Many horse riders are competitive and want to become top in their various field, be it dressage, jumping, or eventing. But the million-dollar question is, do successful riders all share certain qualities that help them become better riders? According to research, here are some of the skills and qualities of a good horse rider.
1. Desire For Self Improvement
One of those traits is the desire and appetite to continuously better themselves. If you want to become a top rider, you need to place yourself in a situation where you can ride continuously as many days of the week and for as many hours as possible. Preferably it would help if you were under the supervision of a good horse trainer who can always direct and correct your faults.
It would help if you had a horse trainer who has a right eye for detail and who has a good track record for training horses and riders. Continuous practice, they say, makes perfect. So, get an excellent trainer and perfect your skills with regular practice.
2. Healthy Diet and Fitness
For perfect riding, you must be fit and healthy. A number of riders surmise that just riding their horse is sufficient, but numerous top Olympic riders also train in other ways, such as going to the gym to get fit or jogging.
Riders nowadays who go for the Olympics consult the expertise of both a nutritionist and a fitness expert not just for their horse but also for themselves. For you to become a top rider, you must start watching your fitness and diet to give you a fighting chance with your co-competitors.
You overhear people at competitions saying “he probably won because he has wealthy parents, an amazing horse, great connections, indoor arena training,” etc.
No one gets to the top unless they have a strong determination. Most of the top riders have all had significant setbacks of one type or another. Many of them did not have wealthy parents to pay for their horses and even those that did had put a massive amount of time and effort into their riding to get top placement.
Without determination, you will stop at the first or second obstacle that is placed in your way, and you will fail to make any progress.
Alongside determination is great persistence. Riding is an art learned through repetition and persistence. Enough to try the same thing again and again and again which is necessary if you want to become a great rider. Even when things go wrong, a great rider is persistent enough to continue working until things go right.
5. Ability to Handle Stress
People tend to use horses as a way to escape stress, but all good riders know that sometimes the art of horse riding itself can be stressful. If your reason for riding is to escape stress, I’m afraid you won’t go very far as a rider. This is because sooner or later, the pressure of riding will cause you to quit.
A good rider understands that they must work through the stress. They understand that a lot of things will come up, things that would cause them to worry. The line that separates good riders from mediocre riders is their ability to maintain focus through everything that life throws at them.
Horses perceive the world and surroundings completely differently than we do. They do not speak our language and they respond differently to situations than we normally would. It is not an easy task for a rider to understand how horses act and why. In this kind of situation, empathy is the way to go. Empathy is the ability to feel others’ pain, stress or mental situations as if they were ours.
Empathy is one of the most important qualities of a good horse rider. Love your horse, respect them, and appreciate them. Reserve some time to pay attention to the way they[horses] communicate and learn to use it to your advantage when working together as a team.
Know that if your horse acts a certain way, probably because of past owners’ method(s) or something in its environment spooked him, it is your job to understand why he or she acts that way. It is your job to adjust yourself to your horse, make him feel safe, take control, and understand him. A good rider must be empathetic.
Another attribute that characterizes a good rider is their passion. You won’t meet a more passionate group than a group of riders. Love runs high in the horse world – why else would we work so hard and spend so much money learning a sport that involves these incredible creatures? Without real passion for horses, the competition wouldn’t be worth the time and effort we put into it.
A skilled rider needs to be courageous. The very act of trusting our safety to an animal as large and powerful as the horse requires a great deal of courage. Being courageous means you are strong enough to trust the horse to take you through gallops and trot at high speed, and to race around or to gallop after herds of cattle.
There will be no successful rider if such a rider lacks courage. Once you instil the courage in you, there’s no limit to what you can achieve in horse riding.
One sure way to become the best or one of the greatest in whatever field you find yourself is to be absolutely sure of your self. Believe in yourself and what you have to offer. Great riders believe in themselves as much as they believe their horse. You need a large dose of confidence to compete, ride and train with your horse.
Competing or even saddling up can wreck some people’s nerves. You can be great at riding, even amazing. But if you are lacking in the confidence department, your career is doomed for failure.
10. Realistic and Practical
Realism and practicality are needed qualities of a good horse rider. Should you ask motivational speakers one of the character traits you need to become really successful, they would tell you to a goal setter. To get to your destination of becoming a good horse rider, you need to set goals.
Make plans on how you want to achieve those goals. But one thing you must be wary of is to make plans that are realistic and achievable.
Good riders comprehend how far they need to push their horse and themselves. They know their mental as well as their physical limits. It is absolutely unwise to set goals that you know neither you nor your horse is built for. When you understand how you and your horse function and how much work you can put into training per session, you are well on your way to being a great rider.
11. Ability To Identify Talent
Every good rider needs a horse and every great rider needs an instructor. Your ability to get to the status of “good rider” depends on a lot. And one of them is bagging a good trainer and a compliant horse. And to get those, you need to have an eye for talent.
A good rider does not get carried away with titles or fancy clothes. They are able to spot talent and natural skills from those they need to work with.
Creativity is yet another skill a horse rider needs. One very important quality that every great ride possesses is creativity. Horses are clever animals, and when you’re riding or training them, you must be able to outthink and outsmart them.
From making up dressage freestyles to deciding on the adequate line from one particular fence to another, riders are always putting their creativity to work.
13. Watch And Learn From Other Riders
To become great, you need to take cue tips from riders who have already been established as great riders. You must watch and study them religiously. It doesn’t matter whether you do this in person or pictures in magazines and books, it helps you to understand how things are actually done.
Watching other riders makes you a lot efficient because you learn from their experience. You avoid their mistakes and you pick up only what is desirable. You learn what they do to bring out the best in their horses and understand why their horses respond a certain way when they do certain things. A good rider knows that he can improve why watching good riders ride.
A good rider is one who can look at himself when things are not going right and take the blame for it. He takes responsibility when anything goes wrong. He doesn’t blame the horse or blame other circumstances. He is open to deducing that it might be his fault. Maybe something in the way he instructs the horse, or he is letting the horse get away with acting badly.
Then instead of being demoralized, he works tirelessly to right all the wrongs. He does all he can to train his hose better and find out what they might be doing wrong. Being responsible makes a good rider proactive. If you are one to lay blame on everything and everyone but yourself, you are nowhere near being a good horse rider.
All of these skills and qualities are not things you can develop in a day. It takes time and determination to get the hang of them. You must thrive to learn them because without obtaining these qualities, you cannot really be a horse rider.