Alison Barton posted a blog yesterday which got me thinking….
She’s absolutely right, we’re VERY hard on ourselves. Even those of us who are enjoying lower level competition can run the risk of having it become all consuming. As I’ve often mentioned, most of us aren’t going to the Olympics any time soon. Most of us do this because we love it and spend good chunks of our income supporting our four legged friends. So where does the line become crossed between competing for fun and becoming hell-bent on being ‘better’ at all costs?
I think there’s a lot tied up in how we ‘have’ to be in the world today. We’re expected to climb the ladder at work, achieve high marks in study, be a super-mum, keep your house looking like Martha Stewart’s going to visit, and be a perfect partner. We’re so conditioned to having to be someone or something we sometimes lose sight of why we’re doing the things we love. I often ask people to think about the under 10 year old kids you see at the snow. They’re zooming down the run you’re hoping to get to by the end of the weekend, no stocks, no fear, grins plastered on. If you break your arm or leg at that age there’s no drama….mum drives you to school, people sign your cast, all just a continuation of a fun time really!
Transfer this to yourself as an adult learning to ski. I’m not going to recount my own two attempts as they were fairly pathetic – I do ‘apres-ski’ really well though! As an adult the risks are more serious. If we break an arm or leg there are very real consequences to that, we can’t work, we can’t look after the kids, the list goes on. It’s really hard to have the attitude of the 10 year old kid! The skiing analogy isn’t too far removed from our riding really.
So, how do we capture some of the 10 year old child’s fun, energy and pure joy at what they’re doing? How do we let go of the ‘I must score over x% at the next outing’ and just go out and enjoy ourselves?
I teach many students and it stands to reason that now and then one will hit a roadblock or a horse and rider will get into a tizz over something and the rider feels like it’s a disaster. I’ll often snap a photo of a combination or a few moments of footage on the phone and it’s times like these it’s really useful to pull that out and show the student how much better they’re sitting, how much more the consistently the horse is working, some sort of visual reminder of how far they’ve come over a period of time.
In the relentless powering on through the levels of our chosen discipline it’s so very important to stop now and then and acknowledge how far you’ve come. Take your horse out to do something you both enjoy and remember why you’re doing it, look at old video footage or test scores and comments and BE PROUD! It doesn’t matter how big or small the improvements are!
It’s ok to stop and enjoy just hanging out with your equine friend, healthy even! Spend a bit of time pretending you’re 10 years old again without a care in the world, give it a try at your next competition. Smile and have fun, I promise you your horse will know too!