Reaching Out to Youth Riders

“Artists are people who create a lie to tell the truth ” -Picasso

Watching a group of kids ride (mostly girls, sadly in the US we have a shortage of little boys fascinated with horses now days) I observed a phenomenon that made me reflect on my own riding. To get their horses to move they reared back and kicked the bejeepers out of their ribs. Then to turn they jerked the reins this way and that. At first I wanted to run out and lecture them about how sensitive horses mouths are. Then I remembered the verse in the Bible, “don’t criticize the spec in your brother’s eye until you’ve done something about the log in your own!”

My mind went back to previous rides when my hands were high in the air, or when I was leaning or twisting my body around, or waving my legs about or even kicking the horse’s rib cage. Then I remembered watching The master riders I’d had the good fortune to watch. The riders appeared to just sit up like kings and queens, doing nothing while the horses performed incredible feats (feets?) This is true of dressage, reining, cutting and versatility trials, among others. First of all, these are riders who understand the language of position and pressure, who in turn are riding horses who, over time have learned the same language and don’t need more than a slight suggestion, or a very specific signal to know to perform a movement. Early in my life I watched open mouthed as the old pros performed! Now years, books, clinics and videos later, I still hear “what are you doing with your hands in the air?” But I’m beginning to catch on, and I want so much to share these concepts with those club riders, but I know no more how to reach them than to control my own mistakes. Yet, like MLK said “I have a dream! “

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