Ever feel as if your life is a series of unlucky situations? Sometimes I feel my riding life has been a series of unfortunate events. As a junior I had all the talent in the world, and the horse to match. My maturity and nerves left much of that time wasted, as I crashed and burned out of the hunter jumper world with nothing to show for my time except a lack of confidence and a general distaste for being competitive in the horse world.
Fast forward to growing up and pulling my head out of my butt, I learned that life without horses isn’t much of a life, with or without competing. Maturity and a variety of self-help books gave me the confidence and skills I needed to handle my nerves and ride better at competitions. Still, it seemed back luck always came my way. Injuries right before my most important competitions, silly mistakes keeping me out of the ribbons or landed me in the water complex, people telling me that either myself or my horse wasn’t talented enough to make it. Even with age, it still seemed to be a whirlwind of bad luck and unfortunate happenstance.
Two years ago marked the beginning of that change. I knew that I had to fight through the bad luck. Be better than the situations I ended up in. I wasn’t alone in my bad luck, every equestrian, every human being, gets caught in the same rut and feels like they can’t make it out. The difference is, some people have the fight and the grit to make bad luck into something good. That was the rider, and person, that I needed to become. So, I worked my butt off to become that person. I took my lumps quietly, worked hard, and knew that it would all pay off.
Well, we’ve had quite a few lumps since then. Some I handled with grace, others I muddled through. We moved back up to the preliminary level following a season where we placed top three in almost every training level event. At prelim, we either were in the top of the ribbons or eliminated. At our first CCI 1* attempt, I took a swan dive into the water complex following some unlucky circumstances. When you only make it around half your events, it can be easy to get disheartened.
Following a bittersweet horse show last summer, where one horse was fabulous and the other was…not so fabulous, my friend sent me this quote:
“For riders: It is hard work, takes more time than you have, and requires more money than you thought. You will learn more than you ever thought possible when you began in the sport, but you will never learn it all. You will never be as good as some, but you will probably not be as bad as others if you are willing to work. It is the best thing you could ever do, and even when you fall you learn, and even if you never get a ribbon it is still worth it. Stick it out.” -Brian Sabo.
Out of all the quotes I’ve read lately, this one particularly resonated with me. It’s not about the horse shows. It’s not about the ribbons. It’s not about the bad days or the good days. It’s about the process and sticking it out. Because at the end of the day, all that matters is the connection you have with your horse and enjoying this complicated but wonderful sport.