From Endurance to Dressage
As my abilities develop, my confidence both waxes and wanes. One minute I am the world's greatest rider, and the next leaves me feeling as though I should sell everybody and move on to something else. We've all felt that way, I know.
Earlier in the year, a rider contacted me wanting to know about Bakersfield's dressage scene. She had just moved here and was getting ready to show at Third Level. I was excited because that was right where we were, and everyone knows misery loves company.
Fair warning. I am a score stalker. When you say you're showing Third Level or Second Level or PSG, I'm going to look you up and see if your stats support your claim - especially if we're going to be building a relationship. I quickly discovered that this particular rider had shown a few times at Training Level in 2018. That was the extent of her showing experience.
The next time I heard anything about her, she was claiming to be a Fourth Level rider and had her Training Level horse decked out in a double bridle in an attempt to make it so. My thoughts? Wow. That's confidence.
Writing about my journey so publicly, I know it is impossible to fool anyone. I use my real name. I use Speedy's real name. I make it incredibly easy for anyone to check my "credentials." I post more blooper photos than I do of the carefully selected screen shots even though they paint a lovelier picture. For that matter, I post videos of our rides with the score sheets attached. There is no way I can claim to be anything other than what we are.
So why do I write this blog? Why do I show everyone the ugly moments? The truth is that when I jumped into this dressage thing, I couldn't find any resources for a low level beginner like myself. Of course, that was before Twitter and Instagram and the explosion of social media. I decided that I'd be that resource for someone else. I knew that if I was struggling, others had to be as well.
I've always referred to myself as a low level rider, but I think I need to adjust that moniker. While it feels arrogant and over-stepping, I think I should now consider myself a member of the mid-level ranks. That's going to take some confidence to pull off though. It's not that I don't think I belong there because I do. It's just that I don't want people thinking that I think I am better than I really am.
All of which brings me to the lyrics of a song by Devin Dawson that have really resonated with me lately. The line comes from his song, "Dark Horse." In it he sings, "No, it ain't that I'm self-conscious, I'm just conscious of myself. And I don't know how to be nobody else." To me, that's confidence - an honest awareness of yourself and your abilities.
Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. While I certainly struggle, I am also quick to recognize my strengths. Because of that awareness, I think I'd rather identify myself as a struggling rider and surprise myself rather than label myself accomplished and prove myself to be very, very wrong.
What do you think?
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%: