Ever wonder why some people seem to make their way despite less than ideal circumstances, and others, with all the support in the world, just languish? I truly believe there are two different kinds of people. There are those who wait for knowledge/success/dreams to come to them. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't, often with just a difference between good luck and bad luck. And there are those who actively pursue knowledge, work smartly towards success, and never take their eye off their dreams. I believe we make our own luck to a certain extent. Yes we have to have a little help from Lady Luck herself, but, if you aren't currently existing in a place to receive that help, then it will be wasted and pass you by. It amazes me when someone will say to me, "I'd like to ride such and such level", and they could not if their lives depended on it recite to me what is required of that level. The information is all out there, folks. And with the internet, information has never been so very easy or inexpensive to obtain. If you want to progress more rapidly than you have ever dreamed possible, take advantage of every resource available to you. When you take your riding lessons, do you ever go home and write down notes about them? I do, and always have. Do you read your score sheets, make note of common themes in problem areas, and go home and work on those before the next show? Or do you throw your hands up and decide to wait to find another judge who might be more forgiving of your particular faults? Or worse, decide to stick with schooling shows? Do you avoid challenging yourself with harder work, more lessons, more shows, more clinics and instead sit passively on the sidelines thinking "oh that looks so easy, why doesn't that rider just DO what the instructor is saying?!"? Or do you stay home "schooling" at whatever level you think you are schooling and never go out there and be forced to get it done under the lights? It's not confirmed until you can get it done in front of a judge with everyone watching. You don't have to have a lot of money to improve. Even if you are very limited in how many lessons you can take, there are always going to be ways to get education inexpensively. I mean seriously, if you have enough money to own a horse, you can certainly find a way to afford SOME instruction and the ODD show or clinic. I can't think of a trainer who wouldn't trade a lesson for some help around the barn, or some skill or service you provide that would be of benefit to them. How many of your peers' lessons have you watched this week? Do you show up, ride your horse and gab at the grooming racks, or, do you stand out in the weather with the trainer watching the other riders? I challenge each of you to take initiative in every facet of your life. Need to lose some weight? Walk a little bit more, eat a little bit less, do some extra chores around the barn or join an exercise group. Not strong enough or fit enough get the most out of your lessons? See the previous answer. Just not flexible enough to keep your legs long and in the correct position? Join a yoga class or save some money and look up equestrian specific stretching routines online. And then actually DO those stretches. Don't know what the trainer is talking about when she schools the students at a higher level than you? Ask!! Or better yet, go home and read about it. Read the FEI handbook. Read the Dressage Rules and the Dressage Glossary. Is your trainer going to be involved in some kind of higher education course? Try to get yourself volunteered as a groom, auditor, or just a tagalong. Be humble, but TAKE INITIATIVE. As Thomas Jefferson said: "He who knows best, knows how little he knows." Seek knowledge, it's out there just waiting for you.