I rode my three FEI horses in a clinic this past weekend and the theme that kept coming up for me was that of accountability. Those three horses are all schooling or showing the Grand Prix movements and it was a great reminder this weekend that is not simply enough that my horses do the movement. It’s now time to build in the quality and ease with all but invisible aids.
Are you holding yourself accountable when it comes to training or do you cut corners (literally and figuratively)? Do you avoid difficult movements because it’s hard? Do you avoid sitting the trot because it is uncomfortable? I know I have to push myself to do the hard stuff!
I encourage you to dedicate yourself completely towards your evolution. Hold yourself to a high standard. Step outside your comfort zone for the sake of expansion. If you have a bad habit, discipline yourself to correct it.
I used to say that I was a more effective rider than I was a pretty rider. Then I decided why confine myself to that statement? If I keep saying it, that is the reality that I am creating and I will never then be the pretty rider. I decided to double down on discipline myself to keep stretching my upper body tall and my legs long. Each time I’m riding towards the mirror I take a moment and make sure my toes are directly under my knees and not rotated out. I’m still a work in progress of course, but holding myself a little more accountable has made all the difference.
I think it is totally normal in the course of training to get a little sloppy. Maybe we don’t ride our circles 100% accurately or we don’t ride a specific movement at a letter, which leads us to not have total control over the line we are riding. We may avoid riding deeply into the corners or aid just a little to big or do too much to “help” our horse with our own bodies- guilty!
However, if we want to become the best rider that we can be, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. This is the difference between a good rider and a great rider. A great rider is detail oriented and not satisfied with mediocrity. As the saying goes, it’s not practice that makes perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect. And while I do think striving for perfectionism can be dangerous, I do believe that we should pay attention to the details. Don’t accept that bad transition. Repeat until lit is something your proud of.
Your standards may differ from horse to horse and they will change over time. We will be more forgiving of a young horse just learning walk to canter transitions than we will be to a Grand Prix horse that should be held to a higher standard.
Of course in all of this we must have self compassion. Training is tough and training in this way can be a physical and mental challenge. Be kind to yourself. Do your best. Make mistakes, learn from them. Enjoy the journey.
Of course we can apply accountability to the larger scale of our life. Where can you be held to a higher standard? For me, it’s being able to handle my stress by finding positive coping mechanisms rather than emotional eating that leads to further guilt and stress. Do you scroll Facebook endlessly instead of reading a book that can further your growth? Are you distracted in moments with your children? I challenge you (and myself) to be hold yourself accountable. Nobody is going to do it for you. Be present and aim higher. You can be and do anything you set your mind too.