Yes, that's me on the chestnut next to Bruce Davidson at a clinic in the 80s.

Have you ever taken a lesson with an Olympian? What did you learn? As part of our London 2012 coverage, we have a new series: “Lesson with an Olympian”, where HJU readers and bloggers share their experience training with London 2012 riders or past-Olympians. 

Whether it was at a recent clinic or at pony club 20 years ago, we would love to hear what you learned from an Olympian! Send your article with a photo to

I was riding a long-backed Thoroughbred gelding, green of course, in the narrow indoor hall with eight other riders, all there for the Olympic, world-class instructor; it was our opening flat-work session.

The instruction was to extend and collect the trot, then do some leg-yielding. My gelding was a horse I was training for his elderly owner, and he was cooperative but very unlettered. I struggled with the collection, and the leg-yield; finally, the instructor noticed my difficulties and helped me apply the aids more correctly. “Less hand, more leg,” he said. “Collect the trot, trot in place,” he instructed.

I timidly spoke up to raise an excuse. “I don’t know how to do that,” I said. “I don’t ride at that level; I’m not good enough to that.”

The reply boomed out across the arena. “WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU CANNOT TROT IN PLACE?,” he said with obvious emphasis. “You can do anything you want to do on that horse. He’s your responsibility,” he said.

Wow. Did that make an impression.

It was permission. It was a license to ride, and I did not forget that lesson in the years to come as I developed my eventing skill. While years later, Bruce Davidson did not remember exactly what he said in that clinic, he did remember that my riding got better over the course of the three-day clinic.

I am certain that phrase, and other gems of wisdom, did help my riding. I felt emboldened to try things, to work my horses myself, to check on my own progress, but to at least try.

That’s what I learned from a World Champion and Olympic team rider — that trying does count, and that without trying you can’t get started. No excuses – just ride!