The best horse
Ride it like it’s the best horse in the world. This advice was given to me by an amazing trainer that the galloping housewife had the good fortune to work for decades ago in Upstate New York and it has stuck with her over the years and found many applications. Trying out an unfamiliar horse and wanting to know what it’s strength and weaknesses are? Ride it like it’s the best horse in the world and you’ll soon find out. Made a correction of a mistake and want to know if the horse has learned the lesson? Ride it like it’s the best horse in the world and you’ll know how good your training is. At an event that you’ve prepared for and got high hopes for? Ride it like it’s the best horse in the world and give yourself every chance of meeting your goals.
So often when you do, you’ll be rewarded. Your horse will step up and be the best horse in the world. And if it doesn’t, you’ll know exactly what you’ve got to work on.
The galloping housewife has another analogy that demonstrates the need for this. Imagine you’re standing in front of a dam with a lake behind it. A hole forms in the dam and you put your finger in it to block the leak. Another hole, your other hand. Another hole, your toe. Another hole, your nose. Eventually you’ll run out of options. It’s the same with riding. Think about riding a pirouette. On the best horse in the world it’s easy. Collect the canter, position, initiate the turin, ride out when the turn is complete. But if you have use the reins to keep the canter short throughout, you’ve lost the option to also use them to position, to begin the turn, to speed up or slow down the turn, to straighten for the depart. Likewise if you’re using your legs to maintain the canter throughout, what are you going to do to create the bend, to control the hindquarters, to ride forward on the centreline?
Ride it like it’s the best horse in the world and you give the aid for the super collection needed and the horse maintains that itself. Give the aids for the positioning and they stay bent to the inside until they’re asked to straighten. Begin the turn and they will carry on until they’re told to stop. When all of these things happen your aids are free to change the canter, the positioning, the speed of the turn. You’ve got options to prevent the hindquarters stepping out and to ride out when you’re done. Alternatively, you can put the reins in one hand and video from on board – like this:
Next time you swing your leg over, give it a go. Imagine you have the best horse in the world. And one day you will.