Have you ever had a lesson so good you felt like ditching your junior or amateur status and going pro? The kind of lesson where the jumps are big enough that you consider questioning your trainer’s judgment? I had one the other day, which is really saying something, since I tend to make involuntary squeaking noises when I (frequently) botch a distance.
Waffle, my hunter-turned-jumper, was adjustable, light in the bridle, and game for the various gymnastics my trainer set up. We even conquered the widely feared “ground pole one stride in front of a jump” exercise, despite the fact that poles on the ground usually leave me questioning every decision I’ve ever made in my life. In the background of a few of the videos, you can hear my trainer say, “Good, Kate,” so I know I didn’t hallucinate the whole thing. I sent them to every single contact in my phone, just to prove how amazing I am.
You showed those ground poles who is boss, I thought to myself. You’re basically Kent Farrington now.
I was still riding that post-lesson high the next day, as I tacked Waffle up and stepped into the saddle. You showed those ground poles who is boss, I thought to myself. You’re basically Kent Farrington now.
What I quickly realized is that I am nothing like Mr. Farrington, and Olympic silver medalist and NOËLLE FLOYD Magazine cover boy. I picked up the trot, only to find that Waffle was reluctant to soften and bend. Our circles looked like Picasso’s abstract drawings. My reins kept getting too long and my leg pressure wasn’t consistent. I asked for the right lead canter and Waffle instead leaped into the counter-canter – not once, but twice.
I, along with every equestrian everywhere, learned early on in my riding career not to fight my horse if a ride is not going well. I was also taught to ride the horse I have today, not the horse I had yesterday or two weeks ago. Even though we had an amazing lesson and Waffle and I were completely in sync, I can’t expect him to go around the same way every single day.
What would Kent do in this situation? I asked myself.
So, channeling my inner Farrington, I let Waffle walk around the ring on the buckle, as if we were done and cooling out. When I picked the reins back up, I found that I had a more responsive, willing horse, and that my cues were clearer and more definitive.
While this certainly isn’t the first bad ride I’ve ever had, and definitely won’t be the last, I’m thankful that we were able to regroup and end on a positive note. I’m also thankful to live in a world in which Kent Farrington exists.
Feature image by Ashley Neuhof for Rolex.