Getting With The Program

Last night, I had my first lesson in… a while. Anyone else sick of hearing me say this? I AM sick of hearing ME say this.

I had originally wanted to take a jumping lesson, but the flooded status of KY in general, ridiculous winds, the threat of MORE rain, and a dropping temperature meant that I decided on a Dressage lesson instead.

The barn was oddly quiet last night with just me and NT around that evening, so our lesson was a bit more casual than usual with lots of chatting and catching up on the state of May. (Future injections, 2019 plans, etc). I’ll probably write about the lesson tomorrow, but suffice to say, we have both seen a lot of progress thanks to her help this past fall and the work my half leaser has been putting in.

As with most eventers at this time of year, I am looking at the 2019 competition season. My grand goals are, and have been, to get back to a recognized horse trial at Beginner Novice. Last year was a “I am hope we get back into the show ring.” This year is a “I want to do this.”

So I started looking back. What made May and I capable of moving form starter to BN in 2016? How did we get to the point where we were schooling Novice sized SJ course with relative easeย that summer?

I remember this being fun.

It wasn’t because I was younger (26 – 29 is not a huge jump… unlike 22 – 25 which seems MASSIVE). It wasn’t because I had access to a better trainer. (There are some serious similarities between NJ trainer and NT.) It wasn’t because May was more educated.

It was because I was in a regular program… and I haven’t been in one since.

Late 2016, we moved from NJ to KY just as show season was winding down and trainers in KY were looking towards Aiken and Ocala rather than their own backyards. Money was tight, and I let lessons fall into the category of “nice to have.”

^This feels like a lifetime ago…

Then in 2017, I had committed to lessons with my trainer at the time, but due to a job that had me traveling and her own schedule, we would average maybe 2 lessons a month… at best. Money was still tight, I got married in mid-summer, and the lack of competition goals meant that again, lessons fells to the back burner.

Our First Lesson Together.

2018… I moved barns in mid competition season, but I still made it out to a couple of shows to get our feet wet again. (Literally and figuratively). Lessons started up again, and I was surprised at how much I felt like a fish out of water. My whole riding career had been focused on weekly lessons (and catch riding). Here I was, on my own horse, and feeling odd about lessons.

Then this year… I find myself really prioritizing lessons. So, for the first time since Spring of 2016, I have put myself into the weekly lesson rotation schedule. Fingers crossed that this has really been the missing link in my confidence lately!

So I really want to know – Are you a “weekly lessoner” or more of a “when I need them” or even a “don’t need no trainer” type of rider?


34 thoughts on “Getting With The Program

  1. aw yay! i’m glad to read you’re getting more serious about lessons. they’re not the right fit for every circumstance or situation or time of life or whatever, but for riders who have competition goals or who want to move up, lessons are so important. even every single serious pro i know still takes lessons and has coaches. hell, boyd martin literally just posted a video of philip dutton schooling boyd’s horses xc haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. well if BOYD is doing it ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Things have felt stagnant for a while now, but I am in a better position with a great pro. So I am super excited to get back at it!


  2. I would LOVE to have weekly lessons. We’ve been getting a lot more than usual lately and it’s been really nice to just have some regular feedback and constantly feel like you’re building on something, rather than basically starting over at square 1 every time. Definitely has a big impact on confidence, I think!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I spent this winter taking lessons VERY sporadically between the wedding, holidays, weather, etc. I’ve always been a weekly lesson person and honestly it’s kinda crazy how much I’ve lost just in a few months of being out of that schedule. Not just not progressing, but big step back in abilities for both of us. I do think it depends a lot on finding the right coach, but for me I find it really hard to maintain, let alone move up without very regular attention!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. agreed! I look back at things that used to be “easy”, and I am painfully aware of how they are now getting “hard”. Part of it is the accountability of seeing a pro regularly (like brushing your teeth when you know you have to visit the dentist), but part of it is just getting that feedback every week.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am in a weekly lesson program, which is a must for June and I, but was a Godsend even when I was riding Georgie. As good and easy as she was, we made major progress and I don’t think that would have happened without weekly lessons. I think eyes on the ground are so important, someone to help us keep moving forward and doing it correctly. I’ll skip clinics and other things, but weekly lessons have been really important to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I moved my horses home, it got really hard to have regular lessons. With Rio, that was ok because he’s perfect and gave me a ton of confidence. Jumping on our own and meeting trainers at shows worked out great. But with Jamp it really didn’t work to not lesson. And then he got hurt. And then I was afraid of the teeniest jumps. So getting back to weekly lessons was HUGE for my confidence. The trainer I’m riding with right now isn’t really the best or anything, but just having someone tell me what jumps to jump in what order, and being there “just in case” has helped tremendously. I was really surprised at how quickly I was back to jumping 3′ courses and feeling good about it. I’m kind of back at square one unfortunately, without a horse to jump right now. But yeah, to answer your question, weekly lessons are definitely where it’s at if it’s possible to get them in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. blah yeah. I have developed this fun hesitation about oxers… that makes no sense. Big coops on XC? no problem. A SJ oxer at 2’3″? Terrifying…. Regular lessons and someone just making me do it and put “positive repetitions” in my confidence bank would be a huge help.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you have a plan in place. And you were so lucky to get your leasor to help keep May fit!! Smart you are SO SMART (and i know it:))! Ha

    of course you just made it that every tuesday till spring will be cold or icy as f ๐Ÿ™‚ HA murphy’s law!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish I could lesson on a regular basis. I know Gwyn and I would benefit from it. But right now I can’t prioritize it in the budget until some other things calm down (which there is hope on the horizon for!) Until that point, I don’t even plan for a significant show season because I know we’re not adequately prepared and instead focus on smaller, schooling shows or things like endurance rides where technicality and moving up aren’t dependent on lessoning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup! That’s where I have been the past 3 (!!!) years. It’s tough but, like most things, our horses could care less if they get lessons or not… but they really care if they aren’t getting vet and farrier care regularly haha. So priorities tend to not be negotiable about those things.


    2. I think the last time I took regular lessons was in 2011 and that was before kid #1 arrived. Since then kid #2 has made an appearance, and with moving horses home with a cross country move, even finding a trainer wasn’t a priority. Soooon. I’ve got a dressage trainer nearby I like and I just need to find someone for jumping or who will do gymnastics with us. Even once a month right now would be an improvement.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m definitely a weekly lesson person! I have always taken lessons, partly because I haven’t owned a horse as an adult and lessons have been a lease requirement, but also because that’s how I grew up and I love the opportunity to keep learning under a good trainer.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I often have to play my lesson situation by ear because for money reasons as well, but I do like to get in at least two lessons a month. You’re right that the most progress I ever made was when Murray and I were in 4-6 lessons a month (I did a lot of extra work for my trainer and earned a ton of lesson credit for a while!), and I’d love to get back to that place. That’s one of my major goals this year, to improve my financial situation so I can meet my savings goals AND take the lessons I need to become a more capable rider.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had time to work off lessons. It would make the financial blow so much easier to wrap my arms around. buuuut I do think the consistency is worth investing in.


  10. I dream of having the time and budget for weekly lessons! I had them as a kid mostly as a way to get to DO the horse thing more often. Then I grew up and everyone quit teaching in my area! It’s feast or famine it seems. Fortunately, the time of feasting is coming back it seems. Hoping to schedule a lesson at least monthly!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Exciting!! You are May are going to kick it this year. The biggest barrier for me is time. The absolute earliest I could be on my horse at a facility 30 minutes away is 645pm. Finding programs that teach that late is proving extremely difficult. Nobody around here does weekends as they are all off showing. Twice a month is my goal though I know more would be even better, but it is a stretch with work and the kiddo to even make it to that many. Some day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh yeah. One of the reasons I moved to my current trainer is the fact that she runs a later schedule to teach kids in the late afternoon and adults in the evenings. It’s not unusual for lessons to still be going on at 7:30PM or even later during the summer.


  12. It can really be tough to be out of a program and I’m glad that you are prioritizing them to reach your goals! I’m very excited for you and May this season and can’t wait for all the show recaps ๐Ÿ™‚


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