Being a first time owner, I tend to underestimate my knowledge level, and give others too much credit for theirs. It isn’t that I’m a horse genius, and everyone else is stupid. It’s that I know more than I give myself credit for. As odd as it sounds, I know what I don’t know, which is what makes me intelligent (in an ignorant sort of way). And when I don’t know something, I know who to ask to find out more information. Please notice, I didn’t say “to get the right answer.”
As a horse mom, it’s my job to advocate for my horse, and for myself, as we build our partnership. Between the two of us, I find it easier to advocate for Charlie. I have no problem talking to the barn manager, the vet, the farrier, the people who do his body clips — everyone who helps Charlie.
The place I have more trouble is advocating for myself. For instance, I know I need training, and a schooling plan for how to work on my skills. But getting that to be understood is sometimes a challenge. I will have a regular set of lessons, but there’s no schooling plan for between lessons. Or I will have a clinic, but then won’t see that instructor again for months, so there’s no opportunity to build on the clinic experience. Or I try to get into a regular lesson schedule where we trailer in to someone else’s barn, to no avail.
Now before you get to thinking I’m some closet Olympic hopeful, think again! I’m basically the same age as Phillip Dutton. I’m well aware that he has forgotten more about horses than I will probably ever know. And he can ride the breeches off me any day of the week, and could probably do so in his sleep. I know this. And I respect Phillip immensely. But I also want to move up to Beginner Novice. The plan was to do that before the end of this season, but I’m not sure that’s in the cards now. But if it’s ever going to happen, it’s going to require more of a plan than I’ve got now.
So with apologies to everyone that I’ve pestered, I’m upping my self-advocacy to the next level, with the intention of having my riding follow suit. And if all goes according to the new plan, I will have a regular, recurring eventing trainer to whom Charlie and I will trailer out twice a month. We will leave each lesson with a plan for what to school and how for the next two weeks. Hopefully this arrangement will also get us access to the clinics with outside trainers that are put on at that barn. And our show schedule for the remainder of the year will be to join the new trainer on their existing horse trial and dressage show schedule.
I’ll grant you this is just the beginning of this new plan. But it’s our plan, based on our needs and goals. And the old plan wasn’t getting us where we want to go. And when you aren’t getting where you want to go, you just have to stand up and ask for what you need.