Comfort Zone, Shmomfort Zone

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By Sally Richards

Editor’s Note: This article was an honorable mention for the GMO Newsletter First Person Experience Award for GMOs with 75-174 members. It appeared in Bleeps the Southern Eventing and Dressage Association newsletter, February 10, 2017.

It goes without saying that we all want to improve as riders. We also know how easy it is to purr along in our precious comfort zones. Well, I got cannonballed out of my serene state during a clinic with Will Faudree, organized by SEDA.

On Saturday, during the stadium phase, did we warm up with a little cross rail? As Amy Winehouse put it so well, NO NO NO! It was a low, slightly wide oxer with cavelettis placed three strides before and after. Oh, and did we warm up trotting in? Again, take it away Amy, NO NO NO, we had to canter in. So now you know what my warm-up comfort zone is. All went well, we didn’t’ die.

The next challenge was gentle “S” shaped exercise with three fences, beginning and ending with a vertical and an oxer in the middle. The intention was to produce a mirror image, four strides from vertical to oxer and the same from the oxer to the second vertical. We all know what is said about best intentions. Started rough, ended fine. We didn’t die.

The last exercise was a combination; oxer, four strides to a vertical and one stride to another vertical. The four strides were a piece of cake. Then, thinking my horse could be an accordion, Will requested five strides. We got it in four, then in six because we trotted a little. Will refused to take the average (did I mention yet how demanding he can be?) and call it a day. We finally did an kind of icky five. We didn’t die.

Day two….a near death experience (only in my head). Any of you who know me are aware of my cross-country issues with Twister. Yes, we did get past the chickens and this time the cows as well. All was going pretty well until we got to the section of the course with the new banks….they were not the issue. I saw Will eyeing the training table on the hill and knew what he was thinking. I told him in no uncertain terms “NO WAY”. His reply, with an evil grin, was “you can do this.” Me: “No (expletive deleted) way”. Needless to say I folded like a tent and did it, not the first attempt as I was scared to death and Twister knew it, but did fine on the second attempt. We didn’t die.

The take away, as Friedrich Nietzsche put is so well is, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” So thank you Will for recognizing something I didn’t….that we could do it! I highly recommend you eventers to attend his clinic next time he is here….and he wants to come back. He is quick to analyze problems and offer solutions in an engaging and clear manner. Plus, he is a hoot!

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