October 2016 - The Uncomfortable Compass
Written by by Lauren Billys
Saturday, 01 October 2016 04:24
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Trust that crazy internal motivator that we eventers seem to have in common.

by Lauren Billys

Looking back and moving forward. It is almost unfathomable to look back at the past month and know that Purdy and I were showing in Rio de Janiero at the Olympics and I am currently making my final preparations towards competing at the Twin Rivers Horse Trials Sept. 22-24 in Paso Robles.

It’s truly amazing to see how each event in the past 15 years of competing in California could add up to the sum total of going to the Olympic Games.  I think even more exciting is to know the potential that lies ahead.

Growing up as a three-day event rider has been the single most influential activity within my life.  Undoubtedly, learning how to clean stalls without grimace, drink coffee not because I like it, but because I need it for yet another early morning, and learning to drive a truck, trailer, and tractor are just a few pieces of knowledge I have gained along the way.

But I am certain that within each early morning alarm and unending trailer trip around the West Coast that many life lessons were packed within.  Maybe it can be best summed up as a willingness to face my fears and grow.

Within this journey over the past few years and particularly culminating in the last few months, I have adopted a new mantra that I will use in my daily riding and most definitely throughout my life.  I see it in each event rider that I teach and those I watch.

We all have a desire to test ourselves and push our limits, find what we are capable of and do it even better. When an adult amateur client sets a goal of getting to Novice by the end of the year, when my hunter/jumper student says she wants to go to her first event, and when my friend decides she will do a Four Star in four years, I think each of these moments are a testament to eventing as a sport and the mantra we may all unknowingly have adopted by deciding to be eventers.

We use our discomforts as our compass to lead us to uncomfortable and sometimes unfamiliar places. Because when we become comfortable in the uncomfortable places, we grow and exceed what we were once capable of.

I hope in four years from now I will have just attended my second Olympic Games, but along the way I want to make stops at Rolex CCI4*, the World Equestrian Games, the Central American and Caribbean Games, maybe Burghley, and most definitely a tour of our West Coast three-day events aboard new and familiar horses alike. I want to do these things to push my limits, grow as a rider and work towards mastering our craft.  I encourage each of my students and you alike to recognize what makes you nervous or uncomfortable and reach a place of familiarity and comfort in these places.

As I look forward to new environments to push my boundaries, I hope eventually to look back and find that I, myself, have gained experiences that have added up to making me a better, more competitive rider.  Here is to pushing our limits and using our compass to gain more confidence for the future!

Thank goodness for three-day eventing where life never is boring!

Columnist Lauren Billys contested the 2016 Olympics in Rio, on behalf of Puerto Rico, and has written about that remarkable experience for us since early 2016. She continues to compete and is accepting students and horses at Lauren Billys Eventing on the Monterey Peninsula. Visit www.laurenbillys.com for more info.