A Journey of Discovery
by Kim Roe
One of my favorite poems is Riding Lesson, by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Henry Taylor.
I learned two things
from an early riding teacher.
He held a nervous filly
in one hand and gestured
with the other, saying “Listen.
Keep one leg on one side,
the other leg on the other side,
and your mind in the middle.”
He turned and mounted.
She took two steps, then left
the ground, I thought for good.
But she came down hard, humped
her back, swallowed her neck,
and threw her rider as you’d
throw a rock. He rose, brushed
his pants and caught his breath,
and said, “See that’s the way
to do it. When you see
they’re gonna throw you, get off.”
A few years ago I was asked to start a 5-year-old gelding that had spent his youth lounging in a field. The owner was a young man with limited riding experience. His goal was to do some local trail riding and eventually take hunting trips in the mountains. I knew better, and I told him it was unlikely to work. He needed to ride a trained horse, and this young gelding needed months, perhaps years, of being ridden by an experienced rider. But he talked me into it, promised to leave the horse here at least 3 months, and take some lessons on an older well-trained horse. The gelding was good natured and we made fast progress. But when the owner came to ride, his lack of body control confused the gelding, resulting in tension. At one point, the horse bolted across the arena. The man got him stopped, turned to me and said, “This is too hard!”
Riding horses is hard, despite what movies and television make us believe. Okay, riding a zombie dude horse in a string isn’t hard, but that’s not riding, that’s sitting. Riding well takes continued practice over a lifetime, and still, there’s always more to learn. Last summer I was working with a respected and accomplished trainer from Portugal who said of his own riding, “If only I could control my hands…” The longer we ride, the more we study, the more we discover how much more there is to learn. This is what I love about riding – you keep discovering and learning.
We at The Northwest Horse Source are so grateful to you, our readers, for bringing us along on your journey of discovery.
“Riding Lesson” from The Horse Show at Midnight and an Afternoon of Pocket Billiards by Henry Taylor, ©1975, printed by permission from Louisiana State University Press