By TPH Publisher Piper Klemm, PHD
When we talk about mileage in cars, it’s usually a negative: “How many more horse shows do the station wagons have left in them?” “What will our [wishful thinking] next car would look like?” (That latter one is mostly my husband.)
But it’s not a term I hear much in daily life with non-horse people. Maybe it’s time to change that – maybe we all need to use “they need more mileage in the saddle” at work, where it’s an important metaphor. Experience is a critical part of developing expertise.
Most of our horses need more mileage – we’re all pretty accepting of that. The professional horse whose next step is amateur miles, the baby horse who just needs to get in the action and participate, the jumper who needs to diversify their portfolio for future success.
Young riders need mileage in new divisions as they move up the ranks, and riders need mileage on young horses to understand how to make them up.
Young trainers need mileage standing at the in-gate and handling everything that is thrown at them (maybe even literally).
And I’m ready to say that I need more riding mileage. I’m gaining mileage at the 3′. Golly, it still scares me to type that. Sitting tucked in at my computer, I cannot believe I can jump that high… But when I’m out and about, getting my mileage on Reuben, anything seems possible.
I flew into the Dayton Airport to show at World Equestrian Center with Reuben last month and was confronted with an obvious horsemanship decision to not show. Apparently, his metaphorical thick skin about my amateur mistakes isn’t literally thick skin, and the irritation led to some swelling (which ended up being completely fine– he just needed time.) I think he was more disappointed than I was to get back on the trailer without having shown. Gaining mileage sometimes means gaining the wisdom to make the right long-term call.
I bring this up because, today, 2020, for the first time ever, I feel like I’m finally rolling in with the mileage for success. I have literal mileage – I’ve been boots-on-the-ground at hundreds of horse shows throughout the world over the last decade with the magazine, with my ponies, and with every time a chance to talk to people. I know which stories I’ve heard before – who is trying to rile me up, or who quietly puts their head down while making points so good that I know I’ll have to track them down again at the next show.
I’ve put together over 50 issues, 200 podcasts, thousands of online posts, and what feels like millions of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts. I’ve made friends, lost colleagues, and completed the most fundamental task in our industry: survival.
As The Plaid Horse and I move into a new decade, I’m grateful for the progress that has sustained us and proud of the incredible friends, successful collaborations, and won classes. And I still need more mileage with my first horse.
Follow me on instagram at @piperklemm
About the Author: Piper began her tenure as the Publisher of The Plaid Horse Magazine in 2014. She received her B.S. with Honors in Chemistry from Trinity College [Hartford, CT] in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. She is an active member of the hunter/jumper community, owning a fleet of lease ponies and showing in adult hunter divisions.
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