New but willing to learn

Hey, all:

I’ve been taking lessons since January at a great Morgan farm and fell in love with this breed the first time up. After a few scary rides as a kid and a long gap from when I started riding again  (I’m 34), I was just wondering what is a good timeframe for progression.  Should I be cantering by now?  I’m close on the lesson horses, but on the sweet horse that will be my lifelong mount, we’re basically at a walk, with a bit of trot when we’re in sync. He’s a young boy of 4 and has a great disposition, but when he jumps, as a young horse sometimes will, so do I.  He proved to me that he is not going to run off, though, so the fear  is going away, and now I feel we can get to the business at hand.  Learning each other. Any thoughts would be appreciated, and any stories of your first owning experiences, too.  Thanks to all and glad to see so many people love Morgans!

15 Responses to New but willing to learn

  1. denu220 says:

    Hi there,
    I think it’s wonderful that you’re taking riding lessons again! I believe the timeframe of progression is different for each rider/horse/instructor combination. Personally, I can’t say whether you should or should not be cantering by now. Once you’ve developed a relatively stable, flexible (giving) seat and can sit back on your horse, while maintaining some independence of upper and lower body movements, then I believe you’ll be ready to canter. Don’t rush it. Listen to your instructor and keep going for those lessons. Do you ride once a week? Twice? I think a consistent training schedule is really important, especially when you’re just getting started. Best of luck to you! It’s so exciting that you’re back in the saddle again! By the way, I didn’t start riding until I was 19 and now show a park Morgan and also foxhunt (and jump) during my off-season. You can do it!

  2. Black Eye Beth says:

    Hi Elise and welcome to the wonderful world of Morgans. If I do say so myself, I think you have come to the right place. The community here is a very supportive one and there are many people who can help answer your questions.

    If you have surfed around this blog some, you may have run into some of my posts about the trials and tribulations I have faced. I rode hunt seat for several years and then entered the Morgan world and switched to saddle seat. It was a huge change for me and my slow adult brain. I am still learning something everytime I ride.

    The best advice I can give you is to try to be kind to yourself. If you are one of those people who tend to beat up on yourself (as I do) try to surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Having people that believe in you makes a big difference when you aren’t so sure you believe in yourself.

    Also take your time. It is a slow and steady process and one everybody progresses through at various speeds. As in any sport (and this definitely IS a SPORT…I don’t care what non-riders say!!) there will be times when you plateau and feel you aren’t making progress. These will be followed with times when you really start to “get it” and will need to to take the next, possibly scary step. Either you or your instructor will know when that time has come and will adjust your lessons accordingly.

    As many viewers here know, I have a big issue with using a full bridle. It has taken me several years to start to become comfortable with it. But perseverence has paid off and I am starting to use it effectively…sometimes (now, if I could just get that “sit up straight and shoulders back part”…)

    So, good luck in your endeavors and I hope others give you some good advice and can answer your questions.

  3. colwilrin says:


    Throw the time frame out the window. Each horse and rider progress at different paces. Your trainer will know when the time is right for you two to take each step as a team. Throwing a green rider on a green horse is a tricky proposition. If it is done too quickly, or improperly, you are asking for trouble. The time put in pays off in the end. It is much more time consuming to “fix” issues that are created by rushing things than it is to proceed step-by-step.

    I have been riding for 36 years…been showing for 32 of them. A few years back, I was showing my 4 year old. To the outside spectator he looked push-button broke. In one class, he got confused while we were trying to turn around, he had been dropping his shoulder at the last 2 shows and I still hadn’t figured out how to prevent/correct it properly. While trying to correct him, I accidently locked him up in the bridle and he froze. I hadn’t learned the proper correction for the shoulder dropping. The horse looked to me for direction, and I locked him up. It took 6 MONTHS to get him to not try and freeze up when I went to turn him. The point? My trainer should have been showing him until he either learned to keep the shoulder up…or I learned how to correct it properly. We rushed it, and had a huge setback.

    It takes time and patience…but is well worth it. Just remember, it takes longer to fix a problem than to avoid one!

  4. Peppermintpatti says:

    Congratulations on your new horse and kudos for getting out there and trying something new. You are still so young and have plenty of time so don’t be in a big hurry to canter. Honey, I am 45 and although I love to ride at home and have been doing so for many years. The show ring still scares the heck out of me!

    I rode my whole childhood and quit when I was in college. After having my second child at 34, I decided I needed something for myself. Morgans are the best and you will so enjoy all of the new friends you will make.
    Have fun learning on the old tried and true lesson horse and let the trainer get the 4 yr old ready for you maybe next season. You are so smart to be with a trainer who will guide you and give you the support needed in any sport.

    Good luck and hope to see you in the show ring. If you see a 45 yr old lady in western pleasure that looks scared and confused, you will know it is me! Just know you are among friends.

  5. colwilrin says:

    Peppermint Pattie,

    You made me laugh out loud. I am in a barn chock full of 40, 50-somethings looking a bit “deer in the headlights” out in the Western Division, and was just picturing Elise trying to figure out just which one you are! I know at least 5 people who match that description!

    I swear the trainers must just shut their eyes and pray we don’t all end up in a heap in the middle!

    Do you ever wonder what all those trainers are saying to each other while we are in there trying to find the right lead?

  6. Peppermintpatti says:

    Ha, it sounds like I will be in good company next year if I brave the show ring. My horse is with Mary Carlton right now and this is his first year of showing (he is a five yr old). I have mostly shown classic or hunter and don’t know how in the heck I am going to get in there and do it all with one hand! It is hard enough for me with both.

    I bet the trainers have a great time getting these horses just perfect and then putting them in our hands. :>)

  7. colwilrin says:

    Mary does an awesome job and I’m sure I’ll see you at Gold Cup or some of the other shows we see her at.

  8. GoodLookinGal says:

    There are no better assets in this sport than patience and time. If your trainer thinks you shouldn’t be cantering, than you shouldn’t be.

    You have come to the right place to seek advice. You are dealing with some very good, very seasoned, veterans.

    If you trust your trainer, you should listen to your trainer. Don’t pay for professional advice only to NOT listen to it! If you don’t trust your trainer, than you should find a new one, because that doesn’t do either you or the trainer any good.

  9. GoodLookinGal says:

    I think some of the best advice so far comes from Colwilrin: “Throw the timeframe out the window!”

  10. evamorgan says:

    You have received some excellent advice here.
    Speaking as a trainer/instructor, no one wants you to progress more than your trainer.
    But it is better to make many baby steps forward than trying to make a giant leap and
    You are lucky to have a good lesson horse to learn on. Keep up with your lessons and enjoy the learning process. With each skill you learn you will get more confidence and make sure and steady progress.If riding were so simple and easy, anybody could just hop up there and do it.
    I liked Good Lookin Gal’s advice aboutlistening and trusting your trainer, not every owner and trainer are a good fit but if you don’t have faith in them you aren’t ever going to be happy. And frankly neither is the trainer.

  11. elise says:

    Thank you for the encouragement and humor! I’ll keep you posted and love this site!

  12. elise says:

    Thank you for the comments and I bet you don’t look that scared. I find I somtimes tend to be a squinter or a bit stone-faced. I probably look goofy, but I’m trying to smile when I cluck the horse along and I may be really concentrating, but there’s something about smiling and looking happy on the horse that turns it around for me. I think in my head I go, “we can do this”. My trainer is really good about getting the mechanics down, then working on your riding position, then your facial expression. Putting it all together is going to be challenging but fun.

  13. Kelly says:

    Hi…I’m probably going to stick my foot in mouth..but Ibelive you should be cantering on the lesson horse…If you can walk trot..steer…change diagonals …go 1234 sit 2 you are probably ready to canter. Be it in a controlled situation ..IE longe line or round pen..if your lesson horse won’t do that gig you are better to get to a horse that will allow you to learn. Generally most adults don’t have that difficult a time with the canter once you actually do it. Really the only way that you learn to canter is by cantering:)

  14. GoodLookinGal says:

    I would never presume to give someone advice on how quickly they should be progressing through a program without asking some very specific questions first. How physically in-shape are you? How are you built? Are you using a reputable trainer? How naturally brave are you? Balanced? Are you easily frightened by speed on the horse? How often do you take lessons? If you are taking weekly lessons and have been riding since January, that is roughly 24-26 rides, and once a week doesn’t always produce great muscle strength. If you are not a very naturally brave person, then you likely shouldn’t be cantering yet. This particular discussion is one that should be happening with you and your trainer. Some of how fast you can progress has to do with your body’s natural suppleness and balance. You should be very confident at a fast trot, having no real balance or control issues and very strong at the sitting trot as well. If you can’t work on a lunge line at a trot without your reins, then you aren’t ready to canter. Don’t push yourself to a goal that the professional you are working with isn’t pushing you towards as well. You are asking for trouble.

  15. elise says:

    Thanks for the insight, and I spoke with my trainer and she said I should be ready to give it a go in a couple more lessons. I rode a different lesson horse yesterday who is also a show horse and quite quick, so if we had changed speed a bit, I probably would have been cantering on her. I also am getting better with lead changes as well. I am small, not quite five feet, and have pretty short span from knee to ankle, (no cankles, though, I’m in pretty good shape), so I really have to think about my heals being down and in the right position all the time. I love what I do, but sometimes I wish I could take a whole month off of work and just ride every day. I rode about once a week before, but now that my new friend has come into my life, I’ve started riding twice a week so I can be a good rider and owner for him. That was another thing, too. Just learning to be around horses again. When you’re a kid, so much just comes to you, and the older you get, it requires more work and attention. But that’s what makes it great fun.


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