I Learned Something

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Every third day I like to go on a little less structured ride around our farm. This morning we came upon a mamma cow and her newborn calf.

To quote a friend of mine, “I learned something this week.” Or, in my case, I re-learned something.  I have been out of a consistent riding lesson program for some time now. In the past six months though, as I have committed to a routine that includes regular riding, I have had five riding lessons. This week I re-learned that I need many, many more. Allow me to explain.

Not unlike those popular Facebook memes, there is a huge discrepancy between what I actually look like and what I think I look like.  I am not a person who is naturally gifted with riding talent. On my best days, with consistent instruction, I can however be a decent rider.

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That said, there is a large gap between understanding riding theory in my head and actually incorporating it while on the back of a horse. For me, the gap has always been large and as I have aged it has grown even larger. I was going along under the impression that I looked just fine, thank you very much, when in reality I did not.

This is difficult for me to accept. I am a perfectionist. Type “A” solid gold personality type and all of that. It requires a major paradigm shift in my thought processes to accept that while I may never be great, I can improve. I can instead work toward the best version of me rather than the best version period.

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Over the past six months I have been working on teaching my horse new skills and improving upon old ones. I have been working on it so hard in fact that I forgot one very important part of the equation; me. As we deftly tackled collection, flying lead changes, and larger fence heights my mare improved but without my paying much attention I regressed. New bad habits developed and long forgotten ones came to the fore. This week, when I took a riding lesson, all of those came out. Ouch.

Don’t get me wrong, my riding instructor was extremely constructive. She patiently and calmly worked with me through my issues. It was great and I am thankful for the lessons learned! We developed a plan going forward that fits my budget. I may not be able to take as many riding lessons as I like but I can take some. I can work on many things at home.

Despite the good instruction I ruminated on the lesson for the rest of the day and the next day which happened to coincide with my horse’s day off. I was more than a little disappointed in myself but the way I saw it I had two choices, I could grouse about it and stop riding regularly again or I could face what I had allowed my riding to become and get better. And so I developed a plan.

After the lesson I set up some new training exercises in my arena. My old one had gotten stale. I worked on, among other things, improving my seat and hands. Low and behold, the problems that I thought my horse was having begun to improve as my riding did. Double ouch.

I’m not where I want to be just yet. In fact, I’m a long way from it. But here’s the thing that does appeal to my Type “A” solid gold personality type; goal setting. With continued instruction and practice at home I can work toward a goal. When I achieve it I can work toward another one.  I may not ever be the textbook perfect rider that I dream of being but I can be better and really shouldn’t we all be trying for that?

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