Even though I have been riding, competing and training horses for the majority of my life, I have found one aspect of this sport incredibly and continually perplexing. If you are an avid rider, with immense goals, unwavering commitment, and a die-hard essence, how can you rise to the occasion by riding under pressure and performing to the best of your ability, while remaining cool, calm and almost seemingly nonchalant about life in general?
In other words, and in my opinion, some of the top riders in the world have ultimately mastered the melding of intensity and indifference. These riders epitomize the ability to meld the two seemingly contradictory qualities.
Let’s take a look at the rider who appears be comprised of 90% intensity, and a measly 10% of indifference. We have met this rider. Perhaps we are this rider. Perhaps we used to be this rider. Regardless, this particular rider will ultimately struggle when he or she yearns to make it to the top of any given equestrian sport. Such intensity becomes apparent through our minds and bodies instantly.
I should know, because I struggle finding my balance, especially when I was younger. I used to have far too much intensity and not enough apathy. Because I wanted to be a great rider, I allowed this intensity to overtake my soul while riding. When your mind seems to be wound too tightly, more often than not, our body, our arms, our hands, our legs, etc. follow this extreme pressure. Through trial and error, and through the guidance of some amazing mentors, I have been able to push that intensity aside, and find a soft agreeable counterpart.
Let’s look at the totally relaxed, almost out to lunch rider who wouldn’t know what intensity was if it hit them in the middle of their face. We have met this individual. Perhaps we are this person. I was never little miss go with the flow, but am learning to channel my inner California surfer chick persona while training, schooling and competing. Honesty, the totally relaxed, easy going and nonchalant rider has many notable qualities.
In fact, if I were going to have to pick someone who I think would make the best long term trainer, I would pick the latter individual than the overly competitive and intense rider for countless reasons. However, mister, or missus Go-With-The-Flow inevitably has his or her own demons as well. This rider might not be the best competitor in the world because no matter what score, or what number, or what color ribbon, or what qualifying score, he or she is blissfully and unshakably content and cool with their riding career.
These are obviously huge stereotypes and over-generalizations. But, hopefully, you get my point. In order to become a serious competitor, you must, I mean must have that perfect fusion of goddamnit-lets-get-it-done-or-die attitude, with that peaceful, tranquil and soothing ability to communicate flawlessly with our equine partners.
This, my friends seems like a true goal to work towards, or achieve. Maybe you already are one of these described competitors. Kudos to you! If you are not, have no fear, there’s always time to mesh these contradictory qualities, but first you must recognize how fundamental they are, and which qualities you have, or do not have.
That begin said, which rider are you and what are YOU working on improving and why?