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[RC] Forget awards -- I have an Ultimate Goal (tm) - RISTREE

A friend of mine we call "Badger" wrote this, and while she was writing it for a bunch of dressage riders, it struck a real chord with me.  What she says truly defines how I feel about my riding and my horse, in both dressage and endurance.

So the heck with this award or that one, to me, my relationship with my horse is the Ultimate Goal (tm):

"Lots of people get stressed by showing, concerned about judging and test riding and politics and expensive equipment, get frustrated with progress (or perceived lack thereof) or scores. And often they quit having fun riding and spend more time frustrated than enjoying themselves and their horse. It many cases, the rider has lost sight of, or more often has never established, their ultimate goal (aka UGtm).

My ultimate goal is to have a happy, athletic horses who is a pleasure to ride and do things with. A horse who enjoys our time together, as do I. I feel I owe my horses good care and an ongoing effort to improve my riding and horsemanship. I owe them consideration (of likes and dislikes and personality and quirks) and sympathy and good care.

I do not owe them Olympic-caliber riding, so I don't go down the road of feeling guilty that I'm not a Great Rider—I am on an ongoing quest to improve and I am getting better. I try not to get caught up in a single score or a single show. When I compete, I like it when things go well and we can show off our training and where we are, but my UG is not winning a particular class or a particular show or even a year-end award. If those things happen, they are nice, but they aren't my UG. And if things go poorly I try to learn from them and keep in mind my UG. If you let the class or the show or the award grow too much in importance and eclipse your UG, things get out of balance and horses get pushed and riders get unhappy. If you keep in mind your UG you can keep things in perspective for the good of yourself and your horse.

If you want to, go to shows as a way of spending time with your horse and your horsey friends, as a way to get feedback on where your training is and of the inroads you've made or the challenges you still face. You can set smaller goals along the way but they should always hold a backseat to your UG and be revised in keeping with your UG whenever necessary.

My UG is to have and enjoy the benefits of a well-trained horse, so I can go and do things with the horse, and not let the training and test-riding be an end in itself. If riding a test becomes the goal, instead of enjoying the training and the horse itself, some of the pleasure is lost. Let the focus be the relationship with the horse and what that relationship lets you do and accomplish together, and don't let the accomplishments themselves become more important than the bond/relationship you build with the horse."

I thought this was pertinent to the current discussion, so threw it into the mix.

Thanks.

--Patti Stedman (NY)