What Have I Learned?

There is a bit of a blog hop going around focusing on the question, “What have I learned?” Started by Sara, other bloggers like Emma have also joined in. I was talking to my friend MM on the phone last night, and I found myself talking a lot about what I have learned during my time with Rio. In an effort to dig deeper and organize my thoughts on the matter, I’m hopping on the blog bandwagon.

Rio is also wondering what I have learned. Most importantly, whether I have learned that he only prefers soft peppermints, carrots, and apples, and that I should stop poisoning him with “horse cookies”

If you’ve read my blog for long you know that I used to do dressage and eventing in my junior years. I didn’t get to particularly high levels with either (2nd and training respectively) but they were on a horse that I brought a long myself, so I always felt like my foundation was very solid. I did the h/j thing in college (Sic ‘Em Bears!) and learned how to LOOK good on a horse, but my education on actually being an effective rider was somewhat stunted. Then I taught some beginner dressage lessons, and casually trained and lightly showed some dressage horses in the lower levels (yes I was a pro with USEF, and yes I had to reapply for ammy status years ago). I still felt like I had a really good handle on how to get on pretty much any horse and ‘figure them out’.

Probably wondering how I am possibly going to remember the 50 millions things necessary to get around the ring

Then I moved to Dallas, left the dressage life behind, and taught beginner lessons at a h/j facility. My interest in h/j was revived, and I starting taking lessons when they were offered/when I could afford them. I was still pretty confident that I had an OK handle on this h/j stuff and that it was basically eventing but prettier and dressage but in 2 point. SMH.

Two h/j lease horses and 2 years with Rio later, and wow have I learned SO SO MUCH. I think any time you really and truly dedicate yourself to a new discipline you will come away with a richer and more well-rounded knowledge base. Did I master dressage? Hell no! Did I master eventing? Not even close. Have I mastered h/j land? HAHA, I WISH. But, I have now spent several years in each discipline, the old adage, “The more you learn, the more your realize how much you don’t know.” really resonates with me.

Getting last minute tips from trainer while she probably secretly wonders if I will die at the long approach to the oxer

So what have I learned with Rio? To keep this post from turning into an absolute novel, I’ll keep it short:

  • You can have a balanced and connected horse without strong rein contact.
  • You don’t need a heavy seat to collect a horse’s gait or keep them balanced.
  • The mechanics of the horse are the same in all disciplines.
  • A good quality canter really is the key to almost everything, and that it is also much harder to achieve then I once thought.
  • I’m lucky to have a healthy horse, and I’m lucky to he is such a willing partner.
  • There are many ways to achieve the same goal. Although they may differ from discipline to discipline, that does not make one “right” and one “wrong”. BOTH can work.

I could go on, but I think those are the top lessons that have really hit home for me lately! So what about you guys? What have YOU learned?


Also learned that Texas fall sunsets are pretty spectacular this year!

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  1. definitely agreed that good mechanics are universal, and that there’s a lot to be learned by viewing horses and riding through the prisms of various disciplines. i brought charlie home to an h/j barn after buying him, for various reasons, and while obviously i felt a bit like a fish (with weird tack) out of water haha, i still didn’t mind in the slightest that charlie’s first lessons were with an h/j trainer. good horsemanship is good horsemanship no matter the discipline, imo!

  2. Nodding my head so emphatically to your point about the good canter. It really is the root of all good things, and there’s so much more to it than you’d ever guess. I’m pretty convinced that once I can figure our canter out fully, the sky is the limit.

  3. I think the root of all success on horse back is the right canter. If only it wasn’t so elusive…
    But all of your learning points are great ones! I am working on believing that adjustments can happen so subtly too. It’s so hard to do less!

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