As an adult amatuer rider, fitting in “all the things” I want to do with my horse is a constant struggle, both financially and just generally when it comes to time management.

So when I bought a young, green, off-track Thoroughbred last year with the hopes of bringing him along as show horse, I made a mental note early on that this “journey” was likely to have have many bumps in the road along the way. And boy, has it.

The money I set aside for schooling shows and fun trips off property were mostly diverted to vet costs over the last year. Now that *fingers crossed* we’ve gotten my horse healthy and sound, I’ve run into a different set of problems.

My big green gelding Mikey is as willing as they come for a horse that knows nothing. But the problem is, well, he knows nothing. He is hardly the first young horse I’ve brought along. But I’ve hit some major road blocks with Mikey’s training lately, which has been frustrating for both of us. This development lead me to seek out help. So I called a trainer and scheduled a lesson.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken lessons regularly. After college, I was able to take lessons intermittently while I traveled from new city to new city following my career. Private lessons with quality trainers, as we all know, aren’t cheap these days. So even then, taking a lesson was a treat.

I’ve held onto the memory of those lessons for years now, applying what I learned to the many green horses I’ve ridden more recently. But now I’m in a bit of a different place — I have a stable job where I don’t plan on moving any time soon, and own a (somewhat) reliable horse. I’d love to be working toward real and obtainable goals with the help of a trainer.

I’ve spent years showing and riding mostly by myself in my late 20s and 30s, so trying to get into a regular routine with a trainer feels weird. I was really nervous for my lesson. It isn’t always easy to make a good first impression on a young, unpredictable horse. But I focused on what I could control — his turn out and mine — and went into it looking good (at least) and with an open mind.

The lesson was exactly what I needed. It didn’t turn my world upside down. But it gave me the confidence I needed to keep improving. Most of my core instincts were right, but having a trained eye on the ground push me to take the next step when I doubted my seat or leg or hands, really helped lay a good foundation for our next steps.

I don’t think I’ll ever be the type of rider that will have the time and the budget to afford a routine lesson program. But I do think admitting when you need help, and taking the advice from a trained professional, makes the difference between being “good” to “great”.

We left it open ended on when the trainer will come back for our next lesson. But I imagine it will be sooner rather than later.