Someone posted on their facebook page a while ago that ‘A great rider is just a lousy rider who didn’t quit’ (I think it was a chap in the states). Well, in the main, I agree with him. I think the reason so many people come unstuck with riding, or getting good at anything which you love, is that they just don’t do it enough. There is always a reason not to ride – especially at this time of year. Any one of us could find a reason not to. Everyone who is working hard to earn enough money to ride is probably too busy. Or too tired. Or it’s too wet or too cold. Or we have too many other responsibilities. I understand this, believe me I do. I am as good as the next person at finding a reason not to ride when it’s raining, or when I would rather be tucked up in bed reading a book.
Recently I have moved and the other person who keeps her horses at the yard been an eye opener. She is a humble, quiet girl, who trains differently to me but has a really nice attitude towards her ponies, and her understanding of what kind of animal they are. She is also a remarkable testament to hard work. She starts work every day at 8am, so come rain or shine, she rides one horse before work - getting to the stables at 6am. She finishes at 3.30 and comes back and rides one then. She works Saturday morning and Saturday evening, so rides all three of them in the gap in the afternoon. She then rides all three of them again on Sunday. She does not earn very much money, so every penny she has goes into these ponies. She just pretty much keeps going – and she doesn’t complain about it. ‘It’s my choice’ is her motto.
Over Christmas I watched ‘Wild Horse, Wild Ride’ which is a sweet film about the Wild mustang challenge – where 100 untouched horses are given to riders/trainers for 100 days to train them to a stage where they can be showcased and then auctioned. The purpose being to show what remarkable riding horses these mustangs can make. Now whatever you think about some of the training techniques and riding, the one thing you can’t deny is the tenacity of some of these guys. Wyleen – a very blonde, brash, but completely fearless rider is unequivocal about it, ‘I don’t want to hear your excuses!’ As far as she is concerned, whatever gets thrown at you by life or your horse, just get your head down and get on with it.
The one caveat which makes this simple message a little more complicated is that you really need to try and practice the right thing! Or, at least, something which is an approximation of the right thing. But, that is a blog post (or a hundred thousand page book) in its own right. It would be no good sitting in the Land Rover for four hours to just keep on reversing into the gate post. One has to keep on checking that what you’re practicing is actually progressing things – even if you find yourself down a blind alley now and again.