How to Tackle Imposter Syndrome in Dressage

brett parbery mindset natalie foxon Nov 03, 2022

Hopefully this message gets through to those of you who need to hear it today.

Recently we ran a mentoring session in our Gold Program, and one of our riders mentioned that she had ordered some beautiful new custom-made riding boots some months back, but hadn't ridden in them yet.

"What! Why??" we asked.

She explained that she thought it was part of her feeling somewhat of an imposter in the dressage arena. That she doesn't really belong, she's not really a 'proper' rider or trainer, or not worthy of those boots.

All of a sudden other riders started to say they have similar thoughts, about riding jackets and all sorts of things. They felt they would feel silly or embarrassed to wear their lovely things. That they didn't deserve them or hadn't earned the right to wear them.

We'll tell you what we told our riders last week. 

You DO belong.

You ARE a dressage rider and trainer and you're probably pretty darn good at it! 

You are DOING it!

YOU are worthy.

As soon as you enter at A, you're on the same footing (literally!) as every other rider, so go ahead and own that place, time and space.

So, riders, dust off the fancy breeches, the beautiful jacket, or the custom-made boots, pop them on and enjoy. It's only dressage and it's meant to be fun, so GO FOR IT!!!

Wear the boots! Wear the boots!


Let's dive deeper into this idea of imposter syndrome...

 Imposter syndrome is when you feel that you’re not really good enough or qualified or experienced enough in a particular moment or setting, and you feel you’ll be ‘found out’ 

My feeling on this is that you almost HAVE TO BE an imposter in order to get better! Maybe it’s similar to when people say ‘fake it til you make it’.

I imagine you’re a person who wants to learn and grow as an active participant in horse sports. I feel that that’s exactly how you get better, by throwing yourself into the deep end and learning how to swim. 

It’s OK to feel intimidated by other riders and horses, I’ve felt that too. But NEVER let it stop you from growing in your personal journey.

Try to reframe that experience by looking at those who are “better” than you, and learn or be inspired by the elements of those riders that you admire. 

Use that intimidation as a strength for you, like it lights a fire in you to be better. 

As someone who has ridden around the world, I can tell you that the professionals aren’t judging you. They are focused on their performance, their horse, and their riding. So, focus on yours!

You’re not an imposter. You’re only human. Learn, grow, and ride.


- Brett and Nat

Co-Founders, Performance Riders



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