ODS Championships: When You’re Basic In a Sea of Sophistication, You Do You

“We will embrace our scrappiness, our quirkiness, our cute but flat-movingness, because that’s what got us here in the first place.” Biz and her Kiger mustang Helix are headed for the Oregon state dressage championships!

Somehow — I’m still not quite sure how — over the course of this season, my little Kiger mustang went from spooky, flighty and bolt-sideways-across-the-arena-y to a moderately confident first level horse. While we missed our second qualifying score for the Oregon Dressage Society State Championship at first level by one point because “OH MY GOD, MOM! THOSE V.I.P. TENTS HAVE PEOPLE IN THEM AND THEY ARE SURELY GOING TO EAT ME! UNSAFE!!!! UNSAFE!!!!” we managed to qualify at training level.

Having already shown first level this year, I wasn’t feeling too nervous about about showing training level at championships — that is, until I saw my competition. When I got ride times, I immediately looked at the rest of my class only to find the names of riders I respect, admire, and who quite frankly scare the crap out of me in the context of competition.

Showing with friends has done wonders for both Helix’s and my confidence. Here we are joined by show buddy/fellow trainer Kiki Statzer at Dressage at Devonwood. Phoyo by Liza Barclay

After being thoroughly terrified by the other riders in my class, I made the mistake of looking at their horses (Darn you, Fox Village, for making it so easy to stalk my competition!). The list of breeds I found could have easily been mistaken as someone’s itinerary for a vacation in Germany, and between all of that European class, the word “mustang” stood out like a sore thumb. The longer I stared, the more it stood out and the more the voices in my head began to sing “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things does not belong.”

On top of lacking pedigree, Helix and I both fall into the “less-than-gifted, but tries real hard” category. There are some seriously nice-moving mustangs out there, mustangs that could easily get 7s or better on gaits consistently. That’s not us. Those of you that have followed our progress will know that I frequently refer to the two of us as “basic b!tches” due to our lack of natural ability.

(Urban Dictionary defines “basic b—-” as “extra regular” or “typical.”)

Helix and I recognize that we’re the “cute friend” and will never be the “bombshell.” Photo by Biz Stamm

So what’s a pair of basic b!tches to do when they find themselves in a sea of sophistication? We could cower in fear, let the impostor syndrome get the best of us, and have a miserable, stressful show, but that surely isn’t our only option. Right? I believe it was the wise philosopher Pink who said “raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways,” and I believe what she meant by that is to embrace the peculiarities that make you who you are.

So that’s what we’ll do. We will embrace our scrappiness, our quirkiness, our cute but flat-movingness, because that’s what got us here in the first place. And guess what?! Many of those riders who I find so absolutely terrifying, they’re where they are today because at some point in their life they made the decision to embrace the things that make them different, the things that make them special.

Another quote from the great philosopher, Pink: “Don’t get fancy. Just get dancey.” I believe she was referring specifically to dressage. Photo by Dave Maliszewski

Will Helix and I win? Probably not, but that’s irrelevant. With the promise of prizes and glory, it’s all too easy to judge the success of a show by the color of ribbon you bring home, but a better metric is compare the horse/rider combo you are on the day to the horse/rider combo you were in the past. So this weekend Helix and plan to not get fancy, and just get dancey, while having a blast competing against our former selves.

Go riding!

Biz Stamm is a horse trainer/mad scientist who enjoys spending her free time running like a gentle breeze in the Oregon foothills.  Specializing in starting young horses under saddle at Stamm Sport Horse LLC, she brings the analytical approach she has acquired while working in laboratory to her training. She currently owns two horses: the Kalvin Cycle (Kalvin), an 11-year-old half-Arabian gelding, and DB’s Alpha Helix (Helix), a 6-year-old Kiger mustang gelding.  While she is currently pursuing competitive goals, her main goal is to enjoy her horses, and for her horses to enjoy her.

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