When I think ambition, I am almost instantly transported back to my Grade 11 English class and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I loved English, Macbeth not so much but I was very excited when the November Blog Hop topic was revealed as Ambition.
The evolution of my ambition
Even as a teenager I was ambitious. I wanted to win. It was this ambition that saw me out competing on weekends rather than going to parties with my friends during my teenage years. As I grew and matured so to did my ambitions.
These days it’s less about winning and more about being the best rider I can be. While not directly related to ambition, the relationship I have with my horse is also incredibly important. For the last five or so years I have had my heart set on donning a shadbelly and one day riding down the centreline of a Grand Prix dressage test.
Where it all began
I can’t help but think that it was some of my early coaches who planted the seed of ambition and in particular competing at Grand Prix level. The brilliant David Finch is one such coach. He would remind us of the importance of establishing good basics and that the ultimate goal was to ride at Grand Prix level rather than winning at the lower levels. This mantra has stuck with me to this day.
The second factor that informs my ambition is my love of dressage. I fell in love with dressage, with those moments where you and you horse are in perfect harmony. To me this is epitomised by the upper level dressage movements.
Despite this clearly articulated ambition, I recently realised that I had never pictured myself competing at medium or any of the other levels between elementary and Grand Prix. Now that I have realised this it seems quite strange. What’s more I can’t quite figure out the reason why this apparent road block.
During my early teen years I steadfastly believe that it was ‘better’ to believe that you wouldn’t do well at a particular competition. This way if you ride poorly you wouldn’t be disappointed having already prepared yourself for a negative outcome. On the other hand if you did well it would be a pleasant surprise. This mentality stuck with me for a long time and perhaps this is part of the reason I couldn’t clearly see myself in the steps between where I am now and my ultimate goal.
Can ambition be negative?
As we learnt clearly from Macbeth misdirected ambition can be problematic. I can also see how in the past this led me to put far too much pressure on myself to achieve certain things. Not knowing how to deal with the mental pressure I became tense when riding new or challenging movements, ultimately making them that much harder to ride. And so despite the fact that I was out riding six nights a week, I was making little progress. It also caused me to reach a stage where I hated competing. It felt a little like I was drowning in my ambitions.
Learning to handle this mental pressure has been incredibly important and has allowed me to enjoy riding and competing. So to has the realisation that the journey to Grand Prix is not a quick or simple one and the journey is as important as the final destination.
Don’t forget to take a look at other #Equestrianbloggers take on this months topic.