We all have certain expectations that we set for ourselves. Expectations on how we should behave, what we should be doing, the success we should be having or the failure that we should be avoiding.
Who sets the measure for all these outcomes? Who is to say what is success and what is deemed as failure? And why is it that the answer to all of these questions is so powerful that they can make us jump for joy or have us falling apart.
We all live our lives by what we perceive to be the right thing to do and to achieve. Our actions become measurements of who we are as human beings and the outcomes determine our worth in this world.
Let’s take our equestrian sport for example. We all have certain expectations of ourselves and on how we should be riding. What level we should be competing at and often we doubt if we are in fact worthy of our horses, or if the horse would be better off with someone else who could get much more out of them than we can. We feel like a failure when we don’t achieve the success we feel we should, given the talent of our horses and the experience of our trainer and coach. Many riders hide at home out of fear of what might happen when they are out there in the public eye as they worry about not being able to live up to the expectations of themselves and others. The question I want to ask you is this, how often has your horse taken you aside and whispered in your ear “if you don’t pull your fi nger out I am going to walk out on you, you are a disgrace and I feel ashamed of being ridden by you.”? Or how many times did your horse tell you in no uncertain terms that he/she is far too talented to be wasting their time with you? Has your horse ever threaten that he/she will go on a hunger strike if you don’t compete them at a certain level, in a certain time frame, and that indeed they expect you to go out competing at least every second weekend, and they expect you the rider to ride well enough so that they get placed otherwise they will die of shame?
Now please answer my questions truthfully. Has that ever happened or does it just exist in your mind?
Now if your horses are anything like mine they are in fact only interested in getting fed on a regular basis, having fresh water and shelter, the occasional human contact depending on what that contact is going to do with them and going for a casual ride is far more enjoyable then being dragged into a fl oat in the early hours of the morning, taken to a new place and thrown into a competition atmosphere that is often stressful and scary. We need to get these scenarios out of our head and get back to reality. I am not saying don’t go out competing and only go trail riding. I am just saying let’s put everything back into perspective.
For most riders riding is a sport and pleasure, something they want to do in their free time to get personal enjoyment for themselves and their equine friend. Let’s make sure you keep this as your number one goal. We have so much stress in our lives due to fi nances, expectations at work and sometimes our relationships and family included. Most riders don’t make a living out of competing professionally. Horses should remain a special friend, one that you can tell your biggest secrets, your most precious dreams, just like you used to when you were a child.When did all of this stop and when didwe get too old for this and when didhorses become too well bred to listen toour problems? Most of us were drawnto horses because of their magic. Doyou remember that fi rst day you saton a horse’s back and was it all aboutwinning or being the best? Don’t getme wrong I am not saying competing orthriving for success is a bad thing. I ampurely asking what price do you want toput on it. Our fragile self esteem is testedon a daily basis with challenges thatcome to us in this crazy but beautifulworld that we are living in, do we want toinclude our riding in this emotional rollercoaster as well? Or would it be betterto be kind to yourself and your horseand make your number one priority tolearn from your equine friend the most important lessons? Love, forgiveness and being in the moment!
As I am writing this I am refl ecting on my continuous journey, where I have been and where I am going. The lessons learned and the lessons not yet understood. My horses keep me grounded and I can always rely on their honest feedback and for that I am grateful. For you my readers, I encourage you to take time to refl ect on your journey as well. Be ambitious and thrive for the best, yet practice forgiveness on yourself and enjoy the ride along the way. Sometimes things seem so serious at fi rst and then it takes a while to understand the real value of the experience