When L first posted this blog hop about funny things we believed when we were less educated riders, I was like “ha! good thing I’ve had such a thorough and correct riding education in my adulthood.”
I know. I make even myself laugh.
Despite many attempts to teach her otherwise, past Nicole straight up did not understand pushing a horse into the bridle. She definitely thought pulling was a thing there. And even after she knew it was about pushing the horse forward, her ability to execute such a thin was really astonishingly limited.
A big mistake of past Nicole’s was believing that just because you could do a movement on a horse you should do it to school it. Thus, poor past Nicole’s past horses have schooled a lot of really atrocious leg yield, shoulder in, and haunches in. Past Nicole also may have believed that if you could do something smoothly it was obviously good (like, the transition between going straight + leg yield was smooth and we slid over to the wall no prob? awesome, first level movement), and show ready. Past Nicole was broken of that one REAL fast.
Past Nicole also legitimately believed that you could get any horse fat on just hay. Like, not just that hay should be the staple of the diet, but that the first thing you should do to a horse who wasn’t gaining weight appropriately was shove more/better/different/other hay in front of them until they decided to stop being borderline anorexic and cave to your ridiculous human behavior. Present Nicole understands that horses are mysterious and complex individuals who may not like eating hay and may just need grain to keep their dumb asses alive.
A lot of past Nicole’s naiivete was around riding myths/herself. Things like
- if I could ride a difficult horse, I would be a good rider
- if I could sit a buck, I would be a good rider
- if I could ride this particular difficult horse, I would be a good rider
Of course, now I know that none of the above are indicators of anything other than being able to ride one or a few difficult horses. And it turns out that just riding the difficult horse isn’t all that difficult. It’s coaxing an excellent performance out of them, or even just the relaxation and suppleness needed for a good performance that’s the challenge. But none of those instantly make you, or indicate that you are, a good rider.
Past Nicole also believed that since Murray was athletic and could jump real big, if she could just get him strong and fit he would be totally confident and competent over big fences. While confidence is certainly intrinsically tied up in ability, it’s hardly the be-all-and-end-all. I now know that there is soooo much more that goes in to confidence than strength and ability — including rider confidence.
Additionally, past Nicole also used to believe that if Murray were confident over big fences, she would magically be confident over big fences. Sorry, kiddo! It doesn’t work that way. Especially not with a horse who is really, really, really tuned in to finding anything potentially scary about a situation and RUNNING THE FUCK AWAY from it. Confidence has to go Nicole first, then Murray, then positive reinforcement loop & trust bank that leads to more confidence.
I learn so much about horses and riding every day that I look back on myself just a few months ago and think “WTF was I doing/thinking/saying” and then immediately “omg what must people think of me?!?!” Past Nicole is always screwing over Present and Future Nicole(s) in that way. She’s such a bitch.