Sunday, May 29, 2016

The 5 Stages of Getting Over A Really Bad Ride

Welp, this isn't a happy post, y'all.   I think I wouldn't be so hard on myself if I had truly done my best and had a clean ride and still lost--the competition was tough.   It's been a tough few weeks, and an even tougher weekend.   So here you go, people.  Here's how you get over a bad ride.

1. Cry.  Yep.  I've done that a lot this weekend.  No shame here.  Here is a list of all of the things I have cried about this weekend:
             1. Feeling like I let myself down.
             2. Feeling like I let my friends down.
             3. Feeling like I disappointed my instructor and that she will never want to coach me again because it isn't worth it.
             4. When I remembered all the bad things I did in front of the judge in both classes.
             5. Feeling embarrassed about #5.
             6. Thinking about what my instructor said after the class which also made me feel sad.
             7. Feeling like I will never be good enough or prepared enough.
             10. Wondering which horse I will have to ride next
             11. Thinking that nationals will probably not happen this year after my crapstorm debut.
             12. Knowing that no matter what anyone says, it WAS my fault.
             13. Knowing that I didn't do my best, no matter what anyone says.
             14. Thinking that I might have moved up to the WTC division too soon.
             15. Feeling bad because I blamed the horse for things that were my fault.
             16. Wishing that I had my own stupid horse to ride all the time for consistency
             17.  Feeling that all of the money and time that I spent was a waste.
2. Analyze.  What did you do differently that day?   I will tell you, I will never wear mismatched socks again. Did you visualize the ride?   Did you mentally and physically prepare yourself?   How did you warm up?   One thing I know was different is that because the classes were structured a little odd, I only got to trot around the warm-up ring once before going int he class.   I didn't get to canter, and I really felt unprepared (even though I shouldn't have been).

3. Take ownership.  Did the horse stop cantering?  what were you doing to ensure the next step was a canter? I admit, I don't think I was that focused. Did you pick up the wrong diagonal or the wrong lead?   It wasn't the horse's fault--you didn't pay attention enough to set him (or yourself) up correctly.  As much as we think so, the horses aren't out to get us.   We have to stop blaming others, blaming the weather, blaming the horse, and blaming the judge.  we need to look to ourselves to be better.  
4. Remember that you got EXACTLY what you paid for.  Not once on the sign-up sheet did it say that I was guaranteed anything.  The fee that I paid included board, transport, and entry and coaching fees. Ribbons are not included in this cost.  Remember that you are paying money for someone to judge you and rank you among the others in the group.

5. Ride. To be honest, I am not at that stage yet.  Right now, I think I am in stage 3 or 4, but I don't really know if I am ready to ride again.  I work on Tuesday, and even then I might not ask to ride.   This is the toughest thing to do.  Even when you do well at a show, the first ride back is always the hardest.   I am not sure why I feel this way, but it is especially tough to get back on and sit up straight and do it all over again.   But you do.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

While you are saying "I CAN'T," someone else is saying "I CAN".

Let's just start this out by saying this:  I had a horrible ride on Thursday.  I mean, the kind that make you cry in the car on the way home, and question why you are even putting yourself though all of the stress in the first place.   I usually look forward to my Saturday morning shift at the barn, but even I was dreading it today.   I was in such a bad mood, I didn't even want to think about anything with hooves.

But I went to work anyway.  And somewhere along the way, I realized that I can choose to mope and blame the weather, or the horse, or the saddle, or my own (perceived) inabilities.  I absolutely have the freedom to choose to say "I can't".   No one is forcing me to do anything.   

But everyone has their own struggle.   Maybe it is a horse that won't walk, or a horse that will really only get the correct lead 60% of the time.  Struggles can be personal, like health  or family issues.   Either way, everyone is fighting some sort of a battle.  

So you can choose to say "I can't".   You can choose to say that the struggle is too great to overcome.  

But somewhere, someone else is looking at that same struggle and is saying "I can".   

By saying "I can", you do not guarantee yourself success.   By believing in yourself, you are not guaranteed the blue ribbon ride.   Sometimes, that horse will pick up the wrong lead in front of the judge.  It happens.   

But by saying "I can", you are giving yourself permission to succeed.  You are saying to yourself that success is possible, and even probable.   You are allowing yourself to dream bigger than before.   

And so I said "I can" today, and decided to ride that same horse that I rode two days ago.  I didn't want to wait until my normal lesson tomorrow, because I didn't want this negativity to take up any more of my time.   

And I succeeded.   It wasn't perfect, but it was a vast improvement from a couple of days ago.  but I succeeded because I gave myself permission to do so.  I didn't let the "I can't" take control.   

Does this mean that I will only be blessed with good rides?   Probably not.   I can guarantee that at some point between now and the show I will come galloping through the center of the ring just trying to keep my life together.   But I can guarantee that I will also have good rides, too.  

Because right now, the only four words in my vocabulary are:
                 I can.   
                 Whoa, walk.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Three Reasons Why Dreams Are Different As Adults

We have lost a little of the "magic".   I think, as a child, I imagined that one day I would wake up on Christmas morning and find a horse in my front yard.  I spent years playing pretend in my yard and begging my parents over and over again.  I did get a horse (finally) when I was younger, and it was everything I had hoped for.   Unfortunately, I gave up riding for a long time (over eight years) after his passing.  Coming back as an adult, the "magic" and possibilities are now so severely limited.  There is no one to buy me a horse for Christmas, and no more "surprises".   In a way, that is a good thing, because I don't waste my time on dreams I know won't happen, but it still is much different than those big-eyed children that frolic through the barn happily dreaming of Christmas ponies. 

Everything seems so "pressing" right now, because we know that each ride could be our last.   As adults, our bodies are older, more worn out.   We know that there are so many life obstacles and events that could take away this dream in an instant.   We count the rides, and savor each moment.   We know that at any time, this dream could be over.   We force ourselves to try to advance quickly, ride as many horses as possible, just in case we never get to do this again.   

We feel guilty for sacrificing for our dream.  We have bills to pay, families to support, repairs to complete on our homes, the list goes on and on.   There are times when we see how much time and money we have spent and we feel guilty for doing it.  We sacrifice time with our own families to practice, work, and show.  We wonder why we are even here in the first place.  

But the beautiful thing is that, despite all of these obstacles...

we do still dream.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Adults Need Horse Show Moms Too

I am an adult.

Yes, I know I look like one of the little teen barn children as I bounce through the barn, laughing and joking, but I am an adult.   I have a job, I pay bills, I take care of my house.   I am, altogether, independent.  

However, this flies out the window once I get to a show.  I read somewhere that "the brain is a miraculous thing... It starts working from the moment it is developed until the time you enter the show ring".  I think it should be revised to "...until you reach the horse show grounds", because it seems like we are all rushing like mad and forgetting things and making bad decisions out of anxiousness, excitement, and plain fear.  

Thankfully, many barns (including mine) have their share of horse show moms.  You know, the ones sporting their child's name on the back of a tie-dye t-shirt or the ones faithfully lugging a blinged-out show trunk.  These are the moms that wake at unreasonable hours and endure summers in the long, hot sun.   These are the moms that would do anything for their child.  

But these are also the moms who "adopt" us older riders.  They are the ones who notice us in the corner, nervous and unsure.  They share tips and tricks, and make us feel welcome.   They are also the ones who help us tape our gloves and boots, and repair those pesky helmet straps or straighten our ties.  They cheer for us when we win, and comfort us when we lose.  

And what is miraculous is that they don't have to do any of this.  We are not their children.  There is nothing "at stake" for them if we win or lose.   But they do it because they are the "real" horse show moms, the caretakers of the barn.

So here's to all of you moms who go out of your way for us older riders and make us feel like one of your own.

We love ya!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Stop making EXCUSES and start making OPPORTUNITIES

I think there is this notion that opportunities are given to us and that there is nothing we can do to control these events that seem to happen by chance.   So many times we spend our time making excuses for ourselves that we fail to see the opportunities right in front of our faces.  I read a quote once from Thomas Edison, which reads:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

This is true, even in a barn environment.   You want an opportunity?  Work for it!   Come to the barn.  You are ten times more likely to find an “opportunity” at the barn than you are at home on the couch.   This doesn’t mean you need to spend money to ride.   Come out and help with pony parties, offer to clean tack, come out and watch your friend ride, or groom your favorite horse.  Offer your help without expectation of something in return.  

One Saturday, a few weeks ago I was working my morning shift.   One rider rode SIX TIMES in just one day.   And I am sure the haters will begin to hate and complain and make excuses. They always do.  But what a lot of people don’t know is that rider tacked up, bathed, and cared for all of those horses except the one or two she was scheduled to ride.   She didn’t expect anyone else to do it for her.  She didn’t make excuses as to why she couldn’t.   SHE made the opportunity for herself.    I am not saying that we all can ride six times in one day (wouldn’t we all love to?), but we need to understand that opportunities come from hard work, instead of by chance.  

Another rider “caught” a ride on a really cool horse last year, and ended up winning the class after only riding the horse for (I think) a total of fifteen minutes.   Again, it is easy to say something along the lines of “well if I had ____ horse I would win too”, but the truth of the matter is that this rider worked hard to be one of the best in the barn, and she makes it look pretty effortless.   She didn’t “accidentally” win the class.

So, stop making excuses for yourself.   These are just barriers between you and your dreams.   Come out to the barn, volunteer, work hard, and improve your own mind and body.  

So put on those overalls and make opportunities for yourself

...and you will succeed.