I’m really so tired of people asking me why I am still taking riding lessons after so many years. Honestly, does anyone question why a ballet dancer is still attending classes? Does anyone ask a downhill racer why she is still working with a coach? For those of you who ask, yes, I do know how to ride if you judge riding as merely being able to stay on (in most cases), steer effectively, and not drive a horse crazy. But its more than that. Riding is a sport. And no, the horse does not do ALL the work. If you think that, you have never been on a horse. Secondly, and more importantly, riding is an art. It is being able to sit on a sensitive, powerful being in such a way that you can direct and influence its movement to make it more beautiful. That means you have to keep your 140lb pounds of body weight in balance with its movement, allow for the supple lift of its back, and glide along with or shape and correct every footfall without constricting the motion in any way. This is really a lot harder than you would think. Today I had a lesson on a lovely Dutch Warmblood schoolmaster, and after not having ridden for a few months, was quickly reminded how much my timing, balance, feeling—all those things that matter most—had deteriorated. If it were just a matter of being strong, I could have maintained my fitness at the gym. There is something that goes on between a horse and a rider that can not be duplicated in any other way.
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