Right now, more than ever before, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to who we can learn from in our riding and horsemanship training. The internet allows us to follow other equestrians from all walks of life, disciplines, and methods. And, for the most part, it is fantastic!
However, the internet can also create the possibility that the equestrians you see daily in your feed while you scroll might not be the best ‘fit’ for you and your present situation…
Because that method or that particular person is ‘popular’ with the algorithm, it is easy to become influenced by techniques, experiences, or people who may not be in the same geographical location or share similar values and resources as you. And this matters.
The trouble starts when you begin to see yourself or your horse as ‘less than’ or ‘a failure’ because you cannot replicate what you see online. But in truth, this is often because that particular method, technique, or person was never suited to you and your specific situation, to begin with…
As we hack on into 2024, the equestrian community is more connected than ever, with millions of trainers and fellow riders sharing their insights, techniques, and experiences online. However, I believe that there is one often ignored question for novice equestrians that needs to be answered… “Who will you follow in 2024?”
The Pitfalls of Distance and Divergence
The challenges of choosing the right mentors and navigating the diverse equestrian landscape can be daunting. The sheer amount of available information and the variety of trainers accessible through online platforms is mind-boggling! And while the internet has undoubtedly helped to level the playing field when it comes to equestrian education, it has also created a conundrum for riders seeking guidance.
Trainers and equestrians from various corners of the globe offer insights that may not necessarily align with your local practices, available resources, or what’s possible based on weather, age, horse, training, facilities, etc.
Imagine following a trainer whose methods or training plans work in a climate drastically different from your own… Or an equestrian who has unlimited access to facilities or resources that you lack! The geographic and resource differences can create confusion and frustration for riders attempting to turn advice into practical training for themselves and their horse.
Moving past just resources, I think it is so important for you, as an equestrian, to intentionally align with the values and principles of your chosen mentors. I think it’s fair to say that methods, techniques, beliefs, and training philosophies can vary significantly from person to person.
Following a trainer or equestrian whose values do not align with your own can lead to internal conflicts, which often causes riders to lose confidence in themselves. And this, of course, has a knock on effect on the horse as well.
For instance, if your values prioritize your horse’s welfare and a strong partnership with your horse over all else, then following a trainer focused solely on competition success probably won’t make for the happiest of outcomes! Similarly, if you are a rider who aspires to compete at the highest levels, well you will probably find it frustrating if you are following a trainer who emphasizes a more laid-back approach to horsemanship and riding!
Age Related Considerations…
One of the things I love about horses and riding is that there’s something for everyone. Regardless of age or physical abilities. However, I also think it would be a little fool-hardy not to at least be aware of age-related risks, and how they can manifest in various forms when working with horses. Age can and often does impact both the physical and the mental aspects of riding.
Go into 2024 being mindful of the potential consequences of following advice or methods that do not consider age-specific challenges…
For younger riders, the temptation may be there to push boundaries where progress is concerned. This can lead to injuries, overtraining, or burnout. This is often why so many horses and riders have ‘gaps’ in their basic training. The goal is to get to the ‘fancy’ stuff as soon as possible!
On the other hand, mature riders may face unique physical limitations that require a more measured and tailored approach to training. And these same riders often have more responsibilities and commitments that need to be addressed when creating a training plan. Following a trainer or rider who does not consider these age-related nuances can result in more injuries, and hindered progress.
Feeling ‘Stuck’ in Your Riding
One of the greatest consequences of following the wrong person, advice, or method is the impact on your overall confidence. We know that horse riding is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. Mindset makes all the difference when it comes to both riding and training horses.
When novice riders follow advice that does not resonate with their instincts or align with their goals, a loss of confidence will often follow suit
The danger lies not only in the potential for a decline in skill, which will put both horse and rider backward on their progress journey. But also in the almost paralysis that can accompany misalignment. Riders can find themselves “stuck” in their training, unable to progress due to conflicting guidance or a loss of belief in their abilities.
Recognizing the signs of misalignment and having the courage to reassess and redirect your horse riding journey is crucial as an equestrian. Suppleness is both mental and physical!
Who Will You Follow in 2024?
So as we prepare to step into the new year, or whenever you are listening to or reading this, start asking yourself this question. Who or what is showing up regularly in your life? By gaining clarity over your values, your goals, and what you enjoy as a rider, you can begin to create a bank of equestrians who will positively influence you and your horse while on your journey together.
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Connect with Lorna online:-
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