Back in the saddle: sore knees + ethical riding schools?

rosie1985

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Oct 10, 2019
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Hi everyone, I am so happy to have found this lovely little community. :)

I rode obsessively when I was young, and picked it up again last year while living in the UK.

Yesterday, I went for a two-hour hack on a lovely horse in the Forest of Dean, through a local riding school. I used some NLP and visualising techniques before I went, and practised breathing on the ride, and it really helped me stay grounded (while in the stirrups hehe) and enjoy the experience. Of course, I'm kinda kicking myself for staying away from ponies for so darn long!

Anywho, today the outside of both knees are quite tender. I can't remember feeling this way after lessons last year. Could there have been something off with my leg position?

Another question I have (or perhaps a discussion really) is about ethical RS. I'm moving back to Australia next month, and would like to find a local school that does something similar to liberty, or natural horsemanship.

The RS I had two lessons at last year was pretty sad. Clearly my horse wasn't happy (and after reading books like Margrit Coates, and looking at some online liberty and tao horsemanship videos online, I take FULL responsibility for making him feel uneasy, through my body and confusing instructions). The instructor demanded I kick him over and over, and give him "a good whipping" to get him to behave. He bucked...no surprise there, right?

I've vowed never to get into that situation again. I don't want to be a better rider for me – I want to be a better rider for every horse I have the privilege to ride. So I'd love to know how to maybe screen schools and their instructors to check they are humane and loving.

Is it usually OK to observe a class? How else do you make sure they're doing the right thing by their horses?

I've been Googling ethical RS in Adelaide, where I'm moving to, but it looks like it's something I'll need to actually do in person.

Thank you! And so great to connect with you all here.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Your knees could be for several reasons, possibly just lack of practice - riding uses parts of your body in ways no other sport does, it could just have been the build of the horse - wide where your knees sit, or the length of stirrup - I always suffer if mine are too short, or perhaps a little residual tension there that you weren't aware of, hopefully it will improve with practice :)

Re assessing a good riding school, I would ask around as word of mouth is the best reference, then make an appointment to go and have a look, if they don't want you looking then I would assume they don't have anything good worth showing people, arrive a little early, watch a lesson, watch people around the stables, meet the owner/manager and see how you feel about it :)
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I agree with Jessey. Ask around, then visit the place: just drop in. Find the manager, say you're looking for a place to take lessons and you'd like to look around and watch for a bit. If they have a problem with that go elsewhere! If they don't mind, then check out the horses waiting in their boxes to work, see how they look, are they happy to see a person? - as well as watching lessons of course.

Good for you for caring about the horses.
 

rosie1985

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Oct 10, 2019
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Your knees could be for several reasons, possibly just lack of practice - riding uses parts of your body in ways no other sport does, it could just have been the build of the horse - wide where your knees sit, or the length of stirrup - I always suffer if mine are too short, or perhaps a little residual tension there that you weren't aware of, hopefully it will improve with practice :)

Re assessing a good riding school, I would ask around as word of mouth is the best reference, then make an appointment to go and have a look, if they don't want you looking then I would assume they don't have anything good worth showing people, arrive a little early, watch a lesson, watch people around the stables, meet the owner/manager and see how you feel about it :)


Thanks so much. That's a really good point about it not being a good sign if they don't let me watch.

I saw elsewhere on the forum someone mentioned stretches and Pilates for horse riding, so might give that a go to help the old knees!
 
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Trewsers

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I would say word of mouth is best when looking for a riding school and ask to have a look around. I was really pleased when I made enquiries at the first place I learnt at as an adult, because they were very welcoming and gave me a quick tour. It was good to see their horses (all lovely cobs) and their arenas.
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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Yuk - don't like the sound of "a good whipping" ! When I was using riding schools, I think the worst I was ever told was to give them a tap with the whip if they ignored my leg. Agree with everyone - the horses tend to be the best advert for a good school - if they're alert and interested when you arrive, then they're enjoying their job. Well done you, for giving a damn that the places you go to are ethical.
 
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rosie1985

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Oct 10, 2019
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I guess I'm just not sure how to get a word of mouth recommendation, since I'll be new to the city – are there any ways to meet horsey people outside of actually going to an RS?
 

rosie1985

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Oct 10, 2019
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Yuk - don't like the sound of "a good whipping" ! When I was using riding schools, I think the worst I was ever told was to give them a tap with the whip if they ignored my leg. Agree with everyone - the horses tend to be the best advert for a good school - if they're alert and interested when you arrive, then they're enjoying their job. Well done you, for giving a damn that the places you go to are ethical.

Oh that's a great way to find out, thank you. :) I'm a sensitive soul like our horse friends, so I wanna make sure they're happy and cared for. x
 
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Jessey

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I guess I'm just not sure how to get a word of mouth recommendation, since I'll be new to the city – are there any ways to meet horsey people outside of actually going to an RS?
Look up a local tack or feed place and pop in to ask them which ones they think are good for the sort of things you're interested in :)
 
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Huggy

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Let us know how you get on :)
PS - I still get sore bits if I've worked harder than usual - just tell yourself you REALLY worked your legs that lesson!;)
 

Skib

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Knee pain may be referred from your lower back. Older people like me cant ride wide horses. Wide cobs are often given to new riders so check that you are able to sitstraight at right angles across the horse Not one knee further forward
 
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chunky monkey

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I suspect if your knees are hurting you may have been subcontiuosly gripping. Mind if I did a 2 hour hack not having ridden for a while I think I would be hurting the next day.
 
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rosie1985

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Oct 10, 2019
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Haha well I'm still sore! I'll be getting into regular lessons soon, so will see if it starts to ease over time. Sigh...hello ageing!
 

Huggy

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Don't talk to me about aging! Buying a bolshy stubborn lazy cob at 62 definitely challenges ones perception of how fit/capable one is! :oops:
 

rosie1985

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Wow, that's awesome – and I can totally appreciate the challenge! Are you training them, too, or was he/she already trained?