these last couple years have been a time of enormous growth and major change both in and out of the saddle. i’ve learned an incredible amount about myself largely in my search for success. even the word “success” in itself has changed over the past few months. 

i used to view the term success in regards to what i thought others might define it as.  i measured it through wins, GPAs, numbers on a score board, anything tangible that people could grab on to and label. anything i could put under a resumé and display to the world as a sign of my worth. success as i knew it was abstract and therefore needed to be palpable in order for me to comprehend it.

i was at a show and was talking to another rider. i asked her the standard, “what level are you showing in this weekend?”. she gave an embarrassed smile and answered, “just training level”. i remember thinking just training level? what’s wrong with training level? this girl started dressage a year ago, she was on a new horse, and she was already showing? how amazing was that! not to mention that she started in jumping and was showing at 3’5. why should she have to devalue what she’s done? what about showing training level constituted a “just”? 

it made me realize that we’ve become a culture that assigns value to ourselves based on comparisons, which are especially magnified in the age of social media. when we see the gorgeous instagram models looking fabulous while holding their perfect cappuccinos in artsy coffee shops, riders posting videos of their flawless ones and huge extended trots, or travel photos from exotic beaches and exciting cities, our life begins to dull in comparison. sometimes we neglect to realize that we don’t see behind the scenes, we only see the highlights. 

success can be vast and here are just a few of the things i’ve realized that qualify as success to me

  • humoring the good “what if’s” (what if i could write a book? what if i could show psg? what if i could run a half marathon? what if i could be a happier/healthier person? what if i could travel all of those places i’ve always wanted to see?) they can be outrageous! they can be impractical! start somewhere
  • ignoring the bad “what if’s” (what if they talk about me behind my back? what if this outfit is too crazy? what if i get rejected? what if the joke i tell gets zero laughs? what if it’s too late to start?  what if i end up falling off halfway through my course and get eliminated?) you know, every outlandish, completely ridiculous anxiety that holds you back from fulfilling your amazing potential.
  • drinking water in the morning before you reach for your coffee
  • shutting off your phone while you’re waiting for your friend to show up 
  • hacking bareback on your horse and enjoying the sunshine
  • deciding to compliment yourself instead of disrespecting yourself to make others feel comfortable 
  • waking up early to do yoga before the day starts
  • reading that book that you thought might be over your head
  • helping others realize their worth
  • wearing the outfit you loved on the rack but didn’t think you’d look good in (then wearing it out and realizing what a cutie you are)
  • turning in that assignment a week before the due date
  • all of those breakthrough lessons that make you feel invincible
  • putting your head down and doing whatever makes you feel happy, satisfied, and whole – regardless of other people’s opinions. 

as with every tricky concept, learning what success means to me has been a continual process. but here is what it stands for at this time in my life…

success is finding what your soul craves. it’s the pursuit of what makes you jump out of bed in the morning and enjoy every hour because your life is truly making you feel alive and saying no to whatever doesn’t. it’s striving to push yourself to be as extraordinary as you can while loving the you that you already are. and most of all, it’s jumping headfirst into the unknown because life is too valuable to waste on incompletion, superficial motivations, and fear. success is having peace of mind, which is a direct result of knowing you did/are doing your best to become the very best version of you.

love always, 

– annie 

follow along with us on our dressage journey on Instagram @annelise_klepper_dressage