Editor’s Postcard: Eyes on the Ground are Essential for Riders

Family or Friends with Big Hearts Can Fill this Role

I recently judged a show in Chicago and noticed two competitors helping each other throughout the competition. One, a younger woman, was especially attentive to the other, older, woman. They called (read aloud) each other’s dressage tests, gave that last grooming and boot polishing on the way into the arena, and met one another at the gate on the way out. They were equally supportive of each other, and it didn’t seem like a coach-and-student kind of relationship. 

After the show was over, I talked to competitors and learned these two were a mother/daughter team. The mother was 75 years old and competing in her first working equitation show. It made me miss my late mother even more than I normally do, as I recalled all the times we helped each other on our horse adventures together. 

Being the ground person and helper for a friend or family member is incredibly important to all of us involved with horses, and not just at competitions—it’s needed daily. Some of my most beloved friends have done this for me, and I for them. We often think of riding and training as a solitary endeavor, as opposed to a team sport. But you just can’t do this alone. 

If you have a regular coach or instructor, that person often fills this role. But there’s something special about a friend who’s willing to take the time and lend a hand or provide a set of eyes on what you’re doing while mounted, not expecting anything in return—except maybe the same favor. 

Those consistent eyes on the ground can really help us learn and grow in our training. I still recall many dry one-liners my mom said while watching me ride that were profound enough to set me squarely back on the right track when I’d deviated. 

My friend Carol has been doing this for me (and I for her) for over 20 years. She’s currently helping me start my young horse, Gus (whom she lovingly calls a blockhead). Gus is a big strong gelding who got an unfortunate late start and has proven to have a few challenges. I’d be lost without Carol’s assistance. 

In return I can offer my eyes and thoughts on her work with her horse, Joey, lend a hand loading him in the trailer, and hopefully, before long, polish her boots as she heads into the show ring. 


See this article in the July/August 2022 online edition:


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