I’m almost to mediocrity

Denny Emerson recently wrote a book titled How Good Riders Get Good. Practical Horseman printed an excerpt out of the book, and I remember reading it, thinking, “Well, duh! I could get good riding fancy horses with top trainers, too!” Unfortunately, we don’t all get that opportunity, or we do, but life gets in the way. I’m finally getting an opportunity to ride fantastic horses with a great trainer, but I can tell you, getting better is hard work.
I wore my legs out today riding one of those big fancy warmbloods we all drool over. ‘Dub’ is one of those who can score in the low 70s without even trying, but to really make him work requires an unbelievable amount of effort on his rider’s part. He’s perfectly happy to plod along in a lazy trot and hang on your inside leg. By the time I got off him, I was thankful for my sensitive, forward-thinking OTTB. And, then there was my daily ride on Don, the 4th level trooper. I suppose I should take it as a compliment that Emily is demanding more from me instead of allowing me to get baby steps, but the way forward is frustrating to say the least. Don tried valiantly, even throwing in piaffe for me, “Is this what you want? I’m confused.” We did accomplish a couple of decent shoulder-ins, renvers, travers, and various other movements I’ve only read about, so I was fairly proud of my accomplishments, but wow, the amount of coordination required to produce those is astounding. Well, it’s actually rather simple, but getting my limbs to do what my brain was asking turned out to be rather complicated: inside leg at the girth, asking for the bend, CATCH it with your OUTSIDE REIN!! DO NOT DROP THE OUTSIDE REIN! (that’s a big one), outside leg supporting, inside rein is just there hanging out, shoulders turn in (while Emily yells, “TURN HIS SHOULDERS TOWARDS ME!!”)…yeah, the list goes on. By the end of my ride, I could add inside leg when he started to lose the bend and catch the energy with the outside rein so he bended instead of falling apart. I’m getting a little better every time, but Denny was a little subtle in his message. Good riders get good by working their tails off–every time. Nothing short of perfection is ever allowed–you must be ‘on’ all the time. I’m almost to mediocrity. Here’s to getting good.

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