Why Do I Ride

A new year provides the opportunity to review past accomplishments and failures and look to develop new ones. When making new goals, you must remember to be realistic and effective planning can maintain motivation and monitor progress. But before you can set new goals, reviewing the past year is valuable and insightful. I have learned a great deal of what works and what doesn’t. Yes, failure is important to learning. Biggest thing I learned was taking risks. You must take risks to learn and grow. You have to make yourself uncomfortable. You have to make a fool of yourself. GO outside your comfort zone repeatedly. I learned failure is the most valuable experience. I learned that I ride for myself. I don’t ride for the pleasure of others. I don’t ride for only what the judge thinks. I don’t ride for what the rail birds think I should be doing. I ride for myself. I ride for what I feel is important and makes me happy and my horse happy and enjoy each other.

I have many personal and professional goals for 2017. I like to keep my next move to myself but, I will share one of each.

Professional: Applying to graduate school and getting accepted.

Personal: Getting my bronze medal. I need 2 third level scores.

So here is to a new year, new goals, and fresh inspiration to slay them!





It starts with just a few words coming out of someone else’s mouth. But as they pour out, they can suddenly make you feel inferior or getting smaller and make you want to crawl into a deep dark hole.

Being criticized can be a very difficult and challenging thing to handle even when it can sometimes be very useful to help you grow or improve. Mean-spirited criticism and personal potshots, however, can suck the confidence out of an amateur. How can you tell one from the other?

Sometimes it’s obvious when a comment is silly and needs to ignored, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell. You need to consider its source, their intentions, their level of knowledge of you and your horse, your discipline, and as well as the fit between your vision of what you want to do with your horse.

Criticism is presented in two forms: Constructive and Destructive Criticism. Constructive criticism is designed to point out your mistakes. It shows you where and how improvements can be made. Constructive criticism can be viewed as being useful feedback that can help you improve yourself and your riding. When criticism is constructive it is usually easier to accept, even if it is difficult to accept. Destructive criticism is often thoughtless words given by another person that can be at times deliberately malicious and hurtful. Destructive criticism can hurt your pride, have negative effects on your self-esteem and confidence and can also lead to anger and/or aggression.

This past Sunday, I attended a charity horse show event that was very small and local. It was a chance to get out, have fun, raise money, and see how my third level test was. I know it was not perfect, but I feel doing this test in this environment would allow me a chance to get a different perspective and something to work more on for the coming months. I was not prepared for the harsh words used. Criticism should be a productive conversation, not a name calling put down that makes the student loose aspiration. The criticism I received that hurt the most was that my horse thinks I am stupid. That really hurt and was completely unnecessary from a judge. There was no value in this criticism as it did not provide improvement. To improve my morale; I found the quotes below enlightening. I hope you do as well.



  1. “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
    – Dale Carnegie
  2. “The pleasure of criticizing takes away from us the pleasure of being moved by some very fine things.”
    – Jean de La Bruyère
  3. “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
    – Aristotle
  4. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
    – John Wooden
  5. “Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.”
    – Emmet Fox
  6. “When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable.”
    – Judith Martin
  7. “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
    – Frank A. Clark
  8. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
    So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
    – Theodore Roosevelt
  9. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
    – Eleanor Roosevelt
  10. “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”
    – Benjamin Franklin
  11. “A man interrupted one of the Buddha’s lectures with a flood of abuse.
    Buddha waited until he had finished and then asked him:
    If a man offered a gift to another but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?
    To the one who offered it, said the man.
    Then, said the Buddha, I decline to accept your abuse and request you to keep it for yourself.”
  12. “Children need models rather than critics.”
    – Joseph Joubert

Just think and it will happen

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard it from trainers, clinicians, and fellow riders the proverbial phrase: “Just think it and it will just happen, it’s that easy”. I tried and I tried and I tried, but it never happened for me. I would go over the exercises and movements thinking every little step down to analytic shit storm, but never got the expression of just think it. I have heard “plug into like an avatar” and “don’t try to hard”. My frustration and anxiety grew and then fleeting feelings of being defeated. I am never going to get this. I am never going to learn to ride this way. I felt as if I was Sisyphus who was punished to forever push the boulder up a hill just to have it crashing down again for eternity.


By Titian – [2], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3860214

Nuno Oliveira said it best, “Dressage consists of finding a way to get the horse to employ himself to the maximum in the chosen exercise and then maintain the work without the help of the aids.”

I kept this philosophy in mind and tried to work more on “invisible” aids and tried to make my horse more responsive with less and less. I am now at the point with having her in a rubber bit and no spurs and no whip. But I still was not there at that point where you can just think it and it will happen.

It’s amazing how you can be struggling with something for years and feel you are getting nowhere and then POOF someone turns a light bulb on. This light bulb was not a swift click on but a slow flickering light like those old fluorescent lights that take time to warm up to turn fully on. They flicker off and on and then wham! They are on. I finally had that moment where I just thought and low and behold it happened. It really happened. I honestly felt like I did nothing and my horse somehow magically read my mind. How is this possible and why could I not figure this out sooner? The big key to this whole equation was getting my horse on my leg and learning to master your own body. Many people feel Dressage is riding with you body, but in honesty it starts out that way but ultimately it’s riding with your mind. Take those small moments when you think something and your horse does it as a victory and keep thinking before you ask with the aids. Eventually you will master your mind over your body and truly feel as though your horse is under you and your minds are committed into extreme focus. It may not always be there or some days is harder then others, but if you think it, it will happened whether you believe me or not. It will not be easy until suddenly it is.

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Dressage Riders

So true and written wonderfully 🙂 Enjoy and apply!



Over the years working a never-ending multitude of horses, great Dressage riders develop habits, ways of achieving consistently high performance and excellence in the daily work. These are not training how-tos but rather personal habits adopted by riders to set themselves up for success every day. While there are endless training pearls-of-wisdom the Masters kindly pass on, it is inevitably up to the student, through endless hours of practice, to confirm the path to success. There is no sport, nor art form more difficult than what we attempt every day as practitioners of Classical Horsemanship. None. It is up to us to support one another in this endeavor, giving and sharing what works and what doesn’t. Below is my list of ten habits of highly effective Dressage riders. It is my hope that you find them helpful in your daily practice.

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Zombie horse

zombieI hate summer for Adiemus. The bugs are horrible! Constant stamping, swishing, chewing, and shaking. And to top it off, Adiemus is allergic to bug bites and gets lumps and loose hair. Poor baby is looking like a zombie horse. I have to apply anti-histamine shampoo and cream on him. Also with the constant rain he is starting to get rain rot on his forehead. He wears multiple types of fly spray, fly mask, and fly sheet to no avail. Crap just doesn’t help much. So started his summer treatment and cross my fingers that his hair will come back before we are in public again. URG!

Step up

So during my last lesson I got smacked with reality hard…

I’m just coasting…

dressageAnd you know what…she is right. Yes I know how to ride and do the movements and all, but what I lack is finesse and ability to keep it together and ready for anything at any moment. I have a tendency to become an aggressive rider and I have been trying really hard to change that with myself. But the result sometimes is accepting mediocre work. I feel if I start picking at it I will nag or worse over-ride it. I need to find that middle ground where I am always talking and correcting and making it always better without nagging him to death and not getting to frustrated and take it out on him. Hard to do since I am a “now” person. So I seriously need to step it up and bring my A game. I appreciate the honesty and its just been simmering in my head the last few days and I think I know how to apply it.

Always a work in progress…



Things I need

I always feel like the poor kid since I don’t have anything nice and use hand-me-downs. I rarely can afford anything new. Just every time I get a little extra Adiemus needs something (ie dentist, vet, chiro). So here are a few things I wished I had and hopefully one day will.

New saddle- Sold my old saddle due to rubbing Adiemus’s shoulders and not fitting me well. Need a custom short flap dressage saddle. For his shoulders and my short ass midget body..blah

  • Prestige
  • Custom Saddlery
  • Albion

New bridle-old one causing irritation on Adiemus’s skin – Schockemohle Ashford bridle- has rolled leather and padded at crank pieces so no metal touches skin. Saw this in the Dover store and I absolutly fell in love with it and its so soft. Makes mine feel like cardboard :/


Saddle pads – slowly dying and falling apart. Only have really 2 good ones left out of 10 pads. I like the Roma ones due to the thickness of the padding and variety of colors. Centaur saddle pads are very nice too.padHalf pad – only have one seriously and its getting grey 😦

halfPolos – old and falling apart and color fading to grey

New Fly sheet – Adiumus ripped his last one

New Halter

Standing wraps and padding – only have one set. Be nice to have three.

New pants for schooling – only have 4 pairs and one the crotch is starting to get holes and most are stained

New shirts for schooling – been using t-shirts which are to hot and I have two sport polos that keep me cool

Socks – holes in old ones


So in all I need to seriously start saving more or get a third job..lol…geez maybe?