I've been "off" riding for nearly a year now and would like to get back into the swing of things but cant decide which would be better....
If I have $400 a month to dedicate to my "horse budget" is it better to spend those dollars on:
10 one hour lessons a month at $40 a lesson.
Free lease a horse and have unlimited use for the cost of the $400 a month board.
Usually I'd say that lessons is the best way to go but...
When you have been off for as long as I have I don't need to be spending as much time working on how I am riding so much as redeveloping my riding muscles, coordination, balance, feel, etc. ...which I think comes from hours spent in the saddle.
Last year I took lessons when I wasnt really riding fit and I found it really frustrating! I knew where my legs were suppose to be but I didnt have the strength or coordination to keep them there.
If I do lessons I'd only riding eight-10 hours a month instead of up to seven hours a week.
There are other aspects of leasing a horse (other than the hours) that make it a more appealing option than lessons alone, like getting to ride with friends, riding at my convenience, spending time at the barn and forming a bond with "my" horse.
This is the wall I constantly run up against.... Taking lessons and owning/leasing eats up more money than I am willing (or able) to spend. But neither alone satiates my wants/needs as a rider and horse lover.
I'm a big believer that the only way to get a horse truly broke is through a lot of miles and wet saddle pads. I also believe that a lot of wet saddle pads does not make a broke horse. The answer lies somewhere in the middle, in combining both long hours under saddle and the correct application of practical knowledge.
Logic dictates that the same can be said for the rider. How many trainers do you know who spent ten years taking lessons and then decided to become a professional trainer? I don't know of one. All the trainers I know apprenticed... which means that they put in the hours and hours of riding while learning and practising the practical knowledge as they went along.
I know people who have hours and hours in the saddle but cant ride well at all and those who have been taking lessons for years but fall off if their horse so much as farts! (Not really but you get my point...neither are very good horsemen.)
I realize that there are other options...some kind of middle ground but, it you had to pick one or the other, which do you think would benefit my riding the most:
10 hours a month of instructed riding in an arena?
20+ hours a month of uninstructed riding in various locations/situations?