In the beginning, you must focus all your energy on just riding. This phase includes learning all the basic skills - how to balance, how to manipulate and coordinate your various appendages, and how to use your various 'aids'.

You discover that you have a 'seat' and that it is the crux of all things in riding, and if you are lucky, you are blessed with an instructor that is willing to lunge you to develop that seat.

You learn about the gaits, the surge of energy when a horse proceeds with an upward or downward 'transition', and distinguish between your inside and outside reins and aids.

You differentiate between go and (not 'stop' but) halt.

You negotiate patterns, movements, and figures.

You graduate from the walk to the trot ('posting' and in a while, with 'diagonals'). Eventually you take your first canter steps and you wonder what the horse world has waiting for you after all these accomplishments.

You begin to jump, rein (spins, slides and stops), fly over jumps in cross-country, get 'test'ed in dressage, complete the pattern in western horsemanship or trail, run the barrels, or maybe even head for the hills during a 30-mile long competitive trail.

You develop your ability to listen to the horse, maintain safety, and be a good leader for your horse.

You might learn to jump higher, spin faster, go longer on the trail.

At this point, riding is a pleasure, a recreational sport, a chance to enjoy the company of the magnificent horse.

But at some point, you realize that there is something missing - but you can't put your finger on it. Yet the feeling continues to pick away until through some catalyst (watching someone ride, or learning something new), you take a bite out of the proverbial apple... and discover Riding (with the capital R).

(click to read on)

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