Permission to be horrible: Granted

Are you letting yourself be bad or are you trying to hold everything together in the name of, well, having it all together and being “good” at something?

The greatest source of stress in my life these days comes from when I believe I have to keep it all together. That I have to be good at something.

The greatest areas of freedom in my life are the areas where I have given myself permission to be bad. When I first started riding again, I gave myself permission to be bad. Horrible, even. I was 3+ years out of the saddle, and only 2 months back into semi-regular exercise (yoga). My health had given way on me, and I figured that as long as I could walk, trot, canter and still stay upright and on the intended figure, I was doing alright.

But in letting myself be bad, really, truly, bad—I found freedom.

The freedom to experiment. The freedom to connect with my horse (thanks, Gani!). The freedom to laugh at myself and most of all, the freedom to have fun again in the saddle.

When I ride, I don’t have to be perfect. I ride to the best of my abilities in the moment and let things sort themselves out. I have my trainer to help me become a better version of the rider I am, and the horse to tell me what works (and does not). My trainer isn’t a screamer, so I never feel pressure to perform or be more than what I am in the moment.

Given everything I’ve just written, you’d think that I’d have this whole “failure-thing” down pat.

I don’t.

There are times where I still try to hold everything together and be “good enough.” This isn’t my first time bringing a horse up the levels, but there are still plenty of times where I’m hard on myself, feeling like I should have things more figured out than I do.  Time and time again, I have to give myself permission to be bad. Horrible. Permission to make mistakes. Permission to learn.

It can be frustrating when you think

Yet, as item after item gets crossed off my list on what I want to feel, of what I want to be able to do in the saddle, as 2 good collected strides become 5, which in turn become 10, I can see the FEI horse emerging, becoming stronger and more real, ride by ride.

Then I remind myself to be bad, have fun and enjoy the ride.