Every time you ride, you choose what type of rider you will be.
Whether you will be a rider who frequently uses force (and to what degree), whether you have quiet hands or loud ones, whether you will be a rider whose highest value is power and expression or one that most values harmony and obedience– the choice is yours to make– every ride, every stride.
Whether you are cognizant or not, you make a choice to train like your influences. For better or worse, every instructor and rider has a unique stamp that they imprint their students and their horses with. When you opt to train with someone, you make an active choice to be like them and bear their imprint.
When you are just learning to ride, a nearby stable with a knowledgeable, supportive instructor who can explain to you the basic mechanics of riding suffices. As you progress, your needs and decision making process evolves. You then choose between reputations and accolades, and at a later stage in your riding journey, from someone who rides and works with the horses as you wish to do. This progression is simply one from a knowledge transfer –> experience transfer–> value transfer. By the time you’ve reached the third stage, you own your art.
In my experience, some of the best instructors have low profiles, so don’t let their own personal show record be a deterrent.
When evaluating new instructors or clinicians, let these questions guide your decision making:
- Who do you admire and want to ride like?
- What do you want to learn?
- Who do you work well with? (Or: who works well with your horse, if you have a tricky one.)
Remember, you choose who gets to influence you. You actively choose who you ride like. You choose daily what type of rider you want to be.
Choose these things wisely. Make them good ones.