The Naturally Gifted Horseman

Is this a myth? Some of the descriptions of the top names read something like this: a 400th generation horseman, came out of his mother’s womb with a rope in hand and cut his own umbilical chord. He grew up on a 472937382 acre ranch where he learned the ancient rituals of bareback and brideless horse whispering on Gandalf’s own Shadowfax. He has never fallen off, never had a bad hair day and doesn’t have to advertise and believes markets is only for folks who didn’t inherit a 492726273 acre ranch. If you touch the brim of his hat, you can absorb some magical powers- but if that’s out of reach, you can just purchase a similar one.

I think we like to idealize our heroes. We like to believe they have something we don’t – their feel is superior, their being is superior. It may be true that some folks are more naturally gifted than others, and it may be that some grew up immersed in riding and riding culture, had more opportunities and therefore flourished.

This is not meant to discount their hard work or talent, but I want us to take a step back and look past the idealization: this is a person who worked for their skill. You are a person capable of working for your skill too.

I have been riding since I was 6. I’ve worked extremely hard at riding. I might not be naturally gifted, because I have spent quite a bit of time learning basic principles. When I was riding in Spain, my teachers often, frustrated with my repeated mistakes, would say, “you have the perfect body for riding but you don’t use it!” I was born with long legs, which would seem to be an advantage for riding well, but I had trouble getting control of them.

The idea of talent isn’t that big of a deal to me anymore though, because over the years I’ve learned to become confident in my ability to persevere and keep working at it- I know it might be hard, but I’ll eventually get it. That means if I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it. You can do it if your body type is ideal or not. You can do it if you were born into a training family or just picked up riding at 60. We’re all destined to get to different places with our ability, but elbow grease and confidence in your ability to learn can take you a long way.

Isn’t that more magical than talent that comes easy?

Photo by Melinda Yelvington

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