How I can become a better rider
Like many of you, I’m a fan of the outspoken and straight shooting Denny Emerson. A couple of years ago, I received his book How Good Riders Get Good for Christmas. I read it by New Year’s. The book was both incredibly motivating and utterly depressing. He points out some obvious truths: without time in the saddle, an appropriate horse, and the right teachers and mentors, you aren’t going to get very far.
Here’s why the book depressed me: Oklahoma is a frustrating place for an eventer to live. There aren’t a lot of eventing barns here. There are few schooling horse trials and even fewer recognized competitions. I can count the number of cross-country courses in the state available for schooling on one hand. I’m also the owner of two old horses, one of which has some kind of phobia about jumps in a ring. While they’re both sound and healthy, both are on the downward side of their useful lives.
Obviously, I don’t feel constantly depressed about my riding situation; if I did, I think I would have quit riding altogether by now. But I have been feeling exasperated lately. Yesterday, a post on Denny’s Tamarack Hill Farm Facebook page gave me a kick in the pants:
My horses can walk, trot, and canter, and at least one of them can reliably get over a two foot fence. I don’t need to get new horses or live elsewhere to practice these skills (or many other) skills. I can do a lot while living in the eventing abyss with two ancient horses:
- Continue to work on my fitness by exercising regularly
- Utilize exercises in various books and magazines to develop my eye
- Count strides when I’m hacking in the field to develop my sense of timing
- Ride with no stirrups to improve my seat
- Audit dressage clinics (which are usually free in my area!) to learn new ways to solve problems
While these things won’t magically turn northeastern Oklahoma into an eventing mecca, they will turn me into a better rider. And being a better rider will help me do the best I can with future horses and future opportunities.
Do you ever feel kind of down about your ability to progress? Or the “life hurdles” you encounter? What do you do when you feel that way?