From Endurance to Dressage
More on Confidence
Last week, I wrote a post about what confidence means to me. Essentially, to me, confidence is an appreciation of one's own strengths. Perceived confidence is a funny thing though. One can have boatloads of it that the rest of the world simply can't see. What one person feels is mettle, grit, or conviction, the rest of us see as over-confidence which is nearly always viewed as a bad thing. To the person letting it all hang out (so to speak), I say, run with it, girlfriend. Is that how I want to live my life? Well no, but more power to those that do.
While I got a lot of positive feedback on that post - some of you expressed an appreciation of my honesty, others took me to task. I was criticized for the example of "over-confidence" that I chose to share - the rider who claimed to be at a higher level than she had previously demonstrated. Several people pointed out that it was petty to include that example.
If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I make a point of not writing negative things about other riders. I definitely write critical things about myself though, always in an effort to show my learning curve. I generally avoid too much negative self-talk - unless it's funny, then game on. But I don't bash on people, ever.
So why did I mention that other rider? I think if we revisit what I said, it might be more clear. What I said was this: "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."
Do I think she overstated her abilities? Yes, but that's how she perceived her abilities. I wasn't exaggerating or lying. She confidently stated what she believed she could do. The rest of the world just couldn't see it so we label it as being over-confident. My actual comment was "Wow. That's confidence." But hey, you run with it, girlfriend.
I am sure that I have been over-confident more than once in my life. And no doubt, I either kicked butt or more likely, learned a valuable lesson. Isn't that how we gain confidence? We think we can and then we do it, or we think we can and then find out we can't, so we work even harder the next time. Success breeds confidence, failure motivates us to try again.
The truth is, I am very careful about claiming what I can do. I think most perfectionists are. I frequently call myself an under-achieving over-achiever (That's going to be the title of the book I someday write.). Meaning, I expect far more from myself than I can deliver. I am never happy with a dressage test because I know that it can always be done better. And that's me in a nutshell, trying to do everything better.
In response to that same bog post, I was accused of ignoring a judge's comments in favor of just trying to earn more points. Anyone who has been reading about my journey for more than the past five minutes knows that I dissect every. single. judge's. comment. Yes, I try to earn more points because more points means progress. Progress comes by taking what the judge says and then working hard to apply it.
I guess it all comes down to this: competing in a sport that deliberately invites criticism is tough. Writing about that criticism and then sharing it with the rest of the world means you had better have a thick enough skin to withstand the negative feedback. On top of that, I ask readers to share their opinions here, whether I agree with them or not.
Really. What do you think?
7/24/2019 07:20:51 am
I think that both posts were well written and I read no rider bashing, except on yourself. I have seen so many riders in my career. Some are confident enough to go to show after show even while earning scores in the 40's and low 50's consistently. Some riders want to quit if they can't get above a 69%. Everyone has his journey, thank you for always being so candid with yours. You truly and honestly let other riders identify with your struggles and your failures in a way that helps move your individual journeys in a better direction. All respect for your confidence in your riding and writing this wonderful blog! Proud to be your trainer!
7/25/2019 06:08:02 am
Thank you, Chemaine. :0)
7/24/2019 07:52:32 am
I’m a little floored! I don’t view over confidence as a negative trait UNLESS you’re participating in some dangerous adrenaline rush undertaking that requires you down a case of beer beforehand! Over confidence in these instances can kill you...HOW can you have TOO MUCH confidence going into a dressage test? If you do, the scores will either support it, or return your feet to terra firma. It’s pretty self regulating! I DONT like braggarts, HOWEVER, if you’ve WON...and you can’t be humble, that’s a humility problem, not a confidence problem. YOU are VERY HUMBLE....I think dressage, by and large, IS VERY HUMBLING. You are appropriately confident, or you wouldn’t even try...sorry if my comments were part of this implication ( I DID remark on the wisdom of moving to Third ) 😰
7/25/2019 06:12:07 am
Thanks, Shirley. I think the true point of my post got lost somewhere along the line, but it was this: it takes ME a long time to verbalize when I feel confident which means I sometimes refrain from stretching myself publicly out of a fear of looking foolish. The rider that I referenced obviously doesn't feel that way. Hers is a confidence that I envy.
7/24/2019 09:26:33 am
In order to do this sport without completely losing your mind, you have to get comfortable with the idea that some days you are feeling confident and some days you aren't feeling it all all..AND, sometimes you feel confident and you end up with a proverbial cream pie to the face! That’s what you get for choosing a subjective sport that requires you to jump into a blackhole of endless learning. Literally. Endless. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know anything! (Kinda like life..?)
7/25/2019 06:13:11 am
Yes. Yes. Yes! Thank you, Cassandra. :0)
I remember riding around the perimeter of a show ring, confidently thinking I didn't need to show the judge to my horse, because we had been to this facility many times. My horse caught sight of the judge and did a abrupt 180 and me and my confidence landed in the dirt. Moral of the story is, it's always best to temper confidence with good judgement. Thank-you for your blog and opening yourself to all of us. I would never misrepresent myself or my horse as one look will tell you we are the bottom feeders looking up at the world, but still doing our best every ride with what we have!
7/25/2019 06:14:38 am
OMG How embarrassing! Funny now, but I would have died. I love your way of stating exactly how I feel" temper confidence with good judgement." That's it exactly!
7/24/2019 03:10:54 pm
To some, watching a rider who flails about at first level move up to third a short time later, with a horse who is consistently cranked behind the vertical and throwing tantrums in lead changes would come off as over confident, but, as you say, more power to ya! Not normally one to comment, but watching you go down this petty track with your recent posts is more painful to watch than the riding itself. Pot, meet kettle. Personally, I don't move a horse up until he succeeds at the level we're already showing. My students have scores in the high sixties and low seventies at third level and don't lack confidence. They also don't tear into the silly middle-aged ladies at the barn who are piddling around at the lower levels while posting pictures of themselves online that make them look better than they are. Good grief! They certainly wouldn't do it while linking to my website and my full name in every other post.
7/25/2019 06:28:07 am
I am not quite sure how to respond to most of your comment, so I'll respond to the one part that I can. If your students are scoring so high, they must have very good training indeed. While I love my trainer, I don't have access to more than 3 or 4 lessons a month, and that is a fairly recent development. I would give anything to be in full training but a) I can't afford it and b) there are no trainers in Bakersfield to train with.
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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%: