“I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Thomas Edison
I believe that this quote perfectly fits horsemanship. Many of you wont have to work very hard to imagine this scenario: You have owned that Thoroughbred for many years and have gone through enough missteps and vexations to give yourself ulcers and sleepless nights. But despite the hardships, you have practiced for hundreds of hours to reach your goal of successfully riding at first level and jumping a beautiful 3’ round. Eventually, you reward yourself with an ‘upgrade’ and purchase a warmblood…. And discover that everything you thought you knew about riding doesn’t apply at all! You are back at square one and feeling like you are learning to ride all over again.
Even if that scenario doesn’t describe your life, we all know that frustrations abound aplenty for those of us who
ride and love horses. Sometimes we feel that every step forward is balanced by a step backwards. And on the days when I know that I am not emotionally or physically prepared to tackle a challenge with a horse, I remember a very poignant quote from a friend of mine. He once told me that I didn’t have to do much with a horse, just a little bit every day. He gave me such good advice in very few words. I am going to be successful if I don’t take any steps backwards. So, if I am able to modify my ride in little ways to have a positive end, then I am one step ahead of yesterday. Everyday, I try to understand my personal limits, and I chip away at those 10,000 mistakes that potentially could be made. Every step forward begets another step forward, and I choose to look at my daily riding in that light. Its not a series of mistakes, but a series of successes that help keep me and my horses happy and looking forward to tomorrow.
To this end, today was the first day of my 2013 competition season! I took Lear to Aspen Farms derby, and in my persistent search to link together positive rides into a chain, Im fairly certain I succeeded. He got in the trailer for the first time since last September and he is noticeably nervous. My goal was to make the day easy enough for him that his confidence soared. Normally, he is the spooky, jumpy horse who has trouble in the arena for some different reason every single day. He is nervous, even at home, to the point that some workouts never reach completion in lieu of a more relaxing walk to soothe his nerves. So when I went today to Aspen, I knew that I needed to not make one of those 10,000 mistakes that one is wont to do. Lear had to start in the hopeful arena, which doesnt sound all that impressive for a horse who Im certain can go to the upper levels. But that arena was like a soothing nursery with pink walls and stuffed animals around. After we mastered the course, we could graduate to the big boys arena. He did two nice rounds at novice height and I decided to call it a day at that. He got four flying changes in his second round, and I am pleased with that. Jon gave me a thumbs up and my day was complete.