5 Things Hafl Taught Me

In 4 weeks, we will have our 6 years delivery anniversary. During these six years, we had tons of highs and lows as in every relationship. What is more, with horses, they mirror you. They show you who you really are. They show you every detail of your personality. During these six years I learned more about myself than in all the years before.

1. I am not patient.

I always thought I was a patient person. Listening to somebody for hours, waiting for somebody to arrive, waiting for exam results... But I am not. I hate to wait! Working with Hafl showed me though that there is certain times in your life when you simply have to wait. Building muscles, muscle memory, learning new movements - all that takes time. Time that cannot be rushed, muscles need three months to grow - so how could you? And still, there is every other training session where I become impatient. Just like today. When he simply does not seem to get through. These are the moments when I want to quit. Because dressage is hard work and sometimes, it is too hard work. And still, you need to take the time it needs to improve. Every day, every ride. So we keep on working. Patiently.

2. I would love to have instant success.

There is no thing as instant success in dressage. Even the best horses with the best riders need to be worked for success. And still, there is times when I feel like I need to be rewarded instantly, where I think we should be farther in our training, where I think why the hell it is not working yet.

3. I could give up easily on failure.

Oh my, I knew I was competitive. But being a show rider taught me that the slightest failure sets me back to the I GIVE IT ALL UP state. Show season number 1, I wanted to quit. Because there were nit enough ribbons. Today, three years later, I have developed. This year is even more ribbon-less than the show season in 2013 when I wanted to quit riding (and everything else). Am I in the mood of quitting?! No! Because I have learned that a) giving up is no option and b) ribbons can sometimes be hard to get - and even if you do not get them, you are not a bad rider.

4. I need to work on my communication.

I am an introvert. Though I would always claim that I am an outgoing person that cannot be. I love to be alone, I hate people, I hate to talk to people, I want to be independent and free. I just learned how to behave in public which gives people around me the impression that I am an extrovert. The non-verbal communication between you and your horse shows you way better than verbal communication what you are really saying. Not only does Hafl hear/understand (some) words that I am saying, he is literally reading me. Every muscle that is tense, every little movement is recognized. There is no prejudice, no judging, just pure observation of what is happening. Also, when we ride, we communicate most of the time non-verbally. And here it shows how difficult this communication can be. A slight mistake in the aid and off course we go. Learning to control your emotions, your tensions, your movements, your thoughts on and off the horse is one of the greatest things that horses can teach you. Even more, being able to be more open to body language can help you in real life with real people. They too communicate with you in a non-verbal way. Reading the body language can be a huge plus. Reading and really understanding your horse's body language and facial expression is tough but leads to real dialogue.

5. I never lose, I either win or learn.

That was one of the toughest things I had to learn, especially this show season. I knew it was going to be tough at this level as we mainly compete against Warmbloods and riders with higher licenses. So we prepared mentally for a ribbon-free season. And despite not having nearly the number of ribbons compared to last two year's, we easily improved our ranking, we easily reached our goals. Sometimes, you do not have to win to be successful, sometimes it is just another step in the right direction.

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