My Defining Moments As A Rider
This spring, while I was riding and training in Southern Pines NC, I received some devastating news. I was in complete shock. My life was absolutely about to change. My mind was racing and spinning in a million different directions. Within 20 minutes, I wiped my tears, gathered my focus, and had to decide if I wanted to go forward with a scheduled lesson I had or if just call and cancel. Ultimately, I decided that I came to NC to ride and train horses. This was another great opportunity to do just that. I could sit around and feel sorry for myself, or I could make the choice to do what I love more than anything.
I tacked up the first horse in record time and hustled over just in time for the first jump set. In my mind, I kept thinking, ‘Just breathe and focus on THIS HORSE. Don’t stop, keep riding.’ I was totally fine while I was warming up my horse. In fact, I almost wish he had been worse to warm up so that I had more to think about. Denny stopped everyone and chatted with us about what he wanted to focus on in the lesson. I thought to myself, ‘Oh boy, here come the tears. I am definitely going to either be sick to my stomach, or I am going to have a serious meltdown in front of riders I really respect. Just hold it together, you got this.’
Personal growth happens at the most difficult times.
Honestly, I don’t think I would have been strong enough to go through with that lesson if it had been ten, even five years ago. It wasn’t like I was trotting over poles on the ground either. It was a big course and we had to jump several fences on some steep angles. Precise riding was required. Not only did I rise to the occasion, I had two of the best jump schools I had ever had and I could not have been more proud of myself in that moment. I was able to do what I did because of the person and rider I have become.
I was heartbroken and incredibly angry, but I forced myself to channel that energy into something positive. Horrible things happen in life all the time, and the worst thing you can do for yourself is dwell on those things that are out of your control. I felt more present, more focused and more keenly aware of my riding that day than I have ever felt. That moment, those two jump lessons, and that entire day will always be with me. I will use that day to keep kicking on, and fight for what I want.
How to make the most of what seems like the worst.
All riders, whether you’re an amateur, a kid on a pony, or a four star event rider, are going to have difficult days. Even more likely, we are ALL going to have tough training days where our horses are having bad days, are stressed, confused, or just plain impossible to manage! In these situations, you have the choice to be strong or give in to your emotions.
We are all different riders and individuals, and we all have to make these judgement calls. For me, this moment almost defined who I have become as a rider and trainer.
Key takeaways as a rider.
Fast forward several months, and just the other day I accidentally witnessed a very interesting lesson. I was about to walk home, but I heard a lesson going on in the ring at Denny’s. A young rider was schooling her horse. The horse kept stopping repeatedly at the same fence, and after a little while, the horse got over the fence and ended on a good note.
Denny said something along the lines of, ‘It’s not really so much about the difficult training moments – even the best riders in the world have less than ideal jump schools. It’s what you’re able to do in THAT very moment that’s important.’ In other words, do you crumble and give up? Are you so terrified because you crashed into one fence, or the horse slammed on the brakes and you went splat? Do you throw out everything you’ve learned up to this point and shut down, or do you make it happen? Moments like these, whether it’s the horse, or it’s the rider, make you realize what YOU are made of. So even when the going gets tough, always choose to get back up on that horse, and I can guarantee that you will shine.
What are some of your most difficult riding moments? Share with us – we’d love to hear them!