Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I rarely take lessons anymore.  Not because I think I'm so good that I don't need them.  Everyone needs lessons, that's why even the Olympic teams have a coach!  Lessons are invaluable no matter what level you're riding at. 

But, I have time constraints, in the form of a farm to run and two young children to wrangle.  Plus, I've been having problems with my back and neck this year.  And so I fall behind in my lessons, much to my poor trainer's chagrin.  Luckily, he is also a good friend and thus tolerates my shenanigans. 

I think I've only had three or four lessons this year, which is a much lower number than it should be.  I know my riding would be much better and Spider would be further in his training if I had taken more lessons. 
Back in the day (pre-injuries, pre-children and farm of my own) I took a lot of lessons.  It was actually a part of my pay.  Despite the freakishly inflated prices in the dressage industry, the actual net income for a professional is pretty low.  So, if you're working for a trainer, you can pretty much expect that part of your pay will be in lessons.  Trainer's time in exchange for your time.  Which actually works out pretty well.  Knowledge is priceless.

But still, I am not really a "lesson a week" type of student.  I like to work things out on my own.  Actually, I have to work things out on my own, because I suffer from a ridiculous inability to do anything in a lesson.  I listen, I comprehend, I absorb, then I stall out.

I'm not exaggerating...  I completely freeze up in lessons.  I become utterly inept, unable to do anything but be a passenger on my horse.  I feel completely stupid after the fact, because that drooling idiot in the saddle was not really me.  I know how to ride effectively, I know how to get the most from my horse.  And yet all that knowledge flies out the window the second my trainer shows up.  I become a zombie, waiting for my trainer to tell me what to do.
In some ways it's good, because my being a passenger allows the training I have put on my horse to shine through.  As I sit there passively allowing my horse to his thing all by himself, it is obvious that he has gained more strength and self carriage.  He displays himself well, in spite of his rider's sudden coma. 

In most ways my lesson-induced catatonic state is bad, though.  My poor trainer spends the majority of our lesson yelling at me to "Do SOMETHING!" , and we never really get to the fun stuff.  I know this is frustrating for him.  He sees that there is always improvement in the horse since the last time he came, he knows I'm the only one who rides him, so therefore I obviously do know how to ride.  I just don't do it when he's around. 

Poor trainer.


  1. I pay for lessons because it's my only way to ride though i dream of the day that I can just ride my own horse and not have to have the once a week lessons. Like you, I like to figure things out on my own. I do think lessons are very valuable though I don't think they are needed weekly, especially for someone like me who is never going to get into the olympics :-)

  2. You may be the only person who's had less lessons than I have this year. (I think I'm up to 6. Wheee!) I love lessons and I love learning, but I'm trailerless and poor, so I'm dependent on either travelling trainers or friends with trailers.

    You give me hope--maybe someday, I'll be playing at 2nd or 3rd level and poor and trainerless instead of training. Ha!

  3. ^-^ I exchnage grooming against ride on my horse. It is the way it works. ^-^

    According study, you only remember 7% of what you are told in a lesson !!! O_o Impressive.
    Do you ask your trainer to film you? It will be good, so you can watch again what he told you at which moment.

    Also for learning anything we must be in a calm submissive state of mind.
    So it is pretty normal you go brain dead LOL!

    Not joking, but having lessons as an adult is much harder than one thinks!

    Food for thoughts..

  4. Ha! I've had THREE lessons this year!! All on my very un-educated horse!

    I should have more - but for all the same reasons you spoke of - I don't.

    When I get stuck on something I ask for a "training" session to work on that one thing. When I need to learn how to do a new thing I ask have a training lesson to learn that one thing. This way I am getting what I need at the time, and not just spending the precious lesson time re-iterating what my instructor told me to do 3 months ago.

  5. Luckily my daughter is a trainer and has no problem critiquing anything/everything I do on a horse. It really helps me to have someone around to give me little pointers.

    When I took lessons from other trainers though, I was like you. Couldn't do anything right or remember things. Maybe it goes back to school and freezing up on tests or the mind going blank as you stare at the page.

  6. No lessons for me this year...but practically no riding either.

    I like lessons and with a good trainer, I've learned to ask a lot of questions so that I understand why I am doing what the trainer wants.

    Sometimes just asking a question will loosen your brain. Might be an idea to try.

  7. Yep I foget things during my lessons and generally my other half come and films it for me - helps a lot!
    I generally only have one once a month and even then sometimes they come around too quick!


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