That which bites (Reality-wise)

(“Ask much. Accept a little. Reward often.”)

 When left to their own devices, students can be too hard on themselves. I’m thinking of a novice woman with a four year old she’s only owned for a month or two. In the course of her lesson I ask her to come down the centerline in the walk and make a gentle leg yielding out to the rail using the length of the arena. She tries it and more or less gets there. Her reaction, “That was terrible!”

“Why do you say that?” I ask, And she proceeds to recite a long list of things that could have been better: straighter, more energy, quicker off the leg, rounder top line, and that was just the beginning.

Mind you, it was the first time she had ever asked him for one, and he had probably only done a handful himself in his whole life.

Sigh! I appreciate riders with high standards and wanting to be as good as possible. But it’s also important to be realistic! If not, you run the risk of being unduly punitive or not trying anything new at all fearing the risk of failure.

I’ve used this great quote for years. It’s from Capt Etienne Beudant. “Ask much. Accept a little. Reward often.”

Part of facing reality is not trying to fix everything at once but  prioritizing based on what the horse brings to the table. If he doesn’t move off the leg, that’s probably the first thing to be concerned with. If acceptance is his issue, then concentrate there and make the yielding itself easy and minimal. Progress is incremental. That’s the way the system works. Don’t get ahead of yourself and be discouraged if you’ve jumped ahead a few chapters beyond where you’re supposed to be.