View Full Version : How long does it take?
24th Aug 2006, 02:45 PM
I love this forum, on these pages, i often find the comfort and encouragement i need to go on with my riding.
I've been having riding lessons for almost a year (twice a week), and I'm still a beginner. I did a lot of lunge work (never enough, though) and I'm riding in the arena for the last few months.
I love it, I really want to be a good rider (maybe, that's my problem) but I just seem unable to let go of my negative thinking and anxiety.
I've had falls, they're not so bad, it's the fear that stops me enjoying what i do. I'm having canter problems, ie.: i can't do it, even though i would love to. I'm finding it may take just a bit longer to get this whole thing right.
Oh, by the way I'm 30, and started riding at 29.
Do you thing there's hope?
Gabi from Hungary
24th Aug 2006, 02:48 PM
well hello Gabi,
there's lots of lovely encouraging people on here :)
Skib on here started riding when she was around 60, i hope she doesn't mind me saying.
24th Aug 2006, 03:38 PM
The most surprising thing I found about learning to ride (for me) was how long it's taken me. A year in, I was pretty much where you are now . . . and I started much later than you (I was 38). I would watch the more advanced riders and feel I would never get where they were . . . performing dressage movements, cantering with (relative) confidence, getting the horse "on the bit" and all that good stuff.
Three years on there is still alot I can't do. I'm not wild about jumping . . . and I'm not very good at it either. I haven't galloped yet (although it's on my list for the very near future). I am only just able to get (some) horses into an outline and "on the bit" and have learned some dressage movements. The biggest change, though, is my confidence . . . and what's fixed that is a combination of pushing myself, being pushed/encouraged by my instructor and loads and loads of saddle time.
It's too tempting to watch other people and listen to them talk about how they jumped 3 feet in just four months . . . but everyone learns at their own pace.
One thing that helped me was watching a couple of beginner's classes (as in, just learning rising trot while holding on) . . . it helped frame for me how far I had come even though I wasn't (yet) galloping down a beach bareback :)
Be kind to yourself. You've probably learned alot in the year you've been learning . . . it's a hard skill/sport to master.
Edited to say: And give yourself a break on this canter lark. It took me a while to master too . . . partly b/c of nervousness due to falls which caused me to tip forward when I asked for canter, load the horse's shoulder and force it into a fast, jerky trot . . . not ideal to sit to and ask for canter from! One thing that helped me was asking for canter from walk at first . . . still do it on some horses w/ very bouncy, up-and-down trots. You'll get it. But the trick is you have to relax and really WANT to get it. Another problem I had was my head was saying CANTER but every other cell in my body was screaming "noooooooooooooooooo" and the horses knew it (and so looked after me by not cantering). I now canter Rocky . . . scary, snorty, stress-head Rocky . . . AND I push him on once I've got it and ask for fASTER canter . . . if you'd told I'd be doing that four months ago I'd have thought you were insane. You'll get there. Sit up, lean back slightly (to counter the tipping forward thing), breathe out and ask for canter.
24th Aug 2006, 04:06 PM
Don't despair, i bet nearly everyone in here has been in this position and there's maybe some that still are as everyone progresses at their own pace. I've been back riding 3 1/2 years now but i didn't really start learning to properly ride until i got my own as that's a right learning curve. :rolleyes: I'm still not wild about galloping, i'm a wuss at cross country and even sometimes in the school my nerves feel like they're going to defeat me but you just go through it day by day. A year ago i didn't think i'd still have my horse i was so down in the dumps and couldn't do anything on her, not even go in the school safely. Now we're getting there with patience and taking every day as it comes.
Good luck and don't give it up just because you don't think you're good enough. Only ever give it up if you don't enjoy it or because you just don't want to it anymore (for health reasons, personal etc.).
24th Aug 2006, 04:38 PM
Yes, I started at 62. And I was at a school where everyone was expected to canter as soon as possible. That is normal in the UK. And the teacher told me and everyone else how hopeless I was. I was scared by canter just like you.
Sounds as if you are doing everything right. Nothing is better than lunge lessons for making one sit safely on a horse. I left the horrid teacher and found a teacher who gave excellent lunge lessons instead.
My advice is to forget canter till you feel happy about it. Canter is not compulsory. And people often fall off trying canter before they are ready.
I fell off once when I was just a beginner and my horse took off in canter, but I have never fallen off in a lesson since. A good teacher should not let her students fall, because falling can be risky for adults and, as you say, that scares you.
How long it will be before you feel ready to canter will depend on you. For me I had been riding almost two years. After two years of riding lessons and six months hacking out, I was happy to canter. By that time, I sat relaxed on the horse and found it easy.
The same will happen to you.
Canter in a school can be hard because it is more difficult to balance as you go round the corners. If you have somewhere you can hack you may find it easier to learn canter out on the trail on a short uphill stretch. Perhaps you can keep that in mind as an alternative for the future? Although hacking out can be riskier than riding in a school, learning canter is easier.
Wobbly deb who is looking for a horse to buy at the moment was like me. We were both "hopeless" students. But we both learned to ride in the end. Over the years, the hours you spend on the back of a horse will accustom your body to riding. You learn the necessary skills and balance and how to communicate with a horse.
In the mean time there are many things one can learn in walk and trot, both with and without stirrups. And please enjoy your riding. That is the important thing. I wish you very well in your riding and hope you will keep in touch on this board.
24th Aug 2006, 04:52 PM
Don't get disheartened Gabi :) I'm 36 and started having lessons about a year and a half ago. Like you i get quite anxious at times and yet try soooo hard to get it right! I have found canter really difficult - doing exactly as Nimbus65 describes. For months i could not get the ponies to canter at all - they just trotted faster and faster, me bouncing around all over the place and totally losing the plot :confused: . I began to question whether i should really be riding at all - i just thought it was all such a mystery how other people seemed to find it so easy. But if you stick it out eventually you will have 'eureka' moments, when it all falls into place - even if only briefly! Think back to when you first started and count all the things (however small) that you can do now that used to seem impossible instead of thinking about all the things you can't do. Learning to ride is much, much harder than you think it's going to be and being nervous certainly does not help (i know! :rolleyes: ). I've now accepted that sadly, i'm not a 'natural' and that it will take as long as it takes and that's ok. Persevere!! ;)
27th Aug 2006, 07:54 PM
Whenever I have taught the complete beginner to ride, I ussally make sure they feel pretty happy in sitting trot and sitting trot without stirrups before attempting canter. Normally if your balance can cope with that, canter should be a doddle. I also find that people seem to cope better with their first canter 'free' rather than on the lunge cos the circle makes them slide to the outside. It's not a race....when you feel ready you will just go for it!
As far as frustration with your current level, I think a lot of people feel like that whatever their level...I've been riding since I was 7 (now 40) and think I should be far better than I am after all those years! I didn't start having 'proper lessons' until I was 30 . I used to make notes of my lessons and get people to video me, so that I could see that I had actually improved.
Otherwise I would just get dispondant that I was finding 'the next level' hard.
27th Aug 2006, 08:04 PM
Hi, welcome to NR.
Don't worry, give yourself a break and remember that you will always have some sort of problem to overcome be it cantering, jumping, advanced dreassage moves, etc. No matter what level a rider you are you'll always have issues as with riding you never stop learning.
Keep perservering and remember that riding is fun...when you relax it will come more naturally.
29th Aug 2006, 02:34 PM
Nimbus65 - your post was especially encouraging (I'm sort of in the OP's situation). This is much harder than I thought it would be. I'm 45 lessons in and don't see much progress over 12 lessons in! One thing I realize now is that you could never canter and never jump and never do dressage and there is still a LOT to learn.
29th Aug 2006, 03:04 PM
Hello Gabi - this is a good forum, I said earlier on a post today - its given me so much good advice / info - and saved me from many an embarrasing moment! I rode a little as a kid - but had a 21 year break (I'm 36 got back into it 2 1/2 years ago) - I found all my confidence had disappeared!!! However, I found it was MUCH better than I remembered!!! It took me ages and ages to build my confidence, I had a lovely teacher but rather a naughty school horse which resulted in me being bucked off on more than one occasion! This obviously didn't do a lot for my confidence! However, many lessons later and now the proud owner of a sometimes potty connie x I can honestly say my confidence has increased threefold and I am having the TIME of my LIFE!!!! Hang on in there - and don't feel pressured into doing anything before you are ready to - ie, the cantering - if you're not ready then don't do it - there are no rules about when you must do it!!! What happened with me was having lots of lessons with a good teacher who gradually "weaned" me off just trotting and then doing a tiny tiny amount of cantering. Then, suddenly when I was alone in the school one day I "dared" to ask Storm - the rest is history....
29th Aug 2006, 05:07 PM
Thanks for all the replies, I really never expected such support.
A few days before my first thread here I had two falls. One was OK, as 'my' usual horse spooked in canter (sometimes canter DOES "happen", she's great, i love her) the other one was my silly mistake, tried to ride a friend's horse elsewhere, ignoring the fact that I was an inexperienced beginner and that he'd been trained for show jump competitions for months then. He started cantering with me (it wasn't what I meant), I panicked, he ran away with me, jumped a cross-bar, and after about 5 circles I finally fell. That hurt, and i know it could have been worse...
I try to take it as a very important lesson, and continue riding with a bit more acceptance and patience.
So, first I managed to build a little confidence and then knocked that down with a bad decision, so I start building again... And yes, I am more confident and happy trotting and walking and with ground work for now
29th Aug 2006, 05:20 PM
You gotta chill and stop trying so hard, smile with all 4 cheeks and just enjoy what you are doing and don't indulge in Paralysis by analysis!
Cantering and jumping are not the main goal, doing things well at walk and trot are just as important.....and enjoying it, that's the most important.
Who is to judge you as to whether you are a good rider or not? Yourself, true, but as long as you can truthfully say you ride with empathy, sympathy and regard for your horse you are a good rider. Always try to better yourself, but never at the expense of you and your horse having fun.
Long rides out and about are just as valuable as a school lesson. You may think that you learn very little from a 2 hour potter, but it's like a lot of horsey things, get the miles under your belt and things get easier and easier.
Can you hire a horse to do some pleasure rides on, they are usually run in conjunction with endurance rides, that'll get you going with a flying start.
Trace The Ace
2nd Sep 2006, 09:35 PM
A couple of possible suggestions as I am just starting out. Before I booked for my first lesson I made a list of what I was and was not prepared to put up with. These included if I didn't feel that my instructor was helping me to progress and dealing with my fears before attempting anything, then I would change instructors. Another was that there was no way, at my age, that I would be pushed into doing anything that I did not want to.
I jumped when I was 15ish and knocked myself out. Since that time I had only been on a horse once and was terrified. I discussed this with my present instructor and she was completely calm and we have taken everything at my own pace. She has got me up to canter pretty sharpish, however, even though she said that now that I have the canter out of the way we can go on a hack I have said no! Not until I have complete control of the horse that I am on, because I want to be safe. She was super good about it and said in your own time.
I am still terrified each time I pull up but she has me relaxed after a couple of circuits.
I am waffling because you need to ask yourself if you have super confidence that your instructor is instructing YOU correctly? Secondly, as expensive as it is, I decided to go for the private tuition route as it is just me and the instructor to worry about.
Would it help for you to change instructors or take private tuition (if of course that is not being presumptious of me)?
2nd Sep 2006, 10:19 PM
From an instructors perspective teaching adults (except the macho men!!!) to canter is fraught with difficulty. Even the most obedient/responsive horse will refuse to canter while the rider is sitting tensely metaphorically or in reality holding onto its ears or at least with a death grip on the reins. Equally it is hard to convince adult that if they ...relax...all will become easier.
Children learn more simply, firstly they don't envisage any problems so just relax and do what they are told, secondly usually they are mounted on ponies that the instructor can run alongside and encourage into canter.
I agree with Skib that as an adult it is far easier to have first canters outside when a sensible horse will roll gently into canter following another and also stop when the other stops. I am not a great fan of teaching canter on the lunge as a novice rider tends to be unstable on a smaller circle.
You are by no means unusual in finding this difficult but you probably can canter very well but are struggling with the transition to it...could your instructor help with walk to canter as that often is an option if the horse is willing.
3rd Sep 2006, 08:48 PM
At our RS, we have quite a few nervous adults, but all of them are allowed to learn at their own pace, and most of them now join in with our competitions! We have one man who used to ride in the army, but took it up again aged 66, and still enjoys doing gymkhana! Everyone learns at their own pace, so don't panic and enjoy it!
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