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Another Support Group - Perfectionists

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  • Another Support Group - Perfectionists

    So I have had a bit of a blah riding week. Nothing terrible happened and there were no major mental breakdowns, but I constantly felt that myself and thus my horse were just not quite on it. If you are here reading a perfectionist support thread I'm sure I don't need to explain any further - you know.

    I know I am not the only one out there, just talking to friends or reading posts on here makes it apparent. But it's usually a sidebar or byproduct in those other threads about training problems or goals or whatever else. I am starting this thread just to focus on the perfectionism and how it affects our riding in general. Hopefully, we can find some good advice on how to let it go.

    For me, the frustration mostly comes from the fact that I feel like I know everything (not literally that there is nothing left to learn, but enough to successfully perform the things I am attempting). I used to know nothing, being the backyard rider from the middle of nowhere, but I have been very lucky to find myself immersed in the top of this sport - still not a ton of personal instruction, but nearly unlimited observation time. The problem is my instincts, body control, and body awareness are just all wrong. I make mistakes and instantly think "why did you do that?" and the answer is "small panic reaction". Or I know I am doing something weird with my body or need to do something different and it just doesn't happen. Or, finally, that I didn't realize my body was doing something at all, or thought it was doing something entirely different.

    So then when I get frustrated, I end up forgetting too much good and emphasizing the bad in my head. And it all culminates in the grand thought that "I am ruining the horse". Sigh.

    On the positive side, my actual "I wont die" confidence riding has improved leaps and bounds over the past year (thanks super pony and super friends!). I think my leg to hand riding is improving , which will hopefully help me "let go" quite literally. And in spite of frustration, it hasn't ballooned into fighting with this horse.

    Anyway, before I ramble any more, time to give everyone else a chance!

  • #2
    I completely understand - and feel the same way - and I find that I am my own worse enemy because of it, I feel like I have held myself back because I "know how it should be" and "know I'm not quite getting it right" so then I don't let myself move on until I get it. Doesn't help that I just had about a year off from riding and am coming back so now there is a huge disconnect between my mind and my body lol - SO frustrating
    the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


    • #3
      Ohhhhh, here is my group. I absolutely identify with the "we can't move on until this is perfect" thing, hahaha. My trainer has to raise jumps when I'm not looking sometimes; I'm totally happy to potter around at 2' until my two point is exactly how I want it to be. Which it never is!

      I feel like it changes what I need out of my horses & trainers quite a bit. There seem to be a lot of people who need to be yelled at & treated roughly to feel like they're being pushed hard enough, which is great, but very different from where my brain is! I put so much pressure on myself that I always need my trainer to tell me when it's good enough for that day. The horses I like tend to be the too-smart ones who get annoyed if I try to drill too long.


      • #4
        He he he pally... After my Ottb thread... You KnEW you'd see me on a perfectionist thread!!!!


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by myalter1 View Post
          He he he pally... After my Ottb thread... You KnEW you'd see me on a perfectionist thread!!!!
          Yes your thread was on my mind when I wrote this. For one, it did highlight that I am not alone in this feeling. But then also, a perfect example of my issues. I can watch a your video and pretty easily pick up on a common, easy to make mistake. And then go out the next day and do the exact same thing in front of the jump myself. So frustrating. The thing is, if I were a teacher, I sincerly doubt I would ever yell or be mean to you for making a natural, minor mistake. Yet I feel like I am screaming at myself inside. Perhaps maybe if I pretend I am just another person (haha split my personality)...maybe even try to get video footage (scary thougt) so I can see it from an external point of view.

          RockstarPony - It totally affects the choice in trainer. I can't have someone harsh and belittling - my internal voice already does that. But on the other hand, too nice doesn't work either. If they totally pander to your frustrations and fears, you can both get stuck wallowing in them....then you say to them "fix me" and can't believe them anymore when they tell you you are doing fine. The best is that happy medium. The ones who are positive and encouraging, that acknowledge ar but don't coddle. They are kind of always saying "c'mon I dare ya" over the littlest things. I am very lucky that I have found just that balance in my trainers.


          • #6
            im in on this group as well.
            pally-you sound exactly like me as far as riding goes and the perfectionist.
            i too started out as a backyard rider and have grown to be a well rounded rider over the 17 yrs i have been in this sport.i too find myself putting myself down when things are just not going well,whether it be my equ/training/and just riding in general.of course you put it alot better words,but you get the picture.
            being a perfectionist also makes me be more detail orientated in all my horse endeaver/training.


            • #7
              Lol pally. I laughed out loud when you said you went and did e same thing after watching my video. Lmao. Love it.


              • #8
                I'm in! I have such a bad habit of beating myself up over the little details, even if I win a class, I still could have done better, in my mind.

                My big frustration is that I just switched from Saddleseat about three years ago and practically had to fix everything about my eq. the first year, then was on well on my way to jumping well and over higher fences the second year, but then I got my current horse, who's now four. So both my horse and I are a little green (me about jumping, him about pretty much everything, obviously), which gives me a lot to get frustrated about, though I know that logically, I shouldn't.

                Luckily, my trainer is very good about keeping me positive and turning this negative energy into positive energy such as paying attention to details and motivation to do no stirrup work, haha.


                • #9
                  Riding green horses has really helped me with the need to be perfect every second of every day. I now just try to be perfect second by second. (if the horse bucks, rears, spooks, swaps etc.) I correct it and forget about it instead of fixating on it for the rest of the ride. Its still just as high (if not higher) of a standard, but its much easier to gauge how you're riding than just thinking I want to be perfect ALL the time.
                  My Horse Show Photography/ Blog


                  • #10
                    The more you know, the more you know you don't know.

                    I would summarize everything but you should just read Tonya Johnston's book, "Inside Your Ride".

                    When a student apologized for making a mistake, Linda Allen said, "Don't apologize. We don't come out trying to make mistakes. Just learn from it and move on."

                    Just read the book.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by my_doran View Post
                      being a perfectionist also makes me be more detail orientated in all my horse endeaver/training.
                      Yup, and all the other endeavors (grooming, barn work) are what I am actually paid to do, and where being detail oriented (perhaps slightly neurotic) is an asset. So I can't just get rid of it completely from my life, but I need to learn to flip its power switch, and/or manage the paths it takes.

                      I'm in! I have such a bad habit of beating myself up over the little details, even if I win a class, I still could have done better, in my mind.
                      But the flipside of that is that if you have a good ride in a class you don't win, you probably still feel pretty happy. To me that is one big plus that can actually come out of this thought train.

                      I am also totally in the same boat of being much greener jumping than flatting, and now having a greenie. I worry so much about screwing up his jumping. Today I watched my trainer put a young one over her first jumps and well, she was...not quite putting all the pieces together at first. He says "see it doesn't always feel pretty". I started to say "Ya but..." then decided that kind of negative talk is detrimental. Because he's right. At that stage of the game, if you can ride forward and straightish to the other side of the fence, that's the goal. They aren't going to be perfect yet, and need to figure it out a little on their own.

                      Riding green horses has really helped me with the need to be perfect every second of every day. I now just try to be perfect second by second. (if the horse bucks, rears, spooks, swaps etc.) I correct it and forget about it instead of fixating on it for the rest of the ride. Its still just as high (if not higher) of a standard, but its much easier to gauge how you're riding than just thinking I want to be perfect ALL the time.
                      When I ride green horses, I am fairly reasonable in my expectations of them - I actually don't expect them to be perfect. However, I become extra hard on myself, convinced that if I don't ride stellar, I am making their problems happen or that I will give them problems for life, and basically ruin nice clean slates. Actually this is probably my #1 issue right there. It becomes less prevalent the more broke the horse is, but that's when I risk fighting with them to meet high expectations. Maybe the answer is to treat the seasoned horses a little more like the greenies, but think of the babies a little more like the old guys.

                      Sp56...I will definitely have to check out that book. Heck, if I muddle through this, I may have to write one!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RockstarPony View Post
                        I put so much pressure on myself that I always need my trainer to tell me when it's good enough for that day.
                        This resonated with me quite a bit. I am my own worst critic, and despite others saying whatever I did was great, all I can see is how it could have been better. This has served me very well in my professional life, but sometimes it makes "fun time" difficult to enjoy.

                        With respect to my horses, I pretty much have decided they don't care if they are "ruined" by my less-than-perfect riding. It helps that they are both oldsters and I don't need to worry about resale. If I did, I think being tolerant would be a good selling point.

                        I am very particular about grooming and turnout - my philosophy is I may not be a great rider, but I can still look good doing it!