Thursday 6 April 2017

Something Different

Do you remember D, the new resident dressage trainer who had moved to my area? I took two lessons with her (here and here). My lessons with her weren't life changing in what I learned, but the idea of an actual regular trainer I could lesson with had the potential to be a game changer. However, right from my first conversation with her I had an inkling that she wasn't going to stick around for too long. Unfortunately, I was right. Even more unfortunately, she only lasted 6 weeks (no, we didn't scare her off that fast, she moved back east for other reasons). I was out of town for 4 of the 6 weeks she was here, so those two lessons I took with her was all I could do.

A trot lengthen from my second lesson with D

This means that my area is now without any resident dressage trainer again. It makes me really glad that I started organizing the regular clinics with Sandra. I am always amazed at how much Sandra can teach me and Kachina in a clinic, and I love her training approach. However, no matter how amazing they are, two days of instruction every three months can only do so much. I had budgeted for doing semi-regular lessons with D this year, so I have a modest pool of money to go towards lessons. Last week I decided to use some of that money on a couple months of hunter/jumper lessons.

Me pretending to be a hunter rider on Miles in Ohio

Specifically, for April I will be doing lessons every Tuesday with Kt at Barn A on a lesson horse, and for May I will be doing lessons every Thursday with N at Barn B on a lesson horse (the two different barns is mostly related to availability). Both Kt and N are friends of mine who have teaching certifications and active lesson programs. They both focus on hunter/jumpers with both their own riding and their students, but they also appreciate dressage and I respect their methods.

To be clear, I have no intention of changing disciplines and leaving dressage. Taking H/J lessons may seem like a strange decision, but there were a lot of factors that went into it:
1. I can't take regular dressage lessons
2. Clinics with Sandra generally focus on my training approach with Kachina. I need some regular lessons to focus on me as a rider.
3. My discipline experiments in Ohio made me see similarities between different kinds of riding, and showed me how fun it could be to do something different.
4. I was talking with my Irish cousin recently about his work to start his young steeplechasers over fences, it made me really want to try jumping again.
5. Even though I want to try jumping, Kachina is doing really well with dressage right now and it isn't a good time for me to mix things up too much with her. Also, if I ever do want to jump her, I need to be less green over fences myself.
6. It will make me a better rider to ride different horses.
7. There are some exercises that I can't easily do on Kachina that will make me a better rider (no stirrup work, no rein work, etc). In fact, I decided to lesson with Kt after hearing her explain some of the crazy no-stirrup torture she likes to give her students (I may well regret that decision!).
8. It's crazy how relaxing a lesson seems to be when you don't have to worry about hauling your horse. It also doesn't take all evening which is nice.
9. You. I follow a lot of blogs that have directly or indirectly talked about the benefits of regular lessons. You've made me want to try it!  

Some of my cousin's youngsters who will grow up to be fantastic jumpers!

Have you ever taken lessons in a different discipline? Or ridden a lesson horse even when you had a horse of your own to ride? Did it help you?


  1. Fun! I can't wait to hear about it.

  2. I think cross-training is so, so great! Next winter I want to take some dressage lessons, if finances permit!

  3. The last time I was working a contract in alberta I did 6 months of hunter lessons on lesson horses. Totally helped my confidence issues, and made me brave enough to take jumping lessons with my own horse when the time came. Enjoy!

  4. Sounds like a great plan. There is so much you can learn from other disciplines. :-)

  5. most of my background is actually in riding hunters, but i switched to eventing when my former leased arab mare made it clear she wasn't a good fit for the hunter mold. and now my new horse (hopefully a future event horse) lives at an hj barn, so we're basically surrounded by it all the time. and in fact his first under saddle lesson with my was with the hj program director.

    imo, what it boils down to is: good horsemanship is good horsemanship no matter what the discipline is. a good coach and trainer can instill good habits in riders and horses at the most fundamental level, even if the eventual goals end up being a little different. plus, trying out different styles and different teaching methods and horses and whatnot only ever helps me figure out what i really like, what really works for me, and how i can weave it all together to fit my own purposes. good luck!

  6. ^ What Emma said. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship!

  7. You guys are absolutely right! I'm a bit of a hypocrite: I am so used to having dressage being promoted as good cross training for a lot of other disciplines including jumping, but I honestly haven't thought of using jumping as cross training for dressage before. At least I have rectified this error now!