I set out 5 years ago to compete internationally, and in 2015 I made that happen. People read my classical training articles in most part I believe because I don’t sugar coat it. I don’t say “and then you just pop the horse into a shoulder-in and it’s easy”…I explain that each step in dressage is one step forward, and it takes patience and resilience to continue through the ups and downs.
I don’t say that you just arrive in Europe and get a good horse, and go to a competition and smile all the way, because that is just not going to happen.
It’s now more than 18 months since my last big competition, because I was badly injured and I damaged some tendons, and tendons can take a long time to recover. This was made worse by the fact that I continued to ride, and to persevere, even though I knew, in my gut that that horse was just not right for me.
This horse had been my best friend, partner, and reason for being in Europe and ,when I was with depression ,my reason for getting up at all.
And yes, that was very very hard for me to admit.
I have learnt throughout a lifetime of riding that there are two things that make a top sports person, and neither have to do with physical talent, or technique.
One is a passion for the sport. A drive that can take you beyond all the disappointments and set backs…A drive that will make you get up at 3am and drive 6 hours to a freezing cold competition in the rain, and stick at it through all the times when you messed up, or forgot the test, or finally actually did a good test and didn’t get the marks that you possibly deserved.
The second thing is humility. Being humble enough to say I didn’t do well today, the judge was right, and most importantly, this horse, no matter how much I wish him to be, is never going to reach his potential, with me as his rider.
For whatever reason…You might be too small, or too tall, or yes even too much of a women, because some horses just need a man!
Having this mix of passion and humility will not guarantee you get there, but it will put you ahead of all the people who waste their time on a horse that just doesn’t suit them, or that they are afraid of, or that they just don’t connect with.
Unfortunately for me, I did click with Batialo. Sometimes I honestly believe he knows me better than anyone, and I will never forget the day that a little girl at the stable said to me that she knows nothing about horses, but she could see that that horse over there was mine, and that he just adored me.
But I can wallow in self-pity all I like, that won’t change the fact that I have spent the last 18 months trying to recover on a horse I am afraid of, a horse that knows I have lost my faith in him, and my faith in myself when I am on him.
It’s not because he does anything, he doesn’t. It’s because I lost my confidence on him, and I can’t get it back.
Einstein says that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
And I was quite honestly going insane, but worse than that I was losing my own sense of pride and achievement, because I felt like I had failed my horse.
And that is something an athlete can never do.
I have thought a lot about giving up riding. But I can’t. It’s not just a sport to me. It’s also something that I share with my mother, who taught me to ride before I could walk, and who has shared my journey since the beginning. It’ my reason for calling her at 6am before a competition and asking her what do to if this happens, or why I can’t get the left half pass in the test. It’s true I ride for myself, but I also love that my best friend (mum) shares it with me.
So first I will enjoy teaching, and I have a lot of people booking for the “Warneyswhip classical Riding holiday” which is an all included horse riding holiday, complete with airport transfers and tours of Lisbon and Sintra :).
It’s true that Batialo will never be “just a horse” to me…and as I write this blog I am in tears that I know are not going to help anything. But he is at the peak of his career and I can still take pride in knowing that if he gets to Grand Prix I was a part of it.
I have learnt in life, when you fall off the horse, you have to get back on…But this time I will be getting on a different horse, but with all that I have learnt from the last 5 years, with a very talented friend of mine…
Thank you Batialo ❤ 🙂