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I took a lesson!

November 28, 2011

This morning I had my first official lesson in, quite literally, years.

And it was pretty disappointing.

Maybe the lesson format in the western world is different than in hunter land, but I felt pretty let down by the trainer’s instructing style. The lesson didn’t feel different than any ride I might have with a friend who offered the occasional observation. It was a semi-private lesson, and in the past, the amount of focused attention from instructors in semi-privates  has kicked my butt. I usually come out of lesson feeling sore, tired, used up, and grateful that the torture is finally over; but I usually feel like I RODE. When this lesson was over, I just thought, “That’s it?”

The lesson started with some flexing exercises, which were pretty helpful, and then moved on to transitions. For about an hour I just did transitions, with the extent of the trainer commentary being, “THERE it is!”  “That’s what we’re looking for!”  “Feel the TRY!”

There what is?

What are we looking for?

Can you please define ‘the try’?

The instructor is a Ray Hunt disciple, and has clearly adopted both his terminology and  eye for “the try”. Unfortunately, she never communicated with me the signs I should be looking for, how to recognize them, or how to react to them.

I’m used to the trainer telling me the mechanics of an exercise: what we’re doing, how to ask for it, how to know that I’m doing it correctly, and how to correct myself if I’m not. They didn’t just send me blindly around the ring.

The trainer also rode another client’s horse throughout our lesson, which is a practice I’m not used to or fond of. It’s MY money, so it’s MY time. It might have been different if the trainer was using the horse to demonstrate what she wanted us to do, but half the time she left us to our devices while she worked her horse in the other end of the arena.


I wonder if my reaction is irrational, since this trainer has a fantastic reputation around here and turns out some stellar horses. Maybe it’s because she didn’t know me or my horse yet, and was just trying to get a feel for us? Maybe this is how western lessons works? Maybe I didn’t explain what I wanted from the lesson thoroughly enough?

Regardless, I’m out $75 and don’t think I’m any wiser for the time and money spent.


On the other hand, Pony did GREAT! She lurved the footing in the arena and treated the new surroundings like a big adventure. There were a few nasty faces made, but she was forward and willing for the most part. At this juncture, I think we’re going to focus on transitions, transitions, transitions. As long as I stop her before she decides to stop, I find that she is far more willing to keep going forward. Just four or five strides at each gait before we downshift and she becomes soft and engaged.

At the end of the lesson Pony snuggled into my chest and the instructor said, “She sure loves her mama.”

The $75 might have been worth it just to hear that.



One Comment leave one →
  1. November 28, 2011 10:36 pm

    Sounds like her style doesn’t really click with you. What do you want to do with Pony? Like are you trying to show, or just improve your riding in general? A good dressage instructor does not care what your saddle looks like and can make adjustments for the position it puts you in – just try somebody else 🙂

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