Taking Professional Riding Lessons
I have been wanting to take riding lessons again. I think I need professional help, and I am in a place where I can afford to do this now, both with time and money. And I found a barn with a trainer that is about 6 minutes away from where I live, and they had an opening.
Talk about having everything point me in the right direction! The universe was telling me this was a good idea, because everything just worked out so perfectly! Yes, the universe was saying….“Come on woman, you need professional help!” And everything I needed just seemed to work out perfectly.
So I thought I would share with you how my weekly lesson went, and what I got out of it. There are a couple of reasons of why I have decided to share my experiences.
One, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like to take lessons, as a mature adult, a nice way for me to tell you that I’m old. Reason number 2, I learn better by not only doing, but then writing down what I did. This helps me to remember it better. And reason 3, like I posted about my goals with my horse Ethan, I think taking a formal lesson and then applying what I have learned will help me to achieve my goals with my horses. And maybe, it will help you too!
My First Lesson
I knew I was excited, because my lesson was to start at 6:00 PM, and I was able to make it to the barn from work in about 30 minutes. I got ready for my lesson while I was at work, and had brought everything with me so I would not have to go home to get ready.
And I anticipated it would be cold, so I brought a heavy sweater, ear warmer, heavy socks, gloves, coat etc. Of course, I had my helmet, and I wasn’t sure if I should wear tall boots, or paddock boots, so I chose paddock boots. I waited to put my boots on when I got to the barn though, because I had never driven with the boots on before.
And since I was so early, I was able to watch a lesson in progress. There were 8 girls cantering around the indoor arena when I walked in. They were young, and so confident. I was looking at them thinking, I want to have the level of confidence! It was cold though, around 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the barn, and I was already wishing I had worn heavier breeches.
Learning the Barn and Tacking Up
When it came time for my lesson, I got a tour of the barn which was awesome. She showed me the board where I would find which horse I would be riding for the day. And then where the school horse tack was kept, grooming tools, etc. Then it was time to go find the horse I would be riding.
With the instruction of my trainer, we got ‘Ringo’ and everything I would need to get him tacked up. I have to say I was really impressed with the way they have their tack room set up. Everything has a home, and even with a lot of different people riding a lot of different horses. Everything was labeled, and each horse had his own bridle, so I will know which bridle to grab when I find out which horse I will be riding. I have free choice of which saddle I choose, again the school saddles were clearly labeled.
Now I was hoping I would get to see some really fancy CWD, or Antares saddles in which to choose, but I knew that wasn’t realistic. And my trainer recommended which saddle I should choose, and it was a Wintec all purpose saddle, which surprisingly was very comfortable, and I felt really secure in it.
It’s Time To Ride
Ok, Ringo was all groomed, and tacked up and it was time to ride!
My instructor was kind, and a very good communicator. I was very happy about this, because the last time I took lessons, it was nothing like this. There was no tour, no asking questions, nada. So this first experience was exactly what I had hoped for, and needed.
Back to the lesson…
As we walked around the indoor arena, she walked along side of me. And we focused on what I wanted, better balance, and confidence.
We checked my stirrup length, and I was surprised at how much shorter my stirrups were than when I ride at home. She had me stand in the saddle in different ways. First I was told to stand straight up. Then she had me lean a little forward, and then lean a little backward. And then we worked on two point position.
She explained where my leg needs to be on the horse’s side. And not to grip with my knee. I had never realized how I was gripping with my knee so much! She gave me direction to have my lower leg in contact with the horses side, not my knee. And then she would ask me to stand in the stirrups again, and find my balance point.
She also recommended that I should either get half chaps, or wear tall boots, as this might help me with my lower leg and to keep it more stable. And she was very kind with her recommendations. I was so grateful with how she phrased things. Finally, I was able to understand what someone was asking me to do! This instructor was very good at communicating to the rider what needs to happen!
Time To Trot
After walking both directions of the arena, she said it was time for posting trot. She explained that Ringo has a little bit of a jarring trot, so be prepared for that. But I asked for a trot, and bam! He trotted with a slight squeeze and a little click. I found it easier to rise from the saddle with my stirrup length. I had some difficulty with keeping Ringo on the rail, but my instructor reinforced staying on the rail, and not only paying attention to what I was doing, but also remembering to pay attention to what my horse was doing.
By this time my instructor said we were at about the end of our riding time, so it was time to get Ringo cooled out and groomed to go back out to his pasture.
I was shocked that the time had gone so quickly. And the best part for me is I was there. And what I mean by that is I wasn’t thinking about everything else I had to do, or that my husband was home and I wasn’t. I was so focused on the lesson, and paying attention to what I was learning, I was able to let everything else go. That never happens! I was able to be in the moment, and learn!
What I Learned In My Riding Lesson
I have never had so much fun with a lesson. The instructor is just what I need to help me progress with my riding. She talked through the lesson and made it easy for me to understand what it is that I need to work on, and what I need to do to get better, as well as establish a plan over the next few lessons of how we are going to make that happen.
She gave me some goals to work toward. So this weekend, I will be saddling up my own horse and working on what she told me during my lesson. To me this is important, to take a couple of days, and work through the same exercises but on my own horse. Hopefully this will help me to do well in my next lesson.
We are always learning. And no matter how long you have been riding, sometimes it is helpful to have a professional watch you, and see what you are doing well, and the areas that you can improve upon.
Yes, you will have to pay for the instruction, but if you learn something new, or it helps you to be a better rider, I think it is worth the investment. And when you have to pay for something, there is a higher level of accountability, because you are investing your hard earned dollars into something, so it is in your best interest to hold yourself accountable.
So the things I am going to work on from now until my next lesson:
- Strengthening my core (through Yoga videos I have, 30 minutes a day)
- Strengthen my lower leg
- Riding with my stirrups higher (like in my lesson)
- Commit to riding my own horse 2 times before my next lesson (providing the weather cooperates)
And this is what I will do differently for my next lesson:
- Wear my winter breeches
- Bring a bigger coat
- Wear warmer socks
- Wear my tall boots
I think that is enough to work on until my upcoming lesson. I know my muscles will be sore (they already are) but I know this will improve when my fitness improves. And I will also remember to keep my focus on my lesson when I am riding during my lesson. I will be present for my lesson, and leave everything else at the door. All of that ‘stuff’ will be waiting for me when I am done learning.
And with that it is time for me to go out and keep my promise to myself, and work on my weekly goals.