From Endurance to Dressage
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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
Unfortunately, it wasn't that kind of equine therapy. What was I just saying the other day about jinxing myself? I must have sent some bad juju out there as last Wednesday's lesson didn't go very well.
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!
I wanted to share this post before my show report because recognizing that I don't need to be perfect helped turn what could have been a crappy show day into a fun day with some really nice people. More on that tomorrow, promise.
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%: