The ups and downs of horseback riding make it an exciting sport. It’s hard to expect what comes after the next fence, and it’s even harder to prepare for the unexpected. You take some jumps much bigger, longer, and faster than you intended. You leave strides out, you forget to put your leg on. Some days, your horse goes well. Other days, she performs acrobatics you aren’t sure you could replicate even if you had a trampoline.
How do you become successful, how do you grow as a rider with such a roller coaster ride?
Have you ever heard the suggestion: ride like you’re your equestrian idol? Imagine you’re getting a leg up onto Reed Kessler’s Cylana, or Laura Kraut’s Cedric or Miss Independent. Okay, so maybe Miss Independent isn’t as well known as Kraut’s Cedric, but the name implies enough sass that I would have jumped at the chance to even sit on her. That is, if wishes grew on trees and we could, in fact, actually ride our equestrian idol’s horses.
Most of us, unfortunately, cannot. What we can do instead, is to focus on the wisdom offered to us by equestrian superstars who prove their merit time, and time again. Laura Kraut’s resume is substantial, significant, and important to the sport of Show Jumping. Her legacy will leave hoofprints behind on the discipline, proving Kraut is influential and her words are worthwhile.
So what would she say the most important thing about becoming a successful rider? About becoming the most effective rider you can be?
“Stay even, and stay level headed. Learn to control your emotions, because there are a lot of ups and downs in our sport,” Kraut said in an interview for the Hollow Creek Farm U25 Grand Prix series.
For those of us who are governed by our emotions, this sounds like an unbelievable feat. Truth be told, it takes little more than discipline and perseverance to cultivate the mindset of levelheadedness, as well as controlling your emotions. And maybe some accountability sprinkled in, topped with a healthy dose of grace. By grace, I mean the ability to allow yourself to make mistakes, move on, and move forward.
Laura Kraut also encourages riders to be mindful in their riding. Instead of being a passive passenger, she inspires riders to participate in the act of riding. Keep the conversation open with your horse by providing aids at the right time, and recognize the need to know your horse. These things, when coupled with level-headed riding, become a recipe for success.
The people who can handle the rollercoaster, even sometimes taking their hands off the grips, are the ones who end up successful in this sport. Persevering through the failures, the doubt, and the insecurities to string together the wins, the ribbons, and the championships is the quickest path to becoming a successful, effective rider.
Now slip on your favorite pair of breeches, and ride like you’re Laura Kraut.