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?
7/18/2019 08:40:35 pm
Yep. Are there any bloggers who only write about the good moments? If there are, they certainly aren't on my radar. LOL I don't like the woe is me stuff either though. Personally, I enjoy hearing about problems where a solution has been found.
7/18/2019 08:06:36 am
Are you....really judging someone for putting a training level horse in a double bridle and acting like that makes it a higher level horse? Like you did with Izzy? 🧐
7/18/2019 08:53:36 am
Yes, that is what I am saying. Without revealing too much about the rider, someone must have told her that she and her horse had talent (potential). She took that to mean that different tack would make a higher level horse.
7/18/2019 11:38:22 am
Wait so, did this other rider show? You can't use scores as the only 'judgement' of someone's talent or abilities. Maybe she worked really hard and really is at third Level but just hasn't shown? I have a friend very much like this person you speak of, and it comes from just terrible insecurity.
7/18/2019 02:18:02 pm
I really don’t want to say much about this rider as it was not my intent to reveal her identity. But in answer to your question, no. She just started exaggerating her ability level out of a desire to have “arrived.” And sadly, she did it in a rather public way, embarrassing more than one trainer.
7/18/2019 03:06:56 pm
If it wasn’t your intention to point fingers at any rider why mention them at all? This post regardless of intention came off rather petty, especially if this person reads the blog.
7/20/2019 08:02:55 am
Longtime reader here, and I can't bite my tongue on this one. I think a rider that consistently gets the same criticism by judges re: her riding & aids and having an over-flexed horse at the poll, who focuses more on points than on the actual judge feedback, is not in a position to criticize another rider's journey, whether that criticism valid or not. Yes, you work very hard and how far you have come is both commendable and admirable. But this post would have held up fine without that inserted criticism. I agree that that bit of information about the other rider just makes the entire post sound petty.
One of the reasons you are my favorite blogger to follow is because of your honesty. I relish in the authenticity and when people are afraid to be real in their success AND learning opportunities, it turns me off. How else do we learn? As riders, we are not competing against other riders, we are competing with ourselves. Hell, "competing" isn't even appropriate, we are testing ourselves.
7/19/2019 01:32:46 pm
What you just said ... I'll take more of that, please!
Comments are closed.
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%: