I spotted a post a few weeks ago on the TwitterEventing Facebook group where someone raised a very valid point that I see across equestrian groups & communities all the time...
In a nutshell, people post their good times which when you're having not such a good time, can make you feel very negative. I see a few (not many) accounts that have multiple posts, photos, videos & excitement when the times are good, but go deadly silent when the times aren't so good.
Let me make it clear - I am not suggesting in any way that anyone should post up every single competition report, writing in detail about what a total crap day we've had. I'm not. I also don't think you should ever look at anyone else and compare yourself, especially to someone's social media!!
However, I wanted to post about our day yesterday at the dressage that really was just not our day...at all!!
Why do I want to post this? Well, it helps me to reflect on what exactly went wrong, how I dealt with it, and also being able to identify any positives.
We headed out to a fantastic local venue yesterday to have a go at a couple of Prelim dressage tests. The day didn't start off well when we got there realising that I had no girth! Thankfully, a very kind livery lent me theirs...
I could have panicked and become stressed by this, but there really is no point - what does getting even more stressed achieve? I could have stressed that there was no girth to be seen - but then I've have gone home. I could have stressed rushing around trying to find one, but then if I'm so stressed I transmit it to Louie, I'll have a poor warm up, so might as well go home.
Admittedly, I would usually get stressed by this, so I was pleased that I just took a breath and carried on as if it hadn't happened - I actually quite liked the leather Sue Carson girth we borrowed!!
Half way into our warm up, I was told that bit guards aren't permitted under BD rule. I knew this about guards with bristles, but wasn't aware of the normal rubber ones. So, off I hopped, took the bit off, and had to wrestle with the guards to get them off. Thankfully, they are really pliable and have slits so it wasn't quite as difficult as it could be. As I walked over to the mounting block, Andrew reassured me not to rush and relax so I took a few breaths before getting back on.
Louie warmed up beautifully. He was responsive, soft, forward & wasn't phased at all by the 6 or 7 other horses coming from all directions around the warm up. When we were next, we went outside, stood outside the arena and waited our turn. We entered the arena to have a trot around, waiting for the judge to ring the bell for us to start.
This is where the day changed...
Louie was VERY spooky. It's a long time since he has been suspicious of the dressage boards & today was the day he didn't like them. He also took a particularly dislike to the judge's car, despite going back and forth the short side four or five times.
We did our test and it was a very average test - very spooky around 'C' & quite tense in places as a result. Rather than focusing on these positives, I fixed my mind to everything that hadn't gone to plan...
We had 20 minutes between our two tests, and I stood for a few minutes thinking what I needed to address in the warm up to make our second test better. I went in feeling much more determined and with the goal of having Louie just more responsive overall.
Unfortunately, I let every small thing get to me - he took an even bigger exception to the judge's car with its wipers squeaking in the rain followed by the jumping equipment at the side of the arena.
We had the worst test to date - with partly me to blame and partly down to Louie's behaviour. It really wasn't our day - making a mistake at 'A', leaving the arena and going across the next at 'B' and a horrific test E-M throughout.
I left the arena feeling very frustrated. We were close to the end of both of our classes so I headed to get my test sheets with a really negative attitude. I was really encourage by both judges' comments, & as people had pointed out to me, in parts, the test had some really great bits. We scored 63.2% & 64.31%.
So, why have I chosen to share a really bad day out with you all? Quite simply to remind everyone that it happens to all of us!! I've mentioned in this post how frustrated I felt, and disappointed in how I didn't cope with what happened as well as how all our hard work and efforts weren't on show.
Today's a different day, and we've put yesterday behind us. I've been very fortunate with Louie and haven't really had many bad days out with him at competitions. I take it on the chin and just one of the "joys" of a young horse that has seen or done much - they give you many mixed emotions at the moments you least expect it.
On a day that doesn't go to plan, make sure you take a breath and reflect on the positives and learn from the mistakes. Don't fall into the same trap as I did - to make more mistakes because you're focused on the negatives.