I have some pretty big goals in this sport.
Without getting too specific - you never know who will read this blog, and I'm not quite ready to be laughed at for this - they are significant goals, but I was always taught to dream big and work hard to achieve. This strategy has served me well in the past, and I see no reason it shouldn't when it comes to showjumping.
The thing with my goals is that there is no particular time limit on them other than "get there as fast as you reasonably can." But as with any big dream, there are a thousand smaller and more methodical goals that you have to achieve before you reach The Big One. I'm definitely still in the small stages... but I have no plans to be there forever.
There are a few things that stand in my way.
The first is mental: I have fear and doubt issues, plain and simple. Jumping actively makes me nervous. I have trouble trusting my horse and myself. Some of this stems from riding a stopper, some (maybe a lot) from less than totally ideal external criticism in my past (and sometimes present), and some from my own internal neuroses. I've been working really hard on this one, since, right now, it's the worst thing I have going for me, and have been seeing a sports psychologist/therapist who has really been helping me out. The difference is clear, and I have never felt as confident as I do, but learning to approach things from another angle and be kind to yourself is a serious process. Just like a recovering addict, there are times I fall off the wagon. But it's certainly coming along.
The second is financial. I'm incredibly fortunate to be in a good financial position, and have the ability to afford this sport at the higher levels. Training with an Olympian doesn't come cheap, and I 150% recognize my good fortune. I can afford to keep one horse, and ride in a great program. Unfortunately, the people who rise the most quickly get the most saddle time, and generally seem to have 3+ horses who can jump tremendously large obstacles. I am so, so lucky to have my amazing horse and am fortunate to pick up the extra ride here and there, which just means it's going to take a little more time to get where I want to be. Unless I take that plunge and totally immerse into horses full time - though there's little guarantee that will lead to much more riding time, at least at this point.
Going with the financial thing, horseflesh is obscenely expensive, with Team or Team-quality horses routinely selling in the millions upon millions. Once you start riffling around for a horse capable of doing 1.20m+ the dollar amounts become staggering to the average person, unless you're buying a super-green three year old who still regards crossrails with suspicion. It's a real issue when it comes to moving up.
My therapist is forever telling me to stop worrying about horses, that they will come, and that the universe will provide. It certainly has so far, but it's still something I probably spend too much time feeling really concerned about. But I suppose that's putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, considering that I'm not jumping all that high, and won't have to worry about it for a little while. First things first, right?
Anyway, the next step to achieve my Big Dream is a pretty simple one: move up to the 1.10m (which is about 3'6" or 3'7"). Seems easy, right? But the step into 1.10m represents an awful lot to me. It represents trusting myself, and trusting my horse. It represents more accurate riding, and not making those really stupid mistakes that lower level amateurs make. It represents a confidence that I'm not sure I always have. It represents pride and power -- though it's just 1.10m, it finally isn't 90cm or 1.0m. It represents an upward trajectory... and as much as I want to achieve my dreams, and have arranged my life in such a way as to actually GET THERE, it represents that first step toward what I hope will be ultimate greatness. And that is, in a totally different way, terrifying.
I worry - in case you couldn't already tell - about what people think of my riding ability. I know the Assistant thinks I can't ride my way out of a paper bag. This weighs on me at times, since at least a part of achieving big dreams means you need a great support team. But then the Trainer will chime in with something, every so often, that makes me really think it's possible. Things about jumping Grand Prix, about how it's possible for me, the offhand comment here and there about how "in a few years" this or that. Things about dedication and a few other choice nuggets that provide motivation and inspiration. It provides some of the necessary fuel to work harder and longer, through the good and the bad.
I'll get there. I will. You can count on it.