lessons were good, but can't compare to the progress you can make when riding 3-5 times per week, doing a variety of things. That said, there is an awful lot that needs working on, I need to get a lot fitter, and like others I have days where I feel I am totally useless. :)
 
Joined
14 February 2014
Messages
181
I started horse riding again in my mid forties now 10 years later own two horses and am quite good at it , you are heading in the right direction by having lessons and hacking really keeps you fit. I do not think my age stops me doing anything different from a 20 year old but probably would think differently if competing at a high level.
 

Ash2312

New Member
Joined
14 November 2018
Messages
12
I love this post... I have no words of wisdom to impart I’m afraid but I had this same conversation with myself only last week.

I came to the conclusion of ‘why should I put a ceiling on it?’

If you have the love and passion for it and are keen to better yourself then aim as high as you please!

Good luck :)
 

Rumtytum

Active Member
Joined
12 November 2017
Messages
577
I can so empathise with you! Am 63 and set myself exactly the same two year goal when I started riding in 2016. I think as an adult beginner you can be more critical of yourself, and after one year of riding I felt exactly as you do now (I know because I keep a riding diary). Anyway, my (hard work) RS horse and I entered a few low level dressage comps held at the school, it was the Uneducated riding the Unwilling, but blow me we won this year's summer dressage championship and got a huge rosette, sash, medal and statuette. Utterly priceless treasures! Next target is a photo of us jumping for my 64th birthday in February. So through my eyes you are exactly where I was after almost one year, yes it seems to take forever but you are improving all the time, and it starts to come together better and faster in the second year. Keep a riding diary for proof! Good luck, I'll be very interested to know how you progress :)
 

splashgirl45

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 March 2010
Messages
5,663
Location
suffolk
exactly as ash2312 says, just enjoy riding and dont be too hard on yourself. ,as children, we seem to be able to progress much quicker with physical activities....it is going to be a little more difficult in your 40's but not impossible and all i would say is to work on your core strength as much as possible when not riding and also ride as much as possible doesnt have to be lessons , hacking is very useful as well. have fun and aim high....:D:D:D
 

MrSmith

New Member
Joined
2 February 2017
Messages
27
Location
Derbyshire
I found that working on my overall physical condition (strength, suppleness/flexibility and cardio fitness) made a significant improvement to my riding and the rate of progress and improvement I'm making. I don't do loads but a little running, Pilates, yoga etc using the numerous free YouTube videos.
 

Starzaan

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 January 2010
Messages
2,884
As an instructor my advice would be that if you want to progress quickly and really improve your riding, you need to ride more.

I taught someone in a similar position to you, and the breakthrough came when she booked a week off work and we did a mini ‘pony week’. She had two lessons and a hack each day, and helped on the yard. Her fitness improved, and her ability to read horses improved so much in that week - she went from being nervous and struggling to assert herself to being able to lead and groom almost any horse on the yard.

The biggest improvement was in her riding. Because she was in the saddle for between three and four hours a day, anything she wanted to work on came so much more quickly.

Think of it like driving a car - I learned to drive with weekly lessons of an hour, and it took me two years to get to test stage. My OH did an intensive course and went from never having been behind the wheel, to passing his driving test in 11 days.

If time and finances don’t allow for an intensive course, you will still get there, it will just take longer. I tell all the adult beginners I teach to come along and watch lots of other lessons - particularly more advanced lessons. If they can watch and see the changes made when a rider follows instruction and makes a correction, things start to become much more clear.

Above all, enjoy it! Good luck 😊
 

Keith_Beef

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 December 2017
Messages
1,695
Location
Seine et Oise, France
Just get on with it.

I started regularly riding, with an hour of instruction per week and a few extra hours of instruction or hacking now and again, around 2012, and turned 50 a couple of days ago.

I did my first club jumping competition in October and hack out just with a guide or in a group of any size for hours at a time.
 

sportsmansB

Active Member
Joined
9 February 2009
Messages
442
Time in the saddle in general is often overlooked as being important v lots of lessons - but you need to feel 'at home' there if you want to progress beyond walk/trot/canter/small jump. Improving balance and ability to react to situations, learn to read horses reactions and so on.

If time and budget allows, have you considered a riding holiday? There are great places in spain for example that you can go and have a 2/3 hour ride out in the morning and a lesson in the afternoon- and if you do that every day for a week, you should really notice the difference. PM me if you want some recommendations.
Similar to what Starzaan mentions above, but in the sun :)

Many people reach a sort of a plateau with their riding (and this could happen several times as you progress!)- maybe as kids we don't notice it so much, but as adults we are measuring ourselves constantly and it is more obvious.
 
Joined
10 September 2018
Messages
8
Thank you to everyone who has replied, I have read through all of the responses with interest.
I am not a competitive person so don’t have plans to try to benchmark my progression in this way which I think makes it harder possibly to judge how I am doing. However I would like to be able to ride a reasonable basic dressage test and maybe work slowly up the levels as time goes by!
I knew that my lack of fitness would slow me down but what I have learnt is that riding is very demanding sport phsyically, much more so that most people realise and that perhaps this is what I need to focus on on my non riding days. To this end I have enrolled on a fun cardio dance class and also downloaded some pilates for riding vids which I am going to start practising.
I am also going to watch some of the advanced riders in the school competitions ( it would feel cheeky watching them in lessons
!).
Hopefully as long as I can actually find a suitable horse then later this year I plan to buy my own horse at which point I will be ale to ride much more often so hopefully things will also start to come together a bit more quckly then.
Thank you all again for your brill suggestions and advice!
 

Starzaan

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 January 2010
Messages
2,884
Thank you to everyone who has replied, I have read through all of the responses with interest.
I am not a competitive person so don’t have plans to try to benchmark my progression in this way which I think makes it harder possibly to judge how I am doing. However I would like to be able to ride a reasonable basic dressage test and maybe work slowly up the levels as time goes by!
I knew that my lack of fitness would slow me down but what I have learnt is that riding is very demanding sport phsyically, much more so that most people realise and that perhaps this is what I need to focus on on my non riding days. To this end I have enrolled on a fun cardio dance class and also downloaded some pilates for riding vids which I am going to start practising.
I am also going to watch some of the advanced riders in the school competitions ( it would feel cheeky watching them in lessons
!).
Hopefully as long as I can actually find a suitable horse then later this year I plan to buy my own horse at which point I will be ale to ride much more often so hopefully things will also start to come together a bit more quckly then.
Thank you all again for your brill suggestions and advice!
Definitely watch them in lessons - you won’t learn nearly as much if you watch a competition because you won’t be able to listen to an instructor. It isn’t cheeky at all and as long as you ask your instructor if they mind then you’re fine. The BEST way to learn on the ground.
 

Keith_Beef

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 December 2017
Messages
1,695
Location
Seine et Oise, France
My reason for taking part in the jumping a few weeks ago, is that I believe jumping is a useful skill that I need to acquire for hacking, getting over fallen trees, small ditches and streams.
 

Surbie

Active Member
Joined
27 July 2017
Messages
542
I'd definitely watch as many lessons as possible. I used to at my previous yard where every Thursday afternoon was a dressage clinic and most Saturdays had a jumping one. It was SO useful to see what both the riders and the horses were doing and how.
 

honetpot

Well-Known Member
Joined
27 July 2010
Messages
4,111
Location
Cambridgeshire
I rode from being about 12 and didn’t have my own pony I learned mostly from books. I was when I was about 35 that I really improved and developed some understanding and my riding improved, but I had to try unlearn all the bad bits.
It is a bit like learning to drive a car, only a car reacts consistently and horses just like us can be different depending how much work they have had, how they were trained and what sort of rider they are used to.
I have seen some riders get really good later in life,but I have also seen people who are not technically that good appear to get more enjoyment. That’s the joy of it, to be honest I probably had more fun when I was a ‘more instinctive’ rider doing my own thing, the horse did as it was told.
So finding a teacher, who to be honest does not have to be qualified,who puts miles on the clock, allows you not be prefect all the time and teaches how horse think and all the practical stuff. I hate to say this you need a horsy mum with a teenage daughter who wants non stroppy help.
 

gallopingby

Active Member
Joined
17 January 2009
Messages
248
I agree that time in the saddle will help mire than anything, is there a way that you could ride a horse in the school without an instructor present as well as having the lessons? That way you would have more opportunity to ‘play’ around and the freedom to do what you want. It may be that the riding school horses are a little brain dead!! there’s a world of difference between riding a school horse and a more forward going privately owned one. Riding school horses have to be safe and sensible but unless the school is particularly geared to competitions it’s unlikely they will give you the ‘feel’ you are seeking.
 
Joined
10 September 2018
Messages
8
Thanks for the recent replies!
Luckily I am able to ride once a week on my own, and also do stable management two days per week which has helped build up my general confidence, however I struggle to get the horse going forward and he just puts in the minimum effort required! Today when I asked him to give a bit more energy in trot he started evading the bit and started wandering off in his own direction, it is nothing dangerous and I for him back on track almost immediately but I lack the confidence to really be assertive with him and I have to put so much energy keeping him moving forward (even slowly) that its hard to try improving anything else!
 

oldie48

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 April 2013
Messages
3,703
Location
South Worcestershire
I was a very late starter (nearly 50) and I am now 70. For me being a better rider is a journey not a destination. I have had my own horses since I was 50 and every new horse presents a new challenge and even after 20 years I am still disatisfied with the way I ride and I am still learning. That's the joy of it. School horses can be very tricky to ride well, their job is to be safe but they are not always that well schooled. When I bought my first horse I honestly thought I could ride but although i managed to find an absolute saint, it was a bit of a shock to find that she had a mind of her own and didn't always do as I thought I had asked. she was never lazy though and my riding improved in leaps and bounds. Good luck and don't get dispirited, riding is not an easy sport!
 
Joined
25 December 2018
Messages
155
Location
A field
"I am struggling to judge whether I need to push myself significantly harder or to accept I will only ever be able to ride lower level beginnerss type horses"

I guess for me there is a horse out there for everyone to learn on and enjoy owning. Providing you are having fun, does it matter what on? Enjoy being with the horse, enjoy the journey.

Oh and if everyone on here posted a video of themselves riding we would all find faults in it. Gosh my first dressage test that was filmed I was mortified!!

My health dictates to an extent what's safe for me to manage these days, do I care- no. Am I happy- yes.
What's important to you, because for me, it's being with a horse, enjoying that horse and what we do together.
She doesn't know if she's an experienced ride or a beginners ride.
 
Joined
14 February 2014
Messages
181
It is harder to ride a horse that is not forward going I always was unbalanced due to using a lot of leg,and going into a canter becomes a big deal. That's why I got my first horse his default pace was canter so only effort needed was to sit back and sponge the reins to stop him doing so.
 

Jumoro

New Member
Joined
11 September 2014
Messages
7
I came back to riding 3 years ago in my late forties after a very long break due to a (non-horse related) injury with the goal of being able to go out for gentle hacks. I already had my driving pony but I was basically a beginner again when it came to riding and very unfit!

Since then I have had lots of lessons & ridden as much & as many horses as possible - initially on quiet RS horses, then on my driving pony (who was also broken to ride and very steady) and then about 18 months ago I started having jumping/xc lessons on schoolmasters. I've also worked really hard on my fitness - Pilates and yoga have both made a huge difference. I did a couple of camps, lots of clinics and some UA dressage with my ride and drive mare which were all great fun. I now have a second riding horse and I'm aiming for my first ODE later this year. I'll never be a world beater (and I regularly cringe at video/photos of me riding) but I have surpassed my expectations - I'm also fitter than I have been for decades.! Good luck & have fun!
 

Landcruiser

Well-Known Member
Joined
13 May 2011
Messages
1,114
Location
Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire
I bought my first horse when I was 48 after a 30 year break from all but the odd riding school hack on holiday. I rode for a few years as a teenager and thought I was pretty decent at it. I went to a lot of western clinics which helped a lot (I'd always ridden english before but was essentially self taught). Looking back, I muddled along and did ok, slowly improving over the years mainly hacking and in 2013 started doing a bit of TREC.
Last year (10 years in) I had a total epiphany in that I discovered my "core" and began doing pilates and using my core when riding. It's been a huge leap forward - and there was me thinking I was doing just fine (which I was). Same horse, same rider, but oh what a difference in everything I'm doing now, and how beautifully well my horse is going.
My point is, there is always something to learn, and refinements to be made, and new things to try out. I thought I'd reached as far as I ever could/would in my riding after 10 years (and at 58) - how wrong I was :)
 
Joined
3 April 2012
Messages
190
sounds like you need to be riding better quality horses, the beginner horses are ok for learning the basics on but if they are not carrying you forward willingly then you will not progress your riding further. i teach in a riding school and there comes a point when the clients need to move up a gear from the plodders if they want to progress. I would ask if you can ride a few other horses. xx
 
Joined
18 April 2015
Messages
14
I would say don't worry too much about progress and just enjoy it. Often you find that you feel you are not improving and then suddenly make a leap forward. I know it is painfull to see how much the 'kids' (ie anyone under 30) improves compared to us, but I count a successful day as being one where I don't get injured, have a lovely time and come home with a smile on my face.
Do be careful if you decide to get your own horse, and if possible take your instructor to see the horse with you. And above all ENJOY yourself!
 
Joined
26 January 2014
Messages
37
It sounds as if you are doing great. I agree, just get lots of riding hours under your belt. A word of caution: don't rush into buying a horse. It's easy to buy, not so easy to sell! I would recommend sharing a privately owned horse first, which would enable you to have much the same experience as owning a horse in many ways, without the complete commitment, responsibility, and expense of ownership. There are people with kind, sensible horses suitable for a competent, sensible novice rider, who welcome a sharer of both the duties and expenses of having a horse. I've been a sharer and have had sharers for my own horses over the years, almost always a very happy experience for all concerned. You do need to think carefully what you require of a horse share, and above all have a written contract specifiying exactly what your commitments are, who pays if the horse needs vet care, etc, etc, so every possible eventuality is thought about and covered. Of course, owning your own horse is wonderful, and a splendid goal to have. But get as much experience and knowledge of horses, riding and caring for them, before that very big step, to maximise your chance of success. Happy riding!!
 
Top