Stage 1 Doubts

Frankie

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Oct 20, 2020
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Morning all,
I'm new to this forum - I've been riding on and off for many years (I'm 50) with lessons and happy hacking, I don't compete. I had my own horse for a few years and now have a part loan. I decided this year to have a go at the BHS stage 1, not that I want to enter the industry but more as a personal goal. I've been attending a BHS centre for four weeks now where we do an hours ride and an hours care. The care side I'm fine with but the riding I'm finding difficult - every horse I've had so far has been difficult, napping to the others so riding independently is not easy. It's started to erode my confidence so that as soon as I get on I feel defeated before I even start. I'm wondering if I'd be better off having a few private lessons and just going for the exam on the day rather than spending weeks battling difficult horses?
 

Sparky Lily

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Nov 27, 2008
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Yell, Shetland
Hi. I took my BHS Stage 1 in my mid 50s, and passed at the first attempt, so it is quite do-able! The care lessons you are having will be of great value in the exam. Are the group riding lessons aimed at Stage 1 level? You need to show you can control a well behaved horse, but that would include riding independently away from the rest of the ride. The horses in your lesson should be typical for Stage 1 level. That might include some reluctance to leave the group, but not disobedience. In any case, I would recommend a few private lessons, especially on the lunge, to concentrate on your position, effectiveness and confidence. But keep on with the group rides. You will have to ride in a group in the exam, and you will be able to gauge your readiness better in that situation. Good luck.
 

Frankie

New Member
Oct 20, 2020
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Hi. I took my BHS Stage 1 in my mid 50s, and passed at the first attempt, so it is quite do-able! The care lessons you are having will be of great value in the exam. Are the group riding lessons aimed at Stage 1 level? You need to show you can control a well behaved horse, but that would include riding independently away from the rest of the ride. The horses in your lesson should be typical for Stage 1 level. That might include some reluctance to leave the group, but not disobedience. In any case, I would recommend a few private lessons, especially on the lunge, to concentrate on your position, effectiveness and confidence. But keep on with the group rides. You will have to ride in a group in the exam, and you will be able to gauge your readiness better in that situation. Good luck.
Thanks for the reply, good to hear of someone of a similar age going for it! They are supposed to be stage 1 level horses. Can I ask you how many weeks it took you before you actually took the exam? It's not cheap at £42 per week and the syllabus is quite long (we've spent 3 weeks on mucking out alone..........)
 

Sparky Lily

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Nov 27, 2008
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Yell, Shetland
Thanks for the reply, good to hear of someone of a similar age going for it! They are supposed to be stage 1 level horses. Can I ask you how many weeks it took you before you actually took the exam? It's not cheap at £42 per week and the syllabus is quite long (we've spent 3 weeks on mucking out alone..........)
It is a bit difficult to quantify. I had been riding at an approved BHS riding school and training yard for about 10 years, and had my own horse on livery there, so most was just part of my usual pattern of riding and lessons. I knew Stage 1 would be my limit in terms of riding, but wanted to go a bit further with the care side, and they could not be taken separately then. I joined a one evening a week course to top up the care side for 6 weeks, and had a few extra lunge lessons. I also had my usual group lessons on school horses instead of my own as part of the preparation.
 
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newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Agree as above with the private lessons.
I rode a friends pony in the exam, I don't know if you are allowed to do that or not now. But I had my private lessons on that pony.
The riding I found ok, but the care not so much. I tend to drop things on the floor and they were very particular, but I passed.
 

Frankie

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Oct 20, 2020
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Agree as above with the private lessons.
I rode a friends pony in the exam, I don't know if you are allowed to do that or not now. But I had my private lessons on that pony.
The riding I found ok, but the care not so much. I tend to drop things on the floor and they were very particular, but I passed.
From what I understand, you have to take the test at a BHS assessment centre and ride two horses that are allocated to you. In one way it's good to have lessons at he centre so you get to know the horses but on the flip side if I'm given one I've had difficulty with, I know psychologically that will put me on the back foot. I might look at doing the Challenge Awards as an alternative.
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Napping to me isn't something I would describe as a difficult behaviour to deal with. Undesirable yes. Mine can on occasion be reluctant to carry on when her hacking buddy splits off. But a few nudges and on she goes.
 

Frankie

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Oct 20, 2020
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Napping to me isn't something I would describe as a difficult behaviour to deal with. Undesirable yes. Mine can on occasion be reluctant to carry on when her hacking buddy splits off. But a few nudges and on she goes.
This is proper tanking off to another part of the school - sitting deep and all the usual advice didn't work, instructor eventually said take the reins in one hand and do a massive yank. Don't think it should take that and I don't like stocking them in the mouth. A more capable rider could probably sort it but at my level I need something more compliant to practice on.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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These horses will be ones that are classed as suitable for the level of riding expected at this stage, so it sounds like the behaviour is something they think a stage 1 student should cope with. No offence but that means you need to learn to cope rather than ride another horse. At a guess I would say you need to be a lot more assertive and in control before the behaviour happens, that way it should never occur and there is no problem to solve. As an example I wrote about cantering my Welsh in a stubble field a few days ago and how polite he is BUT in all honesty he starts and maintains a canter in a definite contact and I know from experience that if he's allowed to get away in the canter then he can be strong to pull up and takes some manhandling that doesn't look pretty. Prevention is definitely key, and that's the case with a lot of riding. Talk to your instructor, and also watch closely - and maybe ask your instructor to talk you through the differences - if he has a rider on who doesn't have this problem.
 
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