Horse & Rider
Riding Into the Corners
When I was a kid, I had the poniestpony of all time. He would rub me off on trees, buck just for fun, and generally take full advantage of the kind-of-tiny, kind-of-clueless 9-yearold that I was.
Luckily, I had a great trainer, who was ever-so-patient with me and this naughty pony. She always told me
I had to earn that pony’s respect in every interaction, but it wasn’t always easy. She had a small back pen behind her indoor arena that was often too muddy to ride in, but when we did get out there, she’d harp on me to “ride the whole way into the corners.”
My kid brain didn’t understand it, really. If I was trotting along, working on my hands, my balance, my feet, and my pony’s headset, what would it hurt if I let him just cruise across the corners at an angle, maybe six feet or so from the fence? There was so much to think of and work on, after all, that I didn’t really understand how important it was to make him use the whole arena at my request.
After a whole lot of work and “riding the whole way into the corners,” that pony and I finally figured it out enough to win at the local Friday night barrel races, and he went on happily to a new family.
More than 20 years after that pony, I still think about that lesson every time I’m exercising a horse or working on a colt. That’s one of those lessons—like learning how to saddle your horse just right—that I’ve carried with me through my horsemanship. I ride to the corners of each pasture when I’m long-trotting a barrel horse, making sure they give their workouts their best efforts, not cutting corners or slacking off. That pays off in competition, and in the way they perform for prospective buyers. By riding into the corners, they learn to not take advantage of a situation and instead to do what they know is right.
I’ve used this space to talk about the Horse&Rider team before, but it’s worth mentioning again that they undoubtedly ride into every corner in our work life, too. Managing Editor Nichole Chirico, Assistant Editor Michaela Jaycox, and Art Director Michelle Miller spare no effort producing this magazine, our Horse&Rider OnDemand video platform, and our offerings at HorseandRider.com. This is a team who’s truly learned what it means to master the details, and I’m so grateful for each of them.