My therapist asked once what I do to relax. Ride my horse, I say. We practice dressage, jumping, trail rides. She says she can’t think of anything more scary than sitting atop a 700kg animal at full gallop. I get her point.
Horse-riding is one of those pursuits that balances pleasure with pain. The rider and animal form a partnership built on trust and training and it’s ever evolving. There’s always room for improvement and always something to learn.
This is my horse Aussie and he’s pretty awesome. Except when I ride badly or pull on his mouth and then he’s inclined to try and tip me off. Fair enough.
When my old horse was retired to pasture, Aussie was the horse I needed to grow my riding: he was better educated than me in the dressage ring and showjumping rounds, so he taught me a lot. He made me step up as a rider, be more disciplined, refine my skills, trust in him. And when we started working together, I helped him to trust me. His strengths helped me overcome my weaknesses.
As did our coaches. We train with our dressage coach and she helped us get to know one another. As my skills grew, we added a new jump coach to the mix too: he says he likes Aussie and seems to manage me well too (as well as can be expected!)
The truth is I did find the transition to a bigger, smarter, more sensitive horse a little scary at times. I didn’t always feel in control. I definitely didn’t always get it right (and Aussie told me in no uncertain terms when that was the case). But I wouldn’t have grown into the rider I am today if I hadn’t made that leap.
However you choose to invest your time, whatever your interests, there’s always room to grow. There are always things you’ll be stronger at, and areas where you’ll struggle. It can be messy, and at times you’ll need to just muddle on through it. And other times you’ll need to ask for help.
Yours, in friendship,