Why do so few of us have a positive riding mindset? Are we even aware when we don’t have one? Film your next lesson and watch the replay. How many time did you say something negative? I can’t, my horse won’t, that was terrible…
Why are we so good at putting ourselves down? Why instead of asking “How can we fix this?”, do we resort to trying to acknowledge our flaws in a way of defending what we think we suck at?
I have only been riding since my late twenties and after just one year of riding, during which I loaned a “push-button” ride, I bought my first horse, Paddy.
The first time I met Paddy, I felt so comfortable on him! Confident to walk, trot and canter, without any encouragement from a friend. We quickly agreed for me to take him on a two week loan and if all went well, he would be mine. I was so excited!
The two weeks went pretty smoothly, with no real issues. I honestly thought I had found the perfect horse. How wrong could I have been…
No more than a few days after I was Paddy’s official owner, he started to try it on. It was just small things to start with. Moving away from the mounting block etc. But he quickly figured out, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing things got out of hand…
The main issue was if I tried to ride him into the area, he would turn around and trot off in the other direction! But instead of finding out how to fix the problem, I ignored it and resorted to leading him into the arena to mount. On top of that, “he wouldn’t” school at the far end of the school, so we circled just in the top half!
This continued for a little while until the yard owner asked me what was going on…to which I replied “Oh, he won’t go into the school if I mount on the yard”. She promptly told me to get on my horse and make him go in! I saddled up, took a whip in each hand and rode like I’d never ridden before. With the help of persistent clapping and shooing from behind, we got into the arena!
But it didn’t stop there…
I was then instructed to bring him out, circle around the farmhouse and take him back in. Sounds easy right? I’d done it once, so surely I could get him in there again? However, Paddy had other ideas. As soon as he realised where we were heading, he bolted into his stable, with me still on top of him! Luckily, I reacted quickly and ducked just in time, but I was not happy in the slightest. We immediately brought him back out, repeated the exercise and got him into the school with any further mishaps.
A valuable lesson was learnt that day, give a horse an inch and they will take a mile! Paddy was the one in charge in our partnership and things had to change…I had to change! I had to stop making excuses and letting things slide. It was time to step up and learn to ride properly!
I’m glad to report that whilst not perfect, Paddy behaves much better these days and some of the tricks he used to get away with, he wouldn’t even think of trying now! Although we still have much to work on, I try to avoid saying what we can’t do and instead ask what can I do to improve x, y, z.
I hope this inspires you to do the same and encourages you to have a positive riding mindset.