The best trainers know how to spark light bulb moments. With just a few words, they make you understand what others may have failed to get across.
A quote from legendary showjumping trainer George Morris is going viral. If you’re one of many struggling to see a stride, he has this to say…
“Distances are like men. Never take the first one you see, there will always be another one.”
Then there’s the wicked sense of humour from a dressage trainer desperate to get a female pupil to lengthen through her upper body…
Or there’s the simple suggestion, again from a dressage trainer, to help a rider who produces fabulous work in the warm-up and goes to pieces as soon as it’s competition time:
“Don’t think about riding against other people. Think about riding against your last performance.”
Sometimes, wisdom comes out of the mouths of children. The rider who used to go to pieces before entering at A improved thanks to the previous suggestion, but cracked it after she heard her seven-year-old daughter say:
“I don’t like horse shows. Mummy’s sick, then when we go home she says she’s enjoyed herself.”
First it made her guilty, then it made her laugh at herself. Once you can do that, you tend to feel better.
Search for great horsey sayings and you’ll find plenty of erudite ones. “The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse” has been variously credited to Lord Palmerston, Winston Churchill, Will Rogers and others. Whoever said it first was, as we all know, dead right.
I also like the sentiments of actor Viggo Mortensen: “One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.”
While we’re taking horse sense into real life, remember the lines from comedy writer Allan Sherman. The sentiment might not be original, but if you happen to work in a place where they have meetings about meetings, you’ll love:
“They sit there in committees day after day,
And they each put in a colour and it comes out grey.
And we all have heard the saying, which is true as well as witty,
That a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee.”
Horse sense – defined by comedian and actor W C Fields as “The thing a horse has which stops it betting on people” – has been shared down the ages. Talk to top riders in any discipline and they’ll often say that horses which are challenging as youngsters often become their brightest stars. For instance, Oliver Townend says that his 2017 Burghley winner, Ballaghmor Class, was so sharp as a youngster that he had every member of his team on the floor at some stage.
Guess what? Back in the days of the ancient Greeks, the biographer and philosopher Plutarch (AD 46 – AD 120, if you’re interested) proclaimed that “The wildest colts make the best horses.”
So, whom and what will riders be quoting two centuries from now? We have to assume that horses and riders will still be forging partnerships, because the alternative is so depressing.
I hope George Morris stands the test of time, even if dressage trainers of the future are telling their pupils to fire their lasers, or whatever.
And if you have any inspirational quotes, do share them.