I love looking at photographs of other riders and horses, especially those who compete in the upper echelons of the sport. The talent, the beauty, the power is awe inspiring no matter which discipline you select to admire. I enviously look at their correct position in the saddle and how relaxed they appear. I try to commit the images to memory to recall while I am trying to get Ike to elevate his front end while trying to keep my hind end securely in the saddle. The riders aren’t inadvertently leaning forward or pushing themselves out of the saddle. They are actually looking where they are going and not at their horse’s withers. When you look at the riders’ faces, you can see the determination and focus. In many photos, the riders are even smiling.
Sadly, when I look at photos or videos of me riding, I look like I am in pain, constipated, or distressed. I scrunch my nose as if I just sniffed milk past its expiration date. I can look horrified as if I’m an actress in the new blockbuster horror film. Thank goodness Ike does not mimic my facial expression. The judges would eliminate us in a heartbeat if he looked as pained as I do. A Glamour magazine “don’t block” just might be necessary…or someone with some wicked good Photoshop skills to replace my pained look for a more pleasant facial expression. I am not expecting any modeling contracts to be headed my way anytime soon.
This wretched look is on my face no matter how the ride is going. Even with my good blue-ribbon rides, I distort my face. In the rare photo, I can conjure a neutral face – not happy, not sad, not pained, just mannequin expressionless. Even with my final halt and salute photos, you see more relief and surprise than joy.
Ms. C tells me that it is due to the fact that I am concentrating. While that may be the case, why can’t I concentrate with a less distressful expression? She said that we can certainly work on it during my lessons, but there are so many other issues to work out that it will fall far down in the list of things to think about while riding. It is all I can do to think “half halt,” “turn,” “put my weight in my left/right stirrup,” “where is my leg supposed to be,” and “BREATHE and RELAX.”
I doubt this is something that I will fix anytime soon, so in the mean time, I will ask everyone to focus on Ike in the photos. Big man can almost always look peaceful and focused, even when his mother is not.