When you take on a long-term project, what does “long term” mean to you? That you will be able to accomplish your objective in six months? Five years? Or is next week long term enough for you?
When I set out to receive the scores necessary to obtain my United States Dressage Federation Bronze Medal, I knew would not be something I could achieve quickly. I set the goal knowing it would be a long-term project.
What I did not know is that it would take me over ten years and three horses to accomplish my objective.
Getting to a goal means knowing what criteria you must meet in order to meet the goal. In this case, it was simple. The USDF sets the criteria. Your task is to fulfill those requirements.
In order to be awarded with a USDF Bronze Medal, you must show at competitions recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation. You need a total of six scores. All the scores must be at 60% or better. You must obtain the score at each level from a different judge. Two of the scores are attained at First level, two at Second level and two Third level.
The scores at First and Second levels came fairly easily. I managed to get my Second level scores at one horse show, on my gelding, D’Agincourt.
But two Third Level scores did not come so easily. Roadblocks became a way of life. Lameness, training issues and my need to really understand how to ride my mare, Waimea, took up the next nine years of my life.
They were hard years. I cannot possibly express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me push through those years. My husband and my family were incredibly supportive and helped me keep going when things looked really bleak. Many friends held my hand, hugged me and cried with me through those years. And I had three amazing trainers who made it possible for me get the right horse, and train the horse and me through all sorts of setbacks.
In those years, I learned more than just riding skills. I about learned persistence, patience and flexibility. I learned what truly supportive friends and family look like.
And through it all my understanding of the incredibly generous nature of horses was strengthened. The things they put up with in order for me to learn to ride and obtain this goal are staggering. Waimea is still not sure I will ever learn to ride!
But I am getting there, and setting new goals, eyeing up the USDF Silver Medal.
And I continue to be inspired by what Thoreau said. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined!”