From Endurance to Dressage
A few months back, a friend sent me the Winter 2020 issue of Practical Horseman because of the article pictured below. She thought it might resonate with me, which it did. I think most of us have thought most of the things Lindsey Paulsen wrote about. I know I nodded my head in agreement paragraph after paragraph.
My start in the world of horses wasn't quite like hers - she was an 8-year-old who went to watch a dressage schooling show where a trainer demonstrated the movements from the Grand Prix. Those few minutes she spent watching the horse and rider dance around the ring were enough to seal her fate. She knew what she aspired to be, and in her own words she states, "I have longed to be that strong, poised woman on the floating horse, and chasing the idea of her has largely served me well - it's given my life purpose and direction."
My own start was similar, if not so precise. I don't actually remember a time before horses. My grandma and grandpa leased a farm on several acres where my grandma boarded horses and gave lessons. Three of my uncles were farriers, so I really don't remember the first time I was put on a horse. I was just born with the bug. The desire to own a horse and ride whenever I wanted to was a huge part of what made me who I was. I was never not dreaming about horses.
At the end of her article, Paulsen reflects on being that little eight-year-old girl: "But I am learning that it's good for us to pause every now and then to tap on the shoulder of that little girl peering into the arena. I bet she'd turn around and look at you with her eyes wide. She'd smile and tell you she wants to be just like you." Boy, did that hit a nerve. I struggle with never feeling satisfied, never feeling good enough, never having achieved enough.
If I were to tap my eight-year-old self on the shoulder, I know she would be amazed by her future self. She would feel great excitement at what she would someday achieve, and it would never ever cross her mind that it wasn't enough or that I wasn't good enough, quite the opposite. So why then have I so often struggled with feeling like happiness will be found at the next level or at earning the next award?
Earning a Bronze medal has really helped me gain some perspective. I thought for sure that once having earned it, the burden of always needing to improve would be lifted. It did the opposite thing. Instead, I felt even more pressure to succeed. That added pressure was what finally helped me look for the happiness in today's accomplishments. I will continue to be goal oriented; that isn't going to change, but I am beginning to feel a greater sense of satisfaction in the day to day progress.
Izzy and I had a very disappointing ride on Saturday - the neighbor must be breeding a mare because the screams coming from behind the hedge on Saturday morning were very distracting for both Izzy and me. Neither of us could concentrate. I started fresh on Sunday morning, and we had a much better ride. While I tried to beat myself up on Saturday night for my poor riding skills, my eight-year-old self popped up and gushed about how great I rode my very flashy horse. "So what if he's not perfect?" she'd say. "He's amazing, and you're so lucky to have him AND Speedy!"
She was right of course, and I am lucky indeed. If I really could go back and tap that little girl on the shoulder, I'd tell her that she is going to achieve some great things, have many crazy adventures, and do far more than she ever dreamed was even possible. When I look at myself through my eight-year-old self's eyes, I realize that I have got it going on!
I think we sometimes need less experience in order to appreciate life. Either that, or a time machine.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: