The most honest feedback you will ever receive about your riding comes from…you.
So often, we look at what we want to feel when we ride—feelings like joy, the horsepower beneath us, the grace of a half-pass or the magical feeling of self-carriage—that we get lost in what we felt when we rode and cease to pay attention to how we feel after the ride.
Sure, there’s the afterglow.
But once that subsides, deeper feelings bubble up. These feelings are the most important of all because they provide feedback, more honest than any instructor or judge about your riding.
This gut-check tells us when we are quietly trying to force something. When we are not honest with ourselves or being entirely fair to the horses. It tells us when we are running from our fears. It alerts us to when our sport has overruled our art.
There was a time where after I rode, I would feel a quiet sense of relief. As I explored that feeling, I realized that I was beginning to experience performance anxiety before the ride, which would get pushed aside in the hustle to get the horse ready or in my haste to check the “ride today” box and move onto the next thing. The feeling of relief after I rode was more difficult to push aside or “mute” than the feelings before I rode.
Likewise, I always know I am on the right track if I feel like I have shed layers of skin—like a snake. No matter how discombobulated I may feel in the saddle, the malting snake feeling let’s me know I am becoming the rider I am meant to become.
What do you feel after you ride?