Power Your Dream
A life with horses is so much about going for a dream. Dreams become goals, which grow and evolve over the years. A child might dream of Olympic gold, an adult amateur may dream of going down center line in a First Level test. We can celebrate when a student gets the feel of harmony with an independent seat for the first time, our horse responds beautifully to a correctly applied half halt or a young horse finishes his first horse show with confidence and success.
Our culture loves the idea of the winner and it does feel great to win. Equally as satisfying is a healthy horse, eager to work each day, who continues to improve and develop to the best of his abilities d! Small to large, lets support the steps that make big successes.
Part of my dream has always been to connect with each horse that I ride and train. My horses inspire me to do the work I need to do. They are not just a means to an end or my ambitions. I think most riders and trainers who truly love horses feel that way too.
For the rider, often the biggest hurdle to achieving dreams is in his or her own mind. This was definitely true for me. I have very high standards and it took me a long time to recognize and then believe in my riding talents. I felt frustrated many times over the years while working to become better. After some time and hard work, I started to know that I was making progress in becoming the rider I hoped to become. And I started to see that I had a certain feeling or talent where others may not. It might have seemed a small thing to me at the time, but it was about recognizing that I had unique talents, which we all do. The very best trainers in the world are humble, always seeking to learn and become better, but where that comes into balance is that they also believe in themselves and know their unique gifts.
Horses have been my passion since childhood. As a teenager, a life with horses came into focus at a dressage show I attended while I was a groom for my trainer at a summer riding camp. Seeing all those elegant horses, effortlessly on the bit, trotting and cantering around the warm up arena with braided manes and banged tails, I knew that was what I wanted to learn to do, and I wanted to do it well. I didn’t come from a horsey family, so my early riding was mostly limited to once a week lessons on school horses. It took many years to make some progress on the dream. The more I learned, the more I knew I wanted to be around good riding so that I could improve. I persisted and often rode the ‘difficult’ horses. I wasn’t the bravest on the block but I was stubborn and had good feel. I was persistent and didn’t give up because I wanted to understand how to help and connect with the horses. From mucking stalls and sweeping barn aisles to exercising and galloping polo ponies, I did whatever I could to learn more about horses, trainers, and good management.
When I become a working student at a top dressage training and breeding farm, it was a game changer. It was some of the hardest physical work I’ve ever done but I was immersed in truly excellent riding and training on a daily basis. I learned the feeling of a horse lifting his back and coming onto the bit from the rider’s seat. I felt the incredible feeling of harmony between horse and rider that dressage allows. Those first moments lasted just a few seconds, but in time there were more. At that farm, I also saw that the more proficient the rider, the bigger the dream. It’s natural to want more as we progress and improve.
Over the course of those four years at that farm, I learned what was to become a focal point of my career as a professional; starting horses under saddle, training of young dressage horses correctly, and creating a solid and confident foundation for FEI. I received an indelible blueprint for correct, empathetic training that has lasted through today. I also learned what is involved in developing a horse into a healthy and happy athlete, the management, and team that is needed to make that happen. I will always be grateful for learning from such excellent horsemen and women.
These days my goals are oriented more to the riding and training of horses I have already brought along. Its time to go for some goals I’d put on hold. To do that, I’ve needed to let other things go. There are trainers who are ready and have motivation to work with the youngsters, which is terrific. Our country needs many more good young horse trainers! Being honest with yourself as your goals evolve and change isn’t always easy, but it ’s necessary to move on successfully, and to power your dream.
Today, I employ the same advice that I give my students:
Lay the foundation you need
Do the work in and out of the saddle
Be honest but know that you can do more than you think you can
Support and help others along the way while staying focused on what you want
Believe in yourself!
A circle of support is absolutely key to making dreams become reality. No one succeeds in a vacuum. If there’s one common denominator of successful riders, its that they have a great community of support. That community includes a team that provides the right nutrition, sound management at the barn and away, regular eyes on the ground from the best coach you can find, and of course trusted veterinarians, farrier and other supportive caregivers. There is so much sacrifice of time, money and huge emotional ups and downs with horses. Having our loved ones support our dreams, to be there with us on the journey, is maybe the most important of all.
Wishing you great rides and goals,