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The perfect trap

horse using thru rails
Written by Andrea Parker

How many times have you uttered the phrase ‘it’s by no means perfect’ when you are sharing something that you are rightly proud of on social media?

Have you not posted something on Instagram because you feared the negative reactions that it might garner from keyboard warriors and armchair experts?

Have you pointed out the ten things that you are needing to work on before you tell people about the one thing you are happy about in a photo.

It’s hard not to do these things because as riders we are in search of constant improvement. We are looking for the changes we can make that will score us that extra 1% or shave a second off our time. We become hardwired to seek perfection.

We are in pursuit of the all elusive perfect test or round. And it’s perfection that I would argue is incompatible with being human and working with another. Even Charlotte Dujardin, as wonderful as she is to watch as she dances with her equine partners is not perfect.

For those of you who are long term readers, you’ll be familiar with my perspective on the myth and the trap of perfection. But recently another important aspect of it occurred to me.

The lengthened trot that looks a little flat, the half pass that needs a little more wrap, just riding these movements might be someone else’s goal. That test that you are so critical of and can see so many flaws in, riding at that level might be a goal that someone else works their entire riding career to achieve. Your position which screams imperfection to you may offer unspoken inspiration to another rider.

When we constantly pad our photos and videos with disclaimers we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to truly enjoy our success and maybe we are also indirectly discouraging those who look up to us.

I’m proud to be perfectly imperfect, a work in progress. And so I am making a concerted effort to curtail the desire to let you all know that I know what I am doing wrong and the things that could be better.

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About the author


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.