A few days ago I tweeted something that I was feeling. It was more for myself as a reminder for the future than to garner attention from others.
“I need to stop comparing my horse and I to where we were at this time last year. It is all progress.”
I often find myself scrolling though my phone in my free time and watching riding videos over and over, then slowing the video down to analyze every single second that was recorded. I find things that were done correctly, things that need some adjusting, and things that were just downright wrong. While watching those videos can be incredibly helpful, they can also be the opposite.
There is no doubt that I am proud of how far my horse has progressed in almost three years, and knowing that the majority of that was due to my dedication is even more amazing. But there have also been regressions that are disappointing.
The last thing I expect from myself or my horse is perfection, that would be unrealistic and frankly, a lot of pressure on us both. But when you are on a streak of bad rides and you watch those amazing videos from 365 days ago, it is hard to keep positive.
So, to future me and anyone else who finds themselves overanalyzing their riding or wishing they were better or simply need a pick-me-up after a less than stellar ride, I have just a few words:
A huge part of riding is the constant cycle of learning, fixing mistakes, and becoming better. Each day you swing your leg over a horse’s back is another day to improve. So you were jumping higher last year? Great. You’re suddenly struggling with a wandering inside leg? It happens. You learn something. You fix your mistakes. And you become better than you were the day before. Chances are you may be finding these new problems because you have been focusing so hard on fixing something else. Worse things could happen.
I don’t need to tell you that riding isn’t easy. You already know that it is damn hard—your sore muscles and the sweat on your shirt tell you that. But if we progressed at the same rate each time we put our feet in the irons riding really wouldn’t be that hard would it? Each ride presents a new challenge that requires your attention. Even if you’re taking two steps forward and one step back, you’re still going places.
Progress is defined as movement forward or toward a place. As long as you are striving for something, be it to nail your distances over a 2′ course or master a perfect leg-yield, you are on your way to success. You are progressing. And you are becoming a better rider. Don’t let the rider you were yesterday, the month before that, or the year before that tell you otherwise.