From Endurance to Dressage
Over the past few weeks, Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, has written some really thought provoking essays that have resonated with me and touched on some of my insecurities. It's almost as though he has been peeking inside my head. He wrote this one about the importance of being part of every aspect of horse ownership and this one that explains how slowing down is actually the quickest route to success. His most recent essay was about failure, and it hit me hard. Tell me if this doesn't reveal a little about you as well.
"You're probably going to fail, and I hope you do."
Written by Sean Cunningham
Did that first statement trigger you? Did you immediately get defensive, and question why anyone would wish you to fail?
Why are we so afraid of failing? We go out of our way to shelter ourselves from situations that will make us look like a failure. We will carry on in a state of barely making it, avoiding taking the very step that may change the course of our lives and/or careers for the better, because that step may also lead to failure.
When faced with failure, our internal dialog goes something like "What will my friends say? What will my clients think? I don't want to disappoint anyone."
Or perhaps worst of all, "they were right about me."
We need to change that.
Failure gets a bad rap. There are a number of things I wish I had learned earlier on in my life. Learning to embrace failure ranks near the top.
Pick your favorite successful person in any walk of life, and really go read their story. I guarantee you their path is full of failure, and then using that failure to learn how to do it better.
I'm no different. I failed 3 years ago, hard. Once I finally found and applied the lessons from it, every aspect of my life dramatically improved and business has been stronger and more profitable than ever.
Failure is the ultimate learning tool. Failure is only bad if you stop there. Failure is part of that test we talked about last week.
Go fail. Again and again and again. Celebrate it. Dance with it. Embrace it. It's there to make you better.
Take the risk. Make the leap. When you fail, and I hope you do, I hope you also learn to see it for what it is. Not something to make you feel small and defeated, but something to help you grow and become who you're meant to be.
The line that really stopped me in my tracks was this one, "I don't want to disappoint anyone." Oh man, that is so me. Disappointing my trainer is one of my greatest fears. Disappointing all of you. Disappointing my 5th grade students. Disappointing my husband who doesn't even care about dressage. Disappointing my horse. Disappointing myself. I feel so much pressure to be successful because so many people are watching and waiting for me to ... to what? Fail? Succeed?
First of all, there is probably nobody watching and waiting for me to do anything, so whether I fail or succeed is really only important to me. But still, I write so publicly about my journey that I feel as though there must be this expectation that since I talk so much about riding and showing that I must therefore be good at it. Spoiler alert: I am not.
Is failure helping me as Sean suggested? I don't think I have yet let it. I need to do something about that.
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%: