This is a question I go over in my head quite a bit when it comes to competing all of my horses. In my experience, this is only something you as a rider can decided. You can take judgement from your trainer, friends, family etc, but at the end of the day it’s down to you as the rider.
Some people are very happy at the level they are competing at, others want to progress. Me, well I am massively driven by goals. Personal goals i set myself throughout the year for each horse.
Over the years I’ve been held back by silly little thoughts in my head. I’ve always been so worried about what other people think and worrying they’re judging me. This can work in favour for some people, but for me, it made me ride awful.
I’ve seen so many things on social media recently about producing young horses, so many different opinions about the right and wrong things to do. All this on social media can make you question what you’re doing, are we doing the right thing, am I pushing my horse too much, am I taking things too slowly?
Bertie, my five year old is very trainable and finds his work really easy. This has meant I have been able to work our way up to elementary already. Flora on the other hand (is six) has been really tricky to produce. I had to send her to be professionally backed and produced for 12 months with Greg Simms (who has been incredible with her). She is now back home and I’m competing her but she is still very tricky and will take time to produce up to levels.
Ozzie is my top horse and has recently stepped up to Inter1 (never when I retired him from Eventing 4 years ago did I think we would be at this level). He is 17 and because of his age I have felt the need to press on and push up the levels. Neither of us know what we’re doing at this level but were learning as we go and are gaining experience every time we go out.
Some might say we’ve pushed up the levels to quick, should we have waited until we were really established at each level before moving up? My answer to this is no!
Whether you’re jumping, showing or a dressage rider, go with your gut and enjoy your journey, don’t be put off by bad results or what other people say!