The first time I saw Kelly Turner compete I wasn’t exactly bowled over. Mainly because it all looked so simple. Her jumping wasn’t anything spectacular, but the horses always seemed to go clear. Dressage was the same — to me it just looked…nice. The cross country was more impressive — I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the jumps from the ground. But she never fell off or knocked anything over. How hard could it be?
Since that first time, I’ve watched lots of competitions. And the thing I’ve started to notice is how almost everyone in the world DOESN’T make it look easy. Jumps get knocked down, riders get penalties for coming in a few seconds too slow or too fast, turns don’t quite work, horses refuse. Luckily I don’t have to witness the misses and near-misses on the cross country course, because most of them happen out of sight.
Due to no one else being available, I was promoted from third-assistant-groom-and-dogsbody to second-assistant-groom-and-cheerleader at the Purston Manor Horse Trials yesterday. Watching Kelly ride (and win, with fantastic scores, again), I suddenly thought, Of course! Anything done brilliantly looks effortless.
Writing, too. Because all anyone ever sees is the end product. Not the billion hours of practice. Not the weeks in which nothing goes right and you despair of things ever going right again. Not the hours and hours of hard slog that go into making something really difficult look charmingly inevitable.
I’m old enough to know how rare it is to encounter real talent. It’s incredibly exciting to witness. No matter what form it takes.