After writing this, I read a great article in Dressage Today. One line stood out above all the others. It is my new mantra: "The rider's goal should be improvement, not perfection." - Lilo Fore
When I showed up at JL's barn, I had several things I wanted to work on, but somewhere during the lesson, I had a mental meltdown. No matter what I tried, I couldn't make things work, and Speedy wouldn't help. I just wasn't getting it.
We finished the lesson with some really crappy serpentine loops. By this point in the lesson, I had whacked Speedy a few times with the whip, hauled his butt to a stop with a hard pull of the outside rein, and whaled on his side with my inside leg. He was pissed. Nothing I was doing was effective. I felt like a complete failure, and in my disappointment, I heard, you are a terrible rider. No need to come back.
I walked Speedy back to our barn with a very heavy heart. I put him away and saddled Sydney. I managed to do a ten minute ride before admitting that my head wasn't in the game, and I was doing him a disservice. I pulled his saddle and let the tears come.
If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you already know that I am particularly hard on myself. I work diligently to improve but am easily frustrated when I don't get something, and above all else, I hate to disappoint. As I was leaving my own barn toward home, I decided I needed to talk to JL about it. If she really was that disappointed in my effort, I was afraid she might boot me off the fall schedule.
Here's where the equine therapy started. Admitting to JL that I had really tried my best but was still unsuccessful was very hard to do. Immediately the tears began to flow. I told her how frustrated I was with myself and admitted that I was worried that she was going to kick me off the schedule for being such a poor student.
A very lengthy conversation ensued, and it was nothing about schedules. We talked about sports psychology and how our inner baggage is what prevents us from being successful in the ring and in life. She shared some of her own personal struggles and what she is doing to keep her focus while riding and teaching.
In the end, she helped me see that my frustration at myself comes from a far deeper place than just having a bad ride. Various fears and the need to be good enough drive me to work so hard. In the end, we agreed on some code words so that when she needs to push me harder but sees me start to check out mentally, she can help me refocus.
JL helped me see that she is genuinely rooting for my success and is happy to help me get there. And she reassured me that she has no intention of letting me go. Whew - that's a relief!