I just had my first horseback riding lesson!

And man, was it a humbling experience. It’s hard going back to a sport you were once quite skilled in and having to have the equivalent of training wheels put on. I went last night. This was a birthday present from my hubby–BEST GIFT EVER! (Well, for me!)

I’m soooooo excited to be back in the saddle again. It was quite humbling, as it has been more than 10 years since I rode regularly. I’ve taken trail rides here and there, but actually focusing on riding skill…eek! Plus, I’m now taking lessons in Western (I always rode English huntseat–jumping, basically), and you’d never know just how much can be different between the two disciplines. The way you sit in the saddle is near opposite, and tacking up is a bit more complicated. Even how you hold the reins and steer–and how you use your legs–is very much a different approach. So, not only am I in the saddle for the first in many years, but the way I was taught has to be re-taught. (I chose to learn Western for two reasons–one, it’s a discipline I should know to round out my knowledge, and two, if I ever do own a horse for pleasure, I would ride Western. Trail rides in English are pretty silly.)

I rode a 24-year-old mare named Beauty, and my lesson included retrieving the horse, brushing her down and picking her hooves, and tacking her up. Considering I used to work at a stable getting lesson horses ready, this was a bit humbling too–I had to relearn quite a bit. Then, once I was finally in the saddle, the mare had a long line on her–that’s basically a long leash that attaches to the bridle and was held by my instructor (and the equivalent of training wheels). It wasn’t entirely necessary, but considering this was my first lesson with her, and first in the discipline, and first in over a decade, I understood. All I did was walk and trot, but it was so hard! Because I was taught to sit with my butt tucked out from under me (so I was perched on my pubic bone), and because Western dictates the complete opposite, a lot of my lesson was just focusing on sitting correctly (and it’s necessary, too, otherwise you just smack delicate parts against the saddle!). For an old gal, the mare was very sensitive to my legs, and as an older horse does, she was teaching me rather than I was guiding her.

It was mostly a lesson in balance and positioning, as well as developing a new feel for the horse’s mouth/holding the reins.

But…I loved it! My instructor was awesome and we got along swimmingly. We chatted horses for a while after, and she let me go visit her new pride and joy–a one-week-old foal. I even got to go into the stall with mom and baby and get greeted by the very friendly little girl.

Heaven, I tell you. Heaven. I can’t wait to go back!
(and I just had to share!)

Wow - sounds like my riding lessons… At home I was one of the better riders at my barn, riding hunter-style English, training the green ponies. Now I’m at college and am taking lessons from combined training/dressage people, and I’m like a beginner all over again. I still can’t tack up the horse correctly every time (damn short girth and funky saddles!), and I can’t even keep a horse cantering 'cause the whole “sit on your butt, don’t perch” thing is just hard! But it’s fun - and probably very useful - to be learning something new. Now if only I could get out there more than once in a while…

<B>Ruffian</b> - I stopped lessons about 13 years ago, when I bought my first horse. I could afford the horse or training (dressage), but not both. My current horse is a 6-year old TB gelding I’ve had since a yearling. I trained him myself, and I’m pleased with him, but I still sometimes wish I was taking lessons and didn’t have a horse - it would be cheaper. Or maybe not. 15 years ago I was paying $25 for a 1/2 hour lesson. Lord knows what it would cost now. Today was a new experience for Irish - I took my german shepherd, doberman and airedale (who happens to be named Ruffian, too). The dogs don’t usually bother horses, but they were worried to see me up there and kept circling Irish. He was pretty nervous about them, but he was okay. I trailride in my dressage saddle - it’s my most comfortable saddle.


25$ for a half hour?!?!?! Where on earth were you getting you lessons? Or was this private, with a special instructor, at a high level of riding skill? Because I paid 20$ an hour to ride with my sister and cousin (semi-private) with an instructor who, IIRC was ranked Level 3 Instructor through the FEQ (Federation Equestre du Quebec). I’m hoping to be able to afford lessons at least once every two weeks, hopefully in that price range. But, as I said, semi-private or even group is good enough for me at this point.

mnemosyne, my lessons are $25 for 45 minutes. They are private, one-on-one lessons. As far as the level of skill for the instructor…well, that I don’t know. I can tell you that by the amount of instruction, and how hard she’s working me, that she is much more skilled than any of my previous teachers.

Oh…I also need to pay an additional $50 a month to rent a horse since I don’t own. (So…weekly lessons are more like $37.) But, considering how much better conditioned these rental horses are than the previous beat-up dinosaurs I used to ride, I don’t mind. The mare I ride may be 24, but excepting her teeth (and a few gray hairs), she doesn’t look it.