For those of you who have recently visited Tamarack Hill Farm, you might have noticed the gorgeous stone walls that provide intricate and luring mazes all over the farm. I have been a part of the Tamarack team since 2006 and I don’t recall very many stone walls during my initiation eight years ago.
However, as the years have come and gone Denny has slowly but steadily been building these captivating little masterpieces all over the farm. I truly find it amazing how the simple configuration of stones strategically placed around a house, or encompassing a bed of flowers can be so extraordinary. These walls did not magically or conveniently appear over night, but rather they have been the result of assiduousness.
Eventing can be a tough sport in many ways. The hours we spend plugging away and working tirelessly can be trying. Sometimes we can see the progress with our riding and our horses, and other times we feel like we are literally taking fifteen steps in the opposite direction.
What keeps us motivated? How do we keep going when we think we are stuck and not improving? We have all had rides, or jump schools, or lessons where we felt like the lowest layer of dirt imaginable, where we obsess and frantically spend hours thinking about how we can become better riders…am I right?
I am 28 years old and I grew up thinking and hoping that someday I would be an upper level event rider, traveling and competing all over the world. Even though my wish did not come true and I have not even competed at the Preliminary level yet, I have not for one second given up. I have felt pathetic, useless and humiliated.
I have also become use to the fact that most event riders and clients do not take you seriously unless you are competing at prelim or above, even if you are not a gifted rider. I have cried. I have lost sleep and I have broken several bones, but I have never thrown in the towel.
At times I feel like I am in a boxing match in a large arena with tons of spectators, and the other guy just keeps throwing punches at me. Every time I think I can regroup and get a hit in, the other guy hits me again and I land smack on the ground. This sport and this passion for horses and competing makes you dig deep inside yourself in order to see what you’re made of. This sport is humbling, at times not very forgiving, but incredibly addicting!
Whenever a new working student arrives and tells me about a horrible ride, or a humiliating lesson and asks for advice, the only thing I can ever say is that you will never get better if you stop now. In other words, we have all felt as if we have hit rock bottom.
Perhaps you have lost your confidence because your horse has started to stop at jumps. Or perhaps you cannot see your distance to a fence if your life depended on it, or perhaps you struggle at sitting the trot.
Whatever you’re struggling with and no matter how low and horrible you feel, you have to remember that stone walls are not built over night. They have been thought about, and they have been developing into real substantial pieces of art over a great deal of time.
Don’t ever get stuck on the future so much that it blurs your current life. If I became obsessively fixated on my goals to compete at the upper levels I would probably not be riding horses today. Instead I like to help keep myself motivated by perfecting my skill sets now and learning what I can learn every single day.
No matter what, if you keep plugging away, you will become a better rider because practice makes perfect over time.