There’s no getting away from it. In the British Dressage world, it’s regionals season. My friend social media lets me know every time someone I know has been crowned regional champion. I’m not just green with envy, I’m a toxic shade of neon green.
This time last year, I won my regional championship class by 6% and booked my ticket to nationals. This year, although I’m qualified, due to a chain of events and situations totally outside of my control, I’m not even entered. It does not feel good.
Whilst regional and national championships are not what keeps the world spinning, they are a huge goal and motivation for competitive dressage riders. Whilst I feel a sense of responsibility that I’m doing the horses an injustice by not attending, there’s also the sense of responsibility to my owners, sponsors and supporters. But most of all I am hideously competitive and I love to win. We had such a good sash party last year and it felt amazing to give back to everyone who had helped me achieve that success. As it is with most things in life, there are always up’s and downs and for me this is a small dip.
Whilst I have absolutely no issue admitting that I experience feelings of jealousy, in fact I know its what fuels me, one thing I do make a conscious effort to control is not being spiteful as a result of my emotions. Social media, like all media, often shows only what we want people to see. A picture of someone doing a lap of honour with a sash and rug and a grin ear to ear, ignites the hornets nest inside many of us. But the truth is, we have no idea what’s gone on behind the scenes for that combination to get to that point. The time, money, late nights, early mornings, sweat and tears. The support team, the trainer, the farrier, the vets, the physio, the saddle fitter, the list go’s on. We shouldn’t hate. There’s no point feeling like a victim because others are experiencing success and you’re not. If you want that to be you, stop scrolling and get working.
Not being at regionals makes me feel terrible. Seeing other people succeed makes me feel envious. I endeavour to use the resulting hornets nest inside me to fuel my determination. I hope this will be my last regionals sitting on the bench.
Since my lesson at the end of last week, I feel much more confident and focussed with my training plan for Dominica. When you have a horse from the early days, it becomes easy to baby them. I had no idea how she would react to the situation and now I have my answer. Although I haven’t changed anything in terms of her workload, I do now feel that we have moved past the recently backed phase and that she’s now physically and mentally ready to start more structured work. Before my lesson I was also slightly in the dark about where we were at with her training. Since she’s been here, no one has watched me ride her and I’ve only had a 60 acre field to train her in.
When the ground is drier, I do mark out a 60 x 20 area with poles, which makes a huge difference to the way I am able to train all of the horses. But with the best will in the world, at the moment it is just not dry enough. I have to pick the driest area in the field, which can differ each day and I can’t continually ride the same lines otherwise the ground becomes poached and I’m left with an even more difficult situation.
One of the main things I did take away from my lesson, is that whilst I can ride in a straight line, Dominica is not truly straight. This was highlighted especially through the corners when I was in the arena. This is nothing to do with her, it’s just an area I haven’t been as aware as I should have been. For me, once I’m aware, its a straightforward fix as is it a pilot not pony issue. If I think of riding with outside bend, not actually doing it, it’s enough to direct my focus to riding the outside shoulder and this has become my focus for my schooling sessions post lesson.
One of the reasons I started blogging, is because I am an avid reader. We are so lucky to live in a world where a simple click opens up infinite amounts of documents, on every imaginable topic. I love reading other peoples training plans, the exercises they use and experts advice. Whilst I wish I had access to training all day every day, financially and practically its not an option. But what I can do is read, that’s free! I recently read a blog which was a review of an Isabel Werth demo, I love small insights like this in to how the top riders train their horses and being our current world champion and one of the most decorated riders in the dressage world, she clearly knows a thing or too! For anyone interested, here is the link; https://horseaddict.net/2019/02/09/isabel-werth-clinic-in-wellington-fl/
So that’s where we are at with Dominica and for me, I’m trying to keep the lid on my competitive craziness, for now at least! Scottish regionals is this weekend, so genuinely good luck to any of you competing there. Enjoy it and remember how lucky you are. A stroke of luck means that it has fallen on my sisters birthday weekend, so I will semi distracted by that!
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