I’m having issues… I hate issues.

For over a year now, I’ve dramatically reduced my lessons from once a week to once a month in the summer, am using a different trainer, and for 6 months a year the trainer moves out of state (no lessons at all in the winter).

I was scared to make a change in trainers, and didn’t know how the decreased lessons would affect my riding.  I’m on my own a majority of the time. What’s worse is that this year I’ve only been able to take two lessons so far.

I really want to move up the levels of dressage as far as I possibly can without compromising the health and well-being of Ava (I love this horse).  When my old trainer told me (at the beginning of last year) that my horse would never be competitive at Second Level, it really unsettled me. I was willing to concede the point, but even if Ava could never be competitive, I still knew something was wrong with our training… I just couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

It wasn’t until the Goodrich clinic last June that I realized what the holes were in our training. While fixing those, it made me rethink the entire idea of what it takes to create a successful dressage team. Which is when I decided to try a new trainer, even if it meant drastically less lessons.

But what I really want is two lessons a month year long. Not two to five a year. I’m worried my progress will be stunted.  Or worse… that I’ll ingrain some bad training into Ava before I’m able to get back for another lesson. I want to learn flying changes this year so I can work on them over the winter. I worried I’m not up to the task of doing this on my own….

What if I screw it up? What if I make it so bad it can’t be fixed later? I’ve never ridden a flying change in my life. My timing sucks. I try to hard. I frustrate Ava to no end. I don’t know how to train them, and I have no clue how to fix anything that may pop up once we start. But without changes, I’m stuck at Second… which is not where I want to be stuck at.

9 thoughts on “I’m having issues… I hate issues.

  1. I understand your frustrations over feeling stuck and not sure how to move forwards… I am currently muddling along without lessons, and yes, I’m not happy about it. Mostly because like yourself, I’m not sure how to train something that (at the moment – don’t know if this is you however) I can’t even ride!

    I have no idea if there are holes in our training, at the moment we are struggling with our trot so much that I just feel like I’m making it worse without any eyes on the ground to help. Still, lessons aren’t really feasible at the moment, and I’m not going to quit riding or trying. I guess I can just be grateful that I’m not that far along with his training yet, so at least I’m not wondering how to training flying changes or half passes!

    I hope you are able to sort out a regular lesson schedule that works for you and Ava; then at least one of us will be moving forwards!

    bonita of A Riding Habit


  2. I’m also in the same boat. I see my trainer once a month (sometimes twice) for 9 months out of the year. Our progress is slow, and I’m sure we would advance faster with more lessons. However, my trainer is wonderful and her style really compliments my horse’s nervous disposition. Those things keep me coming to her, and us plugging along.

    Have you tried talking to your trainer about your concerns? You have a great handle on 2nd Level at this point, maybe your trainer will agree with you and work to get you things to work on over the winter, like flying changes.


  3. How about some virtual training via video and feedback between lesson? I know an inspirational trainer who could provide this assistance: Wiola @ Aspire Equestrian (www.asquire-equestrian.com) and on fb. This might be an option. I enjoy reading your blog by the way – good luck with your lovely Ava.


  4. What a familiar story! Our small group of friends had been with the same trainer for 4 to 5 years and something was missing. A friend and I went to our first Eric Herbermann clinic 2 years ago and we discovered what and where our gaps were in our riding. What an eye opener! We have since found an excellent teacher who has helped us so much ( biomechanics, lots of discussion, never demeaning..what a concept!) and although I only can afford 2 lessons a month she gives me enough “homework” and training tools that I have plenty to work with between the times I get to see her. Although I don’t like watching myself on film (ugh!) we occasionally video our lesson and then I get to review it for pointers when I’m not quite sure I remember if I’m employing my “training tools” ! Good luck!


  5. That’s a tough predicament, Mia. I know that if I had a “real” dressage trainer that Speedy and I would be farther along than we are, but I don’t, so there you have it. What you should focus on is how brilliantly you ARE doing with so little access to help. Look at how great your scores have been at 2nd Level. Don’t you dare doubt your abilities. Look at what you did without help! You are not going to screw Ava up.

    Talk to the new trainer, share your concerns, and get as much verbal feedback as possible. You can also video your attempts at the changes and have her watch. She could then offer suggestions just by watching. I guarantee that by next spring you’ll have your changes! :0)


    • Thanks Karen! I think I will talk to the trainer at the next lesson. Maybe she’ll have some suggestions. I think I get scared thinking there’s no safety net (i.e. trainer).

      I like your trainer! She’s got tricks up her sleeves I’d never heard of before, and they work beautifully.


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