I was accused of being a chameleon this morning. I had just finished a long morning of lessons (fortunately in an indoor, since it was chucking it down…) and a group of the riders and I headed off for brunch. The discussion moved to, what do you have for breakfast? Well, my reply started, it all depends on where I am… In some countries where we start really early, I don’t have breakfast, but we break early and go for mid-morning snacks. Other places, we’ll all get up and cereal. Where I’m staying now, I grab a protein bar on the run. Just so long as there is always coffee, all you riders are ok… If there isn’t any, who ever is first in the arena is in trouble. Hmm, so no set breakfast then? No.
The conversation moved on – who ate healthy and who didn’t? Again, I replied, it depends. Some places where I stay, its all salad, vegan, healthy. The next week will be cheese, chocolate and grabbing a muffin for lunch on the hoof… The next is all about 7 course meals, the next is about 1 meal a day. Where ever I am, what ever situation I’m in, I adapt.
And, do you drink? Well, in some places yes, its about mojitos for lunch, wine for dinner, and whiskey chasers for nightcaps. In others, its all about coffee, tea and water. And then, in others, it’s all coconut water.
At which point, you arrived in this conversation – you’re a chameleon! What is it that YOU like, not what suits that week. And honestly, I can’t tell you, because I don’t think I know…
A similar situation last week – I was staying with a friend, doing a lot of writing and admin. He would head off to work and I’d be in front of my laptop, listening to Mantovani as I typed. A couple of hours later, he’d return and there would be Guns ‘n Roses. The next day might start with Pink and move to Gershwin. The next was Disturbed… And when he walked in on Vivaldi, he couldn’t hold his tongue anymore – so what music do you actually LIKE? Is the classical stuff there to help you think? Well, I like it all, I replied. Some days it’s a shout along to Meatloaf day, other times, its chill to The Piano Guys – it really depends on the day. Hmm, he thought…
In some places, I’m happy to park in front of the TV and vegetate. In others, I can’t sit still. Sometimes I like exploring and adventure, sometimes I need time to be quiet. What do I like? I like to walk, to hike, to swim, to dive, to “people”, to have closed doors, to eat out, to hibernate. I like loud, I like quiet. I can tell you, about the only thing I know I dislike with a passion is to be cold…
Is it a problem? Most people don’t think so, but my music and breakfast friends both think it is… Is it my indecisive nature that lets me escape from making decisions? Possibly. Where do you want to live – oh, so many choices… Where do you like to go – oh, everywhere… who do you like to teach – Ooooh, everyone… Which breed of horse do you like – oh, all and none, it depends on the individual… Which discipline do you like to ride or teach the most – oh, all of them, sometimes dressage, sometimes jumping, sometimes equitation… Do you like teaching beginners / advanced, kids or adults? oh, yes…. Is my chameleon / indecision a blessing or a curse – well, who knows… I’ll start making decisions – or maybe I won’t….
So, what about you? Do you like schooling, or going for a gallop down the beach (Me? Both). Do you like sitting quietly with your horse, or are you always needing to be “doing”? (Me? Both). Do you like working over poles, or sticking to more traditional flat schooling? (Me? Both – are we seeing a pattern here?). Do you like riding babies or experienced school masters (Me? Yes, OK, we don’t need to keep asking) (But, for the record, both!)
And, what about your horse? Your horse needs consistency. He needs you to be predictable – legs mean go, still means stop. A pat means well done. Contact is contact. He needs his known house, his regular feed times and feed type. He needs his friends and his routine. But, the happiest of horses I know, have variety in their work. On Monday they’ll hack and have a canter round the fields. On Tuesday they will lunge. On Wednesday they have some schooling. On Thursday they’ll do fast work at a canter track. On Friday they do poles and gymnastics. On Saturday they jump courses. Sunday is rest. (This isn’t in any way a work plan, it just shows how we can be flexible). The fast work is cardio and fun. The gymnastics tests reaction, the schooling is educating and so it goes. A horse who goes into an arena EVERY DAY, or jumps EVERY DAY, or lunges EVERY DAY is often the horse who becomes sour and dull.
What do you like to do? What does your horse like to do? How do you keep a freshness in you schooling? And, just out of nosiness, what do you listen to when you’re are tap tap tap tapping out on your laptop?