Jockey John French riding white horse Rumba. They are jumping mid air in a competition.

John French and Rumba


Alright friends, I hope you are nearly set on your preparations, decorations, and salutations for the holidays! My breaks begins tomorrow, and I honestly cannot wait to put this incredibly hard semester behind me.

This week will be a more practical lesson, considering my previous posts were more emotionally driven, so I’m trying this out. Feedback would be much appreciated if you would be so kind as to comment below.

A little less than a year ago I was faced with a serious dilemma. My time was becoming more and more constrained due to college responsibilities, and while I was still going home to show occasionally, I was not displaying any improvement. Rather, I felt that I was sliding backwards in my abilities, which was doubly unfortunate since we had just bought a really nice jumper the summer before. I grew more and more discouraged after each disappointing show. Why was I making my parents pay all of this money if I just kept riding poorly? And for those of you who are as competitive as I am, you know how a disappointing ride in the show ring can pretty much ruin your whole day. Since I only came home maybe once a month, my three or four rides were all I had. If I ended up riding badly all three times, I was miserable for nearly a week, and continuously contemplated whether the struggle was worth it. Maybe I should stick my nose in my books and keep it there. I obviously am not cut out for this on-and-off showing. I made myself sick wondering if I was putting my family through financial troubles because of my showing, and when I didn’t do well, I was twice as upset. Why should they pay so much to have their mopey daughter become only more dejected? And so my thoughts spiraled into deeper and darker places, where I seriously considered the option of selling my friends to other barns, to other riders, who could ride them better than I ever could hope to.

One Sunday night, I was worrying again, and grew increasingly frustrated over my inability to train while I was away. I thought about my ride earlier that day, kicking myself over my mistakes, and wondering where exactly I went wrong. What even made a great ride? I had not had a lesson in so long I felt like I had forgotten. So I pulled out my computer, opened up YouTube, and googled “Winning Hunter Ride.” And lo and behold, there was a video of John French and Rumba taking home the win from the 2009 Hunter Derby in Kentucky. Their ride was so incredible, so effortless, and just so perfect that it was impossible to not be inspired. And so I watched him closely, watched his reaction where the take off was long, watched where exactly he made his move to either hold his horse off the jump or urge it onward to meet that perfect little gap that allowed Rumba to soar over the fence. I watched, I learned, I felt the ride. I envisioned myself riding that same ride, making the same decisions, and picturing it in my head did wonders for my riding the next time I returned home. Rolex and I astounded everyone, including myself, by bringing home the blue.

So if you’re in a bind, and cannot make it to the barn for one reason or another, do not worry. Do not stress yourself out over things you cannot change, but rather think inventively on how you can circumnavigate those obstacles. Hopefully virtual riding simulators will be on the market sometime in the future, but for now, the wonders of the internet and a  resourceful imagination can take you a long way between lessons. We can learn a lot from simply observing the great riders in our perspective disciplines, and who knows? Maybe a little Internet search will give you and your horse the boost you needed to make it to the top!

So until next week, I hope you find some useful videos and can learn a lot through Google and YouTube, because I know I sure did. Safe travels to those going home to your families for the holidays, and happy riding to everyone!


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