Imagine my Insecurity Sandwich- layers of blackened frustration, putrified perfectionism, smothered with ego, and held together with two slices of rejection. Inedible to even the most starved mammal.
Now imagine that sandwich being placed carefully inside a quart size Ziplock bag. The insecurity sandwich fits snugly into the bag, and you feel the satisfying connectivity of the seal as it closes. Now what do to with this preserved bag of failure? I can not just throw it away like a bag of dog excrement at the park. Can I put it in the back corner of the freezer or maybe a shallow shelf in the refrigerator? Will it grow if I leave it in a warm corner of a room?
I'm not sure what to do with it, but I have temporarily contained my Insecurity Sandwich inside the transparent plastic bag that I am calling "Grateful Riding". Yes, it sounds corny even to me, but I think a therapist could be proud...if I had a therapist. You see, I headed to my first big horse show of the year following a severe drop in riding confidence caused by one really bad dressage score. My confidence had also been battered simultaneously by rejection from an old friend and failure to impress old mentors all in the same weekend. But a week at home had reminded me how grateful I am for horses...period. I'm grateful for every day that they are sound, healthy, and ridable. I'm grateful to be healthy and strong myself. I'm grateful for a supportive husband and the truck that gets me there. So, I loaded up last week with the plan to repeat my positivity mantra every time that I stepped into the stirrups... "Grateful Riding".
It helped. A lot. Sitting in the saddle and thinking about being a "grateful rider" calmed my nerves and tamed my ego. My dressage test went surprisingly well- accomplishing a goal set nearly two years ago- earning a sub-30 test score. I had no complaints about our cross country go which moved us up several places in the rankings. Then, one rail in stadium landed us 4th in a class of 25.
All in all, the weekend was a success. I had a good time at a beautiful venue with good friends. The rollercoaster ride that is showing horses will throw the Insecurity Sandwich back at me someday. Somehow, the seal will fail and I will be faced with it's contents again. For now, it sits in the corner of my office under the stack of To Do Lists and Eventing journals. I hope that this article reminds me about Grateful Riding when it rears its ugly head. Perhaps it could help you next weekend too.