Caitlin Burgess – the perfect Instagram life isn’t real

After coming back from the Europeans it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things.   

The European Championships is something that I have wanted to do from the moment that I sat on Stan for the first time 6 ½ years ago so for it to actually have happened and to be over now feels like I’ve lost something. For the last 6 ½ years all the hard work, dedication and motivation needed has been to get us to this point and now that end goal which has given me the drive to keep going through everything is now gone and I found myself questioning whether I even wanted to do it anymore. 

Fortunately for me I have no option of just not doing the horses or not going to work so I have had to find the motivation to get up and ride the horses, which sounds ridiculous because I am so lucky to be in the position to not only have my own but also work with them. What once was a dream is my reality but it still doesn’t make it any easier when you don’t have something to strive towards and feel like you’re falling out of love with a sport you have dedicated so much time to.


However, whilst making myself get the horses tacked up and ridden, they start to remind you why you do this sport. I have the best trio I could ever want and to be back riding the youngsters after a short break is such a great feeling, it is so rewarding to ride a horse you have backed yourself and I find myself smiling for the tiniest reasons. 

Written down it seems these thoughts just come and go but since coming back from Spain they have been stuck in my head and it has been an internal battle to get away from them. Social Media is also a horrible thing to be stuck on scrolling through photos of people ‘happy’ living this ‘perfect’ life when all you want to do is give up and leave it all. After coming back, I didn’t feel happy or proud or anything you expect to feel after achieving something you have worked so hard for, it’s a stressful experience and it wasn’t easy with Stan coming off the lorry stiff and sore so in the days leading to the Vet Check all I wanted to do was come home with my horse and carry on as we were. We were also so lucky to have such an incredible team around us to help and support us and get us through the week.

Stan was incredible and he gave me absolutely everything he had, I owe him the world and I must exaggerate nothing to do with what I have spoken about is aimed at him at all. It is purely at myself and how easy it is to get stuck in thoughts that can spiral out of control.  

Most of you will know he failed the second vet check; I was obviously devastated but more so as he was completely sound. So now you think through your head everything you could have done in the run up to that trot up that would have led to a different outcome of course there is nothing but there wasn’t any explanation given and therefore you just end up thinking it around in your head. At the end of the day, I had a sound horse who had been checked and given the all clear by two vets and that was the main thing. In my head though just more confusion and anger of why it had to happen there on that day to us that you just have to forget about and move on. 

With the Olympics being on it has also been a great escape to sit, watch and be inspired all over again just like I was when I started doing Dressage after London 2012. To not only watch the Dressage but all the other sports was a really big boost in motivation, something I really needed! I’m looking forward to watching the Paralympics and to especially watch my good friend Suzanne Hext compete in the swimming. She has been a huge inspiration with me from even before I knew and worked with her at The Talland school of Equitation. 


Stanley has had a nice time off in the field and is now keeping fit hacking up onto Sailsbury plain before I pick him up again ready for the nationals and then to have a play with some more of the GP work! We still have next year in Young Riders but in the next coming months, we will see what he thinks of the GP work but at the end of the day I’m not going to push it If it doesn’t feel right, he owes me absolutely nothing and my main priority is that he is happy and healthy both Mentally and Physically.  

The Plan is to take Pie out more over the next few months to get his confidence up in the arena and to get his qualification done for the winter regionals before starting to progress him up to the next level. Since having some time off he has come back feeling more than good, I’m really excited to see how far we can go together, he is an incredibly talented horse with an incredible attitude.  Fabs will be coming up for sale soon as unfortunately I am just too big for her, I have been wishing for her to grow as she has the most amazing temperament and is going to be a super horse for someone, she has so much talent and I think she will be a great horse for the future.  


I wanted to write this to show that the perfect Instagram life isn’t real, everyone experiences and deals with things differently, everyone gets stuck in these holes in every sport and it’s just about finding a reason to carry on, remembering why you started and why you do it before being able to find the motivation to get back on and keep going. It’s all worth it in the end!