Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz - photo by Calina

Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz at Burghley – photo by Calina

Boldness is something every event rider treasures in a horse. But I know that boldness only comes with confidence, training, and few other good forward things. But here’s my own personal take on it.

Recently I was ripped out of my comfort zone at work and thrown, willy-nilly, into a different territory with totally different stuff. I had to drive places I’ve never been – negotiate unfamiliar roads, intersections, lanes left turn, right turn, here’s the street, whoops, missed the street…turn around…try again…I got to thinking. This is what we expect when we ride on a cross-country course. From Beginner Novice right on up to Rolex, we all expect our horses to get it right, the first time – no misses, no turnarounds, knowing right where to go. And driving around looking for the turn and the street I’m supposed to find, I am thinking to myself, what freakin’ saints these event horses are, such blind trust in us, such faith in our ability to steer and direct them around an unfamiliar course.

GRC Photo of Rugby at Weave A Dream Horse Trials.

GRC Photo of Rugby at Weave A Dream Horse Trials.

It’s a real eye-opener when you think about it. They see NOTHING beforehand. The jumps, the light, the shadows, the feel of the ground under their feet, the hills, the downhills, the water, the size and placement of the jumps and the shape of them, the color of them, their placement, going right, going left, going fast, going slow. We take so much for granted. Even if we’ve schooled the course previously at a schooling day, it’s still different for THEM, because we are stringing together jump after jump in an unfamiliar order. I am astounded even more at the incredible trust a horse must have in a rider to go out at Kentucky and skip around Rolex, an immense 4-star course and the added distraction of a huge crowd to a horse.

A horse sees a jump, and after training and time knows he is to jump it. He can go around it. He can stop in front of it. He can say no. But he goes because he is taught. This beautiful faith in the rider we call “boldness”. I so appreciate it because I know in an animal that was not made to be a leader but a follower, training turns them into team members who share leadership. When we point together at a jump, we go. It just impresses me when I think about it…..and ….oh dear…I’ve missed that turn!