Be forewarned, I am having a moment…It is 5:30 am on a Sunday morning and I didn’t sleep well.

I will post on yesterday’s show ASAP, but I wanted to get something out first. Contrary to what this post might lead you to believe this weekends show was much better. I am about to launch in to a full on pitty party for one with lots of irrational anger involved. I am struggling at the moment. You see, at this moment I HATE dressage. HATE IT.

I think the reason I hate it so much is because I am just no good at it at all.

I suck at dressage. I always have, and I am starting to think that I just always will. I have been riding dressage for over a decade and I am still terrible at it. Like TERRIBLE. I start to get delusional and think that I am getting better at it, but then reality comes knocking and I realize that I just as terrible now as I once started. Except now I know how terrible I am which makes things even worse.

When I first started I didn’t know a shoulder in from a half pass. Now I do, but am still not able to execute them well.

I wanted to riding training level this year. FREAKING TRAINING LEVEL. I didn’t think I was reaching for the moon. Over a decade in to dressage and I can’t even manage training level. That is truly just pathetic. It makes me sick to even think about it. I know people who are in a similar situation, but they don’t really work at it. They claim to ride dressage, but don’t take lessons, read books, go to clinics or show. They are allowed to be a decade in and not yet at training level. I have done all of the above and more. I have spent countless hours and dollars trying to get better.

I think this year I finally realized that I am just no good at it. I know that everyone says “dressage is a journey, not a destination” but if a person had any skill at all their journey wouldn’t take them 10+ years to get to training level! Not when they have been consistently working at it.

I cannot even tell you all the things I have given up to pursue my love of riding. I used to love dressage. I could watch tests for hours, dreaming that someday I would be able to do that myself. Reality is that I wont be able to. Are there sucky riders out there at high levels? Of course, but they have something I don’t…enough money to make it happen.

I suck at being focused, a necessity for dressage. I have worked so hard at it though. I could understand not getting better when I was only working on my dressage in lessons, but since riding Lucky I have been so incredibly focused. I make Lucky work even when I would rather be going for a hack. I work hard between my lessons. I have to face the facts though, Lucky is a difficult horse for me to ride. She is improving leaps and bounds, but I am getting worse.

I find Lucky to be a very challenging horse to ride. We just don’t click naturally. Over the past two years we have been able to gain chemistry, but it has taken time.

I have worked so, so hard to improve my riding. I want something to show for it. I have nothing to show for it though. I am getting worse. Each horse that I have ridden since Gen got hurt has had its own set of challenges. People are not going to let you lease a perfectly trained horse for not a lot of money, they are going to let you lease something unbroken, or injured, or green.

I started to think about it and I got really mad. At first I got mad at myself for being a bad rider. I knew dressage was impossible for me, yet I had to try and take on the challenge anyway. What the hell was I thinking? This is something that I can NEVER be good at. I sucked at it when I started and I will continue to suck at dressage forever. Then I got mad about all the money and time I have put in to so many horses for the past 6 years and I started to get mad at Gen.

This is all his fault. Gen loved me enough to hide my shitty riding. He would cover for me. If things had worked out the way that they were supposed to I would be showing 3rd level by now. We were going to do training level in 2006, in fact we did one show and we did well, and then he broke. Why did he have to break? He was being an idiot in his field. He didn’t need to be such a show off! He was running around way too fast and he hurt himself and he is never going to be all the way better.

It is his fault I can’t afford a well trained horse. It is his fault that I have to make time for two horses. It is his fault that I am getting worse. When I rode him I was getting better, but now I can’t ride him and IT IS ALL HIS FAULT FOR GETTING HURT.

Horse Park of NJ 006

I love loved Lexi, and Phoenix and Lucky, but not the same way that I love Gen. It is like some kind of joke that I found a horse that was so easy for me ride only to have that taken away. If I was always terrible at dressage I think it would be easier for me to walk away. Gen teased me that maybe I could do it, so realizing that I just can’t is just…frustrating.

I know Gen didn’t mean to hurt himself. I know that it was my choice to save him and keep him, and that is a choice I don’t regret at all. I just hate that this is how it is all turning out. I don’t remember my dreams very often, but I have a stupid reoccurring one where Gen miraculously gets better and he helps me earn my USDF bronze medal. I have always wanted a fairy tale ending, the kind of story that people want to read in a book.

I know that is naive, childish even. But sometimes I am just not a very rational person. Take now for example. I am in full on temper tantrum mode.

I am going to end this pity party and be grateful for all that I do have, even if talent at riding is not something I posses. Tomorrow I will write up the show, which was better than expected, and start to figure what the hell Lucky and I can do since clearly it isn’t dressage.



8 thoughts on “Irrational

  1. OMG. I don’t even know where to start….Well, first off, we’ve ALL been there. “If only I had more money” is generally how it goes. “Then I could buy that horse. Then I wouldn’t have to work so hard and could take more lessons.” Etc. Etc. Second, Lucky would not be as good as she is now if you weren’t a good rider. I remember her when you first started working with her – huge improvement now. The basics are the hardest thing to learn. People try to cheat by buying that upper level horse, but they only know how to push buttons and don’t know what it took to instill those buttons. You do. It will benefit you in the long run. Third, you made the choice to take on Gen’s care. You made the choice to work the job you have. You made the choice to live in this area of the country. See what I’m getting at? As President Clinton just said at a speech last week at a commencement, there are many people in the world who do not have any choice in what they do or where they live. If you don’t like something in your life, you have the power to change it – it may involve a lot of work/time/commitment, but you can do it. You just have to decide what you really want. And, I think you have. You want Gen. You want Lucky. You want the life you have. Aren’t you fortunate!

  2. Everyone deserves to have a pity party now and then (heck, I’m having a bit of one myself sitting here less than 48 hours after hip surgery that will keep me from riding for months!) but you also have to be realistic. Lucky was totally green when you started and wouldn’t even be attempting ANY dressage if it wasn’t for you. Gen too if you are honest with yourself. Yes, you’ve had a lot of one step forward and two steps back kind of stuff but sometimes that’s just the way we make progress. The hard way. Like tryingtoride said above, you DO have choices. Heck, try some flat English classes with Lucky or even, gasp, Western! LOL! Take a break from dressage and just relax or mix in some other stuff. The key is to quit stressing so much because you know it doesn’t do anyone any good in the long run.

  3. We’ve all felt that we suck at dressage. I think it’s lessons! They train us to think we suck so that we keep taking lessons to get better – that’s how they make a living! Just joking. Sorta. But really, we all think we suck. Hugs to you. Hope you feel better soon.

  4. 😦 We all feel like that from time to time. Maybe take a break? When I felt like I was never going to be good at jumping, I tried some other disciplines and ended up coming back because it’s what I loved the most.

  5. I think that sometimes the more we want something very badly, the worse it goes…I certainly have experienced that. I agree though, that in this sport, to succeed we need 3 things: money, talent and grit. Whatever one element you are missing, the other two need to make up for that weakness.

    10 years is not long really (unless you were riding 5-6 horses a day every day like some pro and semi-pro riders).

    Whenever something doesn’t work for me, I like to just let go for a moment and just feel the horse. Then I add some grit again 🙂

    Good luck, I will follow your further love-hate relationship with dressage (or new discipline) with interest!

  6. From what you said about your scores and what I’ve read on your blog so far (I’m new to it & trying to catch up), you are a very good rider but are very hard on yourself. This is a good thing-like George Morris said, “Perfect practice makes perfect”, which applies to every discipline, actually to everything in life, but you don’t want to psyche yourself out in the process. Believe me, I’ve been there. I often still am. Most of the time when I see a photo or a video of myself riding, I think, “Bleagh!” Most of my best rides are the ones that don’t make it onto a camera. Some day I’d like to make it back into the dressage show arena, hopefully at First Level, but I know that my mare’s conformation limits her abilities and we will probably never place (she is super post-legged, which means she has no suspension and she has a lateral canter. Yet she is amazing with lateral movements!) but I’d be happy to just show her off, even if we never placed.

    At my first dressage show on Lily, we competed in Intro A, B and C, just to see how she’d handle being in a show environment. I was beat in Intro C by a 6 year old boy on a gorgeous large pony. The boy just sat in the saddle. The pony did the test all by himself! Lovely pony, and I would have given them first, too! They were such a cute pair. The boy could bobble around at a posting trot and hang on while cantering, but there were no rider commands when it came time to executing those 20m circles. This was all horse skill. So do remember that, even if you had gotten perfect rides with Lucky at the show, you still may not have scored simply because the judge preferred the fancy warmblood that went into the ring 2 rides before you. It is a HUGE help if you can take a friend with you. Some one who can give you a pep talk, who can hold Lucky for you if you want to watch other divisions, who can keep you company, and maybe read your test so you don’t have to worry about remembering it. I commend you for going by yourself, but that is so hard mentally. I’ve done it, and it was no fun at all.

    It seems Gen was a horse that was naturally balanced and gifted for dressage. Lucky not so much. But you’ve done wonders with her! Maybe step back and take it easy for awhile, just have fun, try other disciplines, and then come back to dressage? With competitive dressage, the quality of the horse does make a difference. Most horses can do Training and First Level-a lot of these exercises are used in h/j training. The horse’s natural ability is a factor in how quickly you get there, though. A not-so-talented horse could probably reach her maximum potential quicker if you spent oodles of money on a trainer to take her there, but then the victory wouldn’t be yours-it would be the trainer’s. It is something that you have to take into consideration-how much do you want to participate in that journey?

    I started out as an Eq rider, and would get SO nervous and SO demanding of myself going over those fences that I’d make every mistake and bumble under the sun. It was rare that I got any kind of ribbon. It didn’t help that we had a trainer that pressured us to win, too. Switched to jumpers, where I only had to compete against the clock, and switched to a trainer who was all about having fun at shows. Wouldn’t you know it-the minute I stopped worrying so much about everything and started REALLY having fun, I started winning! The best advice this trainer ever gave me before going into the show arena? “SMILE!” It really does change your outlook. 🙂

    It’s okay to vent. We all need to at some point. Try another discipline if you need to, go on trail rides with Lucky (it might be a good idea-she can get used to going off property), go to open shows. But remember that no matter what discipline you are in, we spend all this money on these animals because this is supposed to be fun, too. I look forward to continuing to read about your experiences, no matter what kind of riding you decide to do!

  7. I suck at dressage, but I still do it as well as I am able because I enjoy it. And I hack and trail ride, jump, event, fox hunt, horse camp and just putz around. But that’s me. I just enjoy RIDING, any kind of riding.

    Just because you suck at dressage doesn’t mean you suck at riding. You may just need to find another way to enjoy and love your horse time.

  8. Pingback: I have a horse habit | Jennego

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