Back in the saddle (hooray), but not for long (boo, hiss)


Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
Yorkshire Dales
OK. This is long. I need a whinge. (Thought for a while about whether to post or not.)
The last few years have been a bit tough. Mum got dementia and we finally lost her in March. I ballooned in weight and horses got put on the back burner while I tried my best to cope.

New house, new location (Pembrokeshire) and things are looking up. Lost some weight and did a summer job in a National Trust tea room so fitness and core strength better now. Yearned to get back in the saddle so looked at options and decided to try the nearest place first. I was honest about my abilities (ridden for years off and on but still class myself as a novice. Recently spent my ridden time on natives, ponies, cobs.)

First session went pretty well. Had a private 45 min lesson with a chirpy, pleasant young instructor Rode a Highland type who was very steady. Felt very safe and had a good time doing lots of transitions and shapes about the school. We managed a circuit or 2 of canter on each rein. RI commented that there was no real evidence I'd been out of the saddle for few years. I wasn't very nervous beforehand, and not stiff at all afterwards apart from a bit of tenderness on my bum bones. Result.

For the second lesson I opted to try a group lesson with other mature ladies, thinking it might be fun. It was disaster from the start. The other lady was uber confident and seemed very experienced. She was expecting a hack, I thought it was a lesson (hence being in short sleeves). Went into the building to get our mounts and saw a huge grey tacked up. "Hope I'm not on THAT" thinks I. Of course I was. The other lady was riding an 18 hander!! We opted for go for 1/2 lesson and 1/2 hack. Got on off the mounting block and managed to pull a groin muscle hoicking my leg over the cantle. Ouch. Felt unstable in the saddle and very high up. Could not get comfy to save my life. We hacked first. Horse more or less ignored me the whole way. Luckily it was only a walking hack. The leader and fellow rider were ahead, and myself and rear escort followed some way back. I got very cold.

We came back into the school for the lesson and things just got worse. I didn't fit the saddle and didn't get on with my horse. He wouldn't go off a squeeze, which even the beginner pony did the week before. I couldn't get sat deeply enough to use my legs more firmly, certainly not to kick, kick. I don't kick, kick anyway, and my pulled muscle was so sore I couldn't use my legs properly. We attempted a canter. I was hoping it might be more comfortable than trot! It was clumsy, ineffective and ended up with the instructor (different one) more or less chasing us round the school shooing and clicking. At this point I more or less gave up and couldn't wait for the lesson to end. (I did tell her I was uncomfortable and had a muscle pull, but she decided I was frightened of canter rather and clearly couldn't really ride....)

I can't explain how dispirited I was. I'd built up riding again into being really important (it was) and I felt simply useless. When we wandered back to the cabin I was trying to talk about it when the instructor saw the look on my face. "Oh, don't cry!" she said. But I'm afraid I did. A 59 year old woman sitting down sobbing like a pony club child. I was so embarrassed but couldn't stop myself. Everyone was lovely. The RI was mortified and confessed I was the 3rd person she had made cry that week. (The others were little kids though!) Clearly this is not normal. I didn't cry when my Mum died, or at her funeral. My teeny brain is doing something odd. But it doesn't help with the riding issue.

I feel I should have gone straight back the next week and had another go, but I didn't. Now I think I will always be 'the woman who cried' at that place. At the moment my spirits are so dented I think I will give it a while, lose some more weight and try again in spring. It just wasn't what I was hoping for, or needed. Bummer.

Please send some sympathetic vibes. I know a lot of you are dealing with far more serious issues than this, but I hope I'm not alone in finding a horse I didn't get on at just the wrong time!


Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
Suffolk, UK
Oh no, so positive, then down hill so fast :( It sounds like you should book a lesson on the highland type that you were comfortable on and go and enjoy it, and stick with the pony you like at least until your riding fitness returns (trying to sit on something uncomfortable can really over test muscles not used to doing things). I shouldn't worry too much about the crying, I'm sure they won't think any the worse of you for it :)

When Jess was out of action I had various friends offering me their horses to ride, some of them were down right awful (in my opinion), there was only so many excuses I could come up with not to ride theirs when they knew full well I was itching to ride. We don't all get on with all horses.


Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
On an island
Sending lots of sympathy vibes. My father was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago and along with that Mr T and I had our own set of problems - which all adds up. Like yourself I used to look very much forward to riding and because it means so much I am guessing like me, it's your escape. When it doesn't go to plan a lot of lifes other problems can quickly spoil it. I do understand how you feel about the crying part too! Luckily for me, there is generally only Mr T to see me blub when things don't go well here! I feel for you not clicking with the bigger horse too. Sounds like you were happy and doing well on the native. Bigger horses aren't everyone's thing. I hope that you can book another lesson and enjoy it, after what you will have been through with your mum you need an outlet to relieve all the stress. Lots of encouragement vibes coming from


Active Member
Aug 2, 2000
Visit site
I have cried many times when things went wrong in a lesson. Most of the times I manage to keep it in until I am in the car, but I have occasionally lost it in front of everybody at the yard. I know it is embarrassing, but it should not be a reason to not go back. Just book a lesson with the instructor you had in your first lesson and ask to ride the pony you liked. Stick with the same horse and instructor who made you feel confident. Maybe you will feel like riding bigger horses once you get back into riding more. And if not: who cares. You are a paying customer. It is perfectly reasonable for you to ask to ride a horse you enjoy riding. . I only ever ride two different horses out of the twelve they have at my yard.

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
Visit site
I really feel for you. You were really looking forward to having a fun lesson and it was anything but.

You are not alone in the crying stakes. I always think that horses allow us to feel our real emotions. You just can’t hide them from a horse and so when you need to cry there is nothing you can do to stop it.

I think that horses bring such extremes of emotions from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. You had a low but next time you may have a high. The highs are amazing so it’s got to be worth taking a risk and going back.

chunky monkey

Well-Known Member
May 2, 2007
113 la land
If it were me I'd see if you can go back and have a lesson on the one you had first time and with that instructor. Don't leave it till spring or it will be harder for you. You know what the say about falling off. Get back on straight away.


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
Our RI made me cry in my late 70s. Just because I happened to back up her horse in the way I thought she liked (she used to like with some leg) not knowing she had switched in the interim to doing it my way (no leg).
You cant win with RIs.
Just remember this - one needs to be a competent intelligent woman to ride a good horse well and most RIs are dead scared of a student who is not both incompetent and ignorant. Before I fell off, I did meet a lovely RI - quite lowly in the yard hierarchy but we chatted and compared notes and she did so much for me - both what she taught me about how she did things and boosting my confidence.
Dont give up with just one bad experience. You will find a teacher and the horse to make you happy.


New Member
Dec 3, 2017
I have also cried in front of my RI. My issue is that I struggle with shapes and find a head collar a real mystery to get on correctly the first time. One evening I felt so stupid about taking so long to put a simple head collar on I cried! More from frustration and embarrassment than anything else. My RI was very good and I have continued to ride with that riding school. I am a late comer to the highs and lows of riding and often feel as if I have made one step forward and then one step backwards. The best thing I have found is the friendships I have made with like minded people and the support we give each other when the going gets tough. I hope things improve for you and you get back to enjoying your riding and meet some people who can support you with your goals.


Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
Yorkshire Dales
Thank you all. I did explain to the RS boss when I first went that I am really a pony/native rider, and can struggle with big 'uns. I'm short coupled, short backed and short legged and enjoy the immediacy and connection of riding ponies.. I was a bit surprised she allocated me a big horse (about 16.2) for my second lesson after I had said that.

Another factor was that I really looked fat in the arena mirror. I felt fat too. II felt so much better after losing weight, but the mirrors brought me back down to earth and I was embarrassed. Jods are VERY unforgiving aren't they? (There was a newspaper article on the office wall about rider weight too.) I'm not so heavy as to cause an issue with the right horse (around 12st), but perhaps that's why they didn't have a suitable smaller mount.

I will go back and have another go, and will report back. Chin up, Selside.
Good for you - remember that you are paying for the lesson and have a say in which horse you ride and what you do - RIs are not there to dictate but to guide and support you, whatever your skill level.

I am very lucky where I keep Scully out in Italy - the owners and RIs all understand where I am in my confidence & skills, whether I ride Scully or one of the other 30 horses they have. They are extremely good at helping you build confidence and at matching you with a horse/pony that suits you

They are primarily a riding holiday place, so if you fancy visiting glorious Tuscany, have a look here - - they have ponies and horses of all shapes & sizes - I think you might like their Merens horses.


Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
Yorkshire Dales
Wow! Thanks fourlegs - that does look rather fabulous.
Oddly enough I am fine turning up at new places on holiday and riding without problems. I've had beach gallops in Northumberland, canters over the moors in the Borders, a long fast hack with a big Friesan in Cumbria and a lesson on a Carmargue pony in Norfolk. I CAN ride OK, but not at a high skill level.

I'm just struggling with confidence at the minute. I think the dreaded menopause and hormones are to blame.:mad:
I wonder if an intensive spell of riding such as a course or a riding holiday might kick start me? Very tempted....
Believe me - they are really lovely people and lovely horses, they have done wonders for my confidence and will never push you too far out of your comfort zone - the food is fantastic and you can laze by the pool if you want. The evening dinners are very social and there is always a good buzz with like minded people. There are plenty of people who visit repeatedly - I was there for 12 weeks this year and a 77 yr old lady from New York spends 5 weeks in the spring and 5 weeks in the autumn there every year, you can fly out cheaply to Pisa and get the train down to Poggibonsi - the whole return journey usually costs me under £100!

I normally school twice a day but you can ride out for 1 hour on the farm or for 2 hours outside - they use the Merens for that and they are super sure footed and you would get Espoire or Ivoire - both safe and unflappable mounts.

This is me on the left with Ivoire and Eric on the right with Espoire - PM me if you want more info about the best time of year to go and the special deals available. DSC_8691.jpg

and we usually have some fun doing quadrilles

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