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February 2007
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I’ve been taking riding lessons lately, trying to improve my riding ability and hopefully get myself (and my adorable horse Sadie) a bit more competitive at the shows and maybe even move up a level… Taking lessons is cool. I learn new things and I happen to think that learning new things is very cool. My horse learns new things and becomes more fun to ride. However, in the process of taking lessons I am also rediscovering a fact that is, paradoxically, both my favorite and least favorite thing about riding.

So what is this favorite/unfavorite fact? I’ve heard it phrased several different ways and I’ve even told other people this very same nugget:

It’s never the horse’s fault.
If you can’t get your horse to do something, it’s usually (always?) because you’re doing something wrong.

It reminds me a bit of a line from a Liz Phair song… “If you do it and you’re still unhappy, then you know that the problem is you…”

So what did I learn this weekend? Yep. The problem is me. I wanted to take jumping lessons because “Sadie really likes to take off long and launch over jumps” and “Sadie doesn’t seem to really understand how to package herself in between jumps” and “Sadie goes way too fast and out of control over a course of jumps.” Well… as it turns out, I’ve been inadvertently telling Sadie to take off long and launch over jumps and go fast and out of control. Miraculously, as soon as I changed a few things about how I was riding, suddenly Sadie was so much more relaxed and happy. Suddenly Sadie was quite nicely packaged in between jumps, and lo and behold, she wasn’t too fast or too out of control.

So, why is it my least favorite thing about riding? Well, because it’s my fault, dang it! That’s no fun! Noone likes discovering they’ve been screwing things up, for themselves and their adorable horse who is just trying to do what she’s being asked.
Why is it my favorite thing about riding? Well, because it’s a lot easier for me to fix myself than it is for me to try to fix some other sentient being. If the problem is me, theoretically, I can take care of that. Now I just have to get out there and figure out to control myself so my poor little horse can do her job!

p.s. One more way horses are cute: They try to do what you ask. They forgive you even when you ask them to do things in such a way that makes them harder. And they don’t even hold it against you later when you get in some other argument about something else (which you’ll eventually figure out was also all your fault anyway).

p.p.s My other favorite riding paradox? Letting go of the reins causes your horse slow down (and its corollary: a death grip on the reins causes your horse to speed up). Now doesn’t that just seem backwards? Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time with the concept even though I know it’s true.


Comment from maRk!
Time April 2, 2007 at 9:31 AM

The p.p.s. is also true of humans.

I’m just saying.

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