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I have always been a very competitive person. At some point I decided I would just not try on things I knew I couldn’t win or excel at because I didn’t want to fail especially if someone was there who could do it or was better then me. This is a horrible mind set and I have been trying to correct this mindset for a while now. Well when I started riding it was not to compete or get to a certain point at a certain time. I wanted to be brought into this world correctly and learn from the ground up. I found the perfect place and started taking lessons. As soon as I got to the barn I had the urge to try and make myself look like I knew exactly what I was doing. I had irrational fears that I would be looked down upon for not knowing what I was doing because I had had lessons in the past (15 lessons to be exact between 8 and 14 years old) and been on a few trail rides. My instructor is a very nice lady who went through the whole process of grooming and tacking up before letting me lead the horse up to the arena, and asking me about my riding experience as we went. When we got to the arena, I got onto the horse and she told me to ride the horse around as if I were looking to purchase or lease the horse. At this point I was nervous because it had been a couple years and I had no confidence in my ability to ride at all. So I got the horse walking and then tried to turn. All the horses I rode previous to this were direct reign (not that I knew what this meant at the time). To say the least the horse did not turn and we started from the basics of teaching me seat positioning, turning aids, and explaining what and why it works. Before starting these lessons, I had talked myself down from the mindset of I’ve already had some lessons I should be here to understanding that we were going to start from the beginning most likely on a lunge line (this did not happen until teaching me to post the trot). My competitiveness came out to play again when I signed up for a camp with other students my age. They had all been riding for years and were jumping, cantering, and very knowledgeable about the horses. I started to feel out of place and like I should know more about how to ride. I felt heavily embarrassed that while they were cantering, I was still sitting my trot. That first day I learned to post, and that night I had a nice long talk with myself about the difference in experience and being proud of myself for being able to keep up in the activities; even if it wasn’t at the same speed and a little more sloppy. I learned so much in that week of camp by watching and learning from the others. I went from sitting the trot to posting it while going through different patterns and over poles and small cross jumps (horses could basically walk over them) all the way to completing a training level dressage test at the end of the week. It taught me so much about being ok and confident in myself even if I’m the worst one there . I still have to tell myself occasionally that even if my progress is not as fast as I would like it to be, that I will always have something to learn and there is no rush or deadline of where I need to be or should be. I had promised myself that I would not rush this process or beat myself up over not hitting a certain level by a certain time. Since beginning this adventure, I have really worked on not being my most harsh critiques. When I would get something right I would immediately get in my head and become frustrated which then would cause the horse to become even harder to handle until we both were frustrated. Many times my trainer would catch me doing this before I did. She would call me out on it and tell me that I need to leave my baggage at the gate; I will never succeed if I continue to be the reason I am failing. I have learned to take deep breaths and laugh over it. There is no reason to get angry or frustrated. That all stemmed from my competitive need to succeed: I felt of I didn’t get it right the first few times then I wasn’t going to get it and even considered quitting because it all just seemed too hard. This was obviously ridiculous because I loved being around the horses and when I wasn’t frustrated learning a new skill I felt so happy and light. It has been a long while since I have felt like quitting because it was “too hard” and I didn’t want to “look like a fool”. The skills I found too hard before I now perform with ease without thinking while learning more challenging skills I never even imagined myself able to do (refining and adding on to those basic “hard” skills).

Not really sure what the point of this post was. I was just thinking back to when I first started riding and how much progress I’ve made. All my problems were mostly from my need to not make a fool of myself/prove myself even though I was a beginner and there was nothing to be embarrassed about. I’d love to hear your journeys through riding if you’d like to share .

Sorry for the long post. I can never seem to keep them short lol.
 
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