SUMMARY: Newly back in the saddle. Trainer not a hard-ass or overly critical, but she occasionally makes lessons anxiety-inducing and embarrassing. Refuses to accommodate my clearly expressed learning differences, often does not really explain things well, and generally makes me feel stupid/incompetent. Would like to know if this is considered normal. Seeking advice. Not a competitive rider.
So for context, I got back into riding 8 months ago, following a roughly 10 year hiatus which began initially to pursue a different sport. I’m 23 now, and was a decent rider when I quit. I can hold my own with the higher-level teenagers at the riding school I now work and take lessons at, but I’d call myself intermediate. Just doing low jumps and basic dressage stuff. I have no interest whatsoever in showing, I just love horses and enjoy the sport, but I do very much want to continue improving.
My current trainer is really the only one I’ve ever had, outside of a few I worked with briefly at summer camps. Her barn is literally a 60 second walk from my house, and I like her just fine. She’s a bit awkward to be around but for the most part I find her knowledgable and kind (or at least, not mean…)
But today I had a semi-private lesson that I left feeling so stupid and frustrated. Certainly not all my lessons leave me feeling badly about myself, but this was not an isolated incident.
I consider myself an intelligent person, but I have a learning disability called dyscalculia which severely affects my ability to recall numerical data and hinders my spatial and sequential awareness/memory. Long story short, not only it is almost impossible for me to remember the courses my trainer gives us about 5 seconds to memorize, it is especially impossible for me to remember my stride lengths as well. Even when the courses are simple I can usually just barely manage one or the other, considering the fact I also have to remember to ride well.
Today I just could not remember my stride lengths at all. She hasn’t really bothered me about it much in the past, so I haven’t made it a priority to remember, but today she really got on my case about it. I don’t usually feel compelled to explain myself or give excuses, but it got to the point where I just had to tell her that I had memory issues with numbers and that it was very difficult for me while I was trying to remember so many other things. She mockingly laughed, and essentially said there was no excuse, and that I wasn’t so dumb that I couldn’t remember a few numbers for 45 seconds. She didn’t suggest I start saying the numbers out loud until I went around the course two more times, still coming out not being able to recall the numbers. Mind you, she has never explained why the stride numbers were so important to know, and until I looked it up online I really had no idea. I think part of the problem is that I’m in classes with the upper level teenage students but there’s still lots of gaps in my schooling, because I didn’t come along with them. I would be perfectly fine being moved down, but I don’t really know where I would go. It doesn’t seem there is anyone else at the barn in a similar situation to ride with.
Because of incidents like this, I find myself dreading my lesson days. And I’m slowly remembering that this was part of the reason I quit in the first place. I’m not a nervous rider and the thought of falling off or getting hurt really doesn’t bother me. But it makes me quite anxious to not know if I’m going to be laughed at or made a fool of on any given day. I’m just sincerely trying to learn, and I do my best every time.
On one hand, this woman employs me, I get to free ride twice a week, and the barn is obviously a super convenient commute. On the other, there are no other women my age there, and I’m obviously having some issues. Staying there would be ideal, and maybe I just need to grow a thicker skin, but does anyone have any advice? This just doesn’t feel constructive.