In a perfect world, I would like to show every 2 to 3 weeks during the season. In this part of the world you can do that. Showing this often adds to a rider’s mental toughness and psychological edge. There is a long off season at home and shows are far apart in the regular schedule at home.I learned a lot about myself showing in California. When I began my dressage career after leaving the jumper ring, my coach asked me about my goals. I thought third level was “safe”, and not wanting to be brash, chimed out third level as my goal. She was German. She looked at me and replied “Das ist M”. I had no idea what M was and wondered about how long it would take. She waved her hand and said, “All riders take 5 years to learn”.
It has been 5 years and I have met my goal to ride third level. I won 2 first and a fourth placenat Del-Mar. Now I realize how much I don’t know. Riding here in the same warm-up as Jewels, Stephen and Shannon Peters and Guenter Seidel has been an amazing and very humbling experience. There is such a gap between good horses and great horses. Good riders and great riders, and I know I can ride better. I personalized the experience…it’s not the score or the ribbon, it’s the ride that counts. I can’t believe it has taken me this long or coming this far to figure out.
Every coach/athlete team needs to set goals for training. Jewels asked me that question when I came to train with her. I want to ride Prix St. George. This ups my game. I need several things to achieve this. The most fundamental thing for me, is to understand my flaws as a rider/competitor. I must work hard to overcome them. I also need a dance partner that will take me to the upper levels. I have a great coach that has gone to the WEG and has her sites set on re-entering the ring on the international stage. I’m fortunate that my family supports my efforts and my clients at home are in my corner too.
The whole package, the mental toughness, the training, the horse, the show, the score, the ride etc. is a journey. Dressage is a pursuit of perfect harmony with the horse. I saw it in Del-Mar, and it was motivating.