Now that horse show season is in full swing, my students are getting excited about all the ribbons they are hoping win. Let's face it, while the experience, enjoyment and education are what it's about, winning IS fun! Now that's not to say that my students don't enjoy themselves regardless but we all enjoy having our name called out in first. That's why this is the time to remember some basic truths about Horse Showing. I have had so many students come out of a class and ask "What did I do wrong?" that they are all going to think that I am writing this because of them. At the show my response is often a short version, because it's obvious that the rider is disappointed and so it's not the time for a lecture. That's why I'm going to give the lecture now.
1) Well, how much have you been riding for the last six months? This is not a judgement, if you want to show and have a good time, great. So have a good time, but understand that if you have not been riding five days a week you can't really expect to be a super star, can you?
2) I know you did not just tell me you should have beat that other horse because it A) missed a lead B)broke gait C) carried it's head to high D) whatever mistake you think it made! You were watching the other horses? Hmmm, next class just ride yours
3) This is the big one! "What did I do wrong?', asked in disappointment and surprise, indicates to me that you are pretty sure that, unless you make a mistake, there is not another horse or rider in world as good as you. Now of course, that's NOT what most students think, they just are not analysing the question that way.
Maybe it was just a higher quality horse, they do exist. Maybe it was a more experienced rider. Even if you HAVE worked you tail off and have a great horse, there are other people out there that have worked hard and have nice horses too.
So I will answer the question with some questions of my own: Did you set realistic goals before the show? Did you do everything in your control to meet those goals? Was this ride better than you last? Did you learn something?.....If the answer to these questions is "Yes", my answer would be -"Not a thing! Great Job!"