Taking A Step Out Of My Comfort Zone

One of my pet peeves is when people become so caught up in one discipline that they think nothing that anyone else does ever has any value. For example, the crappy boarder at my barn is a hunter rider. Who cares right? Except that when the barn owner decided to run a clinic with a dressage rider the crappy boarder said she would not participate. Why? Because the dressage rider would not be able to help her. My question back to her was if the crappy boarder really thought that she would learn nothing from this woman because the woman rode dressage. Her answer? Yes.

I don’t ever want to be like that. Yes, I love dressage. Yes, I consider myself a dressage rider. That doesn’t mean that I think that dressage is the best thing since sliced bread or that dressage is the only “real riding”. I don’t think that I can say that there is a type of riding that “I would never do”. In fact, a barn just opened down the street from where Phoenix lives offering lessons in cutting. That sounds like fun to me! I used to take saddle seat lessons and that was so much fun. I am DYING to do that again (the barn where I did it moved over an hour away). I know it is easy to get stuck in to the one track mind of only doing one thing. I mean, if you look at my mail I get dressage specific magazines, am a member of dressage specific clubs and ride at or volunteer at dressage shows. It takes effort to go outside your comfort zone and try something new. I know that I didn’t really know what they were looking for in the hunter ring and that I was put way outside my comfort zone attending the hunter shows this year. That being said, I am glad I did it. I learned a lot from the experience of going there and getting feedback from my hunter readers.

When I got an e-mail last month from a horse acquaintance looking for volunteers for an up coming endurance ride I could easily have said no. I would be getting no volunteer hours. It is the day after a horse show. I don’t know a lot about endurance so chances are high that I would not be a whole lot of help if I was around. It was a little scary to say yes. But you know what? I decided to go ahead and get out of my comfort zone. What better way to learn about endurance riding then just going ahead and volunteer for a ride? I am nervous about scoring for the ride this Sunday, but if I can score for dressage I can score for anything right? And who knows, maybe I will love it so much that I will want to take up endurance riding myself. I could see my fat spotted pony and I maybe doing a 25 mile ride someday. I think it is so easy to get stuck in a “group” and forget that when it comes down to it we are all just horse people. Does any else feel like that sometimes? And to my readers who ride endurance…is there anything I need to know about scoring before I go? Wish me luck on Sunday.

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10 thoughts on “Taking A Step Out Of My Comfort Zone

  1. I’m so with you on this. I’m an English rider. Formerly hunters, now learning dressage and maybe moving towards doing eventing and hunter pace type stuff. Oh, and my horse is moving to a primarily western quarter horse barn on Saturday. 🙂 I’m super excited, because while I’ve seen it, I don’t know much about the stock horse styles. I’m looking forward to learning more from the people at this barn. I’m not terribly interested in riding it myself (unless someone says hey, hop on my horse and feel what this is like), but I like to learn. I think we all become better horse people by learning about, and even experiencing, other disciplines. They all have things of value. And when we’re willing to learn, we also gain more respect for those other disciplines and riders. Just like they all have their problems, they all have their benefits. We should take the time to learn what’s good instead of always focusing on what’s different and what we don’t understand.

    I think volunteering at an endurance event sounds fantastic. Can’t wait to hear all about it! I expect a full report … with pictures. 🙂

  2. I have ridden dressage and hunters, but reining fascinates me. I think it is a great idea to try lots of things. Not only will it help your riding, but your horse won’t get board or sour if you change things up. I know when my pony is bored with dressage and needs a break. We do some jumping and he has a blast. Great idea to learn all you can!

  3. It’s so easy to get caught up in only wanting to do “your thing”. I’m a trail rider and the weather here doesn’t give us the luxury of enjoying it all year long. So it gives me an opportunity to try other things. I have my horses at home, so I’ll trailer to an arena who does games or cow events or take lessons. A friend has even offered to have my horses fitted with harness and do some ground driving. Can’t hurt to expand my horse’s resume or my own!

  4. Coming from endurance, dressage was a little scary….but it’s turned into one the best things I could ahve done for my riding!!!! In fact, my trainer said yesterday that she considers me part of her show barn team now and laid out the ground rules (how and when I can go up levels etc.). I’m very excited. She says that my loft “secret” goal should be to compete at the open adult amerature (spelled that wrong) championships next september……I am very excited.

    OK – endurance scoring. Very very simple. If you are handling paperwork you could be doing one of the following jobs:

    Vet helper/scribe – as riders vet in at the beggining and throughout the ride, they hand you the card. The vet will call out pulse, CRI, and what letter grade they get for each physical perameter. I think this is the coolest volunteer job because you get to hang out with the vet. It’s also the least stressful of the jobs.

    Pulse taking – you will be given a stethscope (bring a watch!). The normal procedure is the count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4. You take pulses of the horses that the riders think are “down”. HOld times don’t start until a horse pulses down. Usually the parameter is something like 60, so you are looking for 15 or less in 15 seconds. When a horse is down you write the pulse down time on the card.

    In/out timer – person who takes numbers and records times of people entering and leaving a check. Make sure people don’t leave early!

    I think you will have a lot of fun.

  5. I am a huge believer in trying different disciplines. I am currently a hunter and eq rider, but rode dressage for 8 years previous and I believe without that foundation I would not be half the jumper that I am now. I also have tried endurance, dabbled in western, gymkhana and other ones. I am just dying to try mounted shooting which I thinik would be a blast, literally haha. Good luck this weekend.

  6. I never did any endurance riding so I can’t help you with tips there. But I can say that I agree with you. Being primarily an equitation rider for years and doing some hunters too, I can only say that when I branched out into dressage it was fun and interesting to learn a new discipline. I’ve never been a snob about riding. Everything you do with your horse is a learning experience and it’s fun to do different things and can only make you a better horse person and rider. I’ve even helped out at western shows with my cousin who does the western barrels etc. I’d love to try cutting some day, I know Dusty would be the queen of the cows and not take any guff from them, she’s just the type of horse to have a showdown.

  7. Yep – the more the better. Played polo in college, reenact with a civil war organization doing mounted artillery and driving. My secret (not-so-secret although I haven’t blogged about it much) is to compete in the regional cavalry comps this year. Swords and guns oh my!

  8. Wow! Talk about timing. I really am glad you posted this. I needed to hear this again. I left a trainer this year because of this reason. I want to try different things. I want to expand my knowledge and dabble a bit. Most of all, I want to HAVE FUN and learn new things. I think your attitude is fantastic and I applaud your willingness to step out of your comfort zone. I grew up doing different things and even did some Cutting and Hazing when I was young. I was also an eventer and then have come back to dressage in the last couple of years. I am dying to do some trail riding, even though the Morgan I have is not a “trail” horse. Why not push that boundary and figure it out? That is our goal and I really loved that you wrote so well about pushing that boundary and being open minded. We are HORSE people first, discipline is just that.. just a dialect or a different style of the same basic concept! Love your blog!

  9. It cracks me up that the hunter rider won’t participate in the dressage clinic! I guess she doesn’t read Practical Horseman because there was just this big spread on dressage for hunter/jumpers.
    My goal is to show in hunters but I’m currently taking lessons with a trainer who has a big emphasis on dressage. She has helped improve my riding by leaps and bounds because she is so focused on details and the fine points. She’s contstantly pointing out how what we’re learning at lessons will help when we start jumping. For example, being able to adjust his stride length or using my weight to cue him which lead to pick up as he lands off a jump. She’s helping me become better overall, not just better at one thing.
    It’s definitely sad when people close themselves off to new ideas. I love horses in general whether they’re western or english or pasture ornaments, and I’m happy to participate in any horsey activity!

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