By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)
With the upcoming State of The Union address by the President of the United States, it got me thinking about this process and how it compares to evaluating the State of Your Riding. Weeks of preparation go into the State of the Union Address, the President gives his speech, the other party gives a rebuttal, the news media and other people all share opinions about what the speeches meant, and a few others jump in along the way and offer yet another speech, rebuttal, or comment. In the State of the Union, there is some reflection on the good and bad events of the past year and there is a look forward to the next year and what needs to be accomplished.
Well as equestrians, we should take some time to reflect on the good of the past year, the bad that we overcame, and where we are going in the future. The one thing we know as horse riders is that we need to evaluate our riding and the skills of our horse on a very frequent basis. The problem comes when we forget to evaluate honestly and get stuck in a rut.
As a way to help — I offer four ideas for evaluating your State of Riding.
1) Take a lesson with a new clinician or trainer or coach. Step out of your comfort zone and seek the input or advice of someone else. Sometimes this can be in a video evaluation or an in-person lesson. I am not suggesting that you abandon your coach/trainer/lesson giver that spends countless hours with you; rather, I am suggesting you get an additional opinion. Those in my lesson program are encouraged, and in some cases, required to go ride with someone else at least once a year. As a coach, I value the input of other trainers for my clients.
2) Go on rides with friends and get their honest opinion as to what you should work on in your riding or with your horse. Sure, it is nice to ride at home, or with your family, or the one friend who always says kind words to you…but this will not help push you to the next level. Get some critical advice from other riders. Load up your trailer and head an hour or two away to the person you met online and go riding with that person. Hear about your horse and riding from another equestrian you have connected with online. (Note: each year I do this two or three times a year)
3) Take a monthly video of your riding and then every three months play all the videos in one sitting. Do you notice changes for the better or worse? Are you riding better? Is the ride you took a video of today the exact same ride as three months ago — if that is the case you may not be progressing, pushing yourself, or you just may be at a loss for something new to try with your horse. This is a great way to perform a self-evaluation.
4) Have a non-horse person watch you ride and ask you questions. This can be very frustrating and difficult to hear. The first thing that comes to your mind is “What does he/she know?”. Honestly, if a non-horse person asks you a question about something you just did in your ride and you think — “I never do that” — it is likely that you are fooling yourself about your riding skills and how well your horse is doing.
These are just a few ideas that you might consider using to help you review the “State of Your Riding”. As always, I look forward to you sharing this blog and your added comments.
Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).