Let’s Discuss : Riding Lessons

Todays topic: Can you substitute lessons for reading articles or youtube videos?

There no denying there is a lot you can learn from YouTube and reading – a hell of a lot. I am not debating that. However can these really fully be a substitute to having lessons? While riding I have come across a few people who think it can but I disagree.

What I believe is that everyone should have lessons even if they are every few months and even if riding is just a hobby, and you aren’t looking to compete, because even just having that experienced person on the ground telling you that your unruly left hand is twitching again won’t be covered in articles or videos.

In my experience Eva and I progress much faster when we are having lessons and I think this is for several reasons;

  • Both our brains are occupied.
  • I give her a job to do instead of doing everything myself.
  • We are both ginger and stubborn making us a little short tempered with each other when we aren’t getting our way and having a person to mitigate that is very useful.
  • I ride much more positively because I know I will get more out of a lesson if I do.
  • I am much more determined, especially because I am not falling off in front of someone who has competed at 2* level and the 4 other riders and the 3 people watching… Trust me, I came very close a few lessons ago ! Everyone got a good look at my stick ability!

That knowledgeable rider on the ground will have a view of the whole picture of you and your horse. Even for those who riding is a hobby, do you school? If so, why do you school? You school to get better at something right? Having an instructor can help with that.

Having someone on the ground to tell you to wait for the jump or to ride forward to that jump makes a difference.

Having someone on the ground to tell you to kick on and do the exercise one more time when – if you were on your own – you would normally take a break, makes a difference.

Even that age old instructors trick of telling you “One more time” then saying that about three more times before you actually get to finish makes a difference.

Having that different view is incredibly useful, even a fairly simple change like telling you to kick on instead of hold back. In a recent lesson at point where I would normally steady the canter I was told to kick on so she comes off the corner with energy ready for that meter upright, instead of coming out the corner locked up through her neck because I thought I was collecting her. At the end of the lesson we jumped a 1m spread followed by a 1m upright and she was absolutely foot perfect. It felt so effortless she just sailed over them without a second glance and I was so happy with her ! But I know that if I had jumped it at the start of the lesson it would of been an absolute mess.

When I feel like I need to steady her to connect I was actually over doing it and blocking her and therefore making the jump more difficult.

Could YouTube or a book of taught me that ? Absolutely not.

This is why I think you need someone on the ground to give you that advice. It’s not just about the exercises they give you, it’s the reason why they tell you to do that particular exercise because they see the whole picture.

Lessons do not have to be every time you ride nor every week ! Even once a month or every two months if that is enough to keep you on the right track.

Getting the most out of your lessons is also up to you. Firstly, you need to know what you want out of a lesson, at the end of the day you are paying them to be there. Are u working too hard the canter? Do you want to focus on jumping or flatwork ? Is there a particular issue with your jumping or is there a dressage move that you aren’t picking marks up on and you don’t know why? Of course when you have regular lessons the instructor might suggest something that they have picked up on that they think needs ironed out.

There is also an art to choosing the right instructor. I tend to like people who will be quite blunt. I’m competitive and therefore can be hard on myself. But at the same time don’t tell me something is good when I can feel it isn’t. The instructors attitude is a major factor, in general if you are unsure give them a maximum of three lessons then make decision to either move on or stick with them.

I once had an instructor whos first lesson was great, the second ok, the third a disaster. She huffed when Eva knocked a pole, got angry at the equipment and slagged off the facilities we had. I couldn’t chalk it all up to having a bad day and I still needed to hand over about 35quid once the lesson was over! Safe to say I never asked her out again! But on the positive side it gave me the kick up the ass I needed as the first lesson was so good because it had been so long since I had last had one. I am pleased that the instructors I have had recently have all been fantastic and Eva and I have been come on leaps and bounds.

In summary yes you can learn a lot from videos and books/articles but they should be in addition to lessons as nothing can replace having someone on the ground helping you in real time.

Do you get lessons ? If not why not ? If you do, do you think you would struggle with out them?

Comment and let me know!

3 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss : Riding Lessons

  1. There is absolutely no chance for me that I could replace my coach with videos or training articles.

    I find they are useful for tips and things to try, but cannot come close to my trainer working with me one on one to give the exact tools I need to deal with the issue I am facing in that moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree yet I have seen people say they are quite happy without yet when they have problems it takes far longer to be resolved than if they had a instructor on the ground but they still don’t want one. ๐Ÿค”


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