Guest Blog - Patricia Pitt - The Business of Dressage


As the year comes to a close, we become reflective.  Looking back I have been relatively successful in my career, starting out as a secretary and moving through first line management to middle management and now reaching the dizzy heights of Director.

Turning to my dressage ambitions, it occurred to me that what separates ‘the wheat from the chaff’ in the equestrian world is a burning desire, a thirst for knowledge, structure and a business-like approach.   This has clearly been applied in my working life but until recent years has been sadly lacking in the approach I took to my riding.   The burning desire was there but no structure.   Success then is a philosophy, an attitude, it’s a state of mind and it is available to each and every one of us.  

So if you want it, but can’t get the leverage you need, here’s some information on business values that can very easily be applied to your approach to your training and help you get the focus and motivation to achieve your riding goals.


Too many equestrians believe that there’s something wrong with aiming to be really successful. You hear it a lot in these days of Classical versus Competition Dressage, the suggestion that somehow, if you strive for competitive success you can’t care about your horse. It’s almost as if being a go-getter is incompatible with being compassionate, socially conscious and a good person! It’s a generalisation and like anything that tars everyone with the same brush, totally untrue.



How many of you believe that success requires you to revolutionise your riding?  That’s a scary thought. No one wants to make massive changes to the way they think, feel and behave. Human beings love staying within the comfort zone. But guess what? In my work I’ve realised that lasting personal change does not require you to turn your beliefs upside down. The best way to achieve results is through small continuous steps. Baby steps. A little at a time.



One of the primary reasons that people fail to achieve their goals is that they try to be too many things to too many people. The most successful human beings are wildly focused. They have a very clear picture of what it is they want to create and then they have the discipline (and courage) to stick to their mission – saying ‘no’ to everything that is not ‘mission critical’. So my suggestion to you is to simplify. Strip away all that is unimportant, these are the things keeping you from getting to your dreams. And then once you do your clean up, focus, focus, focus. You’ll be surprised how good you will then get.


One of the primary traits of world-class performers (in business and in Dressage) is that their success does not come by luck, it is by the ability to ‘detach from the noise’. Each day, ‘noise’ such as little crises, minor interruptions and interesting distractions beg for our attention. To get to your own unique form of greatness it’s important – no, essential – to detach from the noise and stay ‘on vision’.



You’ll never know if you don’t even try. There is giant power in asking for what you want. All too often, our internal chatter prevents us from taking the steps needed to get us to where we want to be. My partner Mark Bentley could barely keep his feet in the stirrups let alone trot a circle when he asked a world class elite Olympic rider to train him.  The best of the best, those who live the dream – ask like crazy.  The more you do it, the easier it gets (like any skill). And so they ask. For the support and help they need. Nothing happens until you ask.

2017 is looming large and many of us will all be looking to either continue our good work with our horses or find some renewed vigour in our training.  So, why not think BIG? Stretch yourself and go for it!  Here are some more great business leadership ideas that you could help you find your personal greatness as a rider.



Fear is scary, right?  When it surfaces our instinct is to run away, avoid and consider it as a bad thing. But why not try to think of it as an opportunity, a gift really.  What if, the things that scare you are spectacular opportunities to discover more about who you are meant to be?  Overcoming your fears leads to confidence, self-respect, helps promotes growth and makes you better – at everything!


The very nature of dreaming big dreams and stretching yourself beyond the norm is dangerous in the sense that you leave the place where you feel safest; you leave your comfort cocoon you will, without doubt, fail more!  But part of winning is the failure you experience on the way.  Your big dream means you risk more to reach your peak in performance.  So when you fall (metaphorically), get back up, dust yourself off – and off you go again enroute to success.


Every second you spend thinking about what you don’t want is a second denying focus and energy from getting what you do want.  Why worry about what’s not working when you could be creating what will work.  Stop reflecting on the disappointments of the past and look to the possibilities that the future holds. Your thinking creates your reality; your thoughts form your world.  Why? Because you will never act against your thinking. Every action is the offspring of your thoughts.


I love what the co-founder of Google famously said: “Success will come from simplicity.” It fits with the ethos of The Crystal System Book.  Most riders struggle with the complexity of what they need to do; more conflicting instructions; more and ever complicated explanations; more flowery speak.  The best riders can see through those that try to impress with ‘techie talk’, the best riders understand what it is they are aiming for and do fewer but smarter things to get there. They get wonderfully focused and try in every endeavour to get to the heart of the matter, discarding any unnecessary chaos along the way.


 Do you have a lust for learning? The cure for aging that actually works is called lifelong learning! To be a perpetual student really helps you to stay young forever, at least in your thinking. Dressage is a lifelong lesson, there is no final destination.  The best riders have boundless curiosity and open minds and this allows them to work with a childlike sense of wonder. They read and research constantly. They understand that everyone they meet knows at least one thing that they don’t. So they ask good questions. This passion makes them a sponge for learning.

·         Have you stopped improving? Success is seductive but it can make you complacent and inefficient and stale. Too often, once a person gains a modicum of success, the very things that created that success get neglected. The best riders have a hunger to make every day better than yesterday. They are relentless in their pursuit of improvement.

·         Is your Health your Wealth? Most of us take our health for granted. That is until we lose it and if we do, we spend 24/7 trying to get it back. Getting into world-class physical condition will make you more creative, energetic, focused, happy and a better rider!


I’ve heard it said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. When faced with difficulty, obstacles and stumbling blocks we get to see what we are made of. We get to see our strengths and our weaknesses. Hard times always pass but they serve us so well, they deliver wisdom and teach us understanding. As you navigate your way through these difficulties what should you be asking yourself?  Well, here’s the BIG question …


“What is The Lesson Here?” - Draw on your setbacks to make you more knowledgeable, better, wiser.



 You may not know how powerful you are but each and every one of us has so many more choices than we can currently see. We see the world not as it is but as we are. Most of us are looking through the eyes of our fears and our limiting beliefs and our false assumptions.


As you think about your limiting beliefs, you’ll see that they are not the truth but they are opinions that you have adopted and if you question those assumptions, you’ll realise that so many of them are just not true or real!  Allow your mind some expansion room, the possibilities are endless.


Patricia Pitt is an award winning blogger from Huntington, Staffordshire, U.K.



Known as The Dressage Tipster on facebook, in her blog at she regularly shares her thoughts gleaned from her research into why becoming truly skilled in the art of dressage is so elusive to so many riders.  Her book, The Crystal System attempts to unravel these mysteries.  As you read, you will, without doubt, have several Eureka moments, when you recognise that your heroic efforts have been hindering you; you do not need to work physically hard; the work comes from activating your brain and by keeping it simple.  Through questioning and exploration of what you do, the Crystal System will allow you to identify, develop and mould your own system of training as your learning and experience grows. Highly motivational, sometimes humorous book, written in an easy and understandable style.

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