For those of you who are not totally Harry Potter nerds like I am, the Mirror of Erised is a magical mirror that shows whomever is looking at it the deepest and most desperate desires of their hearts. So what do I want, like really want when it comes to horses?
I want to be a good rider.
That is all I have ever dreamed of being. And after 16 years in the saddle I have still not accomplished it. And I hate that.
The hard thing about this goal is that being a good rider has no quantitative value. If I asked all of my readers what a good rider is, I would get 4oo different answers. I am sure that a lot of them would be similar, but I am also just as sure that plenty would not even look like they were talking about the same thing.
When I first cantered, I thought that would be it. When I first jumped I thought that would be it. No luck though, I still was not a good rider in my eyes. At all the big riding milestones I thought I would feel like a good rider, and yet here I am, still waiting. I have jumped 4′. I have been able to do victory gallops at championship dressage shows. I have tons of blue ribbons. I have ridden hundreds of horses. I have ridden many miles of trails. I have even ridden saddle seat, hunt seat, dressage and western. Yet I still don’t feel like a good rider.
The thing is, I rationally know that I am not a horrible rider, yet something stops me from being a good rider. What I am not able to figure out yet is what it will take to feel like a good rider. You would think that when some of the top riders that I have ridden with told me I was good (I nearly died of happiness when Rebbecca Cowden told me I was good) I would just accept it. Or when my trainer tells me that I am good that it would sink it. Yet it never does. Maybe because my goal is an internal one, not an external one.
There are so many times that I feel like such a crappy rider. One of the reasons that I work as hard as I do in my riding is because I don’t like to feel that way. In fact, I HATE feeling like a crappy rider. When I watch tapes of myself riding I could tell you 100 things that I am doing wrong. That is one of the reasons why I feel comfortable enough to post them online. Very few people in the world would be able to see all the things wrong that I see.
The crazy thing is that I cannot even answer my own question of what it takes to be a good rider so how could I have become one yet. The funny thing is that I still really want to be a good rider. Even though I don’t know what that means.
For those of you who are at good rider status, how did you know when you got there? Was it something specific that you did or did you just realize it one day? For the rest of you, what do you think it takes to be a good rider?