Guest columnist of this week is Louise Robson, a British dressage rider and professional known best for re-training Off the Racetrack Thoroughbreds. She has produced several to advanced level, including Quadrille xx (by Danehill Dancer xx) bred and owned by the late HM Queen Elizabeth II.
"Is it Because I’m not Enough/Good Enough?"
Is it because I’m not enough/good enough?
The sentence above is my most feared thought that I carry around with me, every... single... day! With riding, training, caring for my horses, teaching and general life. Now imagine that one of your closest personal friends actually says this to you…..
My home team is everything to me. I wouldn’t be able to do, what I do, with the horses that I have without them. One member, who I haven’t really ever mentioned is Tara Punter of Tara Punter Business Coach and Mindset Coaching. It isn’t the case that I am ashamed that I have a mindset and business coach, it's been more the fact of being able to write and express what Tara does for me and how invaluable she is to me.
Show Nerves and Anxiety
I turned to Tara help two years ago. I was at a show and, yet again, I was having to go for a walk down the road to go and vomit, because if anyone sees or hears you vomitting at a show they ‘assume’ hungover. I can also report that finding a random piece of grass or hedge at certain venues without anyone being able to see or hear you is harder than it sounds.
I was overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, tired and very anxious about pretty much everything.
"Do It All" on Social Media
There seems to be this ‘thing’ in the equestrian world (and I am super guilty of it/I would be the poster person for it) that we have to be seen to ‘do it all’ for 7 days a week, 20 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Naturally, I always ignore the ‘warning signs’ and wait for my body to shut down completely by making me either; vomit, or get chronic nosebleeds-both make me have to stay still…..So here I was, yet again, headed to, or in burn-out.
Working with horses isn’t for the faint hearted, whether it’s as a profession, or as a hobby and it leads you to, potentially having all of the fears, along with the biggest cases of Imposter syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, I am so utterly honoured and privileged to have the life I have and ride for the owners that I have and ride the horses that I get to ride; it's everything beyond my dreams, but it doesn’t come without its pitfalls.
Then add in the era of social media and opening up/exposing yourself, or beginning to express advice, or thoughts, across social media channels is utterly petrifying and daunting to say the least:
- What if I’m not good enough?
- What if someone says Im wrong?
- What if I’m actually just giving wrong/bad advice
- Do I actually know what Im talking about?
- Am I just actually talking utter crap?
We, as horse owners, have this continual fear that we are:
- Bad riders
- Bad owners
- That we aren’t doing enough/everything for our horse
- That we are failing our horse
- That someone else could do it better
- We haven’t ‘got it right’
- Someone else is doing it better/appears to be doing it easier than ourselves
And the list goes on……
We Pay to be Deemed Good Enough
Add competing into the mix, with the ‘fears’ written above…The funny thing is (first off we don’t actually need to compete, but for those of us who do…) we actually pay for someone to validate if we are deemed ‘good enough’.
In dressage, we pay for a number/score and comments to which *most of us* then spend hours/days saying how the scores and comments are wrong. In Jumping we pay for someone to build us an obstacle course to get round safely…….So how do we take our ‘fears’ and feelings of ’not being enough’ and make it so that we can learn and develop from them and not end up in a dark, twisty cycle of fear, upset and possible burnout?
So; why this post, why now?
Over the past couple of weeks I have had quite a few people that I teach, express their fears of ‘not being enough’ or ‘not competing enough’ or that they feel like they’re failing. No one is ever failing! Mindset work isn't something that you ‘take a course and complete.’ It’s a daily practice. Now, for some this may sound little intense, but again, it’s not like you have to do ‘X number of things/day’ to make sure you ‘tick’ the mindset box.
I would greatly encourage you to reach out to someone who can help you direct your feelings emotions and fears and give you tools to develop, understand and re-focus all of the fears, worries and feelings of ‘not being enough.’
A Way Forward
If I have learnt anything over the last two years it has been that there is always a way forward, be able to see each step as a step forward and every opportunity is an opportunity to learn.
‘Bad’ sessions when riding occur, but they’re never ‘bad’ what did we learnt and how can we progress forward? There is always a way through, just small steps every day, no matter how small, are always forwards steps. Admitting ‘truths’ to yourself, help you grow and develop and you cant control how others react to you.
My ‘how’ and ‘why’ are all centralised around being able to help as many ex-racehorses as I can with their owners develop a career post racing, in whatever form that might take. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the help and unwavering support from Tara.
Even through the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly ‘ebbs and flows’ of life with horses and everything that entails, I still get to do a job, that I don’t consider to be ‘a job’ whilst being able to help people across the world with their ex-racehorses. I never thought this would be a possibility. I get to do this; without illness, with a happier lifestyle, being able to support those to help them develop into the best versions of themselves and surround myself with the most epic people who push, support and remind me that you never question ‘am I enough?’
- by Louise Robson