This year’s show season has got me in something of a self-reflective state, and thus pondering the value of humility and the occasional need for a swift kick in the derrière.
We’ve all heard the old adage you win some, you lose some – we all know what it feels like to “get the gate” from a class in which we deserved to pin, and by the same token haven’t we all graciously excepted a blue ribbon from a class or two we most certainly didn’t deserve?
At the end of a long and hard-worked show career, one will inevitably cancel out the other and when all is said and done, we can assume that in spite of the ribbons amassed (or not as the case may be) we’ll have managed to retain a sense of what truly mattered from the culmination of those individual experiences . . . or can we?
Naturally competitive, occasionally to a fault, I’ll often find myself overly caught up in the competition and admittedly the “win” aspect of horse shows. I have caught myself growing arrogant over past wins, coveting the prestige of future wins and all too often I find myself forgetting that the competition itself is really only one piece of a much larger pie.
I had a particularly frustrating experience this past summer, during a Regional Championship show in which I was competing with my Half-Arabian working hunter. Cisco and I had swept our division the year prior and thus, though I’m loathe to admit it, I entered this year’s show with a few overblown “expectations” in place.
Previous victories aside, however, and despite undeniably clean and solid rounds, we were quite effectively snubbed when it came to the final judgings. Having worked as hard as we had throughout the year, even improving upon the performances of previous years I left the show feeling deflated, immensely frustrated and outright bitter.
Though admittedly, it took a few days to calm the frustration and brush away the enormous chip I’d allowed to settle on my shoulder, when I took a good moment to reflect upon the show, the years of work we’d put into our training, the span of Cisco’s career thus far and the potential of it going forward, the seething bitterness I’d felt over the results of this one show, one minor stop in a journey so far from completion, struck me as just plain childish and imprudent.
I realized too that my indignation over the situation stemmed not from the fact that we had been snubbed in the judging, but instead from the perceived “injustice” that a victory I felt should have been ours had gone to someone else. In that moment of realization I was hit with a wave of burning shame at my overblown pride, the petty nature of my small-minded selfishness and the absolute arrogance in the assumption that somehow we “deserved” to win above all others.
Additionally, though I’d acknowledged that Cisco had worked well for me, I was appalled at my failure to truly respect his job well done and to appreciate the years of effort that we had, together, put in to simply getting as far as we have today. Mostly, though, I was disappointed in myself for, somewhere along the way, allowing myself to lose the sense of humility that had once been a steadfast aspect of my character.
In this gross lapse of clarity I had failed to remember that merely to own this horse, to ride him and to show at this level of competition is a privilege in itself and one not afforded to many. Nature, I think, has a way of humbling us when we need it the most and need it, I most certainly did! I consider myself fortunate, though, to have recognized it of my own accord!
As I look forward now, to a winter full of training and another show season just on the horizon, I go at it with a renewed – and significantly lighter – sense of perspective. It is my honor to own Cisco, a privilege to ride him and I truly consider it a blessing to be given the opportunities to compete with him whatever the outcome of our placings.