Disgruntled and demotivated

2 11 2012

I really wanted to keep the overall tone of this blog positive, but I don’t think I can at the moment. The sad fact is that I’m really just not enjoying my riding, at least not here in Leeds. I’m going to be completely honest about it all.

The problem, chiefly, is the school. Although I found the first lesson I went to there to be excellent in terms of learning new things and improving existing skills – the instructor who took that lesson was fantastic, even if I found her teaching style of highlighting mistakes and asking you to explain why you were doing whatever it was you were doing wrong in front of everyone else a bit difficult to deal with at the time – it was very dry. The horses are brought out to us and taken off us immediately again after the lessons; the feeling is very much that we’re there for a riding lesson, and the horses themselves are, while necessary, otherwise inconsequential. I haven’t gotten that feeling from any of the other places where I’ve had lessons to date.

For my other lessons I’ve had a different instructor, who is impatient, condescending, loses her temper/shouts and spends a significant proportion of her lessons sitting in the corner of the school playing with her phone, giving the distinct impression that she is not only disinterested in teaching the lessons, but that she actively doesn’t want to be there. This is really not helpful, and she sets me on edge so I’m more nervous about making mistakes and what she’s going to pull me up on next, resulting in my making more stupid mistakes – and appearing as though I’m not listening to her because I was trying to concentrate on getting so many things right I forgot to do whatever it was I was supposed to. None of my other teachers to date have given me this impression.

Then, the horses. The ones we novices get are all lazy and uncooperative from what I can tell, and the instructor let on during my last lesson that they use those horses with the novices for pretty much that reason. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can see the merit of teaching someone to ride a difficult horse first so that once their skills improve they’ll be proficient on easier horses, but I think that only works to a point – if something’s frustratingly difficult from the outset, how are you supposed to maintain the motivation to stick at it?

Based on all of the above, I’m now more inclined to think that it wasn’t a mistake that I was given a pony to ride for my first lesson in spite of my having said I’d rather ride a horse when asked if I had a preference. And I’m not sure that I’m comfortable learning from people who do that sort of thing on purpose. Incidentally, I was given the pony again today.

By contrast, last time I went there I arrived early, and I saw the end of the advanced classes’ lesson, which the first instructor was taking. She wasn’t giving the girls much direction, just letting them merrily canter around the outdoor school and take jumps in turn, occasionally calling one over to the fence where she was stood to give them pointers, but she was watching everything they were doing intently and showed clear affection for them when she spoke to them both individually and as a group. Now, I know some of that will have been a rapport she’d had time to build up with those riders and I can appreciate that as an old hand at something it’s probably both boring and frustrating having to teach the basics over and over again… but again, I guess it would be nice to see a bit of acknowledgement of the fact that everyone has to start somewhere and learns at different paces?…

Finally, the logistics of attending lessons there. I hate talking about money, especially in specific amounts, but I’m going to do it here for clarity’s sake. Taking lessons through the university riding club costs £16 per person, irrespective of how many people there are. That’s very reasonable for a riding school in the UK. However, the school itself is actually located closer to the next city along than it is to Leeds itself. Consequently, the prescribed method for getting out there requires you to be grouped with someone who can drive and is willing to, but there don’t seem to be any driver-novices, so it’s a train journey to the nearest town with a railway station and then about 15 minutes by taxi. A return train ticket costs £4.10, and the taxi costs £7.50 in either direction. So, even in the best-case scenario – travelling up in a group of five – I’d still effectively be paying £23 per lesson. As a full-time student I am certainly not rich, and that’s quite a lot of money, really. Furthermore, the closest riding school to me – which Google Maps tells me I could walk to in just over 50 minutes (meaning I could probably clear it in less than that) – offers 30-minute private adult lessons for £2 less than that.

I’ve booked myself a place on two more lessons. I’m toying with the idea of having a private lesson at my nearest riding school to see if it’s any better, but even if that turns out to be fantastic I’m not sure I can afford to do that every single week.

I feel very disheartened over all of this. I will openly admit that I wasn’t feeling especially enthused about going to my lesson beforehand and it’s possible that my having started out with a shitty attitude set the tone for the lesson I ended up having and how I felt about it afterwards, but at the same time I think it’s notable that the other girls I went with – while they were talking in the back of the taxi on the way home – seemed to have picked up on a lot of the same things as I did, and weren’t very happy about it either.

But… horses!… 😦

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2 responses

3 11 2012
mellchan

Awww, that stinks! Honestly, I wouldn’t waste the money going to the school that treats horses AND students like a factory assembly line, thats no fun and how horribly impersonal!
I would suggest cold calling the nearest stables and explain that you are a student who is looking for an economical way to get riding experience, see if they will trade a few hours working in the barn for free lessons once a week. Also, you would be able to get to know the horses really well. Let them know that you would be willing to feed, muck out stalls, tack horses for lessons, clean the barn, clean tack, whatever it takes! Plus, usually developing a more personal relationship with the staff=extra perks! In my case I started as a once a week lesson and made sure to hang around the barn for awhile before and after my lessons. Helping people tack up, groom, bathe, etc. Now, I have the gate codes and can pop in whenever I want to go for a ride at no extra cost! You can do it too!!!

Or, look for a partial lease on a horse? Around here you can get a partial lease (usually 2 days riding per week) for around $100 a month.

Or, at the risk of sounding really odd…..put an add out in the local online classifieds….horsey classified?…not sure what is popular in the UK? Anyways, put up a little add about yourself and explain that you are looking for a cheap way to ride as you are a student. I think there are a lot of people out there that own multiple horses and can’t get out and ride as much as they want because they have no one to ride with. Here, the online craigslist farm section is really popular and a lot of horse owners post adds looking for someone who would ride with them for free, just for the safety and company! Not a formal lesson but you can’t beat free! Also, people post adds offering their services to ride/exercise horses for people who can’t get out and ride everyday and don’t want their horses just sitting around in the pasture.

Or….if none of those work…join a local horse association for local horse owners and wedge yourself into that world. Meet a few horse owners and I am sure you will make friends who will be more than happy to let you ride one of their horses at no cost.

Keep us updated on the situation, don’t give up!

4 11 2012
gsug

I have ‘liked’ this but only because it is well written. Mellchan is quite right and the advice is great.

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