Feeling frustrated

linda7575

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Feb 17, 2019
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I am 57 years old and started riding lessons in November. I was feeling excited and confident. In January I got hit with walking pneumonia and missed about a month of riding. This weekend was my second lesson since coming back. I feel like nothing is working. The lessons haven't went well. I used to be able to get the horse to trot and now I can't. My hands are always wrong. My feet are wrong. Feeling very defeated
 

selside

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Jul 1, 2010
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Don't give up Linda7575. I tried starting again a couple of months ago (age 59) and ended up in tears! First lesson went well, the second awful. Maybe we expect too much.... Pneumonia is really energy sapping and has probably taken more out of you than you realised. Even the best don't get everything right all the time, and there is so much to be aware of when learning. The more you learn the more you know you have to think about and then it's easy to feel you are going nowhere.

Take a leaf out of little kid's books - don't sweat the small stuff. Just try and enjoy it, and work on one thing at a time.
Do tell your instructor if you are feeling fed up and deflated. They may be able to find another horse or try some different things to do that will help.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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I agree completely with Selside. I suspect you're far from your normal health & energy levels & horses are great at knowing this - some go into nanny mode but others decide they can take advantage & opt for an easy life. Talk to your teacher, and also don't put pressure on yourself, sometimes the harder you try the more you block what you actually want.

It will get better.
 
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GaryB

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Mar 23, 2015
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Its not easy! I have been riding for just over 4 years now and I'm a couple of years younger than you - I still have days when nothing goes right (but also lots of days when its fun)

My advice is to try and enjoy it as best you can and don't set yourself milestones. Its not like learning to ride a bike where one day you can't do it and then the next day you can - its (for most) a gradual process.

Don't give up yet!
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Its not easy! I have been riding for just over 4 years now and I'm a couple of years younger than you - I still have days when nothing goes right (but also lots of days when its fun)

My advice is to try and enjoy it as best you can and don't set yourself milestones. Its not like learning to ride a bike where one day you can't do it and then the next day you can - its (for most) a gradual process.

Don't give up yet!
And to be honest even when you can do it there are days when, for whatever reason, it all goes wrong & you feel like you shouldn't even be on a rocking horse!
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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There's nothing worse than a bad lesson/hack, and nothing better than a good one. Riding is peaks and troughs - it's the nature of the beast. Stick with it, that peak is just around the corner!
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Don't feel bad about it, the 2 steps forward, 1 step back thing, it really is very much part and parcel with horses. So much depends on how you feel physically or emotionally and how the horse is doing too, there's so many things that can effect the outcome, it's definitely not like a hobby involving an inanimate object to get the job done.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I started aged 62. I got almost nowhere with riding for the first 9 months - and during that time I had a 6 week gap after breaking my ankle walking a coastal path.
In the long run it doesnt matter.
But some questions. Is a conventional riding school the best place for an older beginner? I was bullied by my first RI. (and rescued by NR) No one should be crying after their lessons. So ask if you are being treated nicely by your teacher and well taught.

Next - new riders often get fobbed off with many different teachers - are you getting continuity and is your teacher/horse right for you?

Many schools keep a strong cob for beginner adults but old people may not be able to sit straight astride a wider horse. I was constantly blamed for sitting askew, but they had given me the wrong horse.

Understand that a riding student is not tied to one school. Take a break or find another place? I changed to another (less highly regarded) school after a year and everything was different.

Understand that at some schools even beginners can hack out or you could go for a trail ride.

In my first pointless year I none the less learned some valuable things.
I learned how to lead a horse in and out of the stable and how to untack him and put on a rug. Learning to lead a horse and have him do as you say may come easier to an older adult than controlling him when one is sitting on his back. I do recommend a couple of lessons in grooming, tacking up etc and then perhaps volunteering to help.

I learned how to groom and to pick up the feet and clean them. Very important lesson.
Grooming and leading the horse established a bond between us. He was my ally against the horrid teacher. Years of watching David Attenborough teaches one a bit about animal behaviour.

But combine this with saddle time however depressing it seems. My OH always said that what mattered most was saddle time. Give your body and mind long enough and anyone will ride. He started aged 67.

Your relationship with horses is in the end going to be more important than any of the technicalities of riding. For the riding and for staying safe and balanced in the saddle nothing is better than lunge lessons. Lunge lessons are stress free and safe.

If you cant make the horse trot - forget that moment when you ask. Think for a bit about getting the horse ready to trot. It is how you ride the horse in walk, just before you ask for trot that will make all the difference. Imagine you are dawdling up the street and someone suddenly shouts at you to start skipping. One needs a bit of warning. The horse needs to be ready too. One way even a beginner can get a horse to move off more easily is to ride several halt walk transitions. The same with trot. Trot six steps, walk six and then trot again. The horse is a living creature with a brain. You are planting the idea in his head. As you ask, reduce the strength of your cue. The horse will appreciate that and will become more sensitive to the lighter signal. The changing from walk to halt or walk to trot is called a transition. If the horse isnt moving for you, ask the RI if you can ride a few transitions. The RI will probably say yes.

A major problem for us adult beginners is that we are used to being obedient to a teacher and we try too hard. We put more and more physical effort into the riding when we are corrected and the horse seems to ignore us. To ride well one needs to do the opposite - breathe deep, relax, be gentle, coax and coach the horse.

The great rider Charles Harris when given a horse to ride would mount and then just sit there, relaxed and allowing the horse to relax too. The trainer Mark Rashid recommends the same. The moment you sit in the saddle, both you and the horse are likely to be tense. The horse has your weight on his back and the rider is less secure since his feet are no longer on the ground. So just wait in the saddle for your horse to relax, for the head to lower. Give yourself a minute or two. And then when you are both relaxed , give a little touch to one rein - that will signal to the horse that you are now going to ask him to move forward. Then ask. Politely. You have achieved something already. You have had a little conversation with the horse.
 

Dorry

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Nov 20, 2018
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Definitely don't give up. It takes time to recover fully from pneumonia, hope you are feeling ok now. I'm 11 years older than you and I started riding last May. Because I love it so much and want to do well I sometimes feel I try too hard. If I have a lesson that doesn't go too well I am really despondent, but if I do really well I feel positively euphoric!! I know that everyone says that's how learning to ride goes, good one day and not so good the next. I only have 2 half hour lessons a week which means no chance to practice in between and try to rectify my mistakes! Don't worry. Hope to hear in your next post that you've enjoyed your next lesson and felt good about it!
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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@Dorry there is stuff you can practice without a horse if you want to. You can check & work on your posture whatever you're doing, when no-one's watching (or if you don't mind looking weird lol) you can practice carrying your hands with your thumbs on top & elbows bent, you can strengthen your leg & get used to more weight in your heels by standing on the bottom stair with your heels over the edge, and I'm sure there are others too if you think of what areas you have problems with. The more you can make things like this automatic the sooner you can start riding & focusing on the horse. But yes it is often a mix of god & bad, and sometimes frustratingly you'll do everything right& the horse won't play while others you'll get it wrong but the horse will pick up the slack & make you look like you've got it right :)
 
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Dorry

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Nov 20, 2018
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Carthorse ..Yes definitely I agree. I have been doing this too!:) I do Pilates, and have a gym ball, also practice Pilates for riders at home! Just bought a book specially on this subject. I also have books and watch videos on utube all very helpful. My RI says I'm doing great and my balance is fine too so I think I'm picking on myself!:rolleyes: I share my lessons with another lady we started lessons about the same time. Our main problem is keeping our horses going or slowing them down depending on who is in front or behind!o_O especially my school horse, she is the same with everyone! Still its good to practice half halts I suppose! She broke into canter the other week which was a bit unnerving as haven't been there yet!:eek: getting her to do what I want is sometimes a problem! :mad:
I think the point is for those of us just starting out is to enjoy it, get a good riding school, nobody wants to be shouted at, especially as an older person. I will never be able to have my own horse, I just hope to be able to ride for years yet and hopefully become a proficient rider. I know you never give up learning.
Keep calm and trot on!!:D
 
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Zannah

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Nov 9, 2018
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Hi Dorry. Sorry going a little off subject but what's the name of your Pilates for riders at home? I'm an older rider (coming back to it after 35 years away) and that sounds ideal
 

Dorry

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Nov 20, 2018
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Hi Dorry. Sorry going a little off subject but what's the name of your Pilates for riders at home? I'm an older rider (coming back to it after 35 years away) and that sounds ideal
Hi Zannah Sorry for the delay in replying! Yes the book is called Pilates for Riders by Lindsay Wilcox-Reid. It is a good book to have. I have to admit I haven't actually sat down and read it completely! You have prompted me to do this now! There is a lot of information in it. Up to now I have just picked out the Pilates exercises from it though and I find them very good and helpful. I'm sure my core is getting much better! I think its well worth having. Shop around though because it varies a lot in price. I bought mine from EBay it was quite a bit cheaper and brand new. Good luck!
 

linda7575

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Feb 17, 2019
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I forgot about this post. So here's an update.
It is definitely better. My health is back to normal which helps. I have had a few good lessons in a row. My RI thinks things are coming together for me. A lot also depends on the horse I ride. The horse I rode last week was more eager to trot. There is another older woman beginner who takes lessons at the same time (we both do private lessons with different RIs). I saw her having the same problems I had when I rode that horse the week before. Looking forward to the nicer weather so I can do trail rides. Thanks for all the comments!
 

Dorry

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Nov 20, 2018
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Hi Lynda Glad to hear you are better now and getting on better too with your lessons. I have had the same problems with my school horse at times getting her to trot! It's getting better though these days and I know she is the same with all the novices! I had 2 great weeks doing really well, horse kept going, even getting on the right diagonal once or twice! Felt really good, but this week i seem to have gone to pot! Haven't felt right in the saddle for some reason, all the old bad habits (pushing down on stirrups, legs too far forward in rising trot) returned to haunt me just when I thought I'd killed them off! at the moment I feel deflated and frustrated! However my instructor says I'm doing well anyway! I know that's how learning to ride goes. Can't wait to get back in the saddle again on Tuesday and hopefully do better. Meantime doing Pilates and exercises to strengthen the core!
Happy riding!