I have given riding lessons since the 1900’s. One of the things I really don’t like hearing is “I’m trying”. My response has become, “Stop trying and start doing.”. Then I go into my Trying Vs Doing spiel, it goes like this:
Words have weight and meaning. When you say you are trying, that’s a heavy word. You aren’t going to get these things perfectly every time we work on them. In fact, you are going to do it wrong, A LOT. Doing it imperfectly is OK, just be DOING it. You will do it better and better each time you do it.
When you say you are trying, it probably makes you feel heavy and defeated. It isn’t helpful. Stop trying. Change your point of view on what you are achieving. Give yourself credit for what is working out well. Focus on the stuff that is working. When I’m telling you one part to adjust, that is the part that needs the biggest adjustment at that moment. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing it perfectly. I don’t expect you to do it perfectly. I do however expect that you will do it better. Better is the goal, do the thing better than you did last time. Even a tiny change is made then you have succeeded in that moment. Every moment is different than the last moment. Did you make an improvement? Good! That was a success. recognize it, celebrate it, and remember it often.
When we, all riders, ride nobody ever has a perfect ride. There are always adjustments to be made. Nobody has ever had a perfect score, EVER. In fact, the highest Olympic dressage score was a 93.something percent. That person’s ride had mistakes in it and they were in the Olympics. That means Olympians make mistakes. To expect yourself, a person who only rides one time a week, to be better than an Olympian is unfair. It is unfair to you, and unfair to the Olympians.
It is unfair to you because you don’t have 7 high caliber horses to ride today, you don’t have staff to prep your horses, you don’t have a fancy manicured riding ring that gets dragged every few hours, you don’t have high end tack that was specifically designed precisely for your body and your horse’s body to use, you don’t have the experience that the Olympians have either. I guarantee that the Olympians, at one point DID however have this same issue you are having right now though. That is a fact!
The reason that it is unfair to the Olympians that you are holding yourself to their standard is that the Olympians have had this exact same issue at one point. The difference is that those people have dedicated their lives to the art of horsemanship, riding, knowledge, and have sweated more than you have, they have bled more than you have, they have fallen more than you have, they have ridden more horses than you have, they have eaten, breathed, slept, dreamed, worked harder, worked longer, put more effort into this sport than you have and they have worked harder than you have for years and years, and years. How can you compare yourself to them in any way? That’s not right at all. This is the tough love reality of the situation. They don’t compare themselves to others, they compare themselves to themselves and their last moment. They don’t compare their ride on horse #2 with horse #7 either except to note the differences between the horses themselves.
Be realistic with what you have on your plate. You are in the exact stage of your riding that you should be. You are in your perfect situation. You are riding a lesson horse who is forgiving with your mistakes and won’t hurt you on purpose. You are sending him mixed signals and he is picking the loudest one to listen to and giving you exactly what you told him to give you. You know what else? It’s perfect in it’s imperfection. All of it. This is the beauty of learning. Your point of view is the only thing that needs to change.