Mar 3, 2011

Getting Your Masters

In order to master riding a horse, you must be able to master yourself.  You'll hear my dad say, "How do you expect to tell the horse what to do when you can't even do it yourself?"  In dressage we ask our horse to do to the left what it can do on the right, to be flexible and supple, to be athletic and have stamina, to be straight and even, to have concentration and focus.  Do you possess those qualities?  Do you strive to be all those things?

The first step is self-awareness.  Be conscious of what your body is doing, isolate body parts to work them on their own and then in conjunction with others, and check your position.  Do exercises that will strengthen your weaknesses both on and off the horse.  If riding a couple of times a week is your idea of fitness, you won't keep up with your horse.  Incorporate activities throughout the day to get strong, be limber, and centered.  Follow my dad's example:  try hanging upside down from your feet, lifting yourself perpendicular to a tree trunk, and doing handstands.  He's 68 years-old--I'm sure you can manage. 

"If you want nothing, you already have it." - Frank Grelo


Fear is a crippling feeling that can obstruct action in almost anything we do in life.  I have seen it hold back the potential of more riders than I care to count.  To become a great rider, one must master oneself and that includes tackling the fear.  I often hear from riders, "I know my limits."  Someone in pursuit of greatness is committed to pushing limits.  This does not mean jumping before you know how to walk, but it does mean saying yes to taking the biggest steps you can to get there.  I love when I find myself in an uncomfortable position because it highlights something I need to work on. 

The next most frequent phrase I hear is, "My horse..." (enter any characteristic of a horse here).  My dad has a good saying for this and it goes, "A lousy handyman blames his tools."  The quicker you are honest with yourself about what you are doing and assume responsiblity for how your ride goes, the sooner you will figure out what is necessary to overcome your obstacles.  Cut the excuses and go for it.  The ride will say everything that needs to be expressed.

More on mastering oneself to come...