It’s always difficult to define “good.” I’m not talking about the whole “good vs. evil” concept; although that often also seems to be more of a grey area than not. When I say “good” what I mean is someone or something who is accomplished. Like a “good” rider or a “good’ horse.

I had a brief conversation with some of the lovely adult women who take lessons at my barn. We discussed the blog and a bit more of our riding histories. One asked my opinion on getting “good;” on moving on from a beginner.

I was a little bit speechless. How does one pin down “good”, when the threshold seems to constantly be moving?

I thought I was a “good” rider until I rode something unbroke. I don’t really think of my riding in “goods” or “bads” since then. I focus more on the experiences. Yes, I’ve ridden a horse like this before and can 100% handle it. Or No, I don’t have the toolbox yet for this horse and need work to make me “good” enough to ride it.

I’m not sure that any of us will ever reach a point where we can afford to stop learning, stop growing.

The great Ian Miller is constantly cited with being the Grand Poobah of Show Jumping (not to mention Captain Canada). I’ve heard so many stories where Mr. Miller took the time to help a group (most recently the PanAm Canadian Eventing Team) walk the jump portion of their test. They all credited him with telling them exactly how the course was going to ride. I’ve heard of him doing similar assists since at least 1991. That’s a long time to be able to tell others exactly how to ride a course. But, as often as Mr. Miller wins major accolades, he doesn’t win every time he steps into the stirrups. Sometimes, he and his horse aren’t “good” enough on the day.

I wish we as humans could be a bit easier on ourselves as a whole. I wish we could see that “good” is so very fluid and “great” is only a sprinkle here and there in our lives. Most of the time we’re trying our best, living and learning. I read something recently that I thought was rather brilliant; you don’t “win or lose,” you “win or learn.”

I wonder if we go into every challenge with that idea, if we all wouldn’t be able to find more “good” in our riding (not to mention our lives)? If the keyed-up energy and stress of showing would level out bit and become more about getting the experience for the day.

Star and I are getting “good.” Under the skillful eye of my coach, B, we are getting it right, or learning what we need to do in order to get it right next time. Our control and communication is getting to a lovely point where I can literally say, “easy baby,” and she knows she can settle and relax. I notice more and more various barn employees, riders, and parents coming over to watch when they see me taking Star into the indoor arena. For those who have watched us from the beginning, they all say the same thing: “She’s really looking good.”

The last of my barn’s schooling shows is November 22nd. I’ve sort of absently been eyeing the date for awhile, a bit of an idea percolating in the back of my mind. A little whisper that started tugging a bit more forcefully on me after the Danny Foster Clinic. Maybe we’re “good” enough to do the Jumpers at home.

Nothing’s been decided yet, but we’re doubling up on lessons in the two weeks before the show. There will be early mornings and late nights, when I watch the sun rise or set over the barn’s gently rolling hills. We’ll either be good enough to try or not, but either way I’m going to be happy with what happens. Because no matter where we are on November 22nd, Star and I have the rest of our lives to work on getting “good.”

Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who is recently back to riding after four years off and having her first child. Christine is aiming her new Thoroughbred mare, Star, toward the Trillium Jumper Circuit in 2016. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.

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