The secret in riding is to do few things right. The more one does, the less one succeeds. The less one does, the more one succeeds. (Nuno Oliveira)
This quote is true in training and in life! Sometimes we try to do too many things, and we end up just doing a lot of things “more or less” ok, instead of a few things, or just one thing, really well.
You know those restaurants you go to that say “Japanese, Indian, and Italian Menu”, and while there is loads of choice most of the food is pretty average. Whereas if you find a place that pretty much serves one thing, you save time ordering, plus typically the one thing that they do, well they are bloody good at doing it!
I used to ride into the canter pirouette, and do way too many things all at once. I would kick, and tighten, and try to soften him, and bend, and turn my shoulders, and relax my hands, and pretty much screw myself into a ball, and by the time we actually got to begin the pirouette Batialo was thinking “What the hell is she doing?”.
Often we see riders who are cantering down the side, and all they really should be thinking is, “am I straight?”
Instead, they think, wow I’m not straight so I’ll just try a flying change. Then the change is crap, and they give the horse a good kick in the guts because of course it was him just being lazy…
Why not work on the simple things first? Am I straight? No. Ok so I need to adjust the bend, I need to work out where my horses weight is tending and I need to correct it. Then, when you have the canter straight and relaxed, surprise surprise you get a good change!
Even before this, riders will be walking, and feel well my horse is not walking well, is not straight, is not listening to my seat, so I’ll just trot.
Take time to think on the little things, because the big things won’t come until all the little things are in place.
It’s like when you rush off to the supermarket and buy a whole heap of crap you don’t need and forget the one thing you did need because you didn’t stop and take time to figure out why you went there in the first place.
Don’t aim for the flying change until you can do a good, straight, balanced walk to canter transition off a light aid. Don’t aim for half pass, until you can do a balanced crossing, rhythmic leg yield. Don’t do a canter pirouette until your walk one is damn near perfect.
Don’t aim to be the restaurant that serves everything but can’t do one thing right. Be the place that makes a damn good taco, and just be the most awesome taco in the world!