It’s not about ‘natural’ and it’s not about ‘comfort’…a.k.a. a few thoughts on demands of schooling horses & training riders.


Everybody seems to love natural talents. You know, the kind of, oh, look they don’t even try very hard, they are just so naturally talented at [this or that]. At school, if you don’t revise much but you end up with top score on your assignment, you’re some sort of a Jedi. Or – she’s such a natural beauty, no make up needed and can wear anything and still look good. He is just so confident at everything without trying, amazing…

We live in a world that glorifies no effort, things should come reasonably easily and fast otherwise it’s all frustrating and annoying and everybody-esle-do-it-so-much-better-on-Instagram-just-not-me.

If you work very hard to make your living you are probably a little bit stupid (did you hear about that couple who turn everything into gold when they just about touch an idea!?) .

If you take your time with a horse, you are probably just too scared/not good enough to ride it “properly”.

If you practice a lot and place well at a show with your personal best you are nowhere near as impressive as that girl who pulled the horse straight from a field after he’d been off for a week (horse already knows how to go around a circle and/or jump a jump, you know), ran late to the show ground so only had 10 minutes warm up, learnt her test in a lorry on the way/didn’t walk the course just watched one rider jump once – and still had the same result as you. 

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How about if...there was not that much of “natural” and “comfortable” in training/practice/schooling at all…

This year, I set all the Academy riders a task of choosing 3 goals for the 2016. Not so much to create a competition results driven atmosphere but to help me teach a focus on the training process.

This is because the result without that process is really rather meaningless. It’s through habit, commitment and application to that process, ordinary riders (let’s be clear here – that’s 99% of all riders out there) and ordinary horses (90%?), can achieve the extraordinary. Whatever this might mean to each individual person.

Because maybe, the skill is not the colourful ribbon, nor a nice comment from a judge. It’s what you learn about yourself and about your horse over time you spent practicing; it’s about understanding how you can push yourself and the horse beyond the current status quo. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable as hell, difficult and seemingly impossible. Sometimes it feels easy and natural.

Why be proud of “natural”? Why be self-satisfied with doing nothing much/feeling comfortable in your lessons all the time?

Why be ashamed of effort you put in to test how good you might be?

To all the riders out there who are disheartened by those who take pride in no effort, don’t be. The real reward is in the journey 🙂

P.S. Yes, it’s different for those who ride/work with horses ‘for money’ or for a job. Results are important  because they support livelihood. My teaching pays for my living. I want it to be effective and good. Still, if it came easily and with no effort, it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as it is 🙂 


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