Someone very special to me recently said, “If you ever find yourself the smartest person in a room, then you need to find another room”.
I loved this pearl of wisdom, because it made me think about how far i have come with my knowledge and skill as a rider and coach, and how far i still have to go. I have been riding my whole life and a coach for nearly 20 years, and still feel as though i am only scratching the surface!
I often think about the amazing people i have been fortunate enough to learn from over the years, and there is one piece of advice that i was given over 20 years ago, that has stuck with me above all others. It transcends every single horse, rider and discipline, and it came from an old horseman who worked at UQ when i was a student there.
“TAKE THE TIME IT TAKES”
As we all know, horse riding is an expensive hobby, and most people want results from their investment fast. Problem is, somebody forgot to explain this to the poor horses! Horses live in the moment. They have no goals, they have no reasoning power, and they certainly don’t know that they are meant to be doing prix st george by the time they are 7yo, or jumping world cup at 9yo, or running 3* courses in their 3rd season eventing, or whatever expectations we place on them!
Goals and expectations belong to the rider, and unfortunately when things are not progressing as fast as they would like, or going to plan, instead of listening to their horse and what he might be trying to tell the rider, they resort to shortcuts to make it happen faster.
In reality, sometimes the poor horse is not physically and mentally ready for the work, or he might be still fatigued from a previous session, or maybe the rider (shock horror) is not enabling the horse to achieve the desired outcome, by not asking clearly, or perhaps not being stable or aligned enough in their position to allow it to happen. Any number of reasons really!
I have always been of the opinion that when a rider/trainer/coach reaches the point that they need to force the horse into submission, they have reached the limits of their skill/knowledge/patience for the day, and sometimes the best thing they can do is look for a small victory, end the session and save the horse for another day.
Being able to ride these beautiful creatures is a honour, not our right, and we owe it to them to treat them with respect and hold their welfare in the highest regard. Ego has no place in the saddle and if we were more honest with ourselves, and trained with more intelligence and less strength, we may find that harmony we are all looking for is not so out of reach.
Happy riding……… 🙂