After a very good riding lesson I commented to my coach Joe Thauer that riding was so much fun but also so hard. It is physically demanding and requires so much attention and thought, both in the moment and upon reflection. That is when Joe told me that to learn to ride takes time, but to learn to ride well takes a lifetime. I wrote it down and posted it in my barn. I hope I live long enough to learn to ride well. Until then I shall be satisfied with riding better.
It is important that we look both at where we want to go and at how far we have come. Often I hear riders speak of their frustrations, of what they do wrong, of the fears and insecurities they hold onto, of what others seem to do effortlessly. And although I think it critical that after each ride we think about these things I think it is equally important that we take the time to note what we did right. What moments in the ride were superb? What did we do to make that moment superb? Have we felt that before or is this a new skill or level developing? Reflection and self evaluation are critical to learning. Noticing our success as well as our shortcomings is essential to building confidence.
We must also acknowledge that learning is not a continual progress forward. There are plateaus and fallbacks. But if we persevere we will prevail. We need coaches and friends who stop us during a ride to say, “That was excellent!” Moments of every ride will be excellent. We need to notice and acknowledge them and over time those moments will become more frequent and eventually flow together. We will become better riders.
So, thanks to all our coaches who help us to be better riders, and to our horses waiting patiently for that to happen.