Confession: My horse is perfect.
Yes, yes, we all say the same because all of our horses are the best! Horses are in many ways a perfect creature. They are graceful, delicate, athletic, and beautiful with so much heart that they will often do anything for you as long as you ask the correct way.
The thing is, how could we compete with such perfection? Surely we come out the loser by comparison? Compared to Ferrous’s extended stride in a frame (when I can get it), my equitation looks like a sack of potatoes with my lower leg working overtime to keep him moving forward with compulsion. My trainer taught me a great lesson last summer that sometimes to be an effective rider you need to look less than pretty. Let me tell you, I’m pretty sure that I’ve nailed that part of things.
I don’t try to compare myself to the women and equestrians on Instagram who are perfectly coiffed and styled posing in front of their personal photographers. My husband recently told me that some days I leave the house as if I don’t care about my appearance at all. I’m pretty sure it isn’t a compliment. However, he is correct that I wear minimal makeup and dress for comfort rather than flash for everyday occurrences. I dress up when warranted but if I’m running to the gym I highly doubt the woman next to me is going to care if I have blush on my face.
How do these Instagram influencers do it? It seems exhausting. Obviously, this is more apparent in fashion, style, or beauty blogging but there are some equestrian accounts that I just admire for looking so polished and beautiful. How do these people have personal stylists and photographers to film them at the barn? I can’t even imagine how to find a personal photographer that I don’t have to pay since I have little money to give. And you know what? That is all okay with me. Once or twice a year I make my husband come to the barn and work his stellar skills with a camera.
But I do compare myself to my horse. I really lucked out with Ferrous. He is calm where I am anxious; willing when I am unwilling; and versatile while I have trouble adjusting sometimes to change. Mostly I love and respect him.
Having a perfect pony means that I need to be my best self with him so that I don’t let him down. I need to be the rider and owner that he deserves.
Luckily, I take it as a challenge. I no longer punish myself mentally like I did on lesson horses for a bad ride. Instead, most of my rides are better overall. I come up with training exercises from books or blogs to better our balance and build our muscles. Often the weather or number of other riders may cause us to adjust those exercises and that too is a great lesson in adapting.
When I make an error my pony tells me by either refusing or overreacting. I learn more quickly because I love him and I want to do what is best for him. Always. I want to be my best self so that I can be the partner that my pony deserves. Is he too good for me? Probably. I think sometimes that horses are too good for all of us humans. But I will try every day to deserve him.