Three things that were most challenging for me when riding

I am very sure that Travis has two ears. I do not have lots of riding time, but I have enough to know that about my regular riding partner. The other day Dennis asked about three things that were most challenging for me when riding. I answered three things, the big eye (not looking at the horse), using my legs properly, and getting my arms to reach rather than pull back. These three things being very important in the control of my horse.

As I was thinking about this blog I was also driving. This week I am spending some time in Southern California. There is always traffic in Southern California. It is particularly true during the 4th of July week. I do not particularly like to drive, but in my life I have done most of it in regard to my family. In traffic you do not use the big eye. The focus that you have is what is in front of the hood of your vehicle. I would know for sure if my hood had ears. You really have to pay attention to the red lights and the sometime stop of traffic, or the occasional dart of a car to change lanes.

Your focus is somewhat different when you are on a cross county drive and there are fewer cars. I have written another post that I mentioned a cross country drive to Texas I did with my brother a few years ago. I did that in my Expedition. It has a big front windshield. You still have to focus on the road and what is in front, but the temptation to use the big eye is inescapable. We traveled the loneliest highway in the country, highway 50. Spreading out in front and on all sides was often open expanses stretching for miles. The vistas often included snow packed peaks or plains extending to landmarks in the distance. As I said the focus cannot wander far from the front of the car and the road, but with little traffic you could see a bit further than just the front of the car.

I recall an example on the road. We had left Cortez to drive back down to New Mexico. I had always wanted to see Shiprock. It is in the northwest corner of New Mexico and looking at the map it was not that far. It so happens that the freeway that we were on after leaving Cortez parallels dry dusty mountains heading south. I was driving so had to focus on the road, but it wasn’t long that far off in the distance my brother and I could see a purple grey distant peak that stuck up from the flat desert horizon. We were still more than 40 miles away and I recall saying to my brother, “is that it, that has to be it.” It was an amazing sight. We ended up getting much closer on a dusty dirt road off one of the main highway.

So driving a car and driving a horse have different sets of skills. I have not driven as much as some, but I know that I have driven more than others. I am accustomed to not using the big eye because of driving. The big eye while driving is normally not particularly good. It is not good at all in the traffic in LA. However, I need to practice it to greater effect while riding. I have spent thousands of hours driving. I have spent less than 30 hours actually in the saddle. I guess I have some more time to put in the saddle.

By Mike B.