My most popular article to date was titled “The art of Letting Go” and it was about that moment when a rider releases a little the contact and allows the horse to balance himself, as opposed to a rider who holds the horse up in tension.
But letting go is a theme that extends well beyond the sport of dressage, and there are many things that throughout our lives we must let go of in order to be happy.
The hardest thing in my life to let go of was the idea that without a certain person I could not find myself again. I held on so tight to the past that I could not see what I had left to be grateful for.
My article on depression was read by 80,000 people, and I have had people writing to me almost once a week since asking me how I overcame it. Truth is I don’t know. All I know is that I had to except going right down before I could come back up. I had to allow myself to just be sad, and for me I had to leave behind everything that reminded me of who I became, and who I no longer wanted to be, and start again.
Recently I have been struggling with letting go of an idea that I had. I believed so strongly that I had to make it as a top rider, that I pushed myself past what I could handle.
I was afraid to fail, afraid to let my horse down, my mum down, my self down, etc. Of course all these pressures where ones that I placed on myself, and I am lucky that I own my own horse, and I get to decide his path to the top, a liberty that not a lot of international riders have.
We see it all the time in dressage training but typically it’s the horse that is rushed up to the top and suffers the consequences when he can no longer handle that level of power and expectation.
I didn’t rest when I should have rested. I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. Batialo is a strong character, and I believed that I could do it, and I would do it… alone.
You can’t…I can’t!
There are many things that I am proud to say I achieved by myself, but there are some things that you just can’t do alone.
I have always been very independent, I enjoy my own company, and the truth is I like to be alone with just my horse. But in order to train effectively you need to have someone guiding you.
I saw a sporting specialist recently who said that no matter what your mind tells your body, you can relearn where you place your tension, the reaction you have to fear, which in turn will actually change your entire outlook on the way you live your life.
I hope very much that this is true, and given my life time experience with the power of ones own thoughts, I know that anything is possible.
I got back on Batialo today, and I will get back on him again tomorrow. Two weeks ago I had given up again, but it just took one person to tell me that I can do it, and do it on this horse, to make me believe it, for one simple reason…I still want to believe it! People may give you advice, but it’s up to you to accept it or not, and if I truly ask myself what I am capable of, the honest answer is…anything.
I am afraid. But now I am only afraid to get hurt, not afraid of falling or failing, not afraid to let anyone down. I realised during my time off, that the only person I ride for is myself. I don’t care if I never win, I just care that I get to do it, and of course if I can do it, I want to do it with the horse I have been with for 5 years, rain hail or shine.
Truth is in life, most of the things we love the most bring some kind of fear with it. If you truly love someone you must except the fear of losing them, of letting them down. If you truly love yourself you will overcome this fear, in order to experience everything that life has to offer. For me that is riding, and I hope very much that I get my confidence back, and just enjoy the sport that I love so much.