Lessons Learned from Competition: Skills that Horseshows Teach Us
Riding competitively has taught me so many amazing lessons that apply to so much more than just horses! I don’t care if you compete locally or on the A circuit, any type of new and competitive environment will do wonders for your riding, and help to teach you important skills you can apply to life in general. Here’s why I think riding competitively is so good for equestrians:
- Accountability & Goal-Oriented Practice
When working towards a competition, we tend to buckle down & really dig into our practice. Whether this is for the end goal of winning a blue ribbon or just not embarrassing ourselves in public, it helps push us to be the best we can be. I know that having a goal in my mind keeps me totally on track, and super motivated to get to the barn and work on the hard stuff.
- Navigating Disappointment
I’ll tell you one thing that is guaranteed when you go to a horseshow – at some point you’ll be at least a tiny bit disappointed in your performance. But this is actually a great thing, because it teaches us how to handle setbacks. Life is all about how you bounce back from the mistakes, right? Shows are a great test for this – you can learn how to pull yourself together after a not-so-great round and get back into that ring with a clean slate. Being able to not let one mistake ruin your day takes a lot of mental strength!
- Root for Others’ Success
We all know that you lose a hell of a lot more than you win in this sport. Because of that, we’ve become so accustomed to rooting for others. What an amazing skill for life in general, right?! Everyone has their time to win, and we know that next time, it could be us. No bad karma here!
- Identify Weaknesses
Being thrown into a new, competitive environment makes most of us nervous. The great thing is that this will quickly show us where we need improvement in our riding & horsemanship skills. I’ve found that horseshows are the best way to start the improvement process. When nerves and other distractions enter the mix, and you’re riding more on instinct, you won’t be able to cover up those flaws in your training. This is a great thing, because now you know exactly what to go home and work on. For example, I can stay straight and balanced over my horse when we jump at home. But take me to a show and all of a sudden, I’m ducking to the right in the air anticipating the turn after the jump. Now I know that this is something I need to practice until it becomes second nature!
- Work as a Team
Where else do you get the kind of camaraderie that you find around horseshows? Waking up at the crack of dawn, working together to get horses & riders to the ring in one piece, and then sharing dinner (and probably drinks) once all the chores are done? The whole process is such a team effort. It doesn’t matter if you’re showing at the schooling show around the corner or spending the winter at WEF. We can’t do this solo, and a win in the ring means a win for the entire support team as well.