Hoofs pounding, hearts racing, adrenaline pumping. This is how I feel every time my horses hoof lands in the deep footing of a horse show ring. Before this moment, there were months of preparation. To understand the meaning of rhythm, and how each step comes closer to becoming one with the horse. Before this moment of being completely in sync with my horse comes preparation and hard work, not only is there an intense amount of work put into this moment, there is also a large amount of character that is needed to get there.
Perfection. As riders we are all told to strive for perfection. I personally hear this saying multiple times a week from my instructors. Often times it is easy to brush off, because it is a cliche. This should not matter, even if perfection is completely out of reach. As a rider striving for perfection, this means more than having the nicest horse, it means bettering yourself to become a rider that can take on any task given to them. Whether this task be a difficult pattern, or riding a five-gaited horse. Each time that your foot steps into the stirrup, you should want to become a better rider, and to learn something new, even if you are on the old horse who just hangs out in the pasture.
It’s okay. Even though we should strive for perfection every time we are at the barn, this means that it is still okay to mess up. Learning to not beat yourself up, and to move on is one of the most important qualities a rider can acquire. Often times when we mess up, we want to give up. Don’t. Giving up is the worst option that is out there. If your horse does not want to pick up a canter, keep trying. By giving up you are telling not only yourself that you can’t achieve your goal, but you are also telling your horse. To push through the struggle will make you not only a better rider, but it will also make you understand the importance of believing in both yourself and your horse.
Stay humble. We all go through phases where we feel that we are better than another rider, or maybe our horse is better than the next one. This can become an all the time thought. I am not immune to it, and no other rider is. We have to remember that when we win a class, it is fun and exciting, and we should celebrate, but we also have to remember that there were still many other talented riders in the ring with us, and we should be thankful for that moment, because it might not happen again. I always think of this as climbing a mountain. It is hard to get to the top, and once you are up there, enjoy the view, but remember gravity is pulling you down, and you might fall and stumble a few times.