Regardless of what disciplines you compete in, every equestrian can agree that some of life’s greatest lessons happen in the show ring. Sometimes the lessons learned are tough, but the hardest lessons in life can also be the most meaningful. Here’s some important lessons that I’ve learned from competing.
1) Be humble: On the days that everything comes together perfectly and you take home the coveted blue ribbon, it’s okay to feel proud of your accomplishments, but don’t let pride overcome you. Instead, learn how to embrace thankfulness, and let your coach, family, and friends know how much you appreciate their support. This lesson translates to every aspect of life. Whether you receive your dream job, get a brand new car, or find the perfect home, stay humble by remembering the steps it took to get where you are.
2) Have a plan: A lot of people in this generation like to wing it, but winging it doesn’t always work out. In the show ring, it’s important to always have a plan. Know your pattern. Know where in the arena you will execute the elements of your pattern. In the circumstance that something unforeseen happens in the arena, already have a backup plan established so you remain confident.
3) Stay in your own lane: Horse shows are a great place to learn how to not compare yourself to others. It’s okay to embrace the level that you’re at, whether you’ve been riding for two years or ten years. Maybe you can’t do a lead change as beautifully as a fellow competitor, but what if they train six days a week and have been riding for their entire life? It’s never fair to compare, so just be happy with where you are at and continually work to improve yourself.
4) Be a team player: No one likes the person who can’t congratulate another person’s success. At horse shows and in life, always remember to be uplifting. If someone has a truly great ride and scores higher than you, let them know that they rode beautifully. A little kindness goes a long way!
5) Except defeat with grace: As important as it is to be a team player, it’s just as important to learn how to gracefully lose. Yes, it’s disappointing to not win. Every athlete can agree to that. However, if you change your mentality to “this will either be my greatest victory or my best comeback story” you’ll understand that losing is just temporary.
6) Put your horse first: Out of all of the lessons that you learn at shows, the most important is understanding that your livestock always comes first. If you don’t put your horse first and take care of their needs, it doesn’t matter how much you win. Remember to always appreciate your horse, as they are your partner and your most valuable teammate.
7) Watch how you talk: The words that you speak about yourself greatly influence how you ride in the show ring. If you believe that you won’t place well, there’s a good chance that you won’t place well. Why sideline yourself due to your own negativity? I’ve already mentioned the importance of being positive and encouraging to others on this list, but don’t forget to also uplift yourself!