And so it has begun! Two weeks ago Breaking Boundaries and I headed down to
Maryland USA to kick off the 2017 competition season with a bang! As with the beginning of each season I was admittedly anxious about the first event and had a million questions; have we done enough to prepare? Have we reached the required level of fitness with our gallops? Have we schooled enough for stadium and cross country? And most importantly: Will the dressage boot camp pay off?
As it turns out the answer to all of these questions was YES!! There is of course a lot to work on, for us both, as we procceed into the season but overall our first two events were huge successes both competitively and personally. Our first event was at CDCTA Spring
Horse Trials to test the waters and see how Breaking Boundaries was going to come out from the winter. It was a success all around with a superb dressage to start the season and a very confident, double clear cross country despite not having the chance to school before the event.
Our second event was at Fair Hill International April Horse Trials this past weekend. Once again, the weekend began with a dressage test filled with personal bests and accomplishments. A little bit of work to finesse our stadium before the next event, but another fun, confident and frankly awesome cross country!! This was just another
dream come true to be able to compete at Fair Hill (even got to watch and share warm up rings with the likes of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin and Colleen Rutledge!), and was also our final qualifier for Bromont CCI* in June!
While these two events were full of competitive successes, there were also countless personal successes. Anyone that knows me can testify to the fact that I am a very self-critical and high self-pressured athlete. I expect nothing but the most from myself and this is something that has often (ironically enough) held me back in the past. I have been fortunate enough to be able to work a lot with my coaches and mentors this winter to put the pressure towards success instead of negative stress. A year ago I would have nit-picked my dressage test or stadium round until the negative outweighed the positive. But with the help of many people I am learning how to see the upside, use the pressure, and convert negative stress to positive stress to enhance our performance and rock it! It is very easy to get trapped inside your head in this sport, but I have learned a very valuable lesson this past year; you are not the only one that feels the negative stress and pressure and there are so many people that want to help you and support you. Sometimes even the least likely people are the
ones who are actually rooting the strongest for you. I have also been reminded that we do this for one simple reason – because we love it! Whether you compete recreationally or professionally nothing should take away from the fact that you love horses and you love the sport (for real though, why else would we spend thousands of dollars each month?!). Few things feel as good as achieving personal goals with your equine partner, even if it is not a quantifiable result and no one else can see it. I may not have had the prettiest dressage test, the cleanest stadium round, or the fastest cross country trip, but I did have so much fun and saw improvements beyond measure from last season!
So now with all of this in mind I am so amped up for this season and absolutely ready to own it all year!!
Good luck to everyone as you start your seasons in the coming weeks. Ride well, ride safe!