We are days away from our first Team WPH circuit show of the season. There is excitement in the air and our Team has been practicing hard in preparation. You’ve maybe read the quote by Bobby Knight which states, “The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” Have you read the rest of that quote? “Everyone wants to win but not everyone wants to prepare to win. Preparing to win is where the determination that you will win is made. Once the game or test or project is underway, it is too late to prepare to win. The actual game, test, or project is just the end of a long process of getting ready, in which the outcome was really determined. So, if you want to win, you must want to prepare to win. Once you prepare to win, winning is almost anti-climactic.”
When you have decided to prepare, then make the effort, what happens when you get to the show or performance and things go wrong? Please don’t let those moments (and they WILL happen) take away from what you have put into your practice and planning, nor take away from what you are striving to achieve.
A friend on Facebook wrote “The in-between moments are what matter the most. The moments in which you’re laughing so hard tears come out of your eyes. The moments in which you’re enjoying yourself so much that nothing else matters, even if it’s just temporary. These small in-between moments that may seem insignificant, those are the ones that matter the most when you look back.”
This is a “why we do it” that many horse show-goers crave and love. Life is about relationships and living in the in-between moments. Running a great pattern in the show pen is about the relationship you have with your horse. You are trusting each other. You are in a moment of exhilaration (or maybe fear) that you won’t get back after that pattern ends.
· Learn to prepare.
· Learn to love the in-between moments.
Preparing will give you confidence in knowing your and your horse’s abilities and inabilities. Recognizing and accounting for inabilities is particularly important. Understand that, even with all the right preparation, performances can have different results; experience will come and bring with it better preparation, better understanding, better outcomes.
Running a pattern may bring out fear for some and that’s OK. Emotions help us learn more. Use each time you ride your horse - in the practice arenas, on the trails, at shows - to take mental notes (or physical notes – get a notepad). Learn from each experience. Don’t hide from problems that arise with your horse. I made a quick video post about this on our media accounts that you can reference.
Seek out help where you need it. Maybe you need to build confidence. That’s OK. State it; find a way to embrace how to overcome it. Maybe you need help with timing for the stop. State it; find a way to embrace how to overcome it. That may be utilizing a trainer or getting on your horse more often and practicing.
Whatever it is that you need to work on, once you do work on it and feel you may be getting it, I guarantee something else will go wrong. And then, once you work on that, the original problem may be back. It’s an ebb and flow, a diaphragm in a sense, of the process of working with horses. Kind of like parenting or marriage. LOL
You work on building the relationship, trust, confidence, understanding, awareness, then you repeat for the rest of the relationship. Many horse training articles seem to be on the mechanics or have a theme of “just do this...” and it will “fix” your problem. I don’t believe that, and I don’t push that onto my students or in my program.
Horses are not vehicles you can put “in the shop”, get the quick fix, and go drag racing the next day and the next day and the next day, expecting the same outcomes.
Change the mindset and have realistic expectations for what you want out of your experiences with your horse, at shows, on the trails, anywhere.
Preparing for every possible scenario is not feasible nor practical. The best you can do is to know yourself, learn and know your horse, enjoy the process and the in-between moments, and keep practicing. Practice the right things.
Don’t get me wrong, winning is fun and the icing on the cake. But the cake still has sugar in it, and we eat cake because it has sugar in it - and it is celebratory. Celebrate the small wins. Celebrate your time in the saddle and the simplicity that it brings. Celebrate the friendships you’ve made and delicious cake you may share together. (hint for a Team WPHer to bring cake to a show 😉) Celebrate that you ran a pattern and did well or won! Celebrate that you got through a pattern and didn’t want to cry from being scared to death OR celebrate your courage of being scared and completing your pattern anyway.
You have chosen to have horses in your life for a reason.
Thanks for letting me share some thoughts, again.