Like all of you, I follow a lot of big name trainers on social media. While they often write a lot of really great stuff, it can often feel a bit out of my league. They have horses that move in ways I’ll never experience, access to money that provides the absolute best in nutrition and stabling, and teams of professionals to care for every facet of their horses’ lives. That’s why I also follow a lot of local trainers on social media. These are people who I know in real life and can watch without them knowing I am watching. I get to peak behind the curtain so to speak to see if they truly live what they share on social media. And if they do, does it work?

Local trainer Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage aboard Clooney earning show high point.

Sometimes, they don’t. I’ve seen more than one local big name trainer cheat or treat her students rudely. Seeing those behaviors lets me know that in all likelihood those big name, international competitors probably make bad choices too. So who do I look to for encouragement and advice? Reading articles online about great dressage is good, but watching local trainers who are successful helps me more than any YouTube video or Facebook article.

A local trainer who I have had the opportunity to meet and follow is Laura Goodenkauf, Head Trainer/Owner at Laura Goodenkauf Dressage. I’ve never had a lesson with her since I now ride with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, but I have seen her ride at shows, and we’ve met more than a few times. Sean coaches her a few times a month. While hanging out at shows, Laura has been free with her advice, especially the kind about rider confidence. She recently shared some thoughts on Facebook and her website that really resonated with me, so I asked her if I could share them here.

This is what she wrote:

How being an Entrepreneur Has Made Me a Better Horseman
By Laura Goodenkauf

Happy Women’s Entrepreneurship Day! Cheers to all you amazing women out there running your own business and absolutely killing it! I admire you all!
(Also, a shout out to our fellow Team LGD woman entrepreneur, Lauryn, and her equestrian-inspired company Elcee Equestrian. Check out their new products just in time for the holidays!)

Being a horse trainer/entrepreneur is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. It’s also, by far, one of the most rewarding. And it’s helped me grow as a horseman… er… horsewoman!

Three truths I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur that have immensely improved my relationships with my horses:

1) Accept Failure as Part of the Journey
One commonality between successful entrepreneurs and top riders – they have failed many, many times! For every successful business venture, there have been just as many products or investments that didn’t pan out. But as Mark Cuban says, “You only have to be right once!”

Listen to top equestrians talk about their journey and their horses and you’ll hear similar stories. For every big win, there was time that a horse was out of commission with an injury or a horse had an unfortunate meltdown in the show ring.

The important thing we must remember is that failure is part of the journey. And a failure is not the end. It is an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve!

2) Surround Yourself with a Team That Inspires You
The people you surround yourself with will have a huge impact on the way you think, act, and feel. As the saying goes, “You are the sum of who you surround yourself with.”

So many barns are full of drama. And, hey, who doesn’t love a little drama? But I prefer to keep my drama to reality TV. Drama should stay on The Real Housewives and out of the barn. The barn is a place to develop my relationship with my horse, both in and out of the saddle, and enjoy time with beautiful, like-minded souls who support me and my goals.

Make sure the people in your barn family are contributing to and supporting your growth – both in and out of the saddle.


Laura Goodenkauf

3) Patience and Consistency are Key
A few quotes from Atomic Habits written by James Clear (a fantastic book, by the way!):

“The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop.”

This sounds great and it’s easy when things are going well. But what do we do when we’re going through a really rough training patch with our horse? Or when we’ve had a horrible day at work and we just don’t have the energy to saddle up today?

“The bad days are more important than the good days. If you write or exercise or meditate or cook when you don’t feel like it, then you maintain the habit. And if you maintain the habit, then all you need is time.”

Be consistent with your riding and your routine with your horse. And then be patient and trust in your work. You will get to where you want to go. And the journey will be worth it!

“Small habits don’t add up. They compound.”

Cheers to all my fellow bad ass women equestrians! Keep celebrating you, your wonderful horses, and the amazing journey we’re on!

The line that most speaks to me is this one: Small habits don’t add up. They compound. My own motto is Saddle Up Anyway because I know that you can’t get there if you only ride on the good days, the days where you feel powerful and competent. I don’t have very many of those days. Most of the time, I am tired or discouraged or lacking direction. Knowing that those “do it every day habits” do a lot more than just check off a box puts the idea of doing the little things in a whole new light.

I think my new motto is now this: Saddle up anyway because small habits don’t add up. They compound.