“How long do you think you will have to take lessons?” Twenty years ago and I can still hear that tone in my mother’s voice. She wondered why her adult daughter -after a life of riding- would need lessons. How hard could it be? I forced a smile as I checked my heart for knife wounds, and reminded her that Olympic riders all had coaches. Mom gave me an eye roll.
Does someone give you that eye roll? Sometimes it’s easier to get defensive than try to explain hundreds of lessons in a lifetime of riding.
Each horse and each rider are an individual, forming a unique pair-and the conversation begins. Trust is offered shyly at first, maybe the horse responds well to ground work and a connection is established. Then we mount up, trusting them to hold us safe, as they trust us to choose a safe path.
At some point, it gets more complicated; someone gets scared, frustrated, or intimidated by the naked honesty a horse and rider display. There’s a hesitation; and in that quiet moment, a sensitive rider understands that they have come up short in some area. In that same moment, they become aware that the horse has held faith in them. In some physical or emotional way, the horse has given them the benefit of the doubt and the hook is set.
It is humbling to have a horse hold the door open to a sacred place, and wait for you to enter. It makes you want to do better, to be deserving of the respect he has shown you.
So a rider might continue take lessons -not from an inability to learn- but a desire to improve, fueled by respect for an equine partner. Riding is sometimes like interpretive dance, creative and spontaneous. Lessons can spark ideas and help translate our desire into direction. Growing pains aren’t comfortable for horses or riders. We can look like we need therapy for a dozen maladies, but our horses inspire us on toward a sacred place of certain oneness. And so, we persist.
“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge
Anna Blake, www.AnnaBlakeTraining.com
(Photo: Clinic with a Witch.)