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Last night, I had my first lesson in… a while. Anyone else sick of hearing me say this? I AM sick of hearing ME say this.

I had originally wanted to take a jumping lesson, but the flooded status of KY in general, ridiculous winds, the threat of MORE rain, and a dropping temperature meant that I decided on a Dressage lesson instead.

The barn was oddly quiet last night with just me and NT around that evening, so our lesson was a bit more casual than usual with lots of chatting and catching up on the state of May. (Future injections, 2019 plans, etc). I’ll probably write about the lesson tomorrow, but suffice to say, we have both seen a lot of progress thanks to her help this past fall and the work my half leaser has been putting in.

As with most eventers at this time of year, I am looking at the 2019 competition season. My grand goals are, and have been, to get back to a recognized horse trial at Beginner Novice. Last year was a “I am hope we get back into the show ring.” This year is a “I want to do this.”

So I started looking back. What made May and I capable of moving form starter to BN in 2016? How did we get to the point where we were schooling Novice sized SJ course with relative ease that summer?

I remember this being fun.

It wasn’t because I was younger (26 – 29 is not a huge jump… unlike 22 – 25 which seems MASSIVE). It wasn’t because I had access to a better trainer. (There are some serious similarities between NJ trainer and NT.) It wasn’t because May was more educated.

It was because I was in a regular program… and I haven’t been in one since.

Late 2016, we moved from NJ to KY just as show season was winding down and trainers in KY were looking towards Aiken and Ocala rather than their own backyards. Money was tight, and I let lessons fall into the category of “nice to have.”

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^This feels like a lifetime ago…

Then in 2017, I had committed to lessons with my trainer at the time, but due to a job that had me traveling and her own schedule, we would average maybe 2 lessons a month… at best. Money was still tight, I got married in mid-summer, and the lack of competition goals meant that again, lessons fells to the back burner.

Our First Lesson Together.

2018… I moved barns in mid competition season, but I still made it out to a couple of shows to get our feet wet again. (Literally and figuratively). Lessons started up again, and I was surprised at how much I felt like a fish out of water. My whole riding career had been focused on weekly lessons (and catch riding). Here I was, on my own horse, and feeling odd about lessons.

Then this year… I find myself really prioritizing lessons. So, for the first time since Spring of 2016, I have put myself into the weekly lesson rotation schedule. Fingers crossed that this has really been the missing link in my confidence lately!

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So I really want to know – Are you a “weekly lessoner” or more of a “when I need them” or even a “don’t need no trainer” type of rider?

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  1. the_everything_pony

    I hope the weekly lessons work well for you! I’m sure they will 🙂 I bet as much as May will protest, she’ll end up liking that as well 😉

    1. Emily

      Thank you! She’s made great strides with my half leaser taking weekly lessons. I am sure she’ll be even better with us both in a regular program!

  2. Emma

    aw yay! i’m glad to read you’re getting more serious about lessons. they’re not the right fit for every circumstance or situation or time of life or whatever, but for riders who have competition goals or who want to move up, lessons are so important. even every single serious pro i know still takes lessons and has coaches. hell, boyd martin literally just posted a video of philip dutton schooling boyd’s horses xc haha!

    1. Emily

      well if BOYD is doing it 😉

      Things have felt stagnant for a while now, but I am in a better position with a great pro. So I am super excited to get back at it!

  3. Amanda C

    I would LOVE to have weekly lessons. We’ve been getting a lot more than usual lately and it’s been really nice to just have some regular feedback and constantly feel like you’re building on something, rather than basically starting over at square 1 every time. Definitely has a big impact on confidence, I think!

    1. Emily

      I am pretty excited. It really has been a while since I have been in the position to make this possible!

  4. hellomylivia

    I spent this winter taking lessons VERY sporadically between the wedding, holidays, weather, etc. I’ve always been a weekly lesson person and honestly it’s kinda crazy how much I’ve lost just in a few months of being out of that schedule. Not just not progressing, but big step back in abilities for both of us. I do think it depends a lot on finding the right coach, but for me I find it really hard to maintain, let alone move up without very regular attention!

    1. Emily

      agreed! I look back at things that used to be “easy”, and I am painfully aware of how they are now getting “hard”. Part of it is the accountability of seeing a pro regularly (like brushing your teeth when you know you have to visit the dentist), but part of it is just getting that feedback every week.

  5. nadsnovik

    I am in a weekly lesson program, which is a must for June and I, but was a Godsend even when I was riding Georgie. As good and easy as she was, we made major progress and I don’t think that would have happened without weekly lessons. I think eyes on the ground are so important, someone to help us keep moving forward and doing it correctly. I’ll skip clinics and other things, but weekly lessons have been really important to me.

    1. Emily

      Yeah. I think that is this year’s focus. Lesson. A $$$ clinic around here would be great…. but a regular schedule of lessons is more what we need at the moment.

  6. Stacie Seidman

    When I moved my horses home, it got really hard to have regular lessons. With Rio, that was ok because he’s perfect and gave me a ton of confidence. Jumping on our own and meeting trainers at shows worked out great. But with Jamp it really didn’t work to not lesson. And then he got hurt. And then I was afraid of the teeniest jumps. So getting back to weekly lessons was HUGE for my confidence. The trainer I’m riding with right now isn’t really the best or anything, but just having someone tell me what jumps to jump in what order, and being there “just in case” has helped tremendously. I was really surprised at how quickly I was back to jumping 3′ courses and feeling good about it. I’m kind of back at square one unfortunately, without a horse to jump right now. But yeah, to answer your question, weekly lessons are definitely where it’s at if it’s possible to get them in!

    1. Emily

      blah yeah. I have developed this fun hesitation about oxers… that makes no sense. Big coops on XC? no problem. A SJ oxer at 2’3″? Terrifying…. Regular lessons and someone just making me do it and put “positive repetitions” in my confidence bank would be a huge help.

      1. martidoll123

        oxers scare the bejesus out of me too. WHY?

        1. Emily

          probably due to my love of galloping up to a spot that doesnt exist and the sounds May makes as she hefts us over it anyway.

  7. martidoll123

    So glad you have a plan in place. And you were so lucky to get your leasor to help keep May fit!! Smart you are SO SMART (and i know it:))! Ha

    of course you just made it that every tuesday till spring will be cold or icy as f 🙂 HA murphy’s law!

  8. fishwithfeet

    I wish I could lesson on a regular basis. I know Gwyn and I would benefit from it. But right now I can’t prioritize it in the budget until some other things calm down (which there is hope on the horizon for!) Until that point, I don’t even plan for a significant show season because I know we’re not adequately prepared and instead focus on smaller, schooling shows or things like endurance rides where technicality and moving up aren’t dependent on lessoning.

    1. Emily

      Yup! That’s where I have been the past 3 (!!!) years. It’s tough but, like most things, our horses could care less if they get lessons or not… but they really care if they aren’t getting vet and farrier care regularly haha. So priorities tend to not be negotiable about those things.

    2. fishwithfeet

      I think the last time I took regular lessons was in 2011 and that was before kid #1 arrived. Since then kid #2 has made an appearance, and with moving horses home with a cross country move, even finding a trainer wasn’t a priority. Soooon. I’ve got a dressage trainer nearby I like and I just need to find someone for jumping or who will do gymnastics with us. Even once a month right now would be an improvement.

      1. Emily

        Wow! Props to you for riding at all! hahaha Fingers crossed you are able to fit in once a month lessons soon.

  9. We used to do 1-2 lessons a week before we moved. Having no lessons is really not helpful for me and we’re going to find a trainer come spring.

  10. Centered in the Saddle

    I’m definitely a weekly lesson person! I have always taken lessons, partly because I haven’t owned a horse as an adult and lessons have been a lease requirement, but also because that’s how I grew up and I love the opportunity to keep learning under a good trainer.

  11. KC Scott

    Yay for regular lessons! You guys are going to rock BN this year. I personally love weekly lessons- keeps me on track and accountable.

    1. Emily

      Thanks girl! I think it is going to be a huge help.

  12. Nicole Sharpe

    I often have to play my lesson situation by ear because for money reasons as well, but I do like to get in at least two lessons a month. You’re right that the most progress I ever made was when Murray and I were in 4-6 lessons a month (I did a lot of extra work for my trainer and earned a ton of lesson credit for a while!), and I’d love to get back to that place. That’s one of my major goals this year, to improve my financial situation so I can meet my savings goals AND take the lessons I need to become a more capable rider.

    1. Emily

      I wish I had time to work off lessons. It would make the financial blow so much easier to wrap my arms around. buuuut I do think the consistency is worth investing in.

  13. Liz

    I dream of having the time and budget for weekly lessons! I had them as a kid mostly as a way to get to DO the horse thing more often. Then I grew up and everyone quit teaching in my area! It’s feast or famine it seems. Fortunately, the time of feasting is coming back it seems. Hoping to schedule a lesson at least monthly!

    1. Emily

      Fingers crossed that you get to feast a bit. 😉

      I agree though, it has definitely been more “famine” than feast for me lastly.

  14. roamingridersite

    Exciting!! You are May are going to kick it this year. The biggest barrier for me is time. The absolute earliest I could be on my horse at a facility 30 minutes away is 645pm. Finding programs that teach that late is proving extremely difficult. Nobody around here does weekends as they are all off showing. Twice a month is my goal though I know more would be even better, but it is a stretch with work and the kiddo to even make it to that many. Some day.

    1. Emily

      oh yeah. One of the reasons I moved to my current trainer is the fact that she runs a later schedule to teach kids in the late afternoon and adults in the evenings. It’s not unusual for lessons to still be going on at 7:30PM or even later during the summer.

        1. Emily

          Come to KY. We have lots of mud here lmao

  15. HunkyHanoverian

    I absolutely think that weekly lessons will make you feel more confident!! I am so excited for you and yoru goal to show BN this year. Can’t wait to read regular lesson updates- you go girl!!

  16. L. Williams

    It can really be tough to be out of a program and I’m glad that you are prioritizing them to reach your goals! I’m very excited for you and May this season and can’t wait for all the show recaps 🙂

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