I’ve been riding for about half my life at this point, and to this day I still don’t like it when people watch me ride.
I was riding with a friend the other day who is also a trainer. I was exercising a pony for someone at the barn, and she was riding one of her client’s horses. She asked me if I had cantered the pony yet, and embarrassingly I said no. It wasn’t that I was afraid, or nervous, or not skilled enough. I was worried other people in the ring would judge my position or the way I was riding. I should add that the people at this barn are super encouraging and aren’t judgmental, but regardless, I still get self-conscious.
I didn’t express all of this to her, but she must have sensed it because she gave me some really great advice. As she trotted by she said, “Lauren, honey, he is so much fun, and you need to just have fun. If you leave this ring with a smile on your face, then you had a good ride and were successful.” What she said really made me see things from a new perspective. That’s not to say I want 50 people to show up at the barn to watch me ride next time, but what she said was so true and it was something I needed to hear.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I dislike someone standing by the ring or even being at the barn while I am riding. My riding time is my “me” time, so I really do enjoy having the barn and the whole ring to myself. I just simply don’t like when people watch, unless you’re my husband or my mom, because let’s face it, they really don’t know what’s going on (sorry guys!).
“I have come to the realization that saying negative comments doesn’t help anyone or change anything, and honestly it is just not nice.”
I’ve been doing some soul searching lately to try to figure out why it is I don’t want people watching me ride. I’ve chalked it up to being self-conscious in the saddle and caring way too much about what others think. I will actually plan my day around when I go to the barn to ride so that the least amount of people will be there to see me ride. It’s puzzling though, because I truly am a confident person and I don’t care what others think of the way I look. But when it comes to my riding, it’s a totally different game.
I guess it stems from being the one on the ground watching someone ride, and hearing the unfortunate and unnecessary things people say ringside. Newsflash: if you’re not someone’s trainer or an owner allowing someone to ride your horse, you really have no business critiquing someone’s riding. (That is of course as long as they aren’t riding so incorrectly to the point that the horse’s welfare is in question, but that’s a totally different situation.)
I’ve heard people mutter a lot more negative things than positive, and I will even shamefully admit I myself have said some negative things about someone else’s riding. I have completely stopped doing that though, because I have come to the realization that saying negative comments doesn’t help anyone or change anything, and honestly it is just not nice.
“Newsflash: if you’re not someone’s trainer or an owner allowing someone to ride your horse, you really have no business critiquing someone’s riding. “
I have zero room to judge because there are days I can’t even get a horse on the bit or my leg is swinging all the way to the next state over. I am far from perfect, so I try to find the best in someone’s ride rather than critique it negatively.
It doesn’t matter what someone else says about you, your riding, your horse, and anything else they could potentially critique. Unless that person is your trainer and you’re paying them for their time and instruction, you do not need to answer to someone else. Someone else’s opinion on your riding is none of their (or your) business.
What we should all focus on instead is our own riding and our own horses. Let’s ride better for them and become better horse people instead of tearing others down. At the end of the day, we are in the sport because we love it, and we owe it to our horses to ride the best that we can.