For the past six months or so, I have been working hard on setting goals with my mare and doing my best to not only increase our fitness level, but move up to new competition levels. This seems like a pretty simple and natural course of action right? Well, it’s been a pretty profound challenge.

My hanoverian mare, Belinda, is great. She’s always willing to work. She’s up for new challenges. She’s game for lateral work and jumping courses. She’s the perfect partner for where I am in my life right now.

But being an adult amateur rider isn’t easy. Real life (i.e., my job, family commitments and trying to maintain some semblance of a normal adult social life) is constantly derailing our plans and setting back our goals. Sometimes I’m really frustrated by this — I blame myself for not spending more time at the barn. Other times I feel guilty for putting what I sometimes think could be too much pressure on my horse, for goals that sometimes seem unrealistic for a former broodmare that’s 18 and me, who is readily approaching 30. (ahh!!!)

I’ve been wanting to take Belinda to a show for a while now. After having started up lessons (semi) regularly again, I’ve had the itch to go somewhere and compete. Hence the goals. Hence the emotional fall out of said goals. This feeling was only amplified by my exciting trip to watch at WEF in February.

So I started training harder and making more time to ride. I wrote down horse show dates on my calendar. I bought new show clothes and polished up the old field boots.

And month after month, I found a reason why I couldn’t go to the show I had already sent my entries in to.

It was a drag each time. One weekend I had to work on a Saturday. Another time I had a family commitment. The next time I just didn’t have the funds set aside for the trip. And another the truck was in the shop and couldn’t pull the trailer.

Fast forward to April and here I am, still telling my barn manager the same sad story about how I’m “really going to try this time” to go a show over the weekend.

Well, finally I did it.

All the pieces fell into place. I loaded my mare up and hauled her down to Fox Lea Farm for the weekend — my favorite place to show locally — even though I hadn’t ridden her in a week due to other life commitments. And I’m so glad I did. We had a blast at the show. I rode above and beyond my expectations. Belinda stepped up for every class. Winning grand champion in both our hunter and equitation divisions was just the icing on the cake.

I had a blast and forgot all about the worry from the months before. I have no idea when I’ll be able to show again (probably not for several more months) but our fun and successful weekend renewed my confidence in our partnership, in my own skills and reminded me of the joy we share when we’re together, no matter what we’re doing.

Here’s a video of Belinda jumping in our 2’3″ working hunter division, where we were named grand champion:

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