I’m sure I’m not alone in the belief that riding is about lifelong learning. Despite this conviction I feel that, for all of my years in the saddle, I’m far from reaching my potential as a rider. In a way, I think that I have made the best of the opportunities which have been available to me, but it’s now a case of continuing to make the opportunities come my way.
I want to make a living out of working with horses, and see my main method of doing so as teaching – I hope to work with a variety of methods, and branch out into other areas beyond working at a riding school and teaching the basics, but whenever you work with horses and riders, an element of coaching is involved. Although I believe that good riders do not necessarily make effective teachers, I also think that in order to be a good riding instructor, you have to be a competent rider.
With this in mind, there are several things I’d like to work on in the near future – the list is constantly growing, with nothing currently being ticked off due to my life being sadly horseless. Hopefully that will change early next year and I will find somewhere to ride and train.
Things I’d like to achieve (just don’t ask me which I’m starting with or when!):
BHS exams – they’re the obvious choice for anyone who wants to teach riding, but is the decision of where to start so obvious? There’s a natural pathway (though it’s a frustratingly long one) working through the so-called “Stages” with a few instructor-type exams and assessments along the way. But does this suit what I’m doing at the moment and where I really want to be? There are also several smaller qualifications needed and lots of hoops to jump through (for example, some of the exams require you to hold a valid first aid certificate and the BHS Riding and Road Safety qualification as pre-requisites for entry). I’m considering the Equine Tourism qualifications offered, but I’m still uncertain.
Overcome my confidence issues – I’ve written previously about my issues with jumping and riding on roads. I have a feeling the jumping will be an easier fix, and I feel ready to do it (just unsure who can help me, as I currently don’t have someone I work with on a regular basis, and trust is going to be key), but I find myself wondering if the other part of my fears is more complicated, and am aware that it could take more time to fix.
Learn more dressage movements – for several reasons, my dressage training went as far as basic lateral work (leg yield, turn on the forehand, shoulder in) plus learning to rein back before stalling. I’ve never trained with anyone who would profess to be an expert in the field, partly because I didn’t used to be all that keen on it! Like many children, I mainly loved going fast, pushing certain limits and jumping. I didn’t care about going sideways or achieving an outline or looking pretty. I doubt that dressage is something I would like to specialise in, but I would like to learn far more than I know, so lessons with a dressage trainer are something I’m keen to explore.
Work with more horses independently – I enjoyed the all too brief time I spent working for rides in my teens, and would happily do it again. Caring for horses is something I enjoy almost as much as riding them, so this element of the exercise doesn’t bother me. In my mind, the benefits are well worth it: I enjoy schooling horses and working with them, whether it’s to improve my relationship with them, help them to progress in their form or to improve their general demeanour. It’s something I can always learn from, and I enjoy figuring things out for myself just as much as taking constant instruction in lessons. I find working by myself to be a more relaxing experience, as well as being rewarding when I get the result I’ve been striving for.
Diversify my experience – riding as a physical therapy has always intrigued me, and it’s only increasing in popularity. Horses and riding are also quickly gaining credibility in terms of treating other conditions, such as autism, alcoholism, depression, and being used in the rehabilitation of offenders. Even those who suffer with confidence issues or require management training turn to equine consultants. All of these things intrigue me, and I’d love for part of my journey to explore the use of horses in this manner, with a view to becoming a practitioner in one of these fields around the more standard delivery of teaching riding.
I’m not very good at goal setting. My fear of failure means I don’t like to put time limits on achieving things, I’d rather just avoid them! Which at the moment isn’t getting me anywhere with regard to the pursuit of what I really want. I know that I need a target and a timeline, but at the moment, the mountain is getting the better of me.