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Discussion Starter #1
This may appear to be a silly question but one that I have often thought about. Are some people just naturally good at riding (dressage, flat, jumping) and others have to work harder at it to get where they want to be? I see some people that seem to "get it" from the very start and then there are others (like myself) that seem to have to really work at it to get anywhere. Perhaps it's like other "sports" that some people just are more gifted and therefore just enjoy it from day one while others struggle.
Any thoughts?
 

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Yes!
I am one of those people that is able to contort my body in strange ways to get that perfect dressage equitation (although my screwed up hips restrict that now...), I've always just "gotten" what coaches tell me and to develop a feel for the horse didn't take me nearly as long as it does some people.
This in some ways is detrimental to me because where I just "get it" a lot of people need a bio-mechanical explanation which I get, but can't explain. When I am coaching someone, it is really tough for me to explain what I am doing.
But on the other hand, as a rider I am ahead of other people who started riding when I did and I am able to learn things a lot more quickly. When someone suggests something, I know how to do it without being taken step by step through it.

It is like any other sport or education in general in that some people just know how to do it while others really have to work to grasp the concepts.
 

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Absolutely, one can be a natural at riding! :D

I'm really not that natural of a rider, at least equitation-wise. I often have to remind myself to sit taller, watch my heels, keep my elbows at my sides, etc. Much of that is really dependent on the conformation of the rider. I have shorter arms, so I find myself reaching forward a lot. I personally find it easier to do groundwork and training (although so much of training is made easier by working in the correct position), to convince a horse to be calm, respectful, and confident.

I agree wholly with Anebel that riding is like any other endeavor, in terms of being naturally good and having to work at it to become proficient. Some things I get easily (I can remember stupidly random facts, like the year a movie was made, or find a quote in a book I read, at the drop of a hat) and other things I can work like mad on and never really have "click" (for me personally... math in any incarnation is always a struggle).
 

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i definitely believe you can be a natural rider :) i have heard from many people higher up in riding who have told me i am a very natural rider and it just comes somewhat easily for me. then there is my friend who has to work to be a good solid rider. hope that helped :)
 

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Yes, you can. I had a terrible riding instructor years ago who was my first ever RI, she would put me at the back of the ride and ignore me - I heard her telling someone I was an idiot and hadn't learnt a thing.

In the years since then I've had 8 or 9 instructors and most of them have complimented me on my quiet, sensitive riding - something I was not taught by that woman!

My niece is an excellent rider, and she's only had a half dozen lessons ...
 

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Yup, people can definitely be naturals at riding. I am not one of those people. =P I've met many people who don't have a clue what they're doing, but they're riding correctly without even knowing it while others like me have to work extra hard to get their bodies to do what we want them to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you - that makes sense and makes me feel better that perhaps this is just one of those endeavors in life that I will need to "work" at. It can be frustrating, but I suppose if you work hard whether a natural or not, it is all worth the determination in the end. It just takes some of us longer to get to the goals. Thanks for your input.
 

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Chevy - There is absolutely nothing wrong with having to work hard to get where you want to be! :) I have to work very hard to be a good rider, but I have had a couple instructors tell me I was "so fun to teach" because they give me the instruction, they can see me actually trying, and my horse responding. It actually makes me feel very accomplished! Sometimes I wish I could just 'get it,' but I knew someone once who was a very fluid rider and everytime this person took instruction it would be followed up with "I know," and "I know, I was just trying to do something else," or "I know, my horse was (insert excuse here)." I like that my instructor sees constant improvement in me, makes me feel I'm getting my monies worth!!
**Note: Not all natural riders are like the person I described above, I was just using it as an example to give a badge to those who need the extra homework! :) :)**
 

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Yes! my trainer is constantly calling me a natural. When I first sat in an English saddle and started posting, she didn't believe that I had never ridden English before. She's positive I will be doing dressage shows by summer and I just started riding dressage 2 months ago or so. I'm not a natural at jumping. Everytime I go into 2-point, I feel like I'm going to fall of so that fears restricts my body from moving naturally.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wish it came naturally to me as it does with others, but I am certainly not against working at it as I find the learning process enjoyable, yet frustrating. Not so sure how my horse feels about my ssllloooww learning. He is quite tolerant. I'm not artisitic or musically inclined either, which probably is a natural trait that gets expanded on. Wonder what my natural "gift" is?
 

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yes some people are naturals at riding, but there are others who maybe arent natural at riding, but have great empathy and understanding for the horse, so if they arent destined as a great rider, they can be a very good one anyway. i think your body type plays a big part in how good you look as a rider. long legs are an unfair advantage, for example. if you have a long back and short legs, i always think its harder to look elegant. but i dont think you can be a really good rider, unless you know how to sit quiet, and let your body and mind listen to the horse.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That's a really good point - body style and your overall personality probably do play a large part in riding. I work with animals all day and love it - could not imagine doing anything else for a living. Because I waited til I was 52 to want to seriously learn to ride and eventually jump some (not compete-just for recreation) perhaps my body is not as strong or limber as it was when I was younger (and should have been riding) which would probably slow the process a bit. At this age I am certainly not as brave as I would have been at 20, so anxiety does also play a role, fear of falling etc. I have alot to work on but I truly enjoy watching people working together with their horses in harmony and pray for that day to come for us. I am certainly envious!!
 

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Riding is like everything else in life. Not everyone is equally good at it. Heck, my sister can paint and draw the most amazing things. I am lucky I can do stick figures.

Do not gauge your progress on how others do. Every time you ride have a reasonable goal set for yourself and work towards it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Great advice Alwaysbehind! Interestingly that is what I used to tell my kids when they were younger - funny how that comes back around. Guess it has been a long time since I set out to "learn" something - thanks
 

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And do not let anyone tell you that your short term goals are silly. If they are simply being able to post all the way around the ring with your heels down do not let some kid convince you that is too simple to be a goal. We all have things that are easy for us. But when you are done working hard for this it will be that much better!
 

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I think that being a "natural rider" comes from how much body control you have. Not sure if anyone else has a dressage trainer, but my lessons with her always seem more like a dance class than a riding lesson. I danced ballet for 10 years before I started riding, and my trainer was actually a professional dancer before she got into training, and I don't think that's a coincidence. I think you can also tell which riders used to be gymnasts or dancers or any very technical sport that required a lot of body discipline.

On another note, no one has ever helped me with my jumping position. I only started having "jumping lessons" a year ago, and those were mainly focused on my horse and never my equitation. Body control comes in once again, because when I started jumping at my friend's backyard farm without a trainer, we used to look at pictures and watch youtube videos of people jumping around a course, and would try to mimic little details. I still do that when I'm bored, actually. So does that make me a natural? Not to my standards. I just think I have great observation skills. :lol:
 

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thats made me think; i took ballet for about five years, and once when it cropped up in conversation with a horsey pal, they said, you could never be a good rider if you've taken ballet, as its all counter productive ie ballet is toes out, heels up, knees out! but i think you are right in that you have a good discipline and a knowledge of how various body parts movement affects other parts, and balance etc. i think ballet also helps you to understand how you can carry your own weight and have good posture. and the thing is, everyone has good and bad days, so we go forwards at our own pace, and when you are learning or improving skills, in whatever discipline, it is often 2 steps back and then a big step forwards. the main thing is relaxing and enjoying the experience getting frustrated because you arent getting to the point you think you need to be, as fast as you want too, is counterproductive and makes you tense, which of course transmits to the horse. so just go with the flow; it all clicks into place at the time thats right for you.
 

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I am definitely one of those people who just don't "get" jumping as well as others seem too. I've been riding for YEARS and I still don't feel comfortable jumping large courses, but I love doing one or two jumps.
 

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Yes! Yes! Yes! Some people seem to have been born on a horses back and naturally have a quiet, balanced seat with a good feel of the reins.

I was not blessed with this ability, I have zero natural talent. On the bright side, I take instruction well and really work on my "homework" out of lessons. I have managed to learn a decent seat, where as others just *have* it.

The best riders have both qualities. They were born to ride,but they also have the dedication and take instruction well. You can be a decent or even rider with one, but to be one of the best you need both. But, how many people honestly are the best at anything? Ride for fun and be happy with the qualities you have!
 

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But also as a "heads-up", even a "natural Talent" person has to work very hard, or you don't get anywhere. I just "get it" alot of times and understand the feel of things, but that doesn't mean I can get on a horse and just skip all the work.. It might make things easier but still you have to work your butt off.
I'm also very musical, but just never was that interested, so I hardly ever practiced (piano). I got by pretty well, 'cause of my "talent" but if you don't work hard your not going to improve as much as you could...

Just to say, even if some people are talented, it could be that a very hard working person is better, because they are more focused and dedicated.
 
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