Being over 50, and having been riding horses the vast majority of my life I have had the fortune and misfortune of spending quality time with many trainers.

Each and every one of them, had something unique and special. And each and every one, left me with something that I can pull from the back of my memory and use. Now that I spend a large part of my riding alone, I often find voices popping up in my head.

Last night, after weeks of introducing the canter to the young mare I’ve been bringing along, everything was going great. I decided to go long and canter her the entire arena.

As we start down the long side, I heard a male Austrian voice in my head repeating over and over again: “…N DA inside leg say’s canter…ch~jump, canter.. ch~jump”.

Three strides into our loop, I began to giggle. By the time I hit the corner, I was laughing full out loud, but that darn horse kept going ‘cause the inside leg said…. “canter…ch~jump, canter.. ch~jump”.

I still have not figured out, why just about every trainer (myself included) uses a deeply sounding, highly guttural German “YA!!!” when they stand in the center of the arena, sizing up a rider. For several months, I worked with a trainer from Georgia, who had a huge southern accent and twang in her voice, yet as soon as she stepped in the arena as a trainer, she lost that completely and became a Fraulein with the German “YA YA YA” when I did something correct. This same woman, who had never left the country, also shouted “nein” at me, several times .

Several years ago, I was working with a trainer who tried to convince me, that my horse and I could trot down the underground road, and ride right through a river. As I began, the trainer was talking me through each step. Then, the trainer stopped talking to me half way down, and by the bottom step, inches away from the river, everything went right out the window. I ended wrapped around my horse’s neck.

This resulted in a high pitched voice shouting at me “Your horse will be only as brave as you.” Now, years later, this phrase pops into my head quite often. It still stings and burns, bringing an odd awakening reality to me, as I try new things with a young horse. It has braved me up on many days.

Some of my favorite phases I have heard over time that rattle around in the cobwebs of my head, are:

“Breathe” “Smile” “Thumbs up” “Point your toes”  “Heels Down”  “Shoulders back”    “Well that sucked!”

Just like the many loved brushes, hoof picks, pieces of odd tack and horse necessary items I have collected over the years and keep handy in my tack box; the odd little phrases that each trainer has shouted to me during a lesson are just as valuable.

Tonight, when I ride, I hope I hear a southern woman shout “YA YA YA!!” when I nail the half pass, but since it’s my mind I’m sure I’ll hear “nein!”