Plateauing is never fun.
For the first day it may be (“Hey look, I’m the same as I was yesterday. Hooray!!”), but another ride or two and the “Crud. I’m stuck.” feeling sets in.
In reality, we’ve probably plateaued every 3 weeks and we’re in a holding pattern until the hindquarters are strong enough to continue increasing demands again. But it feels different.
Everything is starting to feel murky. I start second-guessing myself on how to handle situations to keep us marching on towards Grand Prix.
Here’s the thing: it is all a feeling.
While I feel like I am closing in on the edge of my experience base, in actuality I have been in this phase before: I’ve ridden schoolmasters at a higher level than where I am now; I’ve trained other horses through this phase, including my most recent horse.
Feeling like I on the edge of my experience base here is a story (an unhelpful one) that I am telling myself to justify my doubt and second-guessing. It keeps me playing small instead of boldly reaching towards the FEI levels.
When I set aside my self-doubt and fears for a moment and ask myself what exercises did I use on the previous horses and what feelings did I look for when they were in this stage, the way forward is clear: transitions, transitions, transitions, circle work and half-passes.
The answer is always inside of me, even when I doubt myself.
At some point in the future, I will be in new territory again. But not here, not now. When I DO enter that new territory, I will have the Masters and a host of mentors to show me the way.
These things are lamp lights for me. They show me the path forward, even when I am uncertain.
What lamp lights do you have that exist to show you the way forward?