Lessons

So I know many of you have asked, “Why not just take lessons”. The reasons why I have not taken any lessons are twofold. The first is that money is still tight right now. I am hoping to have a much better financial year in 2014 and hope to spend $3,000 or less in home improvements (fingers crossed!) but for now I am still being cautious about my spending. I am planning a vacation for this summer and have lots of Christmas presents to buy so looking at my budget (which I do a lot) I wouldn’t feel comfortable spending money on lessons again until January 15thor later. That means I basically am looking at not riding for minimum 1 more month L It has gotten so bad I have threatened Gen I am going to tack him up…but then I watch him leap in the air and buck and kick like a crazy man and I realize that is just the crazy talking!

The second reason I am not taking lessons is because I don’t know where I would take them. My longtime trainer is not a full time horse person. She teachers one day on the weekends and doesn’t have any lesson horses. I ride with her because I trust her, she is a great rider, and I have been with her for the past 16 years (I am pretty sure I was 14 when I started with her, it might be 17 years though because I might have been 13). She has no ego what-so-ever which is great because I can clinic with other people, take some lessons with other people, and never have to worry about it. She just wants me to become a better rider. She even started riding dressage at the same time I did (she was my jumping trainer!), granted she was a better rider to begin with and got her USDF Bronze in no time, but still. We have gone through a lot together and I still learn and grow each and every lesson. I know she would try and make it work to teach me, but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable riding one of her other clients horses or something like that so I have not said a word.

I could always take lessons with someone else, but top dressage trainers in my area are $75-125 a lesson, and finding one who has a horse for lessons is really hard. I could do with a mid-level trainer, but I don’t know. Not to sound all snotty (even though I will) but if I am going to be paying money for lessons I really want to get a lot out of it when it comes to dressage since it is something I care about so much. I’ve thought about going back to my friends to ride (the one who helped me with my canter issues so I could help Lucky) but logistically I just don’t think I could justify a nearly 3 hour round trip for a lesson in the long term. There is one other trainer who is about an hour away, but Gen is at least on the way to this one, who I think would be worth the price and who has a lesson horse, but she can be a little intense, which might be a little scary since I would only be riding once a week. I don’t know.

I almost feel like dressage is out for now. Which is so stupid. How come hunter/jumper barns have 10+ lesson horses and I am having a hard time finding a dressage barn that even has 1! I live in a super dressage saturated area too…there are over a dozen USDF trainers alone within an hour of my place. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to find a trainer in an area where dressage is not so popular.

So if dressage is out, what do I want to do? I don’t know of any more saddle seat barns in the area (I know, I know, poor horses…but it is so fun!) which would have been my second choice and already served to get me out of my funk when Gen was first hurt. I could do hunter/jumpers, but it has been so many years since I have jumped I don’t know if I have the nerve for it anymore. Plus, would I want to go to a good trainer who is about 35 minutes from my house or just suck it up and go to the fancy show barn that is only 10 minutes away? Or should I just take lessons from a random barn close by and not care about what I am learning? I could also start on the path to my inevitable future (I love sparkles and bright colors), western pleasure, but I know nothing about how to find a good western pleasure trainer, or even if there are any in my area. I know I have at minimum a month to figure out what I want to do, but right now all I want to do is ride…I am having trouble focusing on the details! How can I still feel stuck when I am supposed to feel free as a bird?!?!?!

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5 thoughts on “Lessons

  1. You need to set a goal. ONE goal. Then, once you decide what you WANT to do (dressage, saddle seat, trails, pleasure … the list goes on), you will do what you need to do to get there. House repairs take precedent over ribbons at horse shows (trust me on this ;o) and you’ll know when the time (and the trainer and the horse) is right.

  2. Sorry to hear you are having a hard time trying to decide what to do. Is it lame to say “don’t put too much pressure on yourself right now”???

    While I get wanting to be with a good high profile trainer for lessons, why not try something fun, with no pressure? Trying some western lessons or something might be enough to get your horse fix? What about western dressage? That is becoming super popular these days and maybe there is someone nearby that does some lessons.

    Or is it more than that – do you fee like you are losing ground on the whole dressage thing? I sort can sort of see two sides – a) do you want to keep schooling dressage and not “waste” time with other stuff and/or b) could you ride/take lessons somewhere else and just get your horse fix and keep your muscles somewhat in shape for when you are ready to be specific again?

    I think the other comment was good – what is your goal right now?

    Good luck sorting it all out…it isn’t easy. 🙂

  3. I know several people that have “self-educated” themselves and their horse up the levels in dressage. One of them even shows Grand Prix and has never taken a lesson.

    While I’m not quite sure all of us can reach goals like that, I don’t think – not for one second – that you can’t improve, work on new things, or get yourself through competitions without a trainer/lessons. I do it! Even if I could afford lessons (which I can’t!) there are NO instructors in my area that teach driven dressage lessons anyway. I could take a clinic here and there, and will want to as soon as I can haul my horse, and my cart, to the clinician.

    You’re right, many many many dressage barns Do NOT provide lesson horses. I like to think that the “reason” is because dressage is such a finely tuned discipline it isn’t suitable to having a single horse teaching multiple riders. More than likely, it’s just because dressage trainers can charge an arm & leg for lessons and don’t want to “waste” time with people who aren’t going to invest in long term horse ownership/training/showing with them. It’s a business to them.

    Dressage is probably the BEST for working your way through on your own, because if you do go to a show (who cares if only 1-2 a year), you get the judge’s comments back, so you know exactly the areas you should be working on.

    Just go slow, don’t rush, and have fun. Dressage is founded on a horse with a good walk – you’d be AMAZED at what you can accomplish and improve on just at a walk, and how developing that walk causes everything else to improve even when you’re not working on them.

  4. I’ll second the western dressage idea. Many of the WP folks are jumping on the western dressage band wagon so this might be a way for you to actually help in training AND get some western lessons. Partner up with someone with a WP horse that wants to learn western dressage – they teach you the western, you teach them the dressage. Win-win!

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