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So much for one post per week – sorry guys. Winter is boring.

I didn’t realize that 2014 marked ten years since Flambards and I won our junior dressage championship in South Africa. I feel so old. I never had a ton of showing highlights, but that was definitely one of them. Our wins qualified us to represent our region at a national-level competition – we couldn’t go because our yard had to go into quarantine the week before, but qualifying was a big enough deal for me. I still have the saddle pad and browband in our regional colors and actually still compete in them occasionally…

Yep, that's the saddle pad (Tebow modeling).

Yep, that’s the saddle pad (Tebow modeling). Cornflower blue & red forever!

I was 14 years old and had owned Flambards, my first horse, for about a year. Flambards was one of the coolest horses I’ve known (which doesn’t mean a lot coming from me because I love all horses, but he was genuinely a really great animal). He was a 16.2-hand chestnut Thoroughbred gelding with a star and hind socks. To this day, that remains my favorite height-color-breed-gender-markings combination on a horse. Flambards picked up the pieces of my screwed up riding confidence and put them back together by having the kindest, most forgiving nature. When I panicked, he’d roll his eyes and take care of me. When I got too big-headed or complacent in my riding, he knew exactly how to put me back in my place without scaring me.

I’d stopped jumping competitively at the time of this show; it scared me too much and I was happier focusing on dressage. Of course, my teenage friends all thought that this was totally stupid and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to jump (yes, I was the chicken of my friend group). It wasn’t until this show that I realized that dressage made me happy, and I enjoyed doing it, and I was fairly good at it, so forget what everyone else thought.

I know showing isn’t the be-all and end-all of riding. I like to think I would’ve gotten my confidence back eventually without the help of some extrinsic motivation and competitive success. But it honestly helped a lot – at the time, it made me want to keep riding, even though everyone else told me the stuff I wanted to do was being “boring” and “easy”, or that I was overthinking things.

Ten years later, I realize I’m the only one of my high school barn friends who still rides on a regular basis. I ended up becoming a super confident horseperson through Flambards and, eventually, Domino. It took ten years, but I’m proud to say I’m a very brave rider who trusts herself and her horses. And even though now I event and participate in some of the higher-risk parts of the horse world, I still love my “boring” dressage.

flambardswin

So thank you, Flambards, and thank you, dressage, for helping me stick with the horses.

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