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When your riding feels like “Groundhog Day” – Sponsored by Back on Track
Remember the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray? It’s a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The story centres around an egotistical weatherman (Murray) who gets stuck in Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day and through some weird twist of fate is forced to relive that same day over and over and over again. Sometimes riding can feel exactly the same way.
As a middle-aged adult amateur, I have definitely had my share of ups and downs. If I’m telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I have probably had more downs than ups. Not all of the “downs” have been because of a horrific accident or a lame horse. In fact, most of them have not been. It’s simply that as a type A, first born, obsessive-compulsive, super competitive (you get the picture) personality, most of the downs have simply been because I’m not THERE yet. And I’m a little like my kindergartener on a long road trip constantly asking, “When are we going to get there?!”
Eventing is tough. One discipline is hard. Three phases in one discipline is mind-boggling. Unless you’re Michael Jung it seems one phase is always the rotten egg, and like some crazy horse-based shell game, the phases love to take turns. One day it’s your dressage, the next day it’s your dressage. (Just kidding) Seriously though, it can seem as if you are stuck in an endless loop of Groundhog Days where you just can’t seem to make the time on cross-country or break into the twenties in dressage or not knock a rail in stadium. Over and over and over again.
My Groundhog Day is breaking free of the Beginner Novice tar pit I’ve been mired in for what seems like forever. I have a fabulous horse. It isn’t him. It’s me. It’s all me! The reason I’m stuck may have changed, but I’m stuck nonetheless. I rode with a lot of fear for a very long time due to a very bad accident that took a tremendous toll on me mentally. Just about the time I finally got over that hurdle, I found out I was pregnant; then my family and I moved three times; I switched coaches and barns, and on and on life goes. Career changes and life changes and address changes, oh my!
This weekend I will be competing at Beginner Novice yet again at my first event this fall season. Sigh. Another Groundhog Day. Or is it?
In the movie, Bill Murray’s character decides to take advantage of the endless time loop he’s trapped in and acquire some new skills. He learns to play the piano; he learns to speak another language; he romances a girl. He becomes a better person.
I choose to follow this example with my riding. While I may still be riding Beginner Novice, I am NOT riding with fear. The jumps no longer appear insurmountable and frightening. And much to my horse’s great pleasure, I am not only able to let that pony run, but I actually enjoy it! Sure, our dressage needs work, but doesn’t everyone’s? (Well, except for Michael Jung) Just as Bill Murray’s character did, I am using my Groundhog Day to my advantage. I am focusing on the things I can learn and the better horseperson and rider I can become while I’m stuck in my endless loop. And maybe, just maybe…hopefully…one day very soon I’ll wake up. As it was in the movie, it will be the morning AFTER Groundhog Day, and I’ll be competing in my first Novice.