What a year it’s been so far.
(By the way, I’m Emilie. Remember me? The girl who used to blog?)
I’ve spent so much time away from the blog, focusing on my art and also my actual day-job, that I’m overdue for stopping in here to share with you what’s been happening. Last time I wrote, I had already started changing my riding position for the better. Since then, I’ve been going full speed ahead, constantly looking for ways to learn and improve. I want to get you all caught up – and to do that, I’ve created a blog series to cover the major things I worked on. Plus, as a thank you for hanging on through thick and thin, no matter how often I post, I’m ending the series with a giveaway!
I’m calling this series “How I Improved My Riding (In a Winter Without Lessons)“, and this is a little sneak peek of what you have to look forward to:
- Part One: Challenge Accepted (the post you’re currently reading)
- Part Two: Research and Notes
- Part Three: The Mental Game and Music
- Part Four: Fitness
I’ll be honest with you – I’ve had to learn to be much more disciplined in many areas (and I haven’t been perfect by any means…actually working out will forever be a challenge for me! *looks guiltily at unused yoga mat*) I’m only human, and I have a LOT left to learn.
Still, I’m not exaggerating when I say that SO. Much. Changed. If you recall, these were my 2018 riding goals when the year began. The biggest one for me was to improve my position, but really it all boiled down to my sitting trot. It’s something I’ve always wanted to be awesome at – and while I’ve slowly made it better over the years, I still had a lot of work to do.
I’ve always thought I was pretty dedicated to this sport. I went to an equine college. I have worked hard for everything I’ve achieved over the years. I have always – from the very beginning – known I wanted to ride dressage and I wanted to ride the Grand Prix.
Yet this winter brought a few things to the forefront for me. Enter Exhibit A: A New Opportunity. I gave you some of the details of this new horse I started riding last year in this post. Having this chance – this new challenge – ignited something in me that showed me what it truly means to be dedicated. I knew that this chance wasn’t something that I could take for granted, by any means. Without fully realizing it, I reevaluated the things that were motivating me and readjusted my priorities. In order to ride this horse well, I needed to up my game considerably. I was not about to give up.
Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
All winter, I rode. I rode as many horses as I could fit into my day, and then when I went home, I thought about what I’d felt with each horse and what I wanted to do differently. If I had a question, I googled for dressage videos and articles until I could figure it out. I texted Ruth (my trainer, who winters in Florida) if I was really stuck. I had a friend take videos whenever I felt a change, so I could see what I was doing and how it was affecting the horse, and marry that with what I was feeling. I talked about what I had been reading and practicing until I’m pretty sure everyone around me was tired of it. I took notes. I called my friend who is a personal trainer/yoga instructor/equestrian, and asked her tons more questions.
As a result, my riding changed and my attitude shifted. Remember that little girl who used to be so excited to go to the barn that as soon as she was off the horse, she could barely contain her excitement until her next ride? I found her again. It’s not that I haven’t loved riding these past few years – I have. But I’m not complacent anymore. I’m remembering how lucky I am to ride horses every day, and I’m channeling that feeling into everything I do. And one of the biggest things I’ve seen this year is that dedication leads to opportunity.
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I have a lot to catch up on with the blog, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little snippet of one of my proudest achievements this year so far. This mare has forced me to alter so much about how I ride and has, in turn, renewed my love for riding in a way I wasn't aware I needed so badly. She has challenged me and kept me coming back every day for more. Because of her, I'm riding more skillfully, tactfully, and thoughtfully. The perfectionist anxiety I used to have about my riding is something I can now channel into useful productivity - instead of frustration over what went wrong, I think "What am I going to change about this?". @ruthhoganpoulsen knows how much I appreciate her, but it bears repeating - I'm so thankful she believes in me and one day had the thought that this mare and I might just get along. 😊
So, I’m excited to share a snapshot of last year’s winter journey with you all, along with some tips for applying these things to your own riding. This was my recipe for learning while my trainer was away for the winter – but it’s all stuff I can apply to supplement my lessons and maximize the time I have with her when she’s home. (Disclaimer: I will always believe that regular lessons are the best way to learn/improve – however, I also realize that there are times when lessons are not possible)
I’ll be posting every few days during this series, and you can look for “Part Two: Research and Notes” by Sunday.