The AQHA Intern Experience

7 Reasons You Should Take Lessons in a Different Discipline

Improve your riding skills by learning about a new-to-you discipline.

I grew up riding western pleasure horses, sitting perfectly straight and seeking that almighty, rocking-chair lope. I still have a strong appreciation for horses that can perform truly smooth and forward-moving western pleasure gaits. However, like with all things in life, sometimes you just gotta shake it up a bit.

The stock-horse show culture in Iowa, where I’m from, is very focused on western pleasure, hunter under saddle and showmanship competition. When I moved to Texas to intern with the American Quarter Horse Association, I jumped at the opportunity to take lessons in cow-horse events. It’s much more prevalent in Texas, and I needed something to do that was horse-related. It turns out that staring at photos of horses all day for your job REALLY makes you want to go for a ride! I did a little research for cow-horse trainers in the area and found a good fit only 30 minutes away.

Are you looking for a reputable horse trainer in your area? AQHA has got you covered! Use the locator tool to find registered AQHA Professional Horsemen near you and your American Quarter Horse.

I’ve had so much fun learning how to ride in a different discipline that I’ve decided to start competing with my Quarter Horse, "Winston," in ranch riding. If you’re not convinced yet, here are my top seven reasons why you definitely need to take a leap and learn a new discipline.

    1. Get out of that “riding rut”

We’ve all been through them before. You’re at a point in your riding where you don’t know how to move forward, and oftentimes taking lessons from a trainer with a different area of expertise can help a lot. Dig yourself out of a riding rut by learning something new!

    1. Be watched by fresh eyes

What habits have you developed that your current discipline has taught you? Everybody does something that they’re not aware of doing, so a trainer with knowledge in a discipline that you’re not used to riding can shed a lot of light on this!

    1. Discover your true discipline calling

Who knows, you might take a couple of lessons in a new discipline and discover that you like it better than your previous discipline. I know for a fact my horse is better suited for ranch riding because he enjoys it so much more, which makes me enjoy it more, too!

    1. Become a more well-rounded rider

The great horsemen out there are those who can ride all types of horses. If you can ride an English horse and then turn around and get on a barrel racer, you most likely know a thing or two. It takes a lot of skill to switch back and forth between disciplines.

    1. Meet new people

Horse people tend to form cliques around disciplines. Meeting new people with a different perspective not only challenges you to think outside of the box, but you can also end up with some pretty great friends!

    1. Try a Rookie class

AQHA makes it super easy to try out a new discipline with Rookie classes at AQHA-approved shows. It’s the perfect class level for people who want to try their hand at a class they wouldn’t normally compete in, and the class is full of people just like you who are trying something new.

    1. Give your horse a mental break

Just like people, horses need a mental break every once in a while. Maybe you’ve been so focused on your reining circles or your showmanship pivots that your horse isn’t enjoying his job as much. Take a mental breather and do something new to avoid anticipation and sourness.

Wherever you’re at in your horse life, learning something new is beneficial in many ways. Don’t be afraid to try something new just because you might not be amazing at it from the get-go. We all have to start somewhere!

Learn more about AQHA leveling, so you can try a new event and compete among beginners.