This past June, I took my mare to our first show since she came to Indiana. It was an eventing combined test at a local farm. For those who aren’t familiar, a combined test is only the dressage and show jumping phase of a 3-day event aka no cross country. I came into the class fairly confident that we would be perfectly fine. Boy oh boy was I wrong.
I knew that we would be having a somewhat rough dressage test. Carina is not a dressage horse but has solid flatwork. She was great in warm-up but as soon as we walked into the area, it all fell apart. My nerves translated to tension from Carina and silly mistakes we should not have made happened. Walking out of the area, I knew that our score would reflect those mistakes. I got the worst dressage score I had ever received that day. Reading the judge’s notes really helped to show me what we needed to work on in our flatwork at home and in the comment section she wrote “Wonderful pair! Just seems to be nervous today, keep working hard.” This really helped to show me that the score doesn’t reflect Carina and I as a pair, it shows us what we need to work on to get better.
Going into the show jump warm-up I was much more confident that my horse knew her job and we would be able to clean up what we lost in dressage. Again, I was wrong. She was great in warm-up but I failed her as a rider in the arena. We had a refusal at jump 3 and again at jump 5. We were eliminated and walked back to the barn. I cared for my horse, gave her some of her favorite treats, and patted her because she tried her hardest for me, even if everything didn’t go our way.
At first, I was mad at Carina for not performing as I knew she could. But really, I was angry at myself for not being the right ride for her that day. Horses are only as confident as their rider is. They are our partners and just like us, they can have bad days too. We had a bad day and when we went home, our training plan changed to reflect what we needed to work on.
Horses keep us so humble. They teach us lessons about everything under the sun and while it might be tough to deal with in the moment, it gets better. Looking back on that day, I see my actions, where I went wrong, and know that I have bettered myself from my experience. Carina and I went on to another show in our area 2 months later and placed 4th in our 3′ round out of 19 and 5th out of 21 in our 3’3″ class. I am proud of what we have accomplished and I am incredible blessed to have Carina in my life. Never again will I take for granted her talent and work ethic. I can’t wait to have more experiences with her and learn all the lessons that she has to teach me.
I hope y’all enjoyed this article about growing from experiences! If you ever have any questions feel free to DM on Instagram @equestrian.syd!
Until Next Time Preps,
Sydney & The Ponies