Looking out to your paddock, a whimsical flutter of hopes and dreams overcomes your heart. Your horse is grazing peacefully in the back corner of the paddock and lifts their head, noticing you coming towards them. They let out a soft nicker and start trotting up to you.
And then comes the guilt, you remember it’s been a week, a month or ever years since your last ride. You think your horse is wasting away in the paddock and because of you it won’t have a good future. I’m not good enough for my horse, they deserve more, they would be better with a different rider, I can’t be the rider they need, maybe I should sell them and get an easier horse to work with, maybe I should give up altogether.
This is such a common process for the hobby horse rider to go through… regularly, sometimes even every day. You convince yourself, no I’ll just try a bit longer and maybe it will all come together for me. Maybe I’ll try a new instructor, or go watch some other trainers on YouTube.
There are 2 problems with this scenario: we are attaching our own needs and desires to live a fulfilling life to our horse (really they don’t care if they don’t reach their full potential, working towards their full potential is fraught with hard work, stress and anxiety, much easier to just eat grass), and you’re probably comparing yourself with professional riders, that are on different journeys, with different road blocks. We think “oh if we could just do that one thing riding would be so much easier”. You dedicate months and months and when finally you achieve it, do you celebrate and congratulate yourself and think yes riding is easy now?! Of course not, you now decide there are 7 new things that if only you could achieve them riding would be easy.
As a professional rider it took me 7 years + the 13 years as a hobby horse rider (I’ve now been at this riding business 25 years and teaching for 13), riding hundreds of different horses, teaching hundreds of different students to truly grasp an understanding of what is going on and how best to support each individual horse and I’m still learning new things every day, with every new student and every new horse.
What a professional rider knows that you don’t
There are always hurdles and road blocks that stop you in your tracks and can take months of diligent effort to work through.
All horses have to go through the same physical development process just the same as all athletes and that requires patience.
When to just exercise your horse and when to push.
Some days, weeks or months your horse can just be off, and that’s ok.
Your horse will never perform as well at a competition as they do at home and so you need to be training at least a grade about the level you’re competing at and even then you still need the moon and the stars to align for your perfect competition day and on that day the judge will decide they don’t like your horse or your last name.
There is no one solution, only effort.
You can’t be good at everything. Find out what you are really good at with your riding and get help with the rest.
The path to success. The reason why you feel stuck at the level you are at is because you can’t see what’s next. You can’t see what’s next because you’ve never experienced it before. If you were to apply all the lessons you have learnt to date on a new horse, guaranteed will progress to this point quicker, however you will also have new road blocks and obstacles you haven’t experienced before and will get stuck at because you are applying the concepts you’ve learnt to a different personality and conformation type.