8 Things Great Riders Do …

Great riders have a mindset that is so established, it creates a hugely powerful incentive to adopt certain behaviours or choices that are critical to their training success.  In this context the mindset is the set of assumptions and methods that are ingrained in the way that they work, each and every day.

Great riders are shrewd, skilled, progressive, genuine, clever, sensitive, sympathetic, scholarly; acting purposefully in everything they do.


The shrewd rider is realistic in their goals and expectations.  To steal a jumping phrase, there is no point in ‘over-facing’ yourself, set small achievable goals that make a pyramid to your end goal – like the training scales.

The skilled rider lives on a small number of good steps and builds on them.  Forget about the really bad things.  It is only inexperience that makes you think mostly about the bad things.  Put them behind you, dust yourself down and try again.

The progressive rider knows that success comes one ride at a time.  Ensure with each ride that you build upon the best bits of the last one.  Start today where you finished yesterday.  Make progression a goal and don’t get ‘stuck in a rut’.  When problems arise, address them constructively.  Try not to react emotionally.

The genuine rider embraces negative critique and failure.  Failure is not the end but the beginning, be thankful for the information it brings, train yourself to learn its lesson, be accepting that you are potentially giving your horse a problem!  Face this fact and make amends.

The clever rider is consistent and correct.  This means they are ready to work through ‘the boring stuff’ and put much effort into the very basics to be able to one day ask for the more challenging stuff, only to find that their horse is more than capable!  Why? Because the groundwork is established and the horse and rider can now build on solid foundations.

The sensitive rider appreciates the horse’s mental state, how the horse thinks and adjusts communication accordingly.  Only by proving your ability to be your horse’s guide will the horse confidently trust you.  Earn his trust; work to deserve it.  Appreciate that your horse is another living, breathing being that has the grace to allow you on his back – be mindful of this at all times.

The sympathetic rider understands that there are no short cuts and no-one can do it for you.  If you are not prepared to work hard, simply don’t bother.  The amount of success you have as a rider directly relates to the amount of effort you put into it.

WhoopThe scholarly rider enjoys the process.  There is no destination when it comes to riding, it is a lifetime of learning, believe this and enjoy the journey.  Relish the idea that you have a great deal to learn with regard to technical skills, muscle training and muscle memory, body placement and use of the aids.

Go out and find your way … Do you agree?  What for you makes a great rider?

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


8 Responses

  1. Couldn’t agree more! I am well into my sixties and had my very first horse only three and a half years ago as a retirement present so that I could continue learning. Most of these points have been my mantra for all of that time and yesterday I had a lightbulb moment – riding ‘leg into hand’ means ‘seat bones into hand’ not ‘heel/lower leg into hand’! As a result I am learning again how to ride!! Brilliant!!!
    Thanks as always for your wise words – I love reading your posts!

    1. This has given me new motivation after a difficult day! I am also in my sixties and know I am not as fit as I used to be, but am encouraged to persevere.

  2. Such good timing, I needed that little more compassionate influence, just to stop me from pushing it a little,,, I competed yesterday 63% Prelim & 60% in the Novice,,, 10 points more in each test than the last time I competed last year,,, I just relaxed my seat bones & shoulders & stretched her in the warm up,, I was told afterwards how relaxed my test was,, & the judge commented in the Prelim 1.2 that we were harmonious,, what was the trigger for me last week in practice was not getting emotional,,, just stop & try again,, also just slide the leg back whilst asking for the canter depart,& wait,, she is almost down to one beat from the sitting trot,,, no spurs lol,, have some new beginners coming your way,,, thanks so much again,, really enjoying myself. Stu downunder.

    1. Thanks for the referrals Stu. Email me with your judges comments and I’ll try to see if we can improve on them even more next time. Very, very well done a 10% improvement is outstanding. Px

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