Introduce one person to me within the equestrian community who claims to not possess any insecurities and I’ll immediately call their bluff. Face it; we all have them – tiny inklings that have an uncanny knack of rattling our inner self-confidence. But, the question arises; how could we not have insecurities in this sport we so passionately love? We virtually pay money to have someone judge our every move from the moment the first hoof enters at A. There is also another very present reality we find in this world of ours: there will always be a fellow equestrian with a higher quality horse, a nicer set of tack, an extensive tall boot collection, a stronger core set of muscles, a nicer arena – the list continues. Like my grandfather used to tell me in his uncanny way, “That’s what makes a horse race, sugar.” And in my opinion, the way we handle and control our insecurities solidifies our dignity and builds our character.
We find the greatest joy in doing what we do, regardless of the price tag of our horse or the price tag on our pair of full seat breeches. That should not matter to anyone, anyhow. For those of you who can openly acknowledge your insecurities, I truly commend you. No, it is not an easy feat. Posting that picture, uploading that video, opening yourself up to vulnerability – the one you’re nervous to share but equally excited at the same time because it is something you are proud of, you are my inspiration. From the moment I began The Blonde & The Bay, my sole mission was to share every aspect of the dressage lifestyle, the good, the bad, the upsetting, the rewarding, the ugly, the real, and anything but a misconstrued version of reality. To me, I take great pride in having the opportunity to voice my feelings on a platform I’ve built solely on my own.
During this past week of training, I have had the opportunity to face and accept a few of my insecurities, working to understand them and ultimately, overcome them. I’ll start with the lesser of two evils: the sitting trot. If you keep up with my Instragram on a daily basis, you’ll note that there are far and few photos of Leah and myself during a moment in the collected, sitting trot. This particular gait has been one of my biggest hurtles, and one of the toughest things for me to master. Over the past three months, Chloe has taught me to ride in a completely different way. For the first time in my equestrian career, I am reaching a whole new level of effectiveness with my aids. Just because Leah knows a majority of the tricks does not make her an easy ride in any way, shape, or form, regardless of the stereotypical statements made about FEI trained horses. Leah offers the rider nothing for free, and you truly have to stay with her every single stride in order to unlock her maximum potential. If I’m not dripping in sweat by the end of my lesson, I know I didn’t work hard enough.
I’m convinced that my sitting trot insecurities stem from weaknesses in my own muscular system. Leah is built incredibly long through her neck and back, which makes it more difficult to collect and maintain roundness. A large amount of strength is necessary when working to keep her hind leg moving up to the contact, while simultaneously keeping her frontend close, resembling a package underneath the rider. I have been working to achieve this all in the snaffle bridle, because in my point of view, if you cannot achieve roundness with one bit, you probably shouldn’t be using two.
I’ve managed to understand the concept of keeping Leah in this theoretical package during the walk and canter, however, the sitting trot has continued to feel a bit discombobulated. These kinds of things always feel worse than they actually appear, which is both a blessing and a curse. My biggest hurtle has been setting aside bad habits, like being inside rein dominate, as opposed to using both reins equally. I know I’ve said it before, but the outside rein is everything that is correct in this world of equestrianism. The moment I started to realize how effective it truly was, the more improvement I showed. Tendencies like panicky hands have finally begun to cease, and the sitting trot is starting to click. While this particular gait is far from perfect, I find solace in the progress I myself have made in just a short period.
My stepdad shared a bit of supportive advice when I filled him in on my training adventures for the week. He mentioned “if you improve 5% everyday, in 20 days, you’ll have improved 100%.” I love this statement, because the smallest amount of progress eventually adds up to total, positive transformation. Those words became my new mantra, and after reviewing the photos my utterly fantastic mom managed to snap this week, I came across a picture that happened to second-guess my pesky insecurities. That photo is the one I posted on my Instagram for this particular post – and I am so proud of it.
Next, I am excited to share that Leah and I have officially sent our entry in for the Houston Dressage Society Laborious Days Show, held at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center on August 27th – 28th. This competition will be my first since taking home the Southwest Dressage Championships JR/YR Third Level Championship in 2012, my first in the Adult Amateur division, and my first to share the entire shebang with Leah. So many firsts!
Establishing roundness at the walk before moving into trot.
Entering my first competition after a handful of years is something I get fairly emotional about. I’ll probably find myself fighting back tears at the final salute, regardless of how the ride unfolds. For so many years, I allowed myself to believe the voices of those I thought could control my feelings. I was thoroughly convinced that I would never compete again, and slipping on my jacket or white breeches would turn into a distant memory. I never dreamt that moving and training with Chloe on a daily basis would give me the chance to truly discover my capabilities. Her confidence in my riding has ultimately turned me into a better rider, and a better horsewoman. Competition – the word alone would send me into an insecurity terror. But as I became stronger in the saddle, more confident with myself, and more secure with the partnership Leah and I have, entering a competition didn’t seem quite so intimidating.
Because if we allow others to hinder our happiness or decisions, are we really enjoying life?
Negative, ghost rider.
Pressing the “complete your entry” button; a sense of accomplishment overwhelmed me. To reach this point in my inner-strength, and riding, means more than anyone could ever comprehend. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to do well at our competition debut, but the overall experience will outweigh the color of the ribbon.
Facing your insecurities is sometimes easier said than done, but I’ve learned over the past handful of months that you do not need validation from others to make yourself feel better about your choices. If you happen to possess an opposing view, attempting to make someone feel inferior to ease your own insecurities is unacceptable, and that is an important lesson my parents instilled in me starting as a child. Determination is the root of all things good – the amount of hard work you put into something determines the amount you’ll learn and progress. That is a true statement that does not rely on any monetary factors. I pride myself on my ever-present virtue that is optimism, and you will always find me encouraging other equestrians through positivity, unconcerned about what level they compete or what kind of horse they ride. Those two factors do not define my level of sportsmanship. Having this optimism has helped me control my insecurities, because it brings me much ravishment to share happiness with my fellow peers and followers.
Expressive turn on the haunches. Thanks, Leah bean.
I am so blessed in that I am extremely close with my two parents and a couple great gal pals who offer their relentless support, guidance, and listening ear when my insecurities overwhelm my emotions. It is crucial to find a special person, or persons, who you can wholeheartedly confide in, because I’ve learned that keeping emotions inside can result in serious distress. Ain’t nobody got time for that, honey! And speaking about being blessed, I credit my inner-strength to God. Simple enough. I am delighted to say that my faith is way larger than my fear, and in moments of strife, I relinquish all turmoil to Him. Doing so hasn’t disappointed yet, and I think I’ve found my insecurity-crushing strategy.
If you are struggling with an insecurity that you’d like to discuss and work through, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email or Instagram DM. To whom much is given, much is expected, and God has blessed me in so many ways – I want to share my guidance with you.
This may sound cliché, but if I can overcome my insecurities, you most certainly can too.
Positivity + Faith + Determination = Insecurity Destruction