Ode to the amateur

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I was listening to NPR this morning and heard a wonderful piece on public school education. The person speaking argued that some people are capable of learning in the worst public school environments, because they adapt to the bad situation by forming study groups and teaching themselves.

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He expanded his idea of adapting and succeeding to some of the best soccer players in the world. These players grew up playing soccer in less than ideal conditions: dirt lots, jumping form team to team to work their way up and then playing at the top under the watchful eye of the world.

This idea of adapting to a less-than-ideal situation reminds me a lot of the adult amateurs I teach. Their number one priority in life is not riding their dressage horse. They have jobs, kids, spouses, pets.... Dressage fits in around the more important things in life and, quite frankly, I think it is a miracle that they are able to get out to the barn every day to keep themselves ready for the show season.

As a professional, I understand that there are certain pressures of having to ride the horses, do well at shows, maintain your cool at every corner. However, as a horse owner myself I understand how hard it can be to get motivated to ride after a long day of work. I don't care if you are riding the next Totilas, everyone has days where they think to themselves "I am paying to do this?!?"

So, to the Amateurs out there in the world (and busy Juniors who fit riding in between piano lessons, karate, homework and trying to keep up with the social scene):
Stand up and take a bow. Next time you see yourself in a class with professionals, don't be intimidated and discouraged. Hold your head high and be proud of the fact that you are riding alongside the best in our sport. You worked your butt off to get there and you deserve it!