The Best Thing I Never Said

“You see what it is, I see what it was”

I was having a whinge about the horse not going well one day. My coach said this to me and I thought it was a very eloquent way of reminding me of how far I had come when I was lamenting how far I had still to go.  


“Ride them forwards”

 A wise man always says this to me. I have since heard it from other wise people. Sometimes the simplest things are the most important to get right.

“Stop talking and just go and do it”

 My equestrian mentor of 20+ years has said this to me more than once. She is right, sometimes we over analyse everything until we paralyse ourselves. Sometimes we just need to shut up and get on with it, even if it is not perfect the first time.


“A horse is big enough and strong enough to kill you”

 Sage advice from the same person. In all the emotive responses horses can evoke in us it can be easy to get complacent and even careless. In riding a horse we are siting behind the shoulders of giants and we should not forget to respect their strength.


“Ride a circle, not a squircle”

 I was unsure what a squircle was until a ten year old explained that it is a circle that is to much like a square! Circles don’t have corners or straight lines – keep turning!


“Keep yourself in the best of company and your horse in the worst”

 It is great to have ambition and determination but to have success in competition it is best not to start by over facing yourself and the horse. This always reminds me that there is no shame in not being in the biggest class or at the highest level.


“Don’t go three quarters of a mile away”

 The lady who taught me to ride as a child did not mince her words nor shelter children from how she felt about their attempts at riding. This phrase was roared at us at high volume when we were making a second attempt at a fence we had run out or stopped at, usually out cross country. bBeing novice kids on cheeky ponies we would of course ride the same line again only to get the same result again while giving the animal a nice long approach and too much room to speed up or slow down. or go out the side option. While I laughed at the time it was always stuck with me


“Tits and teeth”

 Two showing ladies have taught me this over the years and the “nipples east and west” variant. It has proved invaluable in the show ring – no matter what is going wrong underneath you –  just sit up and smile!


“Sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes and picture the course. If you know it with your eyes closed, you know it”

There once was a gentleman who spoke taught us in pony club. He spoke so beautifully and purposefully and no matter how bad I was or what horse I was on he would try and teach us something new and something beyond our current level. This piece of advice was my favourite and has served me well. When we walked a course for  competition he would tell us to find somewhere quiet and sit with our eyes closed and check that we could picture it all in our head. I use it every time I compete at jumping and it works so well. Now whenever I teach I always pass the same advice to the riding school and pony club children and it seems to work for them too.


“Sometimes you just need a firm hand on your back”

 A lovely lady I used to compete at Trec with said this to me one day. There is so much advice and information now at our finger tips that it can be hard to take it all in and to know what to do. Sometimes I wobble and waver and all I need is a second opinion to say – yes, go for it, you can do it – that firm virtual hand on your back propelling you forward. It takes a special coach, mentor or instructor to provide that level of confidence and its usually because they believe in you more than you might believe in yourself.


“It costs as much to keep a bad one as a good one”

I have heard this from a number of people and it always strikes me as true. So often people keep an unsuitable or unkind animal in the hope that the behaviour will change. In the end an honest and suitable horse costs just as much to keep as a dishonest, unkind or unsuitable one does.  


“Stop doing that, horses hate that”

I am often lucky enough to get a loan of a horse and to attend a group lesson with a show jumper whose unique wit and honest nature always entertain the participants. Rather than sugar coat it or come out with a complex explanation, he tackled one of my bad jumping habits one day by giving me the advice above. I stopped doing it and the horse went better, go figure.


“It wasn’t luck that achieved this, it was hard work and determination”

I believe that luck is when preparation meets opportunity but I have always in the past performed best when I was the underdog. A friend said the above to me when I was about to ride the second test in a championship that I was in the lead in. I was terrified I’d only been lucky that morning and that I would fail but she reminded me that it was more than luck that achieved it and that the work I had put in had paid off.


“Always buy the best bed and the best boots you can afford because if you are not in one, you should be in the other”

A girl I met on an internet forum had this in her signature and I loved it. I bought sh*t boots once and the scarred ankles they caused reminded me that when it comes to where you feet stay or your body lies it is worth buying quality!


“Be Careful on them horses”

My non horsey dad says this to me every time I am heading to the yard. It reminds me he cares, it reminds me to wear a hat and to think safe.



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