This is an insight into my equestrian journey and a situation that you may also find very relatable!

Equestrian Journey

I’m sure you can connect to that feeling after a competition when you come away feeling unsatisfied and disappointed in yourself.

Feeling a bit lost as to what to do next. Wondering if you are ever going to improve and get over this hurdle?

Well, that was me after my competition at Boneo a few weekends ago. So I thought I’d give you an insight into my equestrian journey.

I talk about my ride at this competition in my past video blog, episode number 60, you can watch it here: Unstoppable Equestrian Ep 60: My Results At Boneo Last Weekend


I know I have come so far in my mindset in the past seven years. The strategies, tools and knowledge I have now has transformed me, and I often think back and wonder how I rode without this knowledge!

I am 100 times better than I used to be out at competitions. Far more confident and I enjoy riding more than I ever have. However, I still feel like I have a pivotal part of my equestrian journey to overcome. I think some of my disappointment comes from knowing just how far I have come and yet I still slip up!

Still at times revert back to old behaviours and strategies. Self-doubt creeps back in, and all of a sudden, I am lacking confidence, and beating myself up.


So, how did I pick myself back up and ‘get back on the horse’ so to speak? Well, I thought about it a lot, and I mean A LOT! I talked through my thoughts in my head to family members and riders around me. I even took myself out to lunch to ponder and analyse what had gone on over the competition day and the lead-up. 

This was done with intention, I knew I felt stuck and was feeling frustrated. Why did I slip back into old habits and strategies that don’t serve me?

I wanted some answers and a plan to move forward so I don’t continue to repeat the same old strategies.  

I concluded that a big part of my challenge has to do with the pressure I put on myself and Rondo.

Logically I know it is just a competition, it’s not life or death. There are so many more competitions to come, and the results, especially in the scheme of life and the big picture, are not that important.

However, there is part of me that is still very competitive. No matter how much I seem to tell myself that it’s not about the scores and the percentage and although I think I bluffed myself into believing that I did believe this. Well truly, the more I think about it, I think my biggest mistake from my last competition (and really all my competitions) is that I am still caring way too much about the results on the board and what other people will think.   

I am still riding too much for the judges and the results, and not enough for myself. I haven’t yet found that balance where I am ok with making mistakes, having ‘bad’ scores on the scoreboard or coming last.


Will I ever be ok with the above? I don’t know? I really hope so, I want to get to a place of self-confidence and assurance that I can truly go out to a competition and not worry about embarrassing myself. More importantly, not feel like I want to defend myself and my horse when we have a bad day on the scoreboard.

My goal is to get to the point where I truly take the pressure off myself and my horse. Where I compete to measure how my training is going. Connect with my horse more and compete against myself, while not taking any results to heart.Setting Goals for Success

To relax and experience the journey and trust that long-term I will get the lessons that I need. More importantly, enjoy the equestrian journey and the competing to an even higher degree than what I have been experiencing.

After all, riding is meant to be fun! I do it because I love horses, I love riding, I love training and I love the challenge that training and competing presents.

That feeling of growing and gaining more confidence and feeling proud of yourself after a good ride. That feeling when you achieve something new with your horse, both growing together, that is what I ride for!


So, moving forward what is my plan of attack? I know that I need to find a way to put a competition day into perspective, even more than I have been in the past. I need to think big and remind myself that each competition day is just a tiny, tiny step in my equestrian journey. It is no big deal, even if it is a CDI or Championship’s, it is just another training ride.

I am allowed to play, I am allowed to only ride my warm up and then half of my test before retiring, or add circles in, or experiment with riding my horse in a different way. The test is not a place for perfection, but instead for training and personal growth.

I know that I probably would never just go to a competition and ride half a test. But just by putting this idea out there it takes a level of pressure off myself. This allows me to have a choice and reminds me that I am in control and I am there to play and learn. I then feel empowered, it is my equestrian journey and I can ride, train and compete however I want. One day I might not even care what others think (that would be a pretty massive thing for me to achieve!).  

It is also important to point out that I am not experiencing any judgement from other riders, or judges, or trainers. This is all in my head! I have put the pressure on myself over the years. I guess it is human nature to ‘feel the pressure’, and assume that people are judging us. However, for me at least, I know this is all a perceived pressure. I know I will still be loved if I come last, ride poorly or even fall off!


This really is a journey of learning how to live in our own head. Finding that balance, those insights and that

Horse Riding
Danielle riding Ashleigh Rondo

self-confidence, to embrace the lows in our riding and life and see them as just a stepping stone. Rather than a concrete reflection of ourselves as a rider and trainer.

All of this feels a bit deep, so I want to thank you for reading. I trust that some part of my equestrian journey is relating to you and perhaps you can take a part of my recent insights and ‘aha’ moment into your own life and move forward feeling lighter and more excited about competing as well?!

If you can relate to my equestrian journey, I would love to hear from you. Please send me an email or share on my Facebook page, Dressage Plus.

Riding can feel a bit lonely at times, and when we can share our ups and downs and talk about it with like-minded riders it can make the equestrian journey a lot easier!

Written by Danielle Pooles