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What is your riding ambition?
I am an ambitious person, I want to succeed in everything I do and can be extremely competitive. As a child, it was all about winning. I was lucky that my riding school held regular shows over the summer where you could ire a pony for the day in compete in 3 show jumping classes; a clear round followed by two slightly higher classes involving a jump off. I loved these days and always tried to get Caffery, my favourite pony. He was lazy but a clean jumper. We clicked and could be very speedy in the jump off. I remember turning almost 360 at canter in one of these jump offs. We nearly always placed and won several times.
I would love to say that as I have gotten older, this desire to win has relaxed and I have grown up, but this isn’t the case. Winning, in all areas of life, is still very important to me. However, reality has meant that I have had to change the goals I set myself. I don’t come from a horsey family and I don’t have the money to buy the best horses and have lessons with the best instructors. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to be competitive in the real world, especially in our area where there are loads of really fantastic combinations. So in order to not be constantly giving myself a really hard time for not winning and being a huge success, I have had to change my ambitions so that I can still feel competitive and that I am achieving something. These ambitions can be broken down into long term and short term ambitions.
Anyone who has followed our progress for a long time will know that I bought Scottie with eventing in mind. I would love for us to get to BE100, possibly pushing Novice level, and be achieving double clears, the occasional placing and racking up points in the RoR leagues/championships. This, really is the dream for me.
However, my time with Scottie has highlighted that he really isn’t brave and has made me start to question whether he would ever be suitable for this. So I have started to explore other areas we may both enjoy and could potentially have some success at incase plan A doesn’t work out.
So while my ambition is to be successful in eventing together, really I think it’s a case of wanting to be successful at something I think we will both enjoy.
My short term ambitions are more realistic and personal. It’s the wanting to see the improvement in our training, beating our personal best for a dressage test or finishing in respectable position at a show.
Scottie spent the first half of his life in the racing industry and due to my lack of funds and transport, he has fairly little exposure since leaving the racing industry. Luckily, he is not fazed by being away from home and regularly performs better out and about then he does at a show. Which means that not being able to get out and about as much as I would like isn’t a huge issue for us.
However, we are both fairly inexperienced in the world of competing and with less than 20 lessons under our belt in the 3 years I’ve had him, I do regularly feel a bit like a fish out of water! There are much better riders at many of our local shows, and many horses who have been produced from a baby with plenty of help from professionals to do exactly what they do. Without making big changes to our life, which at this moment in time I simply can’t afford, we are going to struggle to ever be much of a match to these horses.
So in order to keep my spirits high, I set mental goals of what makes a successful competition for us. For dressage, it is doing a test what feels good and scores around the 65% mark or whatever we are regularly achieving at the time. For jumping, it is having a clear round or having a round without any silly refusals. For showing, it is Scottie not obsessing about when we are going to canter and relaxes in the trot.
For any competition, I like to aim to finish in the top half of the class and I do find it really frustrating if we finish bottom half, especially when I feel like we performed really well. And winning a rosette always makes me feel like the day has been a success, even if we didn’t perform at our best or didn’t place particularly well. It’s almost like the recognition makes up for the bad bits.
So as I said at the beginning, my riding ambition is success, which is great as it is what drives me to keep going. However, it can also make things really difficult and I can be extremely hard on myself when we don’t achieve the things I think we should be. It is especially hard when Scottie is obviously proud of himself and I am proud of him, but disappointed in the final result. Because all I want to do is sulk and be angry, but I have to essentially put on a happy face so he knows how great he was.I’m glad I am ambitious but wish I could be a bit more gracious when I don’t achieve what I was hoping to.