Believing in yourself can be hard at times. While you may have supporters standing with you, there are just as many people who will look at you and place doubt in your mind. “Is that the best she can do?” “Why is she still trying?” Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy and feel like you will never make progress. It can be hard to turn off those negative voices since they sometimes scream louder than the positive ones. The voices in my head seem to like to chatter right when it is time for bed…
You can easily lose sight of how far you have come when you look at the journey that still lies ahead or you are bogged down trying to master one particular new skill. It sometimes takes someone saying something to you to make you appreciate the progress that you have made. That someone, in this case, would be Ms. C.
After my last preparatory lesson before our show, I was getting Ike settled and cleaning my tack. Ms. C was working on evening barn chores. I mentioned that at the upcoming show, I would be riding First Level Test 3 for the first time ever. Yes, that is right, the first time EVER. She turned to me and asked, “When you started taking riding lessons (back in 2005), did you ever think that you would be where you are now and have had the opportunity to ride with Hilda [Gurney]?!” I paused for a moment. No, if you had told me then that I’d have a wall filled with ribbons, that I’d fly to Florida to find a horse, that I’d own a horse like Ike, that I’d get to ride with Ms. Gurney, or that I’d be getting ready to school Second Level dressage, I would have cackled like a crazy lady.
That conversation got me thinking that while I was still a newbie in the world of dressage, I had still come a long way from being a first time dressage rider in 2006. It is well known that I struggled to progress with my first horse Cigar, but much of that was his unwillingness to play nicely. But, in his own way, he taught me persistence, patience, and how to keep my butt in the saddle. When he retired, I felt confident enough to purchase a very green, very big 3-year-old horse. In just a few months shy of 3 years, I can now say that I have successfully shown him at Training Level and First Level. Not a meteoric rise, but I am proud of what we have accomplished.
I can hold my head up high as we head down centerline and salute the judge. We have done all we can do to get ready for our First Level Test 3 debut with a month’s preparation. Here’s hoping we can silent those negative voices again and celebrate our next milestone!