How to Get to Grand Prix!

Well I thought it was appropriate, seeing as I competed in my first Grand Prix last Saturday, to discuss how you actually get a horse to Grand Prix.

Answer – Get on and ride, repeat 1000 times! 🙂

I don’t think there is a magic answer as to how you train a horse from nothing up to Grand Prix. But I am a firm believer that success leaves clues, so let’s look at some of the clues:

1.  A BURNING ambition and passion.

I know a lot of people that would ‘like’ to ride Grand Prix. I like to sing – that doesn’t mean I will ever be the next Lady Gaga!!! – and that’s probably a good thing!!! 🙂 There is a world of difference between ‘like’ and ‘will’!

I have said since I was 16 years old I will ride Grand Prix – not ‘it would be nice to’, ‘I hope to’, ‘I wish I could’. Just pure and simple I WILL.

That alone I think is one of the foundations that got me here.

So the question is – how much do you want it? Do you know you will get it? How do you know? What are you prepared to sacrifice to get it?

2.  A commitment and dedication to your craft.

So you have the desire, you have the will. But all that desire and all that will won’t get you anywhere if you don’t have the skills. Riding is challenging. It is a kinesethetic sport, only can be done well through unconscious competence, to get there you need to be prepared to be challenged. I have a cried a river and then some, through my frustration at myself for not ‘getting’ what I knew I should be doing with my body. I have been bashed up, tormented and smashed up there, as I try to navigate my way around the principles that is dressage. I am hugely AD which means I like logic and formulas and systems – uh oh you don’t find any of that in dressage! Dressage is about feeling, responding, behavioural flexibility and reacting differently every time. WOW was I in for some fun to change my entire personality preference to suit my sport! 🙂

But it can be done, and it WILL be done if you have enough of Number 1 – desire and passion. So to summarise Number 2 – do the work, do the work, do the work, and when your tired of that, and had enough of that and think you can’t do that anymore, do some more work, more work and more work 🙂

Remember nothing ever worth having came easy 🙂

3.  A love and connection with your horse

We all get into riding because we love horses. At least I hope you love them?!!??!?! I know thats why I do it! When you have big goals, it can be easy to get carried away, and get goal obsessed, and reacting only to the results – when I feel myself get that way, I always bring it back to my love for the horse. He allows me on his back, he responds to me, he carries me. I love and respect him so much and it’s that love and respect that gets you through at the higher levels.

I have never felt such a connection with my horse as I did in that Grand Prix test. He dug deep when I needed him to and he responded as best he could, and he came back to me when we both got carried away. Now was it perfect? – No 🙂 But how dare I expect or demand perfection from him when I cannot be perfect myself. We are a team him and I, and we are both getting better and better every day, and we both need to forgive each others mistakes – and for the record, I make more of them! 🙂 You can never ride your horse like a machine – it just doesn’t work so make sure you have a bond with your horse, that you can develop trust and rely on through the years, so it’s there when you need it at the higher levels – because believe me, in a Grand Prix test – you need EVERYTHING you’ve got!!! 🙂

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