10,000 Hours of Riding

I had a mind bubble burst last week while enmeshed in a fit of frustration. I was failing spectacularly at leg yielding consistently because I couldn’t coordinate my aides. Plus, Bubba and I had just finished being spectacularly picked apart at our last show and I was being less than charitable with myself.

My mind bubble was this:

If it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert, why am I expecting myself to perform like one? Right now I’m just barely scratching at 1,100 hours in the last four years. Of those, a majority of the time was spent trying to figure out how to stay topside and steer in a symmetrical circle.

(Just to make sure you’ve heard of the 10,000 hours rule here’s a link… 10,000 Rule from Wisdom Group)

Back to my story.

I was driving to work and the radio guy was talking about the 10,000 hours rule and making some jokes. All at once it struck me that, holy shit, I’m just a baby dressage queen. (Yes I take pride in being a DQ. A DQ is someone who enjoys excellence, expects high quality, and is never happy with a less than stellar result.)

Immediately I felt a ginormous weight lift off my shoulders as if the universe was giving me permission to take it easy. I hadn’t even hit 15% of the on horse hours that Malcolm Gladwell says are necessary to become an expert dressage rider.

Heck, if I’m 15% of the way toward Grand Prix, I should be riding exactly where I am. I’m consistently competent at the Training Level Tests and  at First level test one (no leg yields!).  I’m stretching out my experience more on First Level Test two and three (hello leg yields and extended gaits). And let’s not talk about Second Level because after the last show… I’m petrified of collection and shoulder ins.

But when I think about things in terms of the 10,000 hours rule I can say “I’m 15% of the way to my first Grand Prix!!”

Now for a bit of math.

It took me 4ish years of riding to get from 0-15%. I’ll assume a 3.75% per year skills increase if I’m still only riding one horse three times per week. then that means only 20ish more years till my first Grand Prix!

Which equals 20ish more years of riding are necessary for expert level.

So the lesson here is…

More lessons + More Horses = Less than 20 years to GP  !!


<3 Happy Riding Everyone <3