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My values as an equestrian

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Written by Andrea Parker

I recently listened to the #HorseHour podcast ‘Train your brain’ episode. In this episode host Amy Frost talked to performance coach Jenni Winter about how we can harness our brains to maximise performance with our horses. During this conversation, Jenni discussed the importance of our personal values and how this influences our goals. It got me wondering about my personal values when it comes to horses and riding.

After a bit of reflection here is what I came up with.

Value 1 – My relationship with my horse

This is probably a bit of a no brainer, most riders are drawn to the sport due to a deep love and fascination with these animals. Importantly riding is literally nothing without a horse. Therefore to my mind the relationship that I have with my horses is the most important aspect of riding.

However, it hasn’t always been this way for me. Over the past few years I have taken a number of steps to build the relationship with my mare. Mostly this has meant slowing down and spending more time with her outside of the dressage arena. From taking the extra time to scratch Nonie’s favourite spots (in front of her withers), to taking a relaxing stroll around the property bareback. This in turn has helped to build our confidence in each other.

Value 2 – Confidence

My second value is confidence. When I consider myself as a rider confidence would probably not be the first word I use to describe myself. Cautious would be more like it. However, over the last few years my confidence in my abilities as a rider and in my relationship with my mare has flourished. As I mentioned earlier this increased confidence in myself and my mare has enabled us to enjoy time outside of the confines of the dressage arena and increased the element of fun. Galloping along the beach, riding bareback are things that I have not been able to do with until a few years ago. I am now at the stage where I am able to laugh at Nonie when she spooks at something silly like a patch of dead grass.

Value 3 – Learning and Progress

Now don’t get me wrong I enjoy a win as much as anyone else, but I’m not about to let the outcome of a competition determine my success. There are too many factors outside of my control. What is far more important to me is learning about horses and this sport and progressing. If I can look back at where I was a year, a month or even a week ago and see that I have made progress forward then that gives me a sense of pride.

If you follow me on social media (@eqballerina or @the_sand_arena_ballerina) you will likely have seen me use #progressnotperfection. When we are chasing perfection we are afraid of mistakes. When we instead seek progress we are able to view mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.

Consider what you value when it comes to riding…

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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.


  • #progressnotperfection is brilliant. I know lots of riders who need to learn to calm down and focus on the progress rather than trying to be so perfect all the time!

    • I think it’s a tough one as we live in a society (in Australia, America at least) where perfection is held up as the ultimate achievement in so many areas of life. But I think once you realise that perfection isn’t everything it’s very freeing

  • Lovely. I value my relationship with my horse above all else. Seeing things from their point of view. Making sure that they are enjoying it as much as I am. Being a team. Always striving to be a better horseman than the day before.