We all want success and we want it now. We’ve been trained to “reach for the stars”, set big goals and expect more of ourselves. We expect so much of ourselves and our horses. Have you ever said (even to yourself),
“I should be better than this!”
Really? Maybe you shouldn’t be. Maybe you are right where you should be. Maybe where you think you should be is simply wishful thinking. Replace the phrase “should be” with “wish I was” …
- “I wish I was better than this.”
- “I wish I was able to …”
- “I wish I wasn’t so …”
Or maybe that “I should be” is really a disguise for that self-defeating old mantra that whispers quietly “I’m not good enough”.
What are you basing your opinion that you “should be …” on? Who are you comparing yourself to?
There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to riding. Your results – where you are now – come from not only your physical ability, your competency and your confidence level, but also from your horse’s ability, level of training and confidence.
There is a reason that successful people (you know the ones at the horse shows that always seem to be in the top 3 placings and get Champion awards in not one but multiple classes) do so well. They put in the hours. If they haven’t done it themselves then someone else has put the hours into their horse so they can just sit up there, look pretty and – as long as they stay out of the horse’s way – win.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers”, people who become really good at something – really master it – have spent at least 10000 hours working on that particular thing. Ten Thousand Hours! That’s about 3 hours a day for 10 years. So, if you have been riding for 10 years, but only 1 hour a week, you have only put in about 520 hrs (1 hr x 52 wk x 10 yr). That’s being generous and assuming you didn’t miss a single hour in any year because of illness, injury, vacations, holidays, etc.
This is not to say that you need to put 10,000 hours into your riding to become good at it – unless you want to be competitive at the highest levels of the sport. But, it puts into perspective the amount of time needed to develop a particular level of skill.
Chances are slim to none that you will progress very far in developing mastery of any skill if you only put in 1 hour of practice a week. Now lots of people enjoy a weekly riding lesson and are quite happy to spend that time in the saddle. They don’t want or expect to achieve much more than the connection with the horse.
But, if you want to progress in your training – for personal fulfilment or to achieve ribbons, trophies and recognition in the show ring – the once a week hourly ride is not going to get your there. Most people get discouraged when they feel that they aren’t making progress at the rate they “should” or that they aren’t as good as “her” or “him” or “them”. We are certainly masters at comparing ourselves to others. We’ve all had more than 10000 hours practicing that skill. Even if it doesn’t help us.
When our expectations are not in line with our reality ie. your other commitments & responsibilities don’t allow you to ride 3 -6 hours a week, then you won’t be as successful in the show ring as “that other competitor that wins everything”. Even if you are a pleasure rider, neither your riding skill nor your horse’s training will progress very far or very fast.
You can either be frustrated with yourself, your coach and your horse and keep your expectations. Or, you can adjust your expectations to match the reality of your situation. If the reality is that you can only ride once week, having lower expectations will allow you to enjoy that one ride. The choice is yours … should you decide to make it.
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