One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep track of my progress (or lack thereof) with Liam. I felt like I had been working awfully hard for an awfully long time, and that I wasn’t getting very far. A friend suggested to me that the blog would help me remember what was working and what wasn’t, and to see my progress over time. Boy was she right! Now I look back at posts from months ago and remember the ride like it was yesterday, but I can see a night and day difference from where we are now. Without being able to compare the details of the ride, I would feel like, “Well, we are still working on walk, trot, canter…”, which of course we will be in one way or another for a long, uh, forever.
I am reminded of this tonight after talking to one of my students who’s feeling a lack of progress even though others in the barn and I can see huge progress. Of course, she is still working on walk, trot, canter too. Riding is an interesting sport, isn’t it? Atleast we are in good company, even Olympic level riders walk, trot, and canter.
As I thought about her frustration, I realized how much it has helped to me write down my goals, which forced me to be clear with myself what it was I really wanted and then to be sure that they were realistic. Then I broke them into smaller, achievable steps. Then I blogged day by day what I was working on, what went well, what was hard for me. And sometimes I feel like I write the same thing day after day, but when I look back weeks or months, it’s not the same thing at all. And the pictures and videos make it very clear anywhere the words leave any doubt! I think this is a good idea for her, and for everyone out there who is riding one day at a time. It’s easier to look far into the future with goals than it is to look far into the past to see progress.
The other thing I take away from this is a reminder how when riding we need to be like the horses are, living in the moment, focused on the here and now. Goals are great, but they are not today. Today we have to ride the horse we have under us, and yesterday’s “awesome lead changes” horse might be today’s “can’t walk a straight line” horse. And, it doesn’t matter. We have to work on walking that straight line today, and see what we have tomorrow. No amount of being frustrated or being angry or anything else is going to change what we have when we climb in the saddle today. So we ride it, and we move on. This is not easy to learn (and remember on those walking a straight line days!), but I think it is as essential a riding lesson as learning to post the trot. This is how horses make us better people, and keep us humble at the same time. Though some horses are better at this than others!