“A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines”. -Wikipedia
The equestrian version of a goal: an idea of the future or desired result that a person envisions and commits to achieve in which said person’s horse plots to challenge. Equestrians endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines their horse stretches to the absolute limits.
When I first realized my goal of Prix St. George with my homebred mare, Petite Belle, it was fall of 2016. My goal was to ride our first FEI test by the end of winter that season. I overshot my landing by almost a year. Aside from being stuck in 4th level purgatory for almost a year, being patient this time wasn’t that hard. I was excited to wear my tails for the first time on a horse that I brought up myself from the day she was born, but I was willing to be as patient as possible, because it was worth it, and I wanted to do it right.
I could not have asked for a better first try. Our test was harmonious and respectable, but it lacked the pizzazz and correctness to compete with the big dogs in my class. I was fine with that. Room for improvement.
So I continued to enter more shows, expecting to improve upon each previous test, with my eyes already set upon Intermediare 1. But no matter how hard I worked, I was stuck. Instead of improving upon my scores, they actually lowered. And I became frustrated with myself and frustrated with my horse – as perfect as she is.
The problem was lack of patience. While I know better than anyone that slow and steady wins the race, I was determined to prove myself amongst the sharks in the sea called Wellington, Florida. The pressure to prove my skills not only to my peers, but to myself was causing me to place unreachable expectations on both myself and my horse.
“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave when we are waiting.” -Joyce Meyer
I could sense that my 11 year partnership with my sweet mare was being compromised. My horse who once placed 100% trust in me no matter what, was suddenly nervous and questioning my guidance.
After our last show, frustrated with my performance, I remembered something my trainer, Susan Jaccoma always says: “You aren’t going to the olympics tomorrow.” (Relax, she’s not implying that I can’t go to the olympics, just that there is no reason to place so much pressure) So I had to swallow my pride and take a few steps back. I had to access where the root of my problems were and work from there.
I don’t know how long it will take before I get back in the ring with Belle, but I am in no rush. Where I am right now, I am learning so much more than I have going down centerline. I am making an FEI horse, and that is no easy task (as I repeat this in my head over and over).
That’s the thing about goals in the horse world: You have to be able to dial them down when they aren’t in line with your partner. The relationship is like a marriage. You can’t decide to move to China when your partner is happy in Minnesota.