The Near Side: I Had a Great Ride and I Want to Tell You About It

I love Charlie! And this is what he thinks of me, apparently. I’ll win him over sooner or later.

I had a great ride last week. It wasn’t the flawless, everything-went-perfectly kind of ride that you dream of pulling off the day of a show after arduous months of practice with your horse, but it was still great.

I recently started riding a new (to me) schoolie named Charlie, and he’s given me a whole new outlook on riding. Not to take anything away from my prior mount, who is safe and reliable and has been good for my shaky confidence over fences. Charlie is safe and reliable, too, but he does his job with a bit more enthusiasm. He’s got loftier gaits and a bigger jump. He makes me feel like a real rider. I didn’t know what I was missing until I got paired up with Charlie.

Anyway, last week’s lesson wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. Not by a long shot. But after a couple of rough lines and some redirection from my instructor, I realized that I had to ride differently than what I was used to. Once I changed my approach, things seemed to fall into place. We finished the lesson with a round that, while not perfect, just felt right. I couldn’t stop smiling.

You’re riders, so you know what I’m talking about. And that’s why I’m writing about this fantastic but not really exciting ride. There’s something so great about making a breakthrough with your horse or your riding that makes you want to tell the world. Well, the part of the world that understands what you’re talking about, anyway.

I had a friend from college who worked for a few years at a farm that specialized in retraining and selling horses that came through auctions and horse dealers. The farm also did some public trail rides, but during the off-season, it was pretty isolated. She liked the work. It gave her a lot of autonomy and the opportunity to ride all kinds of different horses, but it was pretty much just her and the farm owner out there. She once lamented to me that she had no one she could really talk to who understood horses. She was dating a non-horsey dude at the time who would offer a sort of, “that’s nice, dear” response if she tried to explain her excitement about a breakthrough ride. The lack of like-minded friends tarnished an otherwise positive situation.

This was a few years before Facebook was available to the masses, and it doesn’t really matter as the friend in question is one of the five people left in America who eschews social media entirely. Even so, a few people clicking the like button on your status isn’t quite the same as actual conversation anyway.

I’m fortunate now that I have a job where my coworkers are horse people. I can walk into the office and say something seemingly vague like, “I rode Snoopy last night, and he seems sound but he’s just not quite right,” or, “Snoopy was so on last night! He’d be ready to go to a horse show tomorrow!” and they’ll get it. But the same statement would probably elicit blank stares from my non-equestrian friends and family.

I sometimes think it would be great to have a support group for riders with a limited equestrian social network. Some sort of horseaholics anonymous. Everyone gets the chance to share their victories/frustrations from the past week with fellow horse people. We’ll meet on Wednesdays. There will be punch and pie.

Until I get that rolling, feel free to share your horsey joys and sorrows in the comments.

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  1. Please start a group!! I ride with mostly people who are under the age of 22 (I’m 48) and they don’t want to discuss or care given that they are confident riders and have their own “teen” thing going on. I came back to riding after 25 yrs. and am completely new to dressage.

  2. A support group would be great. I board/ride at a small barn and as hard as I have tried, I cannot find anyone who will ride out with me. I love being with my horse but it does get lonely sometimes.

  3. That’s the very reason I started “Let’s Talk Dressage” for those riders who want interaction because they work on their own, don’t have horsey family or friends, need some fun chats during the quiet times. The Skype Discussion Groups is just beginning to gain traction. Welcome.

  4. That’s why my husband and I joined Old People’s riding club (it’s for people over 21) and we are seriously considering Freestate riding club early this spring.
    We’re not eventers, we just like to enjoy our horses and take in new experiences. This past summer, Our first year with OPRC, we took one of our horses swimming…it was one of the greatest experiences ever. Took my horse to a clinic and learned so much. I’ve met some really awesome people and learned so much that I didn’t know. I’m even getting more confident going places to meet friends without my hubby. Horse friends are important!


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