“Training with Denny Emerson” aka HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

Working for Denny Emerson's publisher, Trafalgar Square Books, gave me the chance I never had as a young rider--an opportunity to "train with Denny."

I grew up just over the hill from Tamarack Hill Farm, Denny Emerson’s Vermont headquarters, and as a little horse-crazy girl who loved to gallop fast at sturdy fences, I dreamed of one day being good enough and brave enough to “train with Denny,” as other, older girls I knew did. For one reason or another, that dream never came to pass—my horses weren’t right, money was tight, I was distracted by other interests that kept me from being all-horses-all-the-time. I grew up, found a job, made a family, but the “horse ache” never went away, and the awe I felt for Denny never waned.

So it was just as amazing for me at age 33 as it would have been at age 10 to finally meet Denny Emerson, speak with him candidly about all things horse- and riding-related, and glory-of-glories, work on his book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD. My role as Senior Editor at his publisher, Trafalgar Square Books, gave me the opportunity that escaped me in my youth. In a way, I got to finally “train with Denny.” Reading his book gave me quite the wakeup call—I realized, as I was looking for typos, that I should be looking for something else, too: All the lessons Denny had provided for aspiring riders could be applied to other interests and areas of one’s life. What was he saying about “getting good” that could make what I was doing that much better?

A whole heck of a lot.

I feel completely honored to have the opportunity to share my feelings about HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD on Denny’s new blog—an online forum that he hopes will provide riders from all disciplines a touchstone for progress—with horses, with people, with goals, with “becoming.” His book is, to me, the very best, most grounded, most honest look at what it takes to truly make riding horses (and riding them well) your life’s work and ambition. On top of that, it helps us all take a good, long look in the mirror, consider our life, how we got to where we are, and how we’ll get to where we’re going.

It’s sure worth reading.

—Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor, Trafalgar Square Books

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1 Comment

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One response to ““Training with Denny Emerson” aka HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD

  1. About 25 years ago, I had a few opportunities to eavesdrop on other people’s lessons with Denny at Tamarack Hill, and I’ve always cherished those memories. (But I should have taken better notes.)

    I, too, longed to “train with Denny,” as I have always held him in high esteem. But I never had the right horse at the right time, or the money. And I was always a little shy, never quite certain that I’d be worthy, especially as I got older.

    When I was 16, scraping together pennies to take huntseat lessons from the great Victor Hugo-Vidal, I had the chance of a lifetime handed to me: I was offered the ride on a lovely huntseat equitation gelding, who had previously taken other Maclay riders to the national championships. But to accept this marvelous horse, I would have had to sell my beloved home-bred mare and enter a world of high-cost horse shows that my widowed mother and our social-security budget could not afford. Reluctantly, I turned down the offer.

    Now I’m 61. I’ve had back surgery to correct arthritis, something that I never worried about at 16. I have two wonderful horses, so I ride as often as possible as my office job lets me. I teach a little, train a little, compete a little in the baby novice events, and now I’m looking forward to “retirement” when maybe I can do more of those things that I really love. But I can’t help think, “Remember when?” and “If only…”

    However, there is something liberating about getting older and realizing that time’s a-wasting. Perhaps I’ll even get to ride with Denny one of these years, but I probably shouldn’t wait too long to ask.

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