“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” This is a quote I read last week. It got me thinking. I was heading to a competition and I decided it would be worthwhile to examine what “fear” meant to me. What were the sources of “fear” for me?
Physical fear? No. Despite the basic fact that riding a horse has inherent dangers I do not have any fear of getting thrown or injured while riding Biasini.
Fear of failure? Was I fearful that I would fail at the upcoming competition? No. I already knew that the other riders in my class were all professionals so even if I came last I would not see it as “failure”. I might not get a good score but that is not “failure” in my books.
Fear of letting people down? Ah! This is a fear for me. I do not want to let down my coach Belinda Trussell, or her assistant Lynsey Rowan, or my husband David who is always there to support at shows. Belinda tops this list as she puts so much energy, effort and patience into teaching an older rider who is not so quick to pick up new muscle memories. If I do not ride well I let her down. So yes, that is a fear.
Fear of the ‘black hole’ of negativity. Yes. More of that later.
Having identified my “fears” I went to the show on Thursday and was in the competition on Friday and Saturday. How did it go?
Friday I was competing in an FEI (International Equestrian Federation) Test of Choice. This means you can choose any test at the FEI level . I would be riding the FEI Intermediare 1 test but other riders might be riding that test or another test at the FEI level. In the warm up I knew it was going to be a very tough ride. If you follow this blog you will already know Biasini can get into his ‘show horse’ mode and morph into the Brigadier General Bully.. Usually the Brigadier Bully does not manifest himself until we are in the competition ring but on Friday he arrived in the warm up. Belinda was coaching me, reminding me of what to do. I would get it, then loose it a few strides later. This photo may look like all is well, but to those who know, this is the Brigadier Bully.
We went into the competition ring and rode through the test. There were not any hideous mistakes but overall it was a dreadful struggle. The judge was a 5* judge and she was very fair in her marking of my test. I got 4s for the things that were really poor and 7s for all of the movements that were good. The overall score was a 60.735% I considered that to be good for that ride. Her final comment was: “Super horse. Needs consistency and more assistance balancing.” Such a good comment. Spot on!
I was feeling quite despondent as I rode out of the ring. Later I had a talk with Belinda and we decided that for riding in the ring, I needed to recognize, in a split second, what needed to be done. Saturday Belinda would not be there to warm me up as she had an important family engagement. But her assistant Lynsey Rowan would be there to help me. We decided that even with Lynsey there I should plan and execute my own warm up and feel what I needed to do.
At home that night I fell into the ‘black hole’; the whole panoply of “I’m too old for this”, “I’m not a good enough rider”, “Biasini is too good a horse for a rider like me”, “Maybe I should take up lawn bowling,”. However, in my life, I have never quit . I didn’t think I should start now.
I got up on Saturday morning, went to the show and prepared to ride my test. In the warm up I knew I had a different horse that day. Biasini was still wanting to be tough but he was also electric! He was spooking at the horses and trailers, who were shipping in for the show, in the field next to the warm up ring. He made me laugh. I knew if I had this sparky, sassy horse I had a better response to my leg aids. In our warm up I soon found I needed only tiny leg aids to produce a big response and although I was riding my own warm up Lynsey was at the side of the ring and gave me some important pointers.
We went in and rode the test. I chose to be conservative as I felt the most important thing was to keep him up and in front of my aids. If I went for his full level of expression in his “electric” mode, I might loose the connection and he would take over. We had a couple of mistakes; an unfortunate mistake in the two tempis (flying change of leg every second stride) and I placed the pirouette to the right off the centerline. But overall I was waaaaay happier than I had been the day before.
We scored a 65.441% and the comment from the judge was “Good ride. Think more uphill”. Again another good comment. I know I must think more uphill to produce a better frame from Biasini. But for me personally it was a triumph to have overcome all my negative thoughts….my fears… and achieve a good result.
If you follow this blog you will know my daughter Breanne got married last weekend at our house. She and her husband Tom went on honeymoon and their blended family of Toms’s two girls and Breanne’s four year old boy stayed with Tom’s parents, Craig and Theresa. I am so grateful to them for taking care of those little energy burners as I could not have focused on a horse show if I had been looking after them. I was however delighted they could come to the show to watch on Saturday. It was the first horse show they have ever been to. The youngest little girl is clearly a horse lover. She spent more than ten minutes outside Biasini’s stall patting him. If you know Biasini you will know he is not a cuddly horse and usually bats his head around or threatens to nip. But with this youngster he just stood quietly and allowed the patting to continue.
Thank you to Alexis Bradbury who, in addition to her grooming duties, was able to take some lovely photos of Biasini and me on the Friday.
Finally here is the video of my Saturday ride still lots to work on but I am happy with how it went.