I’ve asked myself that question a lot since I came to Pennsylvania. It’s been hard for me adjusting to this new system of riding and thinking that I’ve been immersed in. I think it’s because I was so in tune with the atmosphere and philosophy back home.
Lately I’ve seen so many people who ride to compete. It’s all about getting the job done and getting that ribbon. They pay a lot of money to have their horse on full training board. They go out and ride once a week maybe twice if the stars line up. They have two or three horses at two different barns, and they just don’t have time for them. I don’t understand that. Why waste your money?
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I need to be better about riding everyday. It’s easy to fall into the I’mTooTired/It’sTooHot/IHaveABoneInMyLeg mindset of nothing but excuses. That is where your goals and discipline have to come in. Your discipline keeps you riding without stirrups. Your discipline pushes you out into the rain to do what little you can on the bad footing because it’s better than nothing. Your discipline pushes you to be the person who has to shut the lights of at the ring because everyone else has left.
I’ve done all of those things. And not because I had someone expecting me to do it. Not because someone was constantly pressuring me. Not because I felt that I was a professional and should work the hardest because of the moniker and because someone was waiting for me to make their horse better. I did it because I wanted to improve myself and my horse even when everyone else thought I was crazy for putting that time in.
And I didn’t have competition goals. My goals were more like “I want to get her to trot promptly from my leg with very little pressure” or “I want her to be more balanced in the bridle so that she doesn’t hang on me.” And I found my solutions on my own. They weren’t spoon fed to me or even force fed to me. I looked for answers and I found them. I spent free time 100% focused on improving. That’s the part I like so much. It’s the mental game. I like to spend all of my extra time and energy to come up with a solution. When you analyze your riding and your horse that much, you get more out of every ride you have. And when someone tells you that “your horse looks good” or “you’ve done a good job with that mare” or later on down the road “you had her going the best I’ve ever seen her,” then it’s all worth it. It’s worth what temporary discomfort you may feel. It’s worth all the thrown shoes, skin fungi, and late night feedings.
It’s the journey not the ending that matters. That’s something I’ve always known. But sometimes you get caught up looking for something bigger and better, when you’ve always had what you were looking for. I just needed to learn how to appreciate what I had, and respect it so when my resolve falters (as it inevitably will) I can gather myself up and push on again.
So Lego and I are pushing for the Novice Three Day in October. It’s a lofty goal. We’ll have set backs. But, more than making it to the competition I want to be fully invested in my horse again. If I can get that back and maintain it, the three day will just be icing on a Lego-sized cake.