If there was a phrase I would hear most it would be power through the turn or don’t pick, which both essentially equate to more leg. Like in life, my problems in riding aren’t as simple as just “more leg” but in when you boil it down, it’s almost that simple. The thing is, we don’t want it to be that way. We like complicated. It makes for a better story, easier to pass the blame, and easier to excuse why we haven’t arrived at the solution yet. Just like more leg.
Horses make for great preparation for the real world. There’s not much else that is as humbling as the sport. In 2014, William Fox Pitt, Mark Todd, and Andrew Nicholson all fell off at Badminton. Three of the best riders in the world all had a humbling weekend as life threw them a curveball. The heartbreak is not reserved for only the best, it does not pick and choose. A lost shoe the weekend before a show, a sudden career ending injury, missing out or losing a qualification, coming face to face with your goals or fears only to fail. The only way this sport is fair is that no horseman is immune to the humbling nature of the game. You will not succeed, in horses and life, if you do not find it within you to keep kicking on past the heartbreak.
That’s life though. It’s not easy. It’s not simple. But, it’s also not as complicated as we make it out to be.
This last year has changed me. I used to always be focused on the next goal, in my career, education, and riding. They were boxes meant to be checked off, with bumps in the road making it interesting. If it were horses, I was adding more leg without using my brain or hands to communicate the plan. Just running forward and wondering why we kept missing. That’s the complicated part. It’s not only more leg. There’s all the other parts and pieces playing a role.
I’m still a goal oriented person, but things have changed. My heart horse has taught me that my plans and goals should act as guidelines for my journey rather than as a map. My young horse has taught me that patience and a sense of humor is the best way to get through any problem. He has also taught me that even when you’re being run away with, you still need to add more leg.
Even when things seem like they’re going too fast, they’re too complicated, and it’s too much…add more leg.
I like to think of life like I do jumping. If you create a powerful canter that can enable your horse to use their athleticism to work with you rather than against you, you can make even a bad distance work. If there’s no power, even a good distance can feel bad. More leg, create that power, and kick on.