I am someone that really struggles with keeping positive when something unfavorable or just straight up not good happens in my life. Discouragement levels run on high, coupled with sadness, giving up seems like the best and easiest path to take. Surely I’m not the only one, right? Not at all. Many people, especially riders, struggle with this exact same thing every day.
For me, my loss of hope stemmed from my progress in the sport. I am not financially able to buy the fanciest or nicest horse on the market; So I was unable to really venture high in the levels. Because of this, I saw other people I know well and started at the same place as me, excelling so much faster than I was and it was definitely discouraging. Everything kind of turned around when I found a trainer that believed in me. She found me the horse of my dreams that was able to move me up to a place where I was finally happy. Now, I’m hoping that sharing my experience and hardships can help others.
While sharing my personal experience is oh so interesting, I turned to the ever so trusty Instagram for a bit of a new thing. Putting out a poll that asked, “Have you ever lost hope in your riding before?”, Almost 90% of people have felt this way at some point during their riding careers. That’s crazy. Following the first one, I asked the people that responded if they’d be willing to let me feature their story in this post. While many said no, a few awesome people said yes and were kind enough to be interviewed.
First up is Maddie Bricken. Many know her from her totally drool-worthy blog The Blonde & The Bay, where she shares her journey through dressage as an ammy with her mare, Leah. When I asked her why she lost hope she said, “Due to a series of unfortunate events and falls, I was too afraid to even think about continuing my dressage journey.” Sadly, this is one of the biggest responses I got. Falls and other accidents can be brutal to deal with and some even result in riders quitting altogether. But in typical Maddie-The-Badass fashion, she bounced back. “I focused solely on my own journey, tuning out any outside distractions. Time was on my side, I didn’t rush the process and moved at my own pace. Eventually, little by little, I began to feel more at ease in the saddle, enjoying the small milestones” she told me when I asked how she regained her hope.
One of the groups of riders that can get hit hardest by this are the juniors. Living up to the standard that Instagram portrays as the ‘perfect teenage equestrian’ can be difficult when half of the big name riders come from very prestigious barns. Edie Wetzel’s experience was no different. “Every so often when things aren’t progressing as I like, or I didn’t compete in the class I wanted to or my horse consistently acted up due to her “greenness” I will lose hope and wonder why I am doing it,” she told me. I asked her what she did to regain her hope she said “I had to take a step back and realize what I have, I have a wonderful warmblood who my trainer had lent me (she’s his personal horse) and that it was going well where I was at. In the end, the height doesn’t matter, my horse was going along smoothly, was a tough competitor, and progressing immensely in her flat work as well as her jumping technique. I realized that what I have in front of me is way greater than jumping the extra 6 inches.” Edie and her mare ended up as the Zone 5 Horse Of The Year that year because she kept working hard for what she wanted; plus they are totally awesome.
So keeping your eyes up is important. Look for that next jump to get over or the next movement to execute. You’ve got this, don’t lose hope.
Sydney & The Ponies
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