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Feeling Frustrated

A big shout out to my Hubby who listened to my tirade Friday afternoon and talked me off the ledge.

You know what really gets me? Right before the lesson started I was feeling so so so proud of H’Appy. He was being such a big boy and was really looking to me for guidance which is a brand new thing for him. I’ve been working really hard on the ground to instill that and when we arrived at a brand new place it all came out and I couldn’t have been happier.

Don’t worry buddy. I’m mildly terrified too

To go from that to…I don’t even know what best describes it….defeated, angry, frustrated….is a real shame because guys he was such a Big Boy to begin with.

I’m not even sure what all to go into. I had sent a text to C Thursday after work confirming our lesson for 130 the next day. She asked if we could move it up to 11 and that was fine by me. We texted a while back and forth and then finished it with “see you tomorrow”. A prior text even said the date: March 15th.

I arrived at 1015 to have plenty of time to get my bearings and walk him around and work on ground stuff if needed. I sent her a text when I got there asking which arena we would be using. She asked why I was there because we had agreed on Saturday. I quickly looked back at all my texts and nope. Clear as day said Friday the 15th. She wasn’t around and said she would be late and also had to do office stuff before we could begin. What? Apparently this isn’t uncommon as the barn staff shrugged and said that’s just her.

Someone was randomly walking a pig on a leash. Of course I sent this to Michelle for Remus! H’Appy didn’t care at all

I took the time to walk him around the grounds and he was amazing. He never called out. He never pulled or balked. He walked calmly beside me sniffing all the arenas and footing. I even took him into the indoor to walk around as well.

Eventually I got on around 1045 to warm up. He was a bit amped and distracted and it took a few walk halt transitions to reinstall the breaks but after only 5 minutes he was relaxed and swinging freely. I even trotted and while the first few transitions saw a lot of head flinging sass he quickly got to work no fuss.

The place is gorgeous with stunning views in every direction. There is a dedicated grass dressage court as well

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. It was close to 1130 before she showed up and by that point he was done even though I had even gotten off and chilled for a solid 15 minutes.

We spoke briefly and then got to work and that’s when things went downhill.

The covered arena was magical. He was a bit weirded out that he could sorta see over the half ways but not fully

I do wonder if he recalls his old lesson horse days because I swear as soon as someone enters the arena and stands to give directions he immediately tenses and gets pissy. He is always worse during a lesson than when I’m alone. I’d blame me but by the time we got started I was way past being nervous and into being annoyed and rather bored. There was no tension left in me at all.

So anyway we got started and it wasn’t pretty but he settled and we did a nice figure 8 around two jumps. She then added two ground poles on one diagonal on a curve and two on the other half of the 8 straight and had us working over those too. He had moments of tension and moments of glory and overall it was actually going pretty good work wise and I was enjoying the exercise. Some things she told me were in direct opposition to what I had been told by J in the past (J wanted the outside rein steady around the circle and to soften the inside a lot whereas C told me to loosen the outside and hold the inside) but I was being open minded and willing to learn.

He was checking in with me a lot to make sure he was ok and after a simple pay and telling him he was a good boy he would get back to it

From there we moved to four trot poles straight down the short side in the middle of a circle of jumps and he must have recalled the ride earlier in the week because he was good through that exercise too.

We finished with some pretty craptastic canter work to call it a day.

And while all that sounds really great, the nitty gritty of it was anything but. You see, I was trying my best to do everything she was telling me to do yet every time I would do it I would get yelled at.

My birthday is next month. Think I could ask for one of these?

Example:

She told me that I let him hang on my hands too much. I needed to lower them (yes I very much do need to stop raising them to the ceiling) and if he started leaning I was to throw the contact away and let him deal.

Ok.

We went around the circle and he started pulling hard and trying to take over. I softened and threw away the contact to let him deal.

And then I got yelled at because I wasn’t using a very strong half halt and I was like but you told me not to and she said I needed to.

Ok.

The outdoor jump ring was nice too and with lights

Another example.

I was going through the straight four trot poles and then turned right. I went around the jumps and did it again. I turned right again. She told me that I was being too repetitive and needed to switch it up.

Ok.

Next time I turned left.

She criticized me telling me I’m too haphazard and have no plan and that I do things too different each time. I was always going right so why change and go left all of a sudden?

Um…because you told me to?

The barn entrance off the jump arena. Such a gorgeous place

And it kept going like that. I’d try to do exactly what she said, sometimes a lot more effectively than others, and then she’d yell at me for doing it. It was all very frustrating.

The other thing that really confused me was right at the start. She got on me and told me I’m too annoying talking to him all the time. I need to be quiet. Now J always told me I was too quiet and to talk to Gem more and H’Appy thrives on near constant praise. I told her that but she said I basically needed to shut up.

And the cross country filed across the drive

Being open minded, I did. Each time he would do something super well I’d bite my tongue and watch as he grew anxious. He did the right thing but there was no reward and when I’d ask again he got angry until by the end he was flipping me the bird.

But if I tried to praise, I got yelled at.

I’ve been mostly good all year. Can’t I please have one?

At the very end she told me he was too fat (he is but he is losing it steadily) and needed to be in work 7 days a week and oh by the way she has a spot open for full training if I wanted to leave him and begin right away.

Sigh.

He almost got left behind when he adamantly refused to load back up and it started to absolutely down pour. It took over a half and hour and I was so embarrassed.

No thanks.

36 thoughts on “Feeling Frustrated”

    1. I could have stopped at the end of the warm up and called it a very successful outing. He hadn’t been off property since September I believe and he was calm and cool and looking to me for leadership. It was a win right there.

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  1. Hmm. Yeah I feel you. I think you’re right with him thinking back to his lesson days. I also think the waiting really had something to do with it too. I ride and have ridden plenty of horses that are “dead-heads” on the outside, but are actually quite sensitive rides (i.e. my two red mares). And they get super antsy and frustrated when they have to wait like that. They also respond so well to verbal praise, just like H’Appy. It actually sounds like he was really good, really trying through that lesson, and everything that was muddled or confusing was due to the instructor. And when the praise that he’d come to rely on was rescinded, it was similar to his lesson days and even recently, where you learned that he gets very mad if he can’t find the right answer. And through your description, it really feels like he was trying to find the right answer, wasn’t getting it and then got extremely upset. (Not that that’s your fault by any means)

    Because Amber and Whisper respond so well to verbal reassurance, when I’ve shown them in pleasure classes and dressage – and you’re not supposed to talk to your horse AT ALL when you’re showing – I praise them through my teeth and under my breath so at least the judges don’t hear. But for a lesson? Yeah, I’ve had instructors like that and never again. I really feel you, and feel for you, because it absolutely sucks when you have a lesson like that. Hopefully your next ride on H’Appy is a lot more chill and happy ❤

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    1. He did great and while he threw down some impressive tantrums he always came back and tried really hard the next time. If I rode like that at home I would have been on cloud 9 after I was done so I’m still taking it as a net positive experience. I’m feeling more confident that I know what he needs to succeed and what plain won’t work. I’m sure she is a wonderful trainer for others but we were not a very good match

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    1. The partnership is a work in progress but I’m seeing progress!! He is a bit stubborn a and pig headed but lessons seem to stick really well with him. I’m thinking by fall we will be ready to really roll

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  2. What Jenni said. The good thing? You don’t have to go back there. And? He looked to you for leadership. Would he have done that 6 months ago? Or even 3 months ago? Probably not. So take that piece of success and throw away the rest because honestly it sucks buck it mostly sucks because the entire lesson was set up for failure.

    We all have people we don’t mesh with and it’s fine. I don’t take to being yelled at either. Some people do. Not me. So move on. You’ll find somewhere else for a lesson. It’s completely OK. But now you know what you DON’T do well with, right?

    Last thing, I find nothing wrong with talking to your horse. I do it all the time. Not only do I find that it helps some horses I ride, it keeps me relaxed and it keeps me breathing. People who don’t like it can get over it. I once heard someone say talking to your horse would cause your horse to spook. WTF? If talking could cause a horse to spook, we have serious problems.

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    1. Nope. He would have freaked out 3 months ago. I was very proud of him through it all. I wasn’t even upset with his tantrums because he deserved to feel flustered with the long wait and the lack of praise.

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      1. While it’s easier to sit here and coach, once I was getting yelled at for everything else, I’d probably have started praising too. Of course, I’m also the one who sometimes (quite often) half cries, half praises, then hug ranger with a “thanks for saving my butt and not dumping me on the ground” quite regularly…

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  3. Despite the fact the instructor clearly isn’t going to work out for you (OMG I couldn’t handle someone like that either), the bright side is how well the ride went anyway! That is definitely a win!

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  4. My trainer always tells me to give more verbal praise and a good pat, so that you can always give at least one. Horses need rewards. Maybe the erratic driving comment related to how you were going between the jumps? I know i pick bad lines when circling chronically. Sorry the trainer didnt mesh, did she at least apologize for the time screw up??

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    1. She sorta did. I wish she had been on time to see how he would have been without the hour long warm up.

      She said I repeated myself too much and needed to alternate directions on my turns but then when I did she said I needed to go the same direction so I got very confused

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  5. I don’t have to add my two cents here- looks like everyone already has… What an irritating person!!! Not going back to her, I hope??!! I wish you were around here, I would send you to a couple of people I know.

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  6. Wow. That sounds horrible. It sounds like a lot of talking at you and very little talking with you. Also, clearly she only knows one way to do anything, which is just so not helpful at all.
    I’m sorry you had a craptastic lesson. But it sounds like H’Appy wanted to stay for full training?? Lol

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    1. That’s a very good way to put it. She talked at me the entire time and I really prefer to have a conversation about things. Apparently H’Appy loved the idea of living there. Once it stopped the sudden violent downpour he hopped right on. He was so very sweaty the rain must have felt good on him. A bonus was that I didn’t have to hose him when I got home

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    1. Having more time to chew it over it really boils down to bad communication or a mismatch in learning styles. I will do whatever I’m told (within safety margins) so if you say “drop all contact when he pulls on you” I will very definitely drop all contact. So don’t then yell at me for dropping all contact and not using a strong half halt because I don’t know how to do both those things at once. Maybe she was expecting me to know more than I do?

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  7. Liz wins for the best comment on this horrible instructor. She sounds like one of those that kills your self-confidence so that you put them in full training and are super dependent. I love that kept your cool with h’Appy and how good he was. You took that way better than I would have!

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    1. I’m not really sure where she was coming from. She just sat on a chair in the middle and yelled at me the entire time. When I tried to explain what I was doing and feeling she basically told me to shut up and ride. It was all so confusing

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  8. ugh we already talked, but still wanted to say i’m so disappointed this didn’t work out better. i was so hopeful! you were so hopeful!! everyone was so so hopeful! but ugh, finding the right fit for training is just so freakin hard. i remember when i moved back to baltimore after college and tried to get back into regular lessons (before i even had a horse!) and was shocked at how much trouble i had finding something that worked for me. same story a few years later when i was looking for a dressage coach. ugh. it’s worth it tho – you’ll find something that will work!!!

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    1. There are more trainers out there. I’m sure her style works well for others but for me it felt degrading and as if I couldn’t do anything correctly. Mind, I made a lot of mistakes there was just a better way to go about the correction

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  9. Lessons like this are SO demoralising. Mine happened literally a year ago to the day with a local clinician who had the exact same MO.

    He told me to let the horse approach the jump because he was young and they were small enough that he would need to learn to think for himself but then berated me for not doing more and not having enough “gears” on my 4 year olds canter.

    Everything I did was wrong, wrong, wrong and I left wanting to cry (when I had never been anything less than ecstatic with my horse and how he behaved).

    What changed things for me was having another clinic a week later with someone who was absolutely MARVELLOUS! If I hadn’t already booked into it prior to the disaster clinic I probably wouldn’t feel like doing that again anytime soon but it was already organised and it really proved just how much the other guy didn’t get me or my horse.

    I hope you can find someone to work with you and H’Appy because when I read that post I honestly think you both did amazingly. You have come SO far so QUICKLY!! It’s easy to let the crappy emotions of the lesson bite into that but don’t be conned into being told your horse just took a really wonderful first step.

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  10. How frustrating! But so much positive to take away from the outing (not the lesson!). well done for putting yourself out there and hopefully next time will be a much better experience.

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  11. I’m really sorry you had such a terrible experience. You probably already figured it out, but definitely do not give her any more of your money.

    It’s really shocking and irritating to me that for some reason in the horse world, someone you are a PAYING CLIENT OF feels they have the right to be rude to you and your horse and cavalier with your time. You are HIRING them for a service. If they can’t provide that service in a forthright and timely way they can (pardon my french here) absolutely fuck right off.

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    1. It true. I’d have given her more leeway had I not taken the time to confirm the day before. How could you screw that up? I took off work for the lesson and she was lucky I could stand around waiting for an hour and didn’t have somewhere else I needed to be.

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