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Friday, 29 August 2014

Recovering from Lesson Sourness

It's important to me to generally keep a positive tone to my blog - but full disclosure: this is kind of a whiny one!

As I get ready to move my horses to their new barn on September 28th (squee!) I find myself thinking back to last two "lesson" barns I boarded at.  Part of me is terrified of being at a "real" barn again.  Most of the barns I've boarded at in the last 7 years have been quite casual and provided very little of that "community" feeling.  I have been without regular lessons for a looonnnggg time.  I am almost always alone at the barn now.  Now I'm moving to a "real" barn again!  Eek!

I was at my first lesson barn I spent ages 15-21.  It felt like a huge family.  Their were lots of lessons and lots of things going on.  For most of my high school years I took two or three lessons a week.  It was an absolute blast and my confidence was off the charts.  Many times I would ride in the arena at the same time as another lesson and I would be made an example of (look how lovely Kate sits the trot/bends her elbows/etc).  When my gelding, Blue, started having soundness issues I found my "barn family" slipping away.  The barn had taken a sharp turn into natural horsemanship and now felt his soundness issues were my fault (not that all natural horsemanship followers feel this way).  The general consensus was that my years of jumping and riding had caused his pain.  The barn was put up for sale and I felt like such an outsider for the last six months as I investigated his lameness with little support (besides my awesome mom).  Blue and I were invited to the new facility after the sale but the barn owner had given up on proper horse care and he lost a lot of weight.

On we went to several other casual-type barns.  Nothing was terrible but it wasn't quite right either.  I missed being part of a barn family.  I had recently purchased the very green Apollo and I wanted to take some lessons again.  So off I went to lesson barn number two.

Sometime in 2009/2010 I found lesson barn number two.  Everyone seemed so friendly and there were regular lessons and holiday events.  I boarded there for a year.  The on-site instructor was not a good fit for me.  I drove home from almost every lesson in tears.  I pretty much felt like the worst rider ever and seriously considered selling Apollo.  I don't understand why I persisted taking lessons there.  I think I hoped that if I kept at it I would start to improve but it seemed every week the instructor had worse things to say.  Apollo and I are both kind of slow learners.  We need small pieces and one at a time, please!  Being constantly screamed at and called stupid does not exactly create a fun learning environment for either of us.  After I had lost almost all of my love for riding and Apollo became impossible to catch - I was done. I heard later on that she was removed from that barn and others have told me that her whole tactic is making riders feel bad about themselves so they take more lessons ($).  Lesson learned: I will never lessons from someone like that again. I am still sometimes affected by my time at this barn.  I have spent more recent years at very quiet facilities in my comfort zone (being alone, ha!) but I still feel very nervous to have anyone see me ride.  I have worked at a dressage barn for four years and no one has seen me ride because I feel too embarrassed.   I have found a few mobile instructors to give me the odd lesson but no one was quite right for the long term.

When I was shopping for a new barn it was the utmost of importance to improve my riding skills but tried to underline that my main focus is having fun (for me and Apollo!).  My fingers are majorly crossed that this new barn is a good fit.  I think have recovered from the "lesson sourness" I felt for years after I had left that barn.  Heck, I'm even riding in a clinic at the dressage barn in November! 

It's been really inspiring to me to read about other people in the horse community (all over the world) who are pursuing their dreams and goals.  It's been one of the things to give me the final push towards taking lessons again.  So thank you other bloggers! :)

To end on a happy note, here are some things I bought this week (yayayayay):

Spiffy new scarf from Greenhawk (I look like Powder here for some reason):

New-to-me cross country vest:




12 comments:

  1. Love the scarf! I appreciate your positive blog, but vents and whines are ok too. It happens. I haven't been at a lesson barn in a long time. I miss the family that it creates and community. But I also know what I want and what I'll settle for and my options are unfortunately severely limited. Oh well. Hoping for the best for you.

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    1. Thanks - I feel so spiffy in it!

      Sometimes a non-lesson barn fits the bill perfectly! I'm so rusty right now....I'm in need of lessons for sure haha

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  2. I can completely relate. When I was 7, I started taking Irish Dancing lessons. I LOVED it! But after 2 months or so, I was invited to enter a competition with the other girls that took lessons. These girls were a few years older than me and had been dancing since they could walk. We went to a coach in Toronto for a weekend to work on the routine. I just couldn't keep up. I was still trying to learn the basics and was having all these advanced moves thrown at me. At one point, the coach yelled at me "What is wrong with you? Are you stupid? This isn't that hard!" It just crushed me. I went home and told my mum I wasn't going back. Being called and made to feel stupid is NOT the way to teach someone! I've always regretted quitting cause I did love it, but I couldn't handle being made to feel like that. Luckily, my mum supported me. And even better, I started riding the following year and the passion I had for that soon made me forget that horrible dance coach.

    I hope the new barn works out for you! Looking forward to reading about your lessons! I really need to start taking lessons soon! Just gotta find a job first. I've heard the coach that comes out to our barn is really nice, so fingers crossed!

    PS - LOVE the scarf!

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    1. Oh wow, your experience was awful! At least I was a grown up (although I still cried like a baby in my car) - you were just 7...that's not cool.

      I love my new scarf too, I'm wearing it right now! :)

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  3. Love the scarf!
    So sorry to read that your last lesson barn was so awful - honestly people, what was that trainer thinking!
    Hopefully the new barn will be a good mesh of good people and a nice trainer.
    Best of luck at the dressage clinic, everything seems to be falling into place, sometimes we just need that time away from a certain environment to find ourselves and start again ☺

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    1. Thank you!
      I'm hoping the new barn is a good fit, time will tell I guess :)

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  4. It is so, so important to find the right fit. I really hope you like the new barn, and the trainer!

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    1. Thank you! Me too. My gut told me to go for it!

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  5. i've got my fingers crossed for you!! taking the leap with a new barn is definitely scary. there are so many not-nice trainers out there (the ones you described are awful)... it's hard to be too hopeful. i also understand the nerves about riding in front of people. but hopefully those nervous feelings will melt away quickly once you start getting down to the real work :)

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    1. I've heard a lot of good things about my new instructor. I think I'm tougher now to put my foot down if something isn't right for me and my horse. Fingers crossed! :)

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  6. Good luck! Sounds like a fun new adventure!

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