With horses, progress is slow. It can be hard to see the changes day in and day out, as we do our 20 meter circles and endless transitions.
So the timescale of progress with horses is different than with other things. Looking back – and even while I was living it – Drifter’s progress once we started jumping was fast. I believe this is because his training took the long way, first. I rode him almost a full year on the flat before we even considered jumping him.
Even so, there was a lot to work on! I recently went through some old videos on my phone and watching Drifter jump in January, May and September 2016 shows great progress over just nine months. That’s nothing in a sport that takes years (and years and years) to master.
Funny distances but bold and calm about everything. Figuring out striding and straightness. Realizing Drifter did not respect little fences.
Very wiggly, funny lead swapping things going on. Still figuring out distances while I mostly tried to stay out of the way and let him learn how to manage his body.
Big changes here…ha ha changes. Because of lead changes. He offered three easy lead changes like he’d been doing them all his life. Much steadier, better distances, bigger jumps and still maintaining that bold confidence.
Two shows under his belt, one more to go in the season. We’d worked through some rushing issues and worked a lot on balance and the quality of gaits. Nailed every lead over the fence, very flowing, (almost) all distances very good, the canter pace didn’t change throughout. I wish this video were horizontal, not vertical but…oh well. I still love it. And I may have already watched it 10 times today. Maybe.
Less than a year to turn a baby with balance problems into a beefy horse who was fun to ride, confident and clearly had room to grow over bigger fences.
So to anyone who feels like they’re not progressing, or not moving fast enough: You are. You are improving. Every ride is another step forward (even when it feels like a step or two back). Every day is a new opportunity to learn and build good experiences.
I challenge you to look back at photos or videos from just one year ago. Think about all that has changed. I bet it’s a lot more than you think!