I got a migraine on Saturday before my lesson so I had to take my meds which make feel nauseous and shakey unless I constantly eat (not an option at the barn since I am OCD about touching food when I am around horses). By the time I got to my trainers barn for a lesson I was not in good shape and questioning my sanity for even thinking riding was a good idea. My trainer could tell something was wrong and with things being as cold as they were she told me that if I didn’t feel up to riding that was okay.
I really wanted to ride though so with the promise of an easy lesson I got the Schoolmaster ready for a light ride just so we could both get moving. I didn’t buy new breeches for nothing! My trainer said that it was such a me thing to do to feel like crap and still want to get on and ride. I laughed and thought about it. She was right. That made me feel a lot better because it meant that whatever my not wanting to ride issue is it is clearly starting to go away. Since it was a light lesson we got to chat and I talked to her about a bunch of things that were on my mind. One of them was the fact that I have no feel. She swears I am getting better at it though. She says that even though I don’t think I can feel I still make changes and corrections. I guess that is a good thing even if it is clear how far apart my brain and body are when I ride!
I was the person who got her into dressage so we started talking about our goals. I told her honestly that if I still feel like a sucky rider after I am able to show a 3rd level test I am going give dressage up. She asked why I ride dressage if I don’t like it. The thing is, I do like it. I think it is beautiful to watch when it is done well. I just suck at it and at some point you learn that you are not good at something and it just seems silly to point time and effort in a hobby that you are not good at. That got us talking about the definition of a “good rider”.
I am just going to write down our conversation because that is easier…
My Trainer “I don’t understand why you don’t think that you are a good rider”
Me “Because I have no natural feel and my timing is horrible”
My Trainer “That stuff is for great riders, pros, naturals, etc. How many people do you know who have a good feel and timing? What is your definition of a good rider?”
Me “I don’t know. I think that a good horse person is well rounded. They can do well in any discipline. They are just good”
My Trainer “Well my definition of a good rider is the person who I can put on any horse and know that they are not going to ruin it in anyway. I think that good riders can ride any horse without making the owner worry. I think that a great rider makes every horse they ride better, but that a good rider can ride any horse well enough. I don’t know many of either type of rider. I think that trainers should all be great riders, but they are not. Plenty of trainers are not even good riders. You are a good rider. I can, and have, put you on every one of my horses, even my own. I never have to worry about you riding a horse. Do you know how rare it is to be able to tell people that my student can handle any horse? Do you know how weird it is that you can ride a horse who is dead to the leg like Pal and a horse like Gennyral who is so sensitive in the same day? You need to give yourself more credit”
Me “Yeah, but I just because I don’t get myself killed at the walk/trot/or canter doesn’t mean a whole lot”
My Trainer “Well it should. I don’t know of any other adult amateurs who can ride more than one horse well, let alone so many different types of horses. Many professionals only specialize in one type. Think of all the trainers that only work with young horses, hot horses, lazy horses, etc. I know you don’t think you are good, but I want you to think about this. How many people who are not professionals have great timing. How many people can say they have jumped 4 foot, done the crazy trail rides you have and half passed? You might not be the rider you want to be, which I can understand being frustrating, but your timing is getting better. You might not be able to feel like some other people do, but you are so much better than you were even just a year ago. All I ask of you is to focus and get better and the past two years you have been doing that. I think you are a good rider even if you don’t and that is going to be the end of this discussion”
Doesn’t that make you want my trainer? I have been thinking about it a lot and I am going to give myself a pat on the back and a much needed confidence boost because she is right. I have never, ever ruined a horse. No one can say that their horse was worse because I rode it. I have a long way to go to where I need to be, but you know what…even if it is just for a short while…I feel like a good rider right now.
How would you all define being a good rider? What about a great one?