I’m a self-proclaimed crazy horse girl. I took three years off to pursue a career in eventing and spent that time training at the Olympic facility with a number of the American and Canadian team riders. Eventing is a tough sport. They say, no matter how much you love it, it’ll never love you back just as much. While horses have taught me a lot, I thank the sport of eventing and my time as a working student for a lot of the public relations skills I’ve brought to the table. These skills might not be technical, they make me trainable. Eventing has engrained a mentality into me that exudes into every project I take on. In a way, eventing taught me everything I need to have a future in public relations.
A deadline is a deadline. There’s no negotiating or thinking I’ll get it done later. In the eventing world, the deadlines are pretty tight. If you don’t leave on time, you risk kissing your entry fee good bye. Miss your jog or dressage time, you might get eliminated. If you don’t find the time to get everything done, your day simply isn’t over until everything is finished. The horse world teaches you how to get shit done. Buckle down, find the time, and figure out a way. You can do it, if not…you better die trying.
No excuses. No one cares if you’re sick, have a cramp, or broke your wrist. In the horse world, excuses don’t exist. Your horse certainly doesn’t care why you’re late or screwing up more than usual today. You might think your trainer would care. Though, if you think that, you’re probably wrong. No one wants to hear your excuses. Furthermore, no one cares. You either make it happen or you don’t.
It’s ok to fail. As an eventer, you get pretty good at falling off. Of course, we don’t mean to, but it wouldn’t be the most dangerous sport in the summer Olympics if falling off weren’t a likely probability. It’s ok to mess up sometimes, it’s inevitably going to happen. Learn from your mistakes and try not to make the same ones twice. Take a risk, make mistakes, learn everything you can from those mistakes. Failing is a key part of learning and improving your skills.
Allow criticism to build you up. Not everything you do will be perfect. Honestly, a lot of what you may think is great others may perceive to be mediocre at best. Seek constructive criticism in everything you do. There are times when I think I’m having the ride of my life, only to have my trainer pick everything apart. Guess what? That’s great! Imagine how good things will be when I manage to learn and apply what I was just told. Channeling that mentality into my public relations work has been one of my most valuable skills. Instead of becoming defeated, use criticism to improve your skills.
You don’t have to be the best. Most likely, you’re never going to be the very best. That’s perfectly alright. Focus on being your best. Unlike many sports, eventing allows for you to compete against yourself. Sure, there’s placings and whoever has the lowest score wins, but for most of us that’s not the point. Every time I step in the ring, I don’t care about where my round will leave me in the rankings. I do care about outdoing my last performance and having a better weekend than I did my last event. This is a mentality to take into the workplace. If you work on outdoing yourself and you’ll find that the results will fall into their place over time.
Above all, eventing taught me tough love. Some days everything comes together and you’re on top of the world. There are other days you’re falling apart, sometimes literally. My undergraduate journey may be approaching its end, but I will always be a student. I am a student of eventing and the harsh realities that come with the sport. I am a student of a sport where hard work can make dreams come true. I am a student of the public relations industry, which is known to be continuously evolving. I will always be a student because I want to be better than I was yesterday.
While eventing or public relations may never love me back, I can’t imagine life without them. The daily lessons I learn continue to push me to be the best version of myself I can.