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We all like to think of ourselves as “good riders”. It’s all too easy to live inside that comfortable view of ourselves- the one that says; I ride better than that guy. If we’re lucky, something in our environment changes and we find ourselves outside of our comfort zone. This is always an opportunity. It doesn’t matter if the outcome was different than what we would have preferred, the chance to learn and improve is always there.

I’m currently about as far away from my personal comfort zone as a person could find themselves. A native born Floridian, lifetime resident of the sunshine state and dedicated stock horse rider; I’m now living in Europe. These days, Instead of grabbing my trusty Wranglers when I go to ride, I’m pulling on stretchy pants. Yes, there is plenty of western riding going on over here but rather than stick to my routine habits, I chose to shake things up.

Dressage, classical European style, oh my, I really did bite off a big one! From my first lesson I knew I was in trouble. I thought I could ride. I’ve been riding all my life! Take away my rough-out western stock saddle, stick me in a traditional dressage saddle that has been worn slick as glass with countless lesson riders and my riding skills nearly vanish. In true European form, Derek, my instructor, takes my stirrups away and proceeds to drill me at the sitting trot. No, I don’t ride better than that guy over on the other side of the arena, or that girl over there or anyone else I see quietly schooling their horses- I’m suddenly the lowest skilled person in saddle today; a true fish out of water.

Tracy Schumer is the editor of High Minded Horseman. A Florida native and lifetime horse enthusiast, she is currently based in Europe where she rides dressage, enjoys carriage driving and is always on the hunt for new experiences with horses.

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