If you had asked me a few months ago to explain the difference between progress and results with horses, I probably would’ve looked at you like you’re some kind of martian and told you nothing. I mean, if you really think about it, they’re both achieving something so how is one different from the other?
The very first goal I had with my OTTB, Nigel, was to be able to get him cantering around the arena on the left lead. Now, I know you’re thinking “well that’s not a difficult goal”, but when you have an ex-racehorse who has only ever galloped on the right lead and has had no retraining, then it’s the simple goals that give you something to aim for. Let’s not forget that I was also bringing Nigel back into work, as he had definitely been enjoying the fat life and in paddock condition for the last 18 months!
I tend to have a bit of a quiet giggle to myself about that very first goal I set. Not because it was a ridiculous goal, but I remember saying to my instructor “let’s give it 3 months to work on this”. Well, let’s not underestimate what these wonderful Thoroughbreds are capable of, because we were cantering around that arena like it was no mans business in about 3 weeks. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but it was a great feeling to achieve that! So I guess you could say that I like to align my goals with the results I want to see.
So here it is, the difference. The very first time I got that left canter lead and we cantered a half arena, that’s progress. It feels great, it’s exciting and you just want to do it again and reach your goal! You want results! The next ride you feel determined to do more, but let’s not forget that in the Equestrian world, we do the only sport where your equipment can choose not to cooperate with you. You ask for canter left, and Nigel (aka Naughty Baby) let’s out a buck bigger than a blue whale flipping about in the ocean (ok well at least it felt that way). “Waaah what happened to our progress!” I hear you cry, well you haven’t lost your progress, you just haven’t reached that end result yet.
Photo below; Nigel’s 3 month progress comparison.
This blog is the personal opinion and experience of the author. You should always seek the advice of a professional horse riding instructor or trainer for your own specific situation or circumstance.