Dressage Today Podcast Transcript: Meet the Hosts

Meet Dressage Today! In our debut episode, we–Jennifer Mellace and Lindsay Paulsen—introduce ourselves as your hosts. We’re two adult amateurs who are passionate about horses and the sport of dressage. In this episode, we’re talking about our equestrian backgrounds and some of the greatest challenges we have faced in our own time with horses.

[00:00:00] Jennifer: [00:00:00] Hey there. I’m Jennifer Malachi and

Lindsay: [00:00:04] I’m Lindsay Paulson.

Jennifer: [00:00:06] We’re the hosts of the dressage today podcast, where you can find us talking about anything and everything. Dressage related.

Lindsay: [00:00:13] Our conversations span the world of dressage from leading riders to local level dressage heroes,

Jennifer: [00:00:19] we’re talking training advice, horse care tips and stories to inspire your own dressage journey

Lindsay: [00:00:25] tune in, then tack up.

Hey, so thanks for tuning in to today’s episode of the dressage today podcast. This is actually our very first episode ever, and we’re excited to share all of our upcoming adventures with you. To kick things off. We thought we’d introduce ourselves. So you could get to know the voices behind the microphone.

I’m Lindsay Paulson, one of your hosts. And today I sit down with my cohost Jennifer Malachi to [00:01:00] discuss our equestrian backgrounds. We know everyone has a unique journey in this strange place called the horse world. And today we’re sharing each of ours. And because we know that life with horses, isn’t always smooth sailing. We also share some of our greatest personal challenges we faced during our time as horsewomen.

We’re both adult amateurs with a passion for horses and the sport of dressage. And we hope that you’ll find some of our stories and challenges relatable. And maybe if not relatable, at least interesting. We’re diving into the challenges of balancing riding with quote unquote, real life dealing with performance, anxiety, fighting perfectionism, and we’re also taking a look at how our relationship with riding has evolved over time.

Thanks for hanging out with us. We hope you enjoy.

[00:02:00] Okay. So Jen, you want to kick us off by telling us about your riding background and then just some of the personal challenges that you’ve encountered in your riding journey.

Jennifer: [00:02:08] Yeah, sure. Probably like a lot of horse crazy girls. I started as a kid, my parents paid for my first 10 lessons. And. I was hooked, but they realized quickly that this was a hobby that they were not going to be able to afford. Long-term I was fortunate enough that the farm where I rode growing up was only about 20 minutes from my house in West orange, New Jersey. And so I spoke to the farm manager about, what can I do? Can I become a working student in exchange for some lessons? I did whatever I could for one lesson a week. And that, continued all through grammar school and high school. And of course, the the better I got at riding, the more horses I was able to ride.

Lindsay: [00:02:58] Isn’t it funny how that [00:03:00] cycle works. And it’s once you’re into that cycle, it seems like that. That w that works and it’s a good system, but it’s like breaking into that cycle is so hard for so many people.

Jennifer: [00:03:09] Yeah. And I think, and I could be wrong about this, but it was very different back then, or it seemed like it was, I was a barn rat back then, my after school, my mom would drive me over to the barn and drop me off. And then my dad would pick me up on his way home from work, and I did whatever. I could, I scrubbed buckets. I fed horses. I held horses for the farrier, for the vet. I tacked up all the lesson horses cause they had a pretty significant lesson program. So I would tack up, I would cool out, whatever job they gave me, I did, it just didn’t matter. And initially it was just for that one lesson a week. But then I think once I proved myself that, I was. I was there and I was hardworking. And then, I did get better because they started to allow me to ride more horses. It was also a sale barn. So we had, I was very fortunate because we had a lot of really nice horses coming in and a lot of top trainers coming in as [00:04:00] well, Greg best used to come Frank chapeau. So I got to watch some of the, some of the top riders, it was pretty cool.

Lindsay: [00:04:07] of all the barns to end up in.

Jennifer: [00:04:08] It was, we were about half hour outside of New York city. So it was just a really good place. For location. But yeah, so I, that’s where I started and I grew up riding pretty much, the hunters. And in college I ended up on the equestrian team and eventually became the captain and the president of the equestrian team. And we. Road pretty much a couple. We had one main barn that we rode at in New Jersey. And then we traveled cause I stayed home for college. So I worked a while I went to school, but then also, growing up or in college rather, I also. Would catch ride anything that needed to be ridden? I would talk to people, meet people, and if they had horses that they didn’t have time or they needed extra help, that’s how I got my riding in. And I would travel, [00:05:00] up to an hour and a half, two hours away, go get finished with my classes, in between work or, after work, I would go and ride And so it was the year I graduated college that I bought my first horse.

I didn’t let much time lag between graduating school, having the, having a paycheck, which I was fortunate enough to come out and get a full-time job right away. And I bought my first horse and then I continued to work every single weekend, mucking stalls and feeding. To help defer the cost of board. But yeah. Yeah, so that, and then he was my first horse. Ben was a, I got him as a, he was coming four a Trakehner thoroughbred and a little bit difficult,

Lindsay: [00:05:47] he was a big gray, right?

Jennifer: [00:05:48] He was a big gray. Yeah. He was 17 hands. Yeah.

Lindsay: [00:05:51] And for those of you who can’t see Jen is tiny. She’s like, how tall are you?

Jennifer: [00:05:56] Five. Four. Yeah. Not too tiny, but yeah. 17 [00:06:00] hands was a big horse. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But he was he wasn’t, he was tall, but I fit him well. Even though, I’m only five, four, and he was 17 hands. It was a good fit. And he truly was my heart horse. I moved from New Jersey to Maryland in 2000 shortly after I got married, my husband and I moved to Maryland. I followed a job, a career change and worked in the advertising industry for awhile.

Lindsay: [00:06:25] So equine related though, too, right?

Jennifer: [00:06:27] Yeah. Yep. Yep. It was equine related the clients. I was an account executive and the clients that I worked with were. Yeah horse clients. And so I moved, Ben with me to Maryland and continued so continued doing basically hunt seat. And then I dabbled a little bit in eventing and he was great eventing. When we were out schooling with other horses, he was brave. And we went out and we jumped things and it was so much fun. And then I tried my very first show and it was, I [00:07:00] called it the durable division. It was teeny tiny jumps. And when I asked him to go out into the field, And jumped those jumps all by himself. He was like, there’s no way I’m going out there. It took me a long time to get him around that course. And the folks there were very generous and giving me the time to get him around. But after I was done, I said, you know what? I don’t think this is. For us because it just rattled my nerves

Lindsay: [00:07:23] The herd instinct. Why does that kick in at exactly the wrong time?

Jennifer: [00:07:26] It definitely did. It definitely did. So actually I went at that point, I had taken some dressage lessons on him, but that was never my focus. But at that point in time, I thought, you know what? I really want to. My, my nerves were a little bit rattled by jumping to begin with. I think the older I got, the more I just started to think, Oh, I don’t know if I want to jump that, and I found a dressage trainer Locally in Maryland, who I really liked. And so I started doing a lot more dressage lessons with him and it was fantastic.

I really, we never [00:08:00] showed, we never really did anything, fancy, but just the basics obviously, which, everyone needs. And that just was so much fun, and to see him change and just, I think even our relationship when I would go out and pop over some jumps, Became better with focusing more on, the basics.

Yeah and I had him until he was I had him for 17 years.

Lindsay: [00:08:23] That’s a long time.

Jennifer: [00:08:23] It was a long time. It was a long time. And yeah, had my first had actually I guess I had both my kids while I still had him and then they would do pony rides on him. So he was like, he became the family horse, but Yeah. Yeah.

Lindsay: [00:08:35] And then you got Woodrow. I got Woodrow.

Jennifer: [00:08:36] Yes. So I got Woodrow while I still had been another very big horse. He was 17 too. I don’t know. I have no idea why I was drawn to the big horses, but I was, and I. Rode, actually, he belonged to a gentleman who I had started helping him. He was unable to really get much time in the saddle, so I was helping out and [00:09:00] anyway, ended up owning Woodrow. And didn’t do I, at this point I was back to doing more I was doing some dressage with him, but I was also believe it or not doing some Fox hunting. And it was more of the I would say more Hill topping so less, not so much jumping, but just going out and riding more Hill topping. So the jumping part was not wasn’t there. Because I, again, my nerves were jumping had been jangled a little. Yeah. But had a lot of fun with him doing that. But there came a time where my schedule got busy with work and with family related things. And he also was the type of horse who really needed to be ridden.

Lindsay: [00:09:42] He needed his program.

Jennifer: [00:09:44] He needed a program. Yeah. And he needed somebody who was really a confident rider and was going to have time to ride him, four or five days a week. And that my life was changing. And I didn’t have the time and I actually [00:10:00] came off of him a couple of times, cause he just was a big powerful guy. And I got, I honestly, I think I was a little in over my head as much as I hate to admit that So I did what I swore I would never do. I ended up selling him and that was it. It took a couple of years for me to come to the realization that was the right thing for. For me and for him because he wasn’t, in the best situation that he could have been in either because

Lindsay: [00:10:30] honestly not living a bad life.

Jennifer: [00:10:32] So no, certainly not. No, certainly not. He was well loved and very well cared for, but. But I think he really enjoyed the Fox hunting and I had gotten to a point where I didn’t want to do that anymore. And he wasn’t real happy being in the ring. He was a horse who I think was much happier out of the ring.

And so I came to terms with that and found somebody who was wonderful, who helped, Get him back into the hunt field. And [00:11:00] now he’s living in Missouri hunting with a hunt out there. And the woman, is he’s living a wonderful life out there, but it was a very hard. Decision for me to make, because I want it to make it work no matter what, and it, I was fighting myself mentally more than anything, with the fact that, I think I had gotten to a point in my life where I needed to just take a break. I needed to step back from what I was doing and. And get a smaller horse. If I ever currently I’m horseless. But if I ever do purchase again, it’s going to be small. It may even be a pony.

Lindsay: [00:11:37] I’m voting personally, I’m voting for, a connemara pony. Cause I think that’d be the cutest thing in the world. Yeah. Yeah.

Jennifer: [00:11:42] And if it ever happens again, that’s probably the way I will go. And, actually I’ve been doing now that I am horseless and, I, my daughter is riding, which is a lot of fun because I get to watch her, the joy that I had as a kid seeing, on her face as she’s learning and riding. And but I’ve also been [00:12:00] taking some lessons of my own, not as frequently as I’d like, but yeah, definitely doing some dressage lessons. And a pony. Yeah. So that’s been a ton of fun.

Lindsay: [00:12:11] Okay. We need to hear more about Bubba, the pony, because you blogged about him a few times and we’ve seen some really cute pictures of him. Can you just paint the picture of Bubba, the pony?

Jennifer: [00:12:21] Gosh, he is a little love. He is a fell pony who is just adorable. If you haven’t seen the pictures on Instagram or Facebook, definitely go check them out. He’s got a forelock to die for.,

Lindsay: [00:12:39] He literally looks like Fabio with this like long swooping, like dark, mysterious way about him with his flowy forelock.

Jennifer: [00:12:47] Yeah, he definitely does.

And he is as honest as the day is long. Allie Calkins, who is his owner and my instructor who she’s just phenomenal. She says he [00:13:00] just he’s the type of pony or type of. Yeah. Type of pony that when you ride him, he’s going to give you, he’s going to take care of you no matter what, but he’s also not going to just go out there and do everything push button.

He definitely, when you’re riding correctly, because his gear goes, it, he feels like a horse under you. It’s just amazing to feel how he changes as your position is correct. And your contact is correct. And so he’s really. He’s just like a little school master.

Lindsay: [00:13:29] Yeah. I will also never know what that feeling is like to ride a pony who feels like a horse because I think I probably popped out of the womb way too tall to ever ride a pony.

Jennifer: [00:13:39] I know. I have. I think I’m pretty. Yeah, I do. I find myself fortunate in that respect that I can ride something that small, but that cool. He definitely, there’s been a couple of times where I’m on him and I get, I. I’m doing all the right things and all of a sudden I’m like, Holy cow what just transformed underneath me?

This pony has [00:14:00] become a horse, but it’s a pretty cool feeling, but he is. He’s just wonderful because I know, he’s not going to do anything, he’s not going to spook. He’s not going to do anything to scare me because I’m one of those, Those adults who had to get my confidence back.

I’ve been riding all my life and it’s a really weird place to be in when you get into your, mid and upper forties. And you’re like, ah, I’m scared to get on. I don’t like that feeling, but with somebody with a pony or a horse that is, like Baba, obviously anything can happen, but I know I trust Allie and I trust him that I can get on and just start over a little bit.

And it’s also mentally trying to put myself in a place where it’s okay to go backward and start again. And also just try to learn how to enjoy it again. Cause I think I got to a point with Woodrow where I was so stressed out by the fact that things weren’t working, but I was trying so hard to make something work that wasn’t gonna work, [00:15:00] that I did need to step away from that.

And I lost the joy that I had as a kid. And I am, when I get on Bubba I find that again, and now it’s just finding time to get out there and do it. Yeah, totally. Yeah.

Lindsay: [00:15:15] Okay, so you’ve touched on. You’ve touched on a lot of different stuff here. If we were to hone in on I don’t know, like one of the biggest challenges that you faced in your riding journey, because we certainly all have them.

W hat would you say one of the big challenges has been or the one you want to talk about today?

Jennifer: [00:15:28] Yeah, there’s been a lot, there has been a lot, I think, it’s actually what I just touched upon for me becoming a working adult. With a family. I only have two kids, but those two kids keep me pretty active.

And for me, the challenge has been losing what I had as a horse woman, as a younger horse woman and what I have now, like it’s just, it’s different and it’s learning to become okay with that. And to know that it’s okay to, maybe [00:16:00] take those steps backward and start over again and learn to find, it, it isn’t like it was when I was a kid.

I’m not going to just go out there and hop on anything and, go out and, jump a course or go trail riding on anything. I really, I have to put more thought into what I’m going to sit on now? That was hard for me. That was really hard for me. And it was also hard for me to walk away from it because I felt like I was cheating myself, like I was giving up a piece of my life that or giving up what I had seen as who I was, that was who, that’s, how I identified.

I identified myself as a horse person. And so selling my horse was like, then who am I? And. Obviously there’s a lot. I’m more than just that, I have a wonderful family and I have other hobbies and, it’s, that there’s way more to me than just that, but that was really difficult for me to come to grips with, and it’s taken a couple of years [00:17:00] and I still am horseless. And maybe I always will be, at this point, it may be that I just become the person who goes out and takes lessons or maybe half leases a horse. And I think I’m more okay with that today than I was a year ago or two years ago.

Lindsay: [00:17:16] I think like something that you and I have a lot in common and something that our readers can probably relate to too, is that like our personality type is not to be casual about the things that we’re invested in. And so if we’re into something we’re in, it is all or nothing.

And it’s, and for me it’s easier for me at the stage of my life that I’m in to do things all or nothing. But when you’re a mom, you’ve got kids, you’ve got a job, you’ve got a husband, you’ve got additional hobbies and all these other responsibilities. That, that seems like a hard place to be in because you really, it’s hard to go all the way with something like that, right?

Jennifer: [00:17:49] Yeah. Yeah. You definitely have to. I’m learning that if I want it, I’m going to have to just readjust how I perceive my [00:18:00] life as a horse person and my riding and it’s today at this stage in my life, it’s not all encompassing like it was, 10 years ago. And that’s okay for now, and when my kids are older and off on their own, that may change.

I could see myself really getting more involved in dressage lessons and getting back to that place where horses are a much bigger part of my life and they’ll always be a part of my life, but right. Just knowing when. Is knowing when the time is right for something, no matter what it is, whether it’s horses or it’s my running, or, cause that’s the other hobby that I picked up when the horses went, when I sold Woodrow, I needed something to do, but no matter what it is, it’s finding that balance in your life and knowing, how to be okay with, this stage of my life.

It’s a little bit less. It may become more down the road when things are quieter or for me. But yeah, I would say [00:19:00] that’s probably was, has been my biggest challenge. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s me, I’ve talked a lot about myself. So why don’t we hear from you Lindsay about, where you started with your riding career?

Lindsay: [00:19:14] Yeah. Okay. The challenge of this is like not to ramble on for a million hours for me, because I could talk about this all day long. But yeah so I I don’t come from a horsey family like Jen, my parents didn’t know anything about horses. And so I think I was like five years old and my best friend At the time she loved to draw.

And she was always drawing pictures of horses when we were in preschool. And so I was always looking at her, looking over her shoulder, wanting to copy whatever she was doing. And we actually took. Her I think, my mom needed to help out her mom one day and take her to a riding lesson or something.

And of course I wanted to go too, and like the running joke between me and my family is that my mom looked at all the work that was going on and all the hustling and bustling around the barn. And I think she liked. Out loud was like, Oh man, I’m so glad Lindsay’s not interested in this. This is obviously way too much work for Lindsay.

[00:20:00] This is she. She won’t be willing to do this. And thank God Lindsey’s not into this because it just costs too much money and we can never do this. And now, however many years later here we are.

Jennifer: [00:20:08] It was not a passing phase.

Lindsay: [00:20:11] No. So obviously since we didn’t know what we were doing and all my family was really supportive of me and they, Finally did agree to let me take lessons, but we just went with whatever barn was the closest to our house.

And so I started riding at this old school, German dressage barn. And it was really like, it was a really interesting place. And I can’t think of many barns in our country that kind of operate the same way that mine did. Although the more that I’ve gotten immersed in the dressage world, the more I learned that it.

Certainly more typical of, what it’s like in Germany. But so my, the first lessons that I had actually were vaulting lessons. Yeah. And the idea, of course, is to develop your balance in your seat before introducing all of these other factors that affect your training.

Yeah, that’s neat. And at the time I just thought that was normal. I just thought, Oh, [00:21:00] that’s what everybody does. So I spent a year doing vaulting and I had been doing gymnastics before then. So luckily I had a lot of like upper body strength and stuff like that. And of course my parents were having like heart attacks watching me, hang off the side of a horse and do headstands and stuff like that.

And then, so after we vaulted for a year, we were allowed to progress to like lunge lessons. And I was like, Oh my God, when am I going to get to hold the reins myself? This is driving me nuts. So we did lunge lessons. We did a lot of time without stirrups, a lot of time without reins, a lot of lunge lessons.

So then after two years of riding, then I was finally allowed to sit on a horse by myself.

Jennifer: [00:21:34] That’s fantastic though.

Lindsay: [00:21:35] Yeah. And then we did you ride a line nose to tail behind all the horses in front of you. And the trainer at the time, the head trainer at that farm was a Grand Prix dressage rider.

And she was tough. She was unbelievably tough in, in both good ways and ways that were harder to deal with. But she was an incredible rider. She was beautiful. The way she sat on a horse was just like, [00:22:00] Still unbelievable.

Was she German?

Her family was. Yeah. And she used a lot of a lot of German terminology in her teaching.

And I remember we used to have these little schooling shows out at the barn and she would do this demonstration. I think for, the kids and for the family to see like what all this is leading toward, and so she would put on her top hat and tails and do a, like a freestyle for everybody.

And it was, I just remember getting chills as a kid, watching that and looking at that and saying Oh God, I want that so bad. And I was, and I just remember thinking, like, when am I ever going to get there? It just feels that feels like that’s 10 million years away from. Because I can’t even ride without, I can’t even ride off of a lunge line right now.

So I think that image to me has always been, I don’t know it’s always been seared into my memory, of the thing I’ve been chasing. But anyway, yeah I spent a few years at that barn. And then my family moved to a different city. We moved to Savannah, Georgia which is a really interesting place especially for horses because there isn’t a strong dressage community there’s I probably wouldn’t even say there’s a [00:23:00] strong equestrian community there to begin with.

Jennifer: [00:23:03] And you had to travel quite far, didn’t you?

Lindsay: [00:23:05] Yeah. And I was looking for a dressage barn there. There was none to be found. Let me assure you, so the place that I ended up, and it was the only place in the area that even had a dressage ring. And it was a, an eventing barn. And it was, a low level, very kid-friendly.

And I the trainer that I rode with there, her name was Jennifer. And I know a lot of good Jennifer’s I guess. She was someone who was really important in my like development as a rider because I had come from this really strict, very supervised, very controlled, very perfectionistic dressage upbringing.

And while that’s valuable and good it was very welcome to have this kind of other stage in my riding life where Jen was like, Yeah, take the horses on a trail ride, go down the road, go take them swimming. Let’s throw the horses in a trailer and go to the beach and take them for a gallop.

And I think I was like, Oh my God, we moved when I was in the middle of sixth grade, which is like the worst time to move a child. Yeah, so I was probably in my like early teens. And of course then I got introduced [00:24:00] to eventing, and I I drifted away from from, strict, pure USDF dressage just because it wasn’t available to me.

And and what kid doesn’t want to learn, how to jump anyways. So I got into eventing I got my first horse Cat who I’ve, she’s like my constant muse. I write about her all the time. So shameless plug, if you want to go check out the blogs, go to dressage today com. But anyway Yeah. So Cat was a packer for me essentially.

And she was just the kind of horse where she, you just stay out of the way and she’ll take care of everything. And I still have her.

Jennifer: [00:24:31] How old is she now?

Lindsay: [00:24:33] She’s 27. Wow. I always joke. She’s going to live to be like 40. She’s still to be so old. And she’s still wild by the way.

But anyway, she’s a good girl. She can get really excited about things, but at the end of the day she’s very safe and she knows her job. And so she’s just a little spicy thoroughbred mare. But so I took her to college with me. Most of my big life plans have been centered around Cat so I went to Otterbein university in Ohio where I evented with her for several years.

I rode with [00:25:00] some really like really great people. And I pursued this eventing thing as hard as I could. And it was interesting because I probably competed at novice level of eventing for seven years without moving up. And and I was just like the self sabotaging rider.

And I I would just get into the stadium jumping ring and just not see a distance and gallop my horse at the fence aimlessly. And then hurl myself into the dirt because I don’t see a distance. So there were a lot of years of really unsuccessful eventing, but that was really frustrating for me because I was like, okay.

I’ve got a great horse. I couldn’t have a better horse for this job. I couldn’t have better instruction. Like at the time I was riding with Kerry Briggs who’s who still teaches at Otterbein. And she’s evented through advanced level. And then I was also taking lessons with Bruce Mandeville who was a two time Canadian Olympian on the eveting team, and they were incredible teachers. And I felt, I, part of me felt bad because I was like, Oh God, I must be such a disappointment to them. And all these other kids are just moving right on up the levels and having these great achievements. And here [00:26:00] I am just trying not to fall off.

Jennifer: [00:26:02] Dressage was calling you.

Lindsay: [00:26:04] I know. It must’ve been, and I was ignoring it a little bit. But yeah, and I was like, how is it, I’ve got a great horse for the job I have. I couldn’t have better instruction. And here I am just like beating my head against a wall or getting nowhere. And not that I’m so keyed into competitive success, it’s not like I have to go and win things.

It’s just you would like to see some kind of quantifiable progress over the course of 10 years. Yeah. So that was really frustrating. And then but at the same time, as much as I was, big picture frustrated with the fact that I hadn’t improved and made the, made the quantifiable progress.

I learned so much at that time. I learned so much about like my, my, the mental side of things and fighting these mental demons that you have inside about it being like, you can’t do that. Lindsay, what are you anxious about today at the horse show? Stuff like that. It was a great learning experience and I, I don’t regret it at all, but I’m also very glad that one day I woke up and what’s that phrase, smell the [00:27:00] roses. I don’t know. I had this realization that I was like I think I need to get back to dressage.

Jennifer: [00:27:06] Were you still in school when that happened? You were still in, at Otterbein or had you graduated at that point?

Lindsay: [00:27:11] So I had just graduated from college, and I had moved to Maryland to start my job with dressage today. Full-time and the funny thing was that. I knew that eventually I was gonna, I would make the switch to just dressage, but I still had Cat, this great little event horse who was wonderful and very happy, very sound, very willing to do things.

So I was like what am I going to do? And it turns out that Cat, actually, this was a blessing in disguise because Cat had terrible allergies. For some reason, she, she’s lived all over the country and for some reason she was just deathly allergic to the state of Maryland. And so when I moved her here full time, I had the priority of, I was like, I don’t even care what kind of barn she’s at.

It just needs to be somewhere that has good care that I know she’s going to be well looked after. And that the allergies are, excuse me, under [00:28:00] control. And so the barn that I ended up boarding her at was a little tiny dressage barn that wasn’t competitive at all, but the thing was that it didn’t have any jumps which I was like whatever, it doesn’t matter.

I don’t care. It’s fine. And so about a year went by and I was like I haven’t jumped in a year. And then I was like, I don’t really miss it. Yeah. And so

Jennifer: [00:28:18] You began leasing a horse, didn’t you at that point?

Lindsay: [00:28:21] Yeah, so I, it took something that also took me a really long time. That was really hard for me to admit was that Cat wasn’t, While Cat was the most perfect kid’s event horse you could ask for.

She was not. She was not cut out to do dressage competitively. And at her age, I think she was like 23. I didn’t think it was fair to, to this horse had already given me so much. It’d be like, Oh, we’re going to change the plan now, sister. And all right. And then of course I wasn’t really in a financial place to buy a second horse.

Who’s who, okay. First of all, who’s ever in a financial place to only one let alone two. Yeah. But I yeah. I needed to figure out whatever my [00:29:00] next step was. So I ended up posting something on. Like an ISO on Facebook, just being like, Hey, I’m looking for free horses to ride, and luckily we’re in Maryland.

And so we have a lot of options. And I had so many people offer horses to me to ride. Not because I’m a great rider, but just because there are a lot of horses that need to be ridden right? Yeah. So I, yeah, so I rode a bunch of horses. There were two that I ended up doing partial leases on and just focused on doing dressage with them.

And I didn’t compete them. It was purely, you’re you’re just in it for the learning experience. Educational. Yup. Which was great. And it gave me a little time to figure out what I wanted to do next. But at the end of the day, I probably spent so much money driving around Maryland and, paying for whatever else, all these additional lessons and going from one barn to the next that I was like, I think actually at this point it would probably be cheaper and less complicated if I just bought a second horse.

Time to go horse shopping.

I went off on my second horse shopping adventure of my life. And I set the goal that I was looking for a horse to get my USDF bronze medal with which I know is that’s a humble, is that the word modest, [00:30:00] not humble modest school to have in the grand, like big picture of dressage life.

But for me, that, that was a big goal. And yeah, so I happened to get really lucky and come across the second mare that I bought. And she’s she again is older more of a school master type. I, of course wasn’t in a position where I could have I could either have young and nice, but not educated or I could have nice educated but old.

So I like to take the, I really like sensible horses. So I took the older, more educated horse route and my new mare’s name is Fana. And she is just my little princess, and I love her. And so she and I have gotten our bronze metal together. And I took her down to Wellington, Florida for a month in march of this past year.

And so I’ve done. I’ve tried to make the most of our time together, like I tried to do every clinic. I can, I try to horse show. I try to get out and about with her and she’s been, Oh, I’m just so thankful for her because she’s been a really good partner for it. So that’s [00:31:00] where I am now in the summer, we’ve been sidelined with some like random, mysterious pasture injury, but I think we’re on the upside of that.

That is my horse background.

Jennifer: [00:31:07] That is your horse background. So what would you say has been your most challenging thing that you faced with in your horse life and in your dressage journey?

Lindsay: [00:31:20] Oh, man. There’s so many challenges. I think. Okay. Something that I’ve written about a lot has been how much I’ve struggled with performance anxiety.

That’s been a huge thing, but since I’ve talked to, since I’ve written about it so much, I’ll probably leave it at that, with that topic. It’s another challenge for me has been like you coming to the realization that I’m in a different stage of my life. And what I was doing before in my horse life is not necessarily where my heart needs to be right now.

So for me, it was tricky making that switch from eventing to dressage and knowing, realizing that my horse wasn’t the best partner for that. But I think the thing that I’ll share with you. That’s probably most relevant for the people who are listening to this. And I’m [00:32:00] sure that you’ll probably be able to relate to it too.

It’s like a dressage person thing, I think for sure. Is that, if you can’t, if you can’t do something perfectly, what’s the point. And, but come on, it’s just, we can’t ever do anything perfectly. And so for a while I had this. I had this hangup that I was like what’s the point of me going out to show if I’m not going to get a 75%, what’s the point of me going to a clinic if I can’t ride really well in front of this clinician or, like stupid stuff like that. And I went a couple years without competing because I just thought it was pointless. And I felt like I didn’t belong. Like people were going to come up to me in the up and be like, Oh, you don’t belong here.

Go home. Which is ridiculous because that doesn’t happen. Sure. People. People aren’t always nice, but that happens in any part of life. Exactly. Exactly. You can’t let that stop you from doing the things that you want to do. So for me I really had to get over this like stupid, ridiculous idea that if I went to a horse show, I acted like I was going to the Olympics and I had to get this really great score.

Because if you [00:33:00] and I had to wait for the perfect conditions for this to happen, I had to wait until I could ride the test perfectly at home, and then I would go, and it’s just stupid because if you sit around waiting for the perfect conditions to come for you to do something, it never ever happens, which in hindsight probably explains a lot as to why I never competed past novice and eventing because I would say, Oh, I need a better score next time.

So I’m not moving up. Or, some, something like that. And, you know what, I’m really glad that, it’s something that I still fight with. And of course there’s a part of me that cringes, if I don’t get the score that I want or, things just don’t go your way or whatever,

Jennifer: [00:33:34] But you’ve had a lot of chances at learning and having experiences which help you get better each time.

Lindsay: [00:33:42] Yeah. And I say okay, if things don’t turn out the way you want, at least it turns into a good story. So I’ve gotten a lot of good stories to write about and stuff and and I just, I think my big, like my big thing, my big message, the big thing that I learned is if you’re waiting until you get a new horse to go out and show.

Don’t. Go with what you [00:34:00] have. If you’re waiting to get a new trailer and a new rig so that you don’t show up in your crappy, whatever show up, like clinicians don’t expect us to show up to a clinic as a finished product. But if you show up there looking perfect, then your money is wasted.

Jennifer: [00:34:16] That’s a really good point. Yep. Yep.

Lindsay: [00:34:19] So yeah, it’s for me, I think it’s been fighting that. That inner perfectionist. And I think that’s part of the reason why we’re all attracted to dressage, right? Is that we’re all chasing this idea of, the perfect person in the top hat or helmet right now.

Helmet and tails and that beautiful grand Prix fantasy.

Jennifer: [00:34:38] Yeah. But you know what, it’s the slowing down and what’s that saying? And I’m going to get it wrong. Cause I always do this, but it’s not the it’s not. Where you end up, but it’s the journey that you should enjoy. I know that’s not the exact saying, but there’s so much of the sport where it takes years and years for people to get to the top.

And even if you don’t ever get [00:35:00] there, just enjoy that journey, of learning and that harmony that you find with your horse? Yeah. That’s what I, I think I appreciate watching your journey with Fenna and just watching the sport in general, seeing, that connection between the rider and the horse and the, what they learn from each other.

It’s a pretty cool thing to see. And I’ve seen that with you and Fenna.

Lindsay: [00:35:23] Oh, that’s nice of you. I think I think one of the things that I think about a lot is, and there’s another saying that relates to this somewhere, but it’s sometimes I get so overwhelmed with the fact that I’m like, nah, I’m not anywhere close to riding at grand Prix.

I’m not I’m, I’m still like I focused on just trying to get a respectable score at fourth level, or, forget about the score, just riding competence only at the level that I’m at. We’ll leave it at that. But So it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything that you have in front of you, all the things that are left to accomplish.

But then I have to pause and remind myself like, okay, but if Lindsay, if you were to go back to that girl who was [00:36:00] doing vaulting lessons at, six or seven years old or whatever, and watching that dressage trainer ride in her top hat and tails for the first time, that girl who had that longing and that desire. What would she think if she saw what I was doing now and yeah. I’m not where I want to be, but that little girl would probably be looking at me saying, wow, that’s cool. I want to do that someday.

Jennifer: [00:36:21] That is a fantastic way to look at things. I think that’s a fantastic way to look at things.

Yeah and at the end of the day, we’re all in this because we love horses, and whether, it’s like me, I’m not riding and owning a horse right now. Like I had been you are, and you sometimes struggle with I’d want to be. Further along than I am, but we all need to just slow down and enjoy what we know what we are doing and what we have and the wonderful animals that are allowing us to do this with them.

Lindsay: [00:36:50] Yeah, totally. And I think, I dunno, I think if we think about Honoring our inner horse girl, you have to, we always have to remind ourselves about, why we started in the first [00:37:00] place and that piece inside of us, that just wants to go touch like the fuzzy end of the horse’s nose and stuff like that and not lose sight of those things.

Jennifer: [00:37:07] Yep. Exactly.

Lindsay: [00:37:08] Thanks for listening everybody. We hope you enjoyed this, and we hope maybe we’ve shared some stories that, that you can relate to .Be sure to check us out on dressage and head over to our video training website dressage today online., Jen, you want to tell them a little bit more about that?

Jennifer: [00:37:25] Yeah, we are really excited about dressage today, We have more than 1700 videos on there, and we are working on new content all the time. We’ve added new stuff this spring and we have a lot more coming this summer and fall so definitely go check us out.

Lindsay: [00:37:49] Thanks for listening to thedreassage today podcast. You can learn more from dressage today and read in-depth training [00:38:00] articles at dressage today dot com, or visit our new on demand video site dressage today., and for daily dressage training tips, advice, give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Happy riding.

The dressage today podcast is a production of equine podcast network, an entity of active interest media and the equine network. .






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