What Does Success Look Like?


WM BigGirlI was walking a client out of the arena and doing the end-of-lesson list. I talked about the high points of the ride and things that made a positive difference. She has a wonderful young horse who trusts her and they get better every lesson. She told me that over the years, she had never had much success and I was genuinely surprised.

It was a disclaimer of sorts, she affirmed that she wasn’t a giant threat in competitions, but I could tell she loved her horses and enjoyed learning. Like a lot of us, she has worked on her riding for years. Humble and positive- it looks like success to me.

Way back when I started taking riding lessons, I was always comparing myself to other riders. I wanted to know, in some definitive way, where I fit in. To tell the truth, I am in the exact same place now that I was then: somewhere between brilliant and eating dirt. I think on any given day, we’re all right about there.

We are usually our own worst judges. Sometimes the list of challenges and shortcomings is easier to see and the desire to apologize for our horse not being perfect feels like a necessity.

Maybe a good place to begin being successful is to admit we all can’t all be Stephen Peters. There, I said it. That really takes a load off.  Once we let up on comparing ourselves negatively to other riders, success takes a giant stride right towards us.

After we forgive ourselves for our accident of birth, we should consider doing the same for our horses. Some people are forever selling and buying, looking for the perfect horse. I think most horses become perfect when we start to call them that; they certainly reflect everything bad we think of them. Why not perfection?

Sometimes we court failure by believing that if we had more money we could buy that thing we thing we are lacking. If that was true, Donald Trump would be riding for us in the Olympics. Pause here; just the image of that in your head is an attitude adjustment.

Because horses are a great equalizer. You can buy the horse, and the tack and all the extras, but the one thing you can’t buy is the ride. Partnership is not for sale, trust can only be given as a gift, in gratitude.

Do you want success with your horse in 2013? Start simple; remember how you felt about horses way back when you started. If that feeling isn’t still in your heart and all you can do is complain about money, you have my sympathy.

But if that horse-crazy girl is still there, that’s success. If you can walk into the barn and feel your heart expand, that’s success. If watching your horse run in turnout still takes your breath away, that’s success.

“Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  ― Willa Cather.

Passion and a positive thought are free, and when used generously, success with your horse is an obstacle to large to avoid. See success as a tendency, more than a destination and you are there already.

Are my standards of success too broad? Prove it.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.


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