Skills Gap

Coach says there is no such thing as a bad lesson. That one always learns something. Well, I put that to the test. I learned that I was a weenie, but I already knew that.


Last week, Natalie was violently opposed to something during my lesson. The dogs outside the ring? The green grass growing in the ring? The fact that it was Wednesday? Who knows. She completely threw her toys out of the pram: backing up, shaking her head, and generally saying, ‘Oh, hell no.’

I stayed with it, but barely. I knew that I should sit up, whack her on the ass, and tell her to fly right. Instead, I curled into a fetal ball, grabbed her mane, and tapped tentatively with my heels. It was as effective as you would expect.

Disgusted with self.

When holding a leadrope, I can get all up in the grille of any horse in the barn. When holding the reins, I can (usually) cope with the foibles of the mid-level lesson horses, such as Sam [Show Report] or Natalie [Show Report]. I’ve progressed beyond the up-down schoolies, such as Bingo [Training Aids] or Freckles [Clinic Report: Group]. OTOH, I still quake in my bootsies at the idea of riding the advanced lesson horses, such as Trump [Show Report] or Lola [Boot Camp Battle]. Let’s not even talk about the suit horses. If they consent to carry me, I am capable of being a happy passenger. As for revving up a performance horse with verve and style? Not so much.

Yes, there are horses out there who are more than I can handle. Plus, one can run afoul of the gentlest horse. On the whole, I feel bulletproof with my feet on the ground. Once I climb into the saddle, I turn into a cupcake. I’ve had my moments [Jump Crew], but the baseline is bakery products.

I suspect the situation is similar to an Olympic-level groom riding Preliminary, or the equivalent in jumpers/dressage. The ability differential is about the same. I wonder if they find it frustrating.

Any experience with upper-level horses? Is the analogy sound? What is your skills gap?
Gratuitous Peacock

SSF barn critter
SSF barn critter

5 thoughts on “Skills Gap

  1. You, a weenie?No way. Remember when we dreamed up an act where Bently (?) and Priney would jump side by side over increasingly higher jumps till, at 5 feet, you would go over and i would go under? Nobody’s a weenie who can even dream up a stunt like that. (Princess, my mare, was 13.2 hands high, a pony)
    You’re right, there are horses some people can’t handle, and some no-one can handle (ask Kathie about Catch, my hell-horse). But there is no shame is making a miscue because there is a sudden knot in your gut, or something tells you no, not this horse, not today. Stuff happens. No reason to be ashamed.

  2. I think we reach a point in life where we decide some things aren’t worth the cost. And it’s not limited to horses and riding. Trouble is, if it’s something we’ve done fairly competently in the past it can eat away at us in ways that it really shouldn’t. As I grew older, I too found myself slipping into this head space called “Used To Land.” In UTL I did all kinds of brave and crazy things. Now? Not so much. And that’s OK. I think one of the perks of growing older is that we can take a “pass” on crazy. No explanation necessary. “Been there, done that” is a cliche I use more often now, especially when I lack the burning desire to revisit history. Yes, I struggled with the “Weenie” factor a bit too at first, but eventually I fully embraced my middle-age wisdom and I haven’t looked back since. Or at least not very much. Because crazy really looks better on the young.

  3. I’m with Rontuaru on this one. Crazy is all very well when one is young and bouncy. I discovered at 48 that I suddenly don’t bounce so well at all. I prefer to look on it as self-preservation than fear.

  4. I’ve always been a weenie, at least by the eventing damn-the-torpedoes standard. It’s kinda like being cool as a teenager. Wasn’t. Can’t miss what you never had.

    What’s annoying is that my horsemanship has improved over time, while my riding farts around at the level it’s been at for years, decades. Ah well, worse things happen on my Facebook feed every day.

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