I recently finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain for our neighborhood book club. I'll report on our club discussion next week. However, while reading the book I couldn't help but note the similarities between driving race cars and riding hunter/jumpers.
The book is narrated by Enzo the dog who shares advice about driving at speed learned from his owner. The following statements caught my attention.
- It requires balance, anticipation, patience. This is so true for riding. Balance in the saddle, anticipating the next turn and/or fence, and patiently waiting for the fence to come to you.
- Your car goes where your eyes go. Exactly. Which is why we're constantly reminded not to look at the base of the fence, because that's where you'll end up.
- Attention and intention is far ahead to the next turn and the one beyond that. The old cliche for jumping is to throw your heart over the fence and follow it. That is the intention. Attention should be on the next fence, the next line, etc., because your horse goes where your eyes go!
- Racing is about discipline and intelligence. Riding horses over fences requires repetition to build trust and timing. The discipline to show up day after day, to ride the horse you have that day (they have moods just like we do), to put the horse first -- always. Intelligent riders enter the arena with a plan and have the knowledge and skills to adapt that plan as the course unfolds.
- A driver's hands should be relaxed, sensitive, aware. A rider's hands should be relaxed, sensitive, aware. :-) A tense grip makes for a tense horse.
- The driver must have faith. Hoo boy! The rider must have faith that the horse will take the fence, as the horse must have faith that the rider will never attempt an obstacle beyond their capabilities.
- It's all about the ride. That sums it up perfectly.