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Everyone is capable of making progress
I am certain that each of us is capable of fulfilling his or her objectives.
I have seen so many average riders reach the highest possible levels thanks to the power of their passion and their conviction. There are however many opportunities for allowing oneself to become discouraged.
I have at times heard certain trainers say: «It’s not worth it, he or she will never make it ... « and then, only a few years later, to find the same rider in the medals at the World Championships or the Olympic Games.
All those who succeed share a common point: they believe in themselves. Like everyone else, however, they too at times are depressed, and their will to succeed and to believe in what they do remains hidden deep within their inner selves. Some riders come to see me and say: «I’ll never make it, I’m too old, too weak, too nervous, not sufficiently concentrated.»
On each occasion, I persuade them that every single rider, without exception, can progress. To do this it is necessary to “have faith”. Rather than comparing oneself to others, compare with one’s own the level of a year or a month ago. Being aware of one’s progress is encouraging for finding the strength to continue.
Look for those who encourage you and don’t listen to the others.
The same applies to your inner thoughts, by the way.
As far as horses are concerned, you should also trust your deepest feelings. Right at the beginning of my career as an eventer, I owned two young horses I greatly believed in. I had the opportunity to ask the French team’s coach what he thought of them.
After watching me ride in the dressage test and in the cross country phase his opinion was rather negative: too heavy, not enough of this, not enough of that… in short he didn’t leave me much hope as far as one day making them into high level horses was concerned. The following year
I became French Champion with one of them, Ut Majeur, and three years later, the best French rider at the Munich Olympic Games with the other. Of the four team horses present in Munich, two were mine!
Unfortunately, sincere encouragement from others is extremely rare. Personally I have to thank Marc, Gilles Bertran de Balanda’s father, a great deal. He really did encourage me with all his heart.
Most of our handicaps, weaknesses and complexes are above all in our heads. These are the mental barriers that hinder progress.
They are also the reason for which progress is faster or slower, depending on the rider. The body reflects the mind and vice-versa: a rider receptive to advice and flexibly minded makes faster progress. On the other hand, those presenting mental resistance also resist with their bodies and progress is necessarily slower. I myself notice everyday that my manner of seeing and learning things, and events, influences my body and the way I ride.