A Fresh Start

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Are you a new-year’s-resolution maker? I used to be. Unfortunately, most of them were too big to keep. You see, I can be one of those people with that all-or-nothing mind-set. I start strong, aiming to conquer my resolution with gusto! But all too soon, I realize that riding five days a week and working out five days a week and eating nothing but salad every day of the week are ridiculously unattainable. Next step—frustration.

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If any of this sounds familiar, we’ve got some great articles this month that address this very topic, including our new “Mind and Body Wellness” column (p. 22). Throughout the coming year, Dr. Jenny Susser, sport psychologist for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Dressage Team, will offer suggestions on how to improve our mind’s wellness while Pilates teacher and British Horse Society-trained instructor Rebecca Ashton gets us riding fit with physical exercises. This month, Susser says: “When I think of mind wellness, I think of improving the health of your individual consciousness and awareness and your power to use them. It is my hope that you will gain new tools, have new insights, connect to your distinct abilities and be able to use these tools in a way that causes change and increases happiness and effectiveness. Oh yeah, and helps you ride better!”

While Susser helps us improve the health of our consciousness, Grand Prix competitor Eliza Sydnor Romm helps us embrace our incompetence. Romm says: “Dressage is incredibly hard, and in the beginning, it’s difficult to really understand what it is you’re supposed to be doing in the first place.” But she tells us to take hope because everyone knows that same feeling of incompetence and if we can learn to embrace those moments as a very important part of our learning curve, we can move past them more quickly to approach those feelings of competence and then maybe one day, even that feeling of effortlessness.

I’m sure learning curves were a part of our cover riders’ journey in learning the pas de deux. In “It Takes Two” (p. 48), dressage trainer Sarah Pinney shares a few exercises to whet your appetite for learning this challenging yet rewarding skill.

This is a brief glimpse at just some of the stories this month. There are others, including Lilo Fore’s comments on conformation (p. 30) and a step-by-step look at how to create a freestyle with dressage trainer Ann Guptill (p. 40).

As far as my goals are concerned, I’d like to say I’ve conquered my learning curve when it comes to my all-or-nothing attitude. But I haven’t...not yet. I’m a work in progress (and so is my horse). But I’m excited about the stories we have planned for this year. I believe they will help inspire each of us to reach attainable goals.

Until next time ...

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