by Laura Daly
Simple exercises including ground work, being led while riding, leading someone else on a horse, reviewing a lesson from the ground, riding in a round pen or small enclosure and wearing a helmet or other protective gear are often considered to be hallmarks of the green rider. What makes these rookie or beginner exercises? Have you ever wondered why the horse world believes this? Have you ever challenged these beliefs? Why are these actions frowned upon for more mature riders?
When established horse people review basic exercises it is commonly seen as a failure, but when an athlete does the same thing it’s called “mastering the fundamentals.” When an athlete wears a helmet or puts on protective gear, it is a smart move that helps protect the body and prevent injury or death. But when a horse person does the same thing, she may be considered a sissy or “green.”
No matter how many years an athlete has been playing, he has to start fresh each season with spring training. Coaches know that athletes cannot start with a game on the first day they return from a break. Athletes must work back up to physical and mental toughness. Riders need to do the same with our horses and ourselves. If you feel fear, or even just a little out of sorts on your first few rides out this spring, do not hesitate to start your own spring training routine. Warm up yourself, and your horse, with a few basic maneuvers so you can master the fundamentals and become the perfect winning team. Just like an athlete in other sports, do not hesitate to return to the fundamentals no matter what the season.
You will have all kinds of stops and starts on your journey to riding fear free. You need to expect them and not allow yourself to be discouraged when you must go back to the basics. If someone asks why you got off your horse to do some groundwork tell them you are mastering the fundamentals— just like any other athlete striving for success! Maybe you’ll inspire other riders to do it, too.
Published April 2014 Issue