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horseback riding lessons, frustration, learning curves, etc.
fuegos8
#1 Print Post
Posted on July 27 2011 06:19 PM
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Today I took my first horseback riding lesson. I have never had one and have not been on a horse in over six years. I didn't do all that well. OK, I didn't fall off the horse or get bitten or kicked, but I could tell the instructor was getting frustrated with me. There was a lot to take in: mounting the horse, controlling the reins, getting him to start and stop, going round cones, posting, sitting up straight, shortening the reins and so forth. I was so nervous that every time she gave me an instruction my mind would go almost blank. She wasn't very encouraging.

It seems that everything is a struggle for me, and I'm not sure if it has to do with my learning disabilty or that I'm just hypersensitive.
Or just plain clumsy. I should have a sense of humor and not take it so damned seriously, I know. I just can't seem to help myself!

Stuff like this is supposed to be fun! At least I stuck my neck out and tried something new, but my clumsiness really bothered me.
I have had this problem with certain teachers in the past, who, though not abusive, just couldn't seem to understand why I didn't catch on more quickly. And I seem to take all the blame and and am too hard on myself.

Anyway, I'm going to give it another shot. Any suggestions?
Thanks, F8
 
RottieWoman
#2 Print Post
Posted on July 27 2011 08:43 PM
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hi fuegos!

It seems like you may have mixed feelings about the lesson, kinda liked it but not sure about the instructor? I can recall times too when people who were supposed to be instructing or showing me something, actually weren't very encouraging. I have felt unsure or discouraged too. Sometimes instructors might be very good or excellent in subject in which they're teaching, but not so at actually teaching it to someone else.

did you take a group class or a private? if group, maybe try private.
But if already private.... what about having a informal conversation before-hand, or even offering to meet somewhere -say a close-by coffee/sandwich shop, park or anywhere where you could just sit and talk outside the barn/ring atmosphere? Discussion as two equal peers - you have something you can teach this person, too, if they take the time to see and listen.

other ideas are to: hand the instructor some sheets or info. on LD. If you think they will be likely be open to or have time to reading.

Write out a short little sheet about yourself that reminds them how you learn best and offer to go over that with them < as opposed to giving them some formal documents from a website or book>

see if the instructor can more break up the lessons - within each behavior such holding reins, posting etc, are actually several behaviors including less concrete things like your timing, seeing what your horse is doing, where her ears are, her breathing etc.
So, see if this person would be willing to work on taking an activity like posting, and break it down and make it the lesson for the day.

see if someone can go with you to video tape the lesson and go over that with the instructor as a team.

see if there's a meet-up or other type of informal riding group or people interested near you who you could maybe work with too - people who might be more "low-key", who you might be able to see as friends or companions and who could maybe work with you to review or discuss what the teacher is attempting to do.
like a university study group.

Am glad you feel confident to give it another try. You have not failed and you have my best supportSmile
 
fuegos8
#3 Print Post
Posted on July 27 2011 10:07 PM
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Thanks, Rottie! I spoke with a friend of mine today who questioned the teacher's instructions. She said that she had taken riding instructions at this same stable in the past, and that zigzagging around cones was not part of the lesson, nor was posting. She felt that both techniques were too advanced for a first lesson, and that I should have had a guided ride. Also, she couldn't believe that the instructor said nothing about the correct way to go around a horse. So I did feel a little better. I may ask for a different teacher, stick it out with the same one (using some of your suggestions) or find another stable altogether. I'm glad there are people like yourself who understand what we go through!
 
justfoundout
#4 Print Post
Posted on July 27 2011 10:24 PM
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7/27/11
Hi fuegos,
I'm in an art class, sculpture, and have one of the most considerate teachers imaginable. Even before I gave him my accommodations sheet, when I told him that I wouldn't be able to 'climb', he said that was fine, to just let the others do the climbing, and to only carry what I was comfortable carrying. After that, I gave him my accommodations sheet. And now, when he's explaining something to the group,... like how to turn on the welding torch so that we don't blow up the building,... and he sees a worried look on my face, he stops right there to reassure me, even saying that he was going to write it up and make a printout for everyone, and that he would repeat the instructions for me. Amazing. Isn't this everything that we've hoped for? All we want is a little consideration.

Actually, he never did do the printout, but he stayed right with me when I did my first welding project, even showing me where to put everything away afterwards. I feel such gratitude. And he told me twice that I'd 'done very well'. I hope the same for you with your future riding instructions. - jus'
 
fuegos8
#5 Print Post
Posted on July 28 2011 12:07 AM
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Hi, Jus.

Not long after I spoke with Rottie, I called about another stable nearby (actually closer to me). Unfortunately, it's more expensive, but I like that they give you an evaluation before you even get a lesson. They put you on the horse and well, evaluate you, to see what sort of rider you are (in my case, a nervous one). I'm not afraid of the horse or getting hurt. I just fear doing poorly, because of my performance anxiety. But I won't give up!
It's interesting that you're taking a sculpture class. Bravo!
I minored in sculpture as an undergrad and did some arc welding. The hardest thing is getting those welds smooth and not getting the torch stuck and having those big ugly blobs! My sculpture teacher was very patient and that helped.
You speak of climbing--what is that? Do you have to climb ladders? And what about the carrying?
I'm glad to see that you're exercising your creativity, and I hope the rest of your class goes swimmingly. Sculpture is very rewarding and I know you'll enjoy it. F8
 
CheshireKat
#6 Print Post
Posted on July 28 2011 01:18 AM
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Fuegos, it might be worth paying a little extra money (if it's not too much of a difference) to ride at the barn that takes more effort to evaluate you beforehand to figure out exactly what level you're at and where to start you off at. They sound, to me, more focused on each individual rider and making it the best experience for you. I started riding horses when I was very young, so it's second-nature to me at this point, but I can definitely understand how it would be difficult for someone who is not accustomed to it to remember the 4 million different things you have to do at once!

It's so important that you have an instructor who you can trust, because what you're doing is honestly dangerous. I love horseback riding and would never caution anyone against it, but that's the truth, is that it's a dangerous sport. You can be very seriously injured very quickly by a horse, so it's really important that you trust your instructor and know that they are going to steer you in the right direction and teach you how to have a fun, SAFE ride. It doesn't sound to me like your instructor for your first lesson was doing that... your friend is right, a first ride should've been a guided ride, an evaluation, not an instructed lesson until the instructor knew what kind of rider you were.

Good luck with your next lesson! Don't worry about doing every single thing right all the time, right now you're just getting back into the swing of it... if you make it through the whole ride with all your bones intact, then it's a success, just think of it that way. Smile
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
fuegos8
#7 Print Post
Posted on July 28 2011 01:41 AM
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CK, I think you're right. I made an appointment at the other stable for this Sunday. To be honest, I don't think I did THAT bad today. The horse didn't bite me, kick me, or throw me; he obeyed me for the most part; we didn't knock any cones over; and I kept him to the right of the circle as best as I could--hey, we didn't run into the fence! And it wasn't the horse that made me nervous, it was the instructor. My friend also said that the instructor should have asked me if I had any sort of physical disabilities or health problems (I don't even think there were any questions of that sort the form I filled out).
And yes, horseback riding is dangerous. A good instructor should understand first time jitters.In all truth, she just seemed like she was in a hurry to get the whole thing over with, so I won't be going there anymore. Thanks for your input. F8
 
Tamsin
#8 Print Post
Posted on July 30 2011 06:24 AM
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Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I struggle with the same things. I haven't ridden a horse since March of this year, but even after years of riding I would still forget basic concepts and routines. I would get so discouraged that I stopped riding for awhile because I wasn't making any progress. Little 5 and 6 year old kids were better than me and it was pretty embarrassing. Although I have not found any skills to get around this I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone.

But I can tell you that if you don't feel comfortable with this instructor then you should try and find another one. It also sounds like your instructor was pushing you too much. I mean if she was trying to teach you posting and never even told you how to go around a horse properly then she doesn't seem too experienced with instructing.

Good luck. I have heard some wonderful success stories with equine therapy.
 
fuegos8
#9 Print Post
Posted on July 30 2011 02:39 PM
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Thanks, Tamrin. Really appreciate all the feedback I've gotten about this issue. I'm going to be straight up with the new instructor and just admit that I am a little nervous, and also, when she gives me instructions, I am going to repeat out loud what she says. If the lesson doesn't go well, then...maybe I'll save up my money for flying lessons or try skiing. I've already investigated a gun club because I'm interested in learning about gun safety.

As I said before, I fear the actual activity less than I do not being able to do it right. And when I struggle with anything, I always think it is related to my disability, which probably isn't the case. Who knows?
Maybe I'm just making my bucket list. Yes, some of these activities are dangerous (and horseback riding lessons are probably more dangerous than flying) what's life if you don't take a few risks? We should both congratulate ourselves for having the gumption to try something new. If I were a horseback riding instructor, I would take it slowly. Maybe just have the rider sit still on the horse, talk to it, pet it, and get comfortable in the saddle.
This instructor was just rude and inconsiderate. I'll let you know how the second one goes. Thanks again.
 
CheshireKat
#10 Print Post
Posted on July 30 2011 07:27 PM
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Fuegos, I will never forget my first riding lesson even though I was only 5 or 6 at the time, because it shaped the entire way I view and approach horses. My instructor had me sit on the horse's back and lead us at a nice, easy walk around the ring. Then once she knew I could sit steadily without falling right off (apparently some kids do this), she told me to close my eyes.

"What?" I said, and I remember how counter-intuitive this felt to me. Sit up on this massive animal, which dwarfed my extra-small six year old figure, let go of the reins, and close my eyes? She had to be kidding.

But she wasn't, and I did close my eyes. I reached down and took a handful of the horse's mane and she told me to feel the way the horse moved, and listen to the noises it made. Listen to it breathe, and the sound of its hooves, and the gurgles in its stomach, and smell the way the horse smelled, and feel the body heat, and feel each step and the way the animal was moving underneath me. Take in every aspect of the animal I was on, because THAT was the important thing to be in tune with, much more so than what else was going on around us.

Of course what is going on around you is important, but that was such a key first lesson for me as a rider, was to know what's going on with your horse. You aren't riding a bike; you're riding a living, breathing, thinking creature that has its own thoughts, feelings, and biological microcosm going on without needing your permission.

Nowadays I don't get to ride much (college and a job became the death of my free time, now I spend most days and evenings in front of a computer screen) but one of my best friends lives out in the middle of nowhere and her family owns horses. Sometimes I go out there and whenever I do, I approach their easy-going gelding and he always puts his muzzle right up to my cheek and nuzzles my face and hair. I love to put my arms around his neck, shut my eyes, and just be. That is when I am happiest, and the most zen, and the most in tune with myself and the world around me.

I just thought I'd share that with you to give you a little hope that this whole experience doesn't have to be frightening or stressful or anxiety-provoking to you. This isn't just about learning a new skill, it's about learning a new way of being - to me, anyway. Being a horse person is different than being a regular person, and being with horses is different than being with any other creature.

Take some time to stop worrying about how good or bad your riding performance is, and just be pleasantly aware of what you're doing - sitting on the back of a beautiful, thoughtful creature, and only with its explicit permission (because trust me, if it didn't want you there, you wouldn't be).
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
#11 Print Post
Posted on August 02 2011 08:53 PM
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8/2/11
Thanks for your encouragement, F8. About the climbing and carrying,... the first assignment the teacher gave us was on the very first day of class. He had us go into the student's gallery and rearrange the pedastals and other sundry cabinets, chairs, brooms, buckets, and banners that were stored by the gallery. We were supposed to make those elements into an artistic 'space'. On fellow climbed the ladder to install new lighting fixtures on the rail. Others collaborated to move the white wooden pedastals for displaying art. I was ambulant, but mostly only helped to put things away afterwards. The teacher gave us all one 'A' to get us started happy in the course.

My metal sculpture had such a wide gap at one spot that I had to lay a double bead to cover it. And then, I got in too much of a hurry to spray paint it to wait. So, I went in on a week end and painted it, leaving that double bead 'as is'. It will be a 'statute to time indefinite' of my first attempt at welding. I've got photos, of course. Maybe I'll get up the courage to post them here later. ;) - jus'
 
fuegos8
#12 Print Post
Posted on August 04 2011 10:54 PM
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Jus, I'd like to see your pictures. As with anything, it takes practice. So much of success is just perserverence. I had to remember that today when I took my second horseback riding lesson. The staff at this stable are MUCH more professional and so it was a better riding experience, though I am still clumsy. I'm not really afraid of the horses. The hardest thing is holding the reins correctly (I have a tendency to cross over) and, well, just being patient with myself. We all love a natural, but life doesn't always work that way. The welding will get easier and if you do it enough it will just seem second nature. F8
 
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