Out of Control

This weekend I had the pleasure of going on back to back rides with Derby veteran Sophia McKee. Neither of the rides were more than 6 miles long but any chance for me to get out of the ring is a beneficial training opportunity. There was some rain so it was also a good opportunity to test out my Derby clothes and experiment with different layers. There is an 11 lb. weight limit on what you can carry during the race so clothing must be selected very carefully.

On the second day I go the opportunity to “canter” up a long hill to the top of the trail head. I was on Sophia’s fantastic endurance horse Katie. This horse is an amazing athlete, all I had to do was hold on and try and stay out of her way. We went flying up the hill, the first half was exhilarating and then after a while I realized I had no control which turned out to be a slightly terrifying concept for me. Sure, in the past riding my own horses there have been moments when I thought I was “out of control” but in reality I was just going too fast across the diagonal during a dressage test. Dressage by definition is “the training of a horse to perform special, carefully controlled movements as directed by the rider”, key word being controlled. Flying up a winding hill on a horse is the opposite of that, and flying across the steppe on a Mongolian horse is the furthest you can get from control.

My new training goal is to find and embrace horse situations where I am NOT in control. Sophia gave me some excellent advice on Derby control mindset- think back to when you are a little kid on your pony and all you want to do is go fast. As I am speeding across the steppe trying to stay on my Mongolian horse I will try to reflect back to riding my pony Butterscotch and “racing” him up and down the field. Hopefully that will help me give up control and just enjoy the ride.


Rachel Roman