Today, I was challenged to think about my inspiration from the equestrian world, something I have been asked previously but never really had an answer for. This prompted me to think harder about the riders who I have admired over the years, and why this question has so far remained unanswered.
My first thoughts to my own questions are that a.) there were so many riders that I loved! I collectively admired those at the top of their game for everything they worked to achieve, and b.) I learnt later on that you don’t always know the story behind an indiviual’s success and the training they put in, so have tried to learn more about this and take from riding styles rather than particular riders. With that said, there have of course been riders that inspired me along the way, especially as I was getting into the sport.
Growing up, showjumping was my dream career. I made profiles on the top riders on the circuit to keep an eye on and to analyse, hoping that it would help me learn between my weekly lessons. One of the riders that stands out in my mind is Ellen Whitaker, and her incredible mare, Ladina B, who has most likely subconsciously added to my want for a mare. It was amazing to watch Ellen sit the bucks Ladina B would put in between jumps and their determination to get over the gigantic wall that would be stood before them in the puissance. I’ve always wished I could be that brave!
Other showjumpers that have inspired me were Ben Maher and Tim Stockdale, the only professional rider I have had the pleasure of meeting – he signed my copy of his book at Olympia 2012 and made my year!
With that said, showjumping hasn’t been my only inspiration. Learning about the work of Monty Roberts started a whole new fascination into “join up”, and natural horsemanship, something I have wanted to try ever since. I was fortunate enough to attend one of his clinics and watch him work with a number of horses that evening.
I have also been incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to start to learn to ride in the style of classical dressage, learning to influence the horse with just the body, and without artificial aids, it really highlights just how sensitive these incredible animals are!
A (relatively) recent trip to Vienna by pure coincidence gave me the chance to watch the incredible riders at The Spanish Riding School of Vienna in training, which left me in absolute awe of their skills.
I try to incorporate the skills and approach of each of these riders/styles in my own riding, in order to achieve that puts the meaning in the quote:
A good rider can hear her horse speak to her. A great horse can hear her horse whisper.Author unknown
This quote is what I aspire to. If the horse I am riding wants to communicate, I don’t want it to have to scream for me to listen. I don’t want it to get to the point of a fight because I know I wouldn’t win. I want a partnership with my equine friend. I want there to be trust between us, and whilst running the risk of my post being overshadowed by great quotes, here is something else to think about:
You don’t ‘train’ a half-ton flight animal who could kill you in the blink of an eye; you prove to him that he can trust you more than his own instincts. That is true horsemanship.Author unknown – found on Pinterest
I love this! I think it is such an accurate representation of the trust needed between horse and rider, and this is what inspires me 💖