Reflecting on the European Dressage Championships and the controversy surrounding one of the riders I most look up to and admire, not for the achievements that she has clocked-up in her record-breaking career - but instead for the harmonious, classical and beautiful way in which she has trained and educated her horses; and importantly for the way she supports, champions and develops our beloved sport! I truly believe that we (especially the horses) have all benefited from the impacts that she has made and will continue to make in the development of Dressage and a return to more classical training principles.
I was absolutely stunned and deeply saddened to witness some of zealous take downs on social media of Charlotte Dujardin following her elimination.
But the incident has really highlighted the kind of person and supporter I do and don't want to be.
I want to be the kind of person who helps other women straighten their crown when something goes wrong, rather than someone who celebrates when a queen is temporarily knocked off their throne! And I have no doubt it is temporary.
I want to be someone who supports, encourages and BUILDS others up, not someone who takes pleasure in someone else's misfortune, mistake or bad-luck, someone waiting in the wings for a tear down.... Because I've been there when bad-luck strikes, or spurious rumours are spread and I wouldn't wish that stress and evil on my worst enemy.
I want to be a loud and proud cheerleader for my sport, knowing that it's not perfect but the way up is through! I want to be a beacon of encouragement when the going gets tough and the days are hard and heartbreaking! I want to celebrate you when you're succeeding, but even more when you are learning, and showing up anyway! You need someone to wipe away a tear after a bad day - I'm here!
Failure is just feedback, and mistakes are going to happen to absolutely all of us! And it's going to hurt, but it's also going to be the making of you. Because that's what mistakes are - a remaking, a new taking.
I just truly wish for all of us that we don't ever have the misfortune of having them happen on the international stage - as we have all seen, there are plenty of people waiting in the wings to celebrate our hurts and take joy in our falls.... but I won't be one of them, and I encourage you to not be one too.
Hello, I'm Stef Winwood, and I love to help riders regain their riding confidence and ditch fear and nerves in the saddle, for good!
As a rider, breeder, coach and ex 'nervous nelly' myself,
I know how debilitating and frustrating fear and nerves can be, especially when they are robbing us of enjoying our pride and joy - our magnificent horses! Find out more here