What I Learned This Season
|One of my favorite shots from our last HT!|
I've learned A LOT. This season was a real struggle for me, but I grew and stretched myself in ways that I never have before, doing things I never imagined I'd have the guts to do!
If You're Not Having Fun, Something's Gotta Give. It's no surprise to my friends and family that I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. I'm not a very competitive person, but performing to the best of my abilities is something that I take very seriously. While this drive helps me improve and gives me the discipline I need to work hard at my sport, at the end of the day I ride for fun, and putting too much pressure on myself robs riding of its very purpose. This season I learned to let go, just a little bit, of my desire for perfection.
Attitude Is Everything. We've all heard it time and time again, but riding is, at its core, a mental game. When I went in to a horse trial with the goal of having fun instead of achieving a certain score or result, everything went much better! Relaxation leads to better focus.
When In Doubt, Gallop The S*&% Out Of It
When I started dipping my toes into the eventing pool last year, I had a BIG problem with picking and pulling to the base of every fence in both stadium and cross country. Holding to the close distance was my security blanket, and I just loved putting in a little chippy final step in front of everything. This doesn't do a whole lot for me aside from destroying the rhythm, killing impulsion, causing refusals, and breeding doubt. This season, I started slowly learning to Let Go and Leg On - especially when the fences got big and scary!
Showing Is A Skill
I think all of us, deep inside, have the unrealistic hope that we will trot down centerline, float around stadium, and blast out of the start box at our first event like we've done it all our lives and come home with a blue ribbon. Newsflash: for most people, that's not how it works. No matter how well I'm doing at home, replicating those good rides in the show ring is a skill, and one that takes a lot of time, a lot of miles, and a lot of events to master! I'm going to be working on it for a long, long time.
I Am A Badass
The changes in my confidence and the way I think about myself as a rider have been unreal. I have gone from near-tears and on the verge of a panic attack during my first cross country schooling a little over a year ago to competing at BN and schooling the odd Novice fence here and there without fearing for my life. A year ago I could barely ride a 1ft down bank or trot down a slight slope without my heart pounding in fear. A few days ago I rode a bank complex like it was the easiest thing in the world. I went from seeing myself as a hunter/jumper rider out of her element to identifying as an eventer through and through. Sitting on Windows the other day, I realized how small the jumps look from atop 16+ hands. That's how most people, mounted on 'normal' sized horses, see them. I ride a pony and jump the same fences that still look 'big' to friends on tall horses. I used to think of myself as a weenie, but aiming my 14.1hh pony at a big, solid fence and trusting that he'll take us over takes guts! This season, I learned that I'm capable of more than I ever thought I was.
Failure Isn't The End of The World
Eventing is hard. Life is hard. We can't always be great at every single thing we try, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try anyway. Getting out there and competing, even when I didn't feel "ready", stretched me outside my comfort zone. I had a lot of bad schooling rides during my pre-show weeks, I screwed up, my practice dressage tests were horrendous, and some days I missed every single distance to every fence. But as much as I wanted to wait until I was "ready" to compete, I went to the shows and I tried anyway. And while I didn't always come home with ribbons, I always came home a little wiser and a little more experienced for my efforts.