Equestrian Advice to Ride (and Live) By

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

BY PONYMOMAMMY

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. So I give you some of my favorite pearls of wisdom, in no particular order. Some of these are from trainers of mine, both past and present, some are widely recognized from BNT, some have nothing to do with horses by origin but still apply, and some are from my own head. 

  • If a horse says no, you either asked the wrong question or asked the question wrong.
  • An average hunter course has 100 strides. Only 8 of them are jumps. Don’t sacrifice the 92 for the 8.
  • On approaching a fence: good riders wait until it’s time to go. Great riders go until it’s time to wait.
  • Don’t squat with your spurs on.
  • It is NEVER the horse’s fault. Yes, sometimes a horse may take advantage of a situation, but there is ALWAYS something the rider could do differently to change the situation.
  • Pass left hand to left hand.
  • You can only lie to your horse so many times before they call your bluff.
  • Horses do no know what they are worth. They do not know, or care, what they are capable of. They only care about the way you treat them.
  • Injuries and colic happen almost exclusively at 10:00 pm on a Saturday.
  • Shoes get lost almost exclusively when preparing to leave for a show.
  • If you work hard, try your best, and never give up, your efforts will not go unnoticed. And you will be rewarded with opportunities when you least expect it.
  • If you work hard, try your best, and never give up, you will still fail sometimes.
  • Video doesn’t lie – after being told repeatedly that I was lifting my right hand before every fence, and swearing up and down that I was certainly NOT lifting my right hand before every fence… I was—in fact—lifting my right hand before every fence. Sometimes your brain lies to you. Video does not.
  • On being nervous going into the show ring: you’re just not that big of a deal. No one at the show is watching you close enough to know every mistake you might make, except for the judge and your trainer, and you are paying them to watch.
  • Be patient – there are no shortcuts. Any shortcut you may try, will actually be the long way.
  • Check your personal issues and emotions at the door. Your horse will know. It usually does not go well.
  • If your horse is in front of your leg, you have options.
  • We never lose. We either win or we learn.
  • Ride like a winner. You cannot act like flip flops and expect to be treated like Louboutins.
  • If you have to pick only two things to think about during a course, pace and track are the two you should choose. The rest cannot happen without pace and track.
  • Give yourself and your horse brain breaks. Go have fun, go hack out in the woods, go swimming bareback, read a book in the paddock, whatever. Just allow yourself time to have fun.
  • At home there’s no reason to jump as big as you show every time. The basics are the basics regardless of the jump height. Save your horses legs. 
  • The horse world is very small. Remember this and don’t burn your bridges and be mindful of your words.
  • Clean your tack. Groom your horse. Properly. Every day. If you can control nothing else, you can control your turn out. There is no excuse to not do the minimum effort.
  • No matter what the problem is, the solution is almost always add more leg.
  • Ride the horse you have today. Not the one you had yesterday. Not the one you want to have. The horse under you at this moment is the only one that matters.
  • You go where you look. The human head weighs 10 pounds. Unless you would like to end up on the ground, do not look down.
  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
Photo © Lauren Mauldin

About the Author: Ponymomammy juggles her roles of mother (two human, two ponies, and three doggos), wife, and perpetual amateur in Camden, SC. When not shuttling kids, or riding, she can be found feebly attempting to clean or cook, usually in dirty breeches from an earlier hack. Both she and her daughter enjoy showing on both the local, and A rated, show circuits.
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