I have been riding dressage on and off for almost 30 years. Never progressed a lot due to being inbetween horses at times and raising my kids.

I got back in seriously 3 years ago. I found a good trainer and was doing ok until my new horse dumped me last summer. I thought I had bounced back but after having to take the whole winter off due to finances I slowly started getting back into riding. Then one thing after another this year. Illness, finances, getting dumped AGAIN, fear, and a trainer whose snarkiness is getting harder and harder to ignore.
After my last show which was a total disaster I have lost all confidence in my riding, my trainer and my horse. I have a wonderful horse, but the last tumble made it harder for me to come back mentally. And my trainer, who is quite hard nosed, doesn't help by nitpicking and screeching when I am not doing things the absolute way she demands they be.
So, I am about ready to chuck it all. The horse, the discipline, everything.
This isn't fun anymore. It is stressful, costly and I feel beaten down all the time.

Has anyone been in or is in this scenario? Did you hang in there, give yourself time to think it all over or did you just scrap the whole dressage thing and change disciplines to something you knew you would enjoy more?

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Maybe It's time to forget the discipline and the "training" and just do whatever it is that drew you to horses in the first place for a little while. Maybe a good hack in the woods or a trail ride would be a good change of pace and it sounds like you need a break from your current routine.

If the trainer or coach is SNARKY - talk to him/her about it and about your feelings of being "beaten down". Your trainer may feel like they are giving you what you need and want without realising how you feel about it.
If that doesn't work, I say dump him/her and find someone who you really connect with. You don't need to put up with a poor attitude.

Competition shouldnt be a drag, it should be exhilarating, blood pumping fun!!! :) FUN - remember Fun? It's still out there waiting for you. Dressage can be different things to different people so set your own goals and make sure that you express these goals with your coach and your support team (friends and family) as they can help you achieve those goals!

Good Luck Kathi! You'll figure it out. :)
Hi Kathi!

This is an unfortunate scenario but one to which most horse people can relate, I'm sure. I know I've been there ... and done that! I took four years off from horses a few years ago under similar circumstances thinking that was the answer to my problems at the time, only to be left miserable and rudderless. I ended up returning when it became all too evident that horses were as important to my mental, spiritual and physical health as the air I breathed. Fourteen years later I am having the best time of my life with my dream-come-true horse. If I'd stayed away from it all, this would not have happened.

But ... enough about me.

Let's look at it this way. When we're training a horse and things don't go well in a particular exercise, what do we do? We take a step back, re-evaluate the exercise and do something else until our confidence/our horse's confidence shows up again. What I would suggest is that you shift your focus for a while. Let showing go; let your insensitive and unhelpful coach go (find someone else who can help you with your confidence issues and teach you creatively) and perhaps take some time to play with your horse on the ground. Ride in a hunter saddle for a while and play; get back to basics -- resist the need to take it all so seriously. Exploring your passion is meant to be fun!!!

We all learn from the school of hard knocks sometimes. I have had my share of riding disasters that left me wondering what the heck I was doing in such a sport. But it's the horses I am passionate about, and I want to expand my experiences and joy with them however I can. I feel that if you could just step back for a moment and examine what's really important to you, you'll find your answer.

You deserve to be happy, and if horses are your passion, try to find a door that opens to you and your horse having fun again. This will help to build confidence in both of you and perhaps offer a new lease in your dressage life.

Good luck with it! I'm rootin' fer ya!


Dorothy :-)
well said Dorothy!!! :)
I agree with Dorothy too! Kathi, just find YOUR way back to horses and have fun for a bit. Don't worry too much about showing, intense dressage lessons etc... just have fun. It could be doing groundwork, hacking, lessons of a different sort (just for a bit), or less stressful dressage lessons with a different trainer... the important thing is to be safe and have fun. Once you start to enjoy horses again, the confidence will follow. Then you can think about things like showing.

I have experienced a trainer (or a few) like yours. "Firm" trainers work for some people, but I do not learn that way (nor can I take any enjoyment from it). I was a working student for an aggressive trainer who literally had me in tears at times... she would yell at and berate her students, and she had me convinced that I should not get on a horse. I was confident on horses until I met her... and after a few lessons I found any excuse not to ride. In the end, my confidence was shattered and I gave up horses altogether. Like Dorothy, I felt depressed and lost... something was missing. I started to long for horses, and so mustered up the courage to give a few lessons a try. I knew that I did love dressage, and so I searched for a good coach, and eventually found a few. The support of good horse-people (and good horses) allowed me to once again find the joy in horses (and dressage). If you can find a trainer who is more compatible with you , your horse, and your goals.... and find some good horsey friends with whom to hack, I bet horses will start to be fun again. ;)

Good luck!
I can so relate to how you feel. It is a sad situation to be in and extremely frustrating.

I can only tell you what I did that helped me. What worked for me doesn't necessarily mean it will work for everyone else.

First off - I changed trainers! I am not one to hop from trainer to trainer. In fact I have only had 4 trainers in the past 20 years. The first great trainer - well no choice there, I moved from Texas to Utah. The 2nd trainer was egotistical and young and was only concerned about winning in the show ring and how that would show the world what a great hunter/jumper trainer she was. She screwed up my mare so bad by pushing and pushing and pushing her to the point where my mare became dangerous and nobody wanted to ride her. She dumped me and broke more bones in my body than you can imagine. I fired her and hired a dressage trainer. We went back to step one of training and when I say all the way back to step one, that is what we did with her. Taught her the basics of walking, trotting, and then cantering. I was so scared of her that I didn't canter her for two years as that was when she would go ballistic and launch me into the air. It took 3 years of patience for her to gain her confidence in herself and for me to trust her. I am talking of 3 years of full time training (very expensive). Most people told me to send her to slaughter until they saw the transformation in her and myself and then they understood why I stood by my mare and didn't blame her but more so myself for being such an amateur to not realize how much the previous trainer was screwing her up mentally.

All was well and then my mare died. I had the same trainer #3 start my filly last year. However, I have figured out after years that there seems to come a time when a trainer and a client become too much of friends in a sense, the client isn't happy with the training and/or trainer but doesn't speak up because after all the trainer is the professional and we are just amateurs and what the heck do we know? Well we tend to know our horses better than the trainers! We need to follow our gut feeling more. Trainer #3 started yelling at me during lessons, made me feel like I was stupid, etc. I am sure you know the feeling. My confidence in my riding has never been really high to begin with and she just yanked all of my confidence away. I started feeling like I was the worst rider when in fact I am a good rider, not the best rider and certainly there are many riders much younger than me that sit those horses absolutely perfect. I may not have the best posture and look like a ballerina on a horse, but what I do have is a gut feeling and I ride by the seats of my pants. In other words, I can tell when I am doing something wrong, I don't need someone to scream at me. I need them to give me a minute or two to figure it out and if I can't resolve the situation, let me stop my horse for a moment and let's have a discussion to help me understand. Don't have me ride for 40 minutes in a circle to get the perfect horse and perfect rider picture when I am so freaking exhausted that I can't even think straight!

Ok, so trainer #4 is the one I currently have. Because of her I am no longer scared to jump, I am not scared of my green broke mare, I am not scared to make mistakes because I know she won't yell at me. She will praise me when I do things right. She gives me time to try to figure it out on my own - after all she can't be with me every single time I ride my horse so I have to be able to think things through.

So now you are frightened about getting dumped again - that is NORMAL! It is ok. Get a trainer that understands how you feel and won't push you beyond your current level of confidence. You have to build that confidence back up. It took me 2 years to build mine back up after a really vicious fall and broken bones. You have to build that trust back with your horse. You have to be able to get to the point where you trust your horse won't dump you. Think back as to why he did this - avoid that same type of situation until you are mentally prepared to deal with it. Don't show! Not until you absolutely want to show. Don't let any trainer push you into showing! It is a disaster waiting to happen. When you do go back to showing, do schooling shows - they are low key - not like A-rated shows, etc. Everyone messes up at schooling shows, that is why they have them.

I know there are many barns where you have to use specific trainers that work out of those barns and you don't get a choice. Move your horse if you have to in order to get another trainer if you feel like you are no longer a team reaching for the same goals.

I never obligated myself to any trainer until I had spent at least 1 full day with them watching them give lessons to people of all riding capabilities. If I didn't like the way they treated the horses or if I felt we could not mesh as a trainer/client then it was no great loss, I never committed to them.

I just realised how long my post is - sorry but I am passionate about horses and sometimes I tend to go into too much detail.
Hi Kathie , I do sympathize with you. Unfortunately, this is a common problem, some coaches just don't get it. Not all the pupils that come to a coach will have the same intense need for success . As a coach we need to be able to tailor the lessons around the pupil , not the other way round. The best thing you can do is just not go to this coach anymore, which I think you have already done, and go and find the reason you ride horses in the first place. Confidence is a fragile thing, it's like a house of cards, hard to put together and easy to blow away. The best way to find a coach that will meet your needs is to ask around, word of mouth is the best way to find someone that "fits". The advice you are getting from everone here is great advice, as per usual on Barnmice. Cheers Geoffrey
I can't really add anything much to the very sensible and caring comments from everyone else, except to say that I can totally relate to the 'not fun' thing and I know how stressful that can be. I have spent several years of things being 'not fun' with my horse, whilst well-meaning horse people have pointed out my errors in various snarky (I love that word) ways!! Take it from me - life is waay too short for all of that, so it's better that you realise things are not right now and do something positive about it rather than torturing yourself for another few years (like I did!)

Your trainer sounds horrible but at least you can do something about that immediately and you say you have 'a wonderful horse', well that is a HUGE positive! :

Ultimately, whatever you do, don't get drawn into doing what you think other people want you to do. That is a sure fire way to unhappiness!

Be kind to yourself as it sounds as though you've been through some tough stuff in the last year.

Good luck and have some fun! Oh - and if you catch yourself saying 'I should be doing ...' or 'I ought to be doing ...' you might want to think about changing those things to 'I choose to be doing ...' .
Hi.. I've only had horses for 5 years and I knew nothing about them.. and yes, every day I feel depressed.... so I dumped everyone..... even my trainer.... it was exhilarating!! He comes and rides my mustang but I have no contact with anyone from the outside world.... my horses live at home with me and I am doing what I need to do to gain confidence.... and I just go really slow.... I think horses are hard.... :) I'm sorry you are feeling in such despair about the financial part and yet you are having no fun.... and YES I know how you feel.... sometimes my horses and I just hang out..... I think they take a long time to bond with us..... and the trust thing does not just come from riding.... PonyBoy has a series called a Horse is a Horse with lots of herd exercises you can try to establish alpha, the bond, etc..... and maybe you will enjoy that. I did that for 5 months with my horse and I don't ride him at all very often... My trainer and I are having issues too so that is scary for me to figure out what I am going to do about that. I hope with my confidence with my mustang will also come confidence with my trainer.... :) He is nice but I think he's bored of me and all my confidence issues so I'm just hanging out alone... and working on myself.... it seems easier to give up, but Toby and Oliver are counting on me... :)
hi dont like it wen people r down and the last thing u need is ur trainer nitpicking at u they r there to help and advise u no mater wat level u r at simple solution to this problem is geta new trainer who will help u!! best of luck and never give up u will only regrate it..
Don't give up on it just yet... we have all been there... you have to have an honest conversation with yourself about how you feel about dressage and also with your trainer...It sounds like you think your horse is great, and could have a fun time in no time... have you ever tried riding to music? there is some on my home BM page... when i am feeling uninterested or bored with my daily routine, its what i do and its what i do for my students...

It's not fun when you can't find your dang farrier but your horse has lost his front shoes and your trainer won't come and ride him without his shoes and you are the dumbass holding the checkbook, of, if you take your other horse out for a walk to have some fun and the farrier comes, you'll be the one that blew it, .... but that's part of horses I think... I really have learned to not let it get me all down.... cuz this whole thing could make me blow my top. It is so expensive and if you can afford it, it's like you get treated like you should just expect it... what do you know, you are just the owner.... sometimes it's like you have a big S for sucker on your forehead. I think it's good to vent or have a gripe board because once you can vent about this whole thing you can try to go back to having fun again.. it's okay, I get it... !!
Change trainer - about time I would say! get a fresh look at things - a good trainer is the same cost as a bad one!


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