You have to make a lot of mistakes and try a lot of new things if you want to learn anything, right? Screwing up paves the road to success. However, you don’t want to keep making the same mistakes — that would be self-defeating or insane or both. I read a lot to find out what to try next, what things I should be working on with Eli to improve us overall as a team. I don’t want every ride to be the same old story, whatever may be said of routines. This means I try new things and do them very, very badly at first and Eli responds with justified resistance. But we keep at it, and eventually get better, maybe even get all the way to correctness. I am so fortunate that Eli picks up on things quickly and is very communicative (how ever annoying that may be at times). He is my best teacher when I try new stuff.
The thing we’ve been trying lately is more work at the walk. This is one of those things that I’ve read over and over, and you probably have too, if you follow equestrian media at all. Articles, books, clinicians’ advice … so many voices have echoed the same thing: riders and their mounts need to work more at the walk and canter. We spend a majority of our riding time in the trot, and not enough time at the walk or at the canter, working on these gaits.
So Eli and I are spending more time at the walk during our rides (still as much time at the trot and canter as usual for the most part, so our rides have gotten slightly longer). We work on many things at the walk, but one of them that is a bit of a struggle for is, especially for a forward-thinking thoroughbred and permissive rider as far as that goes, the rein back.
It’s difficult, to put it mildly. Currently, we suck at it.
“Perfect practice makes perfect” is an admirable goal, and it’s advice I willingly take, for if you are not trying to work on new things the correct way, you are causing more problems for yourself. Does this mean the first time we try a new thing it is absolutely correct? Nooooo. But does failure stop us?
It hasn’t yet.