Don't Let Them Outwork You
I took this photo at 7:59pm tonight on my way out to the ring with my horse. After a long day of running summer camp followed by teaching lessons, I really did not feel up to riding her, but I knew I needed to. And we didn’t have a nice relaxing sunset ride. No, we worked on things and we worked hard.
I see kids all the time who have it all: the nice horse, the supportive family, the knowledgeable trainer, the natural talent, but they lack drive and grit. They do the minimum. They do what’s easy. They get complacent. Then they’re disappointed when they don’t come home from the show with an armful of blue ribbons or someone had the audacity to be better than them.
When I was a kid, I wasn’t just hungry - I was insatiable. I studied pictures of the best kids in the country and I practiced endlessly until my position looked like theirs. I videoed my rides (even if I had to just set the camera on a chair or fencepost) and scrutinized them. I watched the other riders in my division at shows, and the divisions above mine, and figured out what I needed to do better. When I got to ride extra horses, I didn’t just hack around; I rode without stirrups and sat the trot and practiced what was hard. There were tons of kids who had nicer horses, rode at bigger barns, had more money, but I would be damned if I let them outwork me.
If you’re perfectly happy doing what you’re doing, this message isn’t for you. But if you’re going to go to the show and be disappointed in your ribbons, or you’re going to complain about someone being better than you or moving up faster than you, then consider this your neon sign to WORK. HARDER. Ride for longer and more often. Practice what’s hard - really hard. Analyze your videos not just for cute screenshots but for your weaknesses. Drop your stirrups. Sit the trot. Watch the kids that are winning the finals. Watch the riders in your division that are beating you, not out of jealousy but out of a desire to learn and be better. Ask questions. Sit in on other people’s lessons. Stop talking and just listen. It’s not enough to want it. It’s about what you DO that matters. It’s on the other side of “I’m tired” and “I don’t feel like it” and “I’ll do it tomorrow” that improvement really happens.
There will always be people with more money or opportunity than you, but don’t let them outwork you.