The seven most important lessons that Eventing will teach you

Eastern Hay 770x170-March


The seven most important lessons that Eventing will teach you

As an eventer you will learn oodles of things about horses and riding. Mastering three different disciplines (dressage, cross-country and show jumping) requires you to learn a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills. As an event horse owner, you will also absorb countless bits of information about horse health. But Eventing will also teach you lessons that go way beyond the barn.

I have been Eventing for over ten years now and during this time, I have experienced many highs and lows in the sport. Although some of these disappointing to downright heartbreaking Eventing moments have taught me valuable lessons. If you are an eventer you probably already have or soon will learn these important lessons:

1) Humbleness is everything: You can be on top of the leaderboard one minute and in the water jump the next. Balance is the key to staying sane in this sport; you can never let your highs get too high or your lows get too low. This carries over to every aspect of your life – school, work, relationships, etc. A cocky attitude will set you up for disappointment and make you look like an ass in the process. Just look at all the most successful and well-liked people around you; they are all humble.

2) Anger is pointless: The top riders in the world have solid control over their emotions, never getting frustrated in the saddle. You can be firm and stand your ground with your horse without any anger involved. If you lose your cool and rage kicks in, you will make zero progress training your horse. In fact, whatever problem upset you in the first place will likely worsen. You have to be calm and rational at all times when you are working with your horse. Anger also has no place when you are interacting with other people. Letting your negative emotions erupt will hinder relationships the same way it would damage your horse’s training. Training horses has made me into a calmer person. Outside of the horse world, this characteristic helps me solve many of life’s challenges.

3) Hard work trumps talent and money: You can have money AND talent coming out of your whazoo but if you do not put substantial effort into training your horses and yourself, a hard-working rider will leave you in the dust. I have had many friends who were significantly more talented than me in the saddle (which is not very hard because I am FAR from a natural rider) but their laziness allowed me to pass them in the long run. Hard work is a must in EVERY aspect of life, not just sports. You can be the next Albert Einstein but if you don’t do your homework, someone who was not born quite as brilliant as you will end up in medical school. Meanwhile, your laziness will score you a minimum wage job. Lacking talent or financial advantages can be disheartening when you see how easy things come to others but trust me if you outwork these people you will outperform them.

4) Only spend money on the things that matter: Riding is an expensive sport. It is tempting to buy the fancy saddle pads, tack, horse trailer and other horsey accessories. But what’s the point of having a flashy trailer to cart a nag around in? Spend your hard-earned money on what will make your more successful long-term, like quality horses and regular riding lessons. Buying expensive things that serve no real purpose is an egotistical waste of money. Using this frugal philosophy with everything you purchase in your life will put you in a better financial situation. You don’t NEED that Starbucks coffee, save your money and brew your own coffee at home. It isn’t always easy but managing your spending will be rewarding in the long run.

5) Follow your dreams and don’t let anyone talk you out of it: Seriously, as corny as this sounds, you need to follow your heart. If I had listened to what my family wanted for me, I would not be riding still. Instead, I would be working a job that I did not like, in the city, staring at the clock and counting down the hours until I could leave and go ride my horses. Would I have been making more money? Definitely. But I would not have been nearly as content. Whether or not your dreams involve a horsey career or not, you need to pursue them. It may be scary at times but the journey will be worthwhile. Even if you do not make it to where you plan, you’ll still be better off than if you did not try at all. If you want to do that CCI1* next fall, make it happen. If you want to backpack around Europe, do it. It’s your life so take control of it.

6) Quit rushing and chasing things: Rushing up the levels in this sport and chasing after an unrealistic goal will only end in near disaster. You need to be patient, pay your dues and keep chipping away at your goals. Nothing should be carved in stone – there will always be another event you can upgrade at, major games in another four years, etc. The same applies to the non-horsey aspects of life. Don’t chase after relationships; if something is meant to be it will happen. Avoid making rash decisions regarding finances, career changes and so on. Everything you do in life should be well thought out. Jumping into things out of desperation will rarely pay off.

7) Your happiness is your own responsibility: At the end of your competition season you can reflect on your year happily with how far you have come or sulk because you did not accomplish X, Y and Z. It is all about perspective. This goes for every single moment in your life. Happiness is all in YOUR head so it is a choice. A coach once told me, “Eventing is 90% disappointment, 10% success”. Do the math, if you decide to embrace your disappointments, 90% of the time you are going to pretty miserable. Riding has taught me how to focus on the positive side of things and I apply this lesson to every moment in my life. Yes, sad things will happen and you don’t always have to be smiling. But wallowing in self-pity is a waste of life. Be happy!

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