Attitude is a Choice

Attitude is a Choice

Several people commented on my Friday & Saturday show report commending me for my good attitude. Believe me, that attitude is not my natural inclination.

I’m a fiercely competitive person. I want to win. I don’t like to step foot in the ring unless I think there is a chance that I will get something in the class. While I don’t feel like I put my competitive desires ahead of my horse’s welfare, the truth of the matter is that I really want to be one of those riders that “cleans up” consistently.

Going to a show and not doing well with ribbons & points is a bit of a bummer for me. Last year, I went to a weekend show at the Expo center and wasn’t competitive. What that blog post hints at but doesn’t state directly is that my attitude at that 2014 show was pretty statistic. I wasn’t proud of me or my horse. I pouted. I would tell anyone who would listen how crappy of a rider I was and how much I sucked.

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I was not much fun to be around. As I sat by the ring and ate my horse show treat, grilled cheese with bacon, my head was full of spiraling negativity.

This past weekend, I still ate a grilled cheese with bacon… but I did it while chatting with barn friends about anything but my crappy riding.

Look, I’m not thrilled with some of the riding choices I made this weekend, but the fact of the matter is – it’s just not that damn important. Finding your husband dead is something to be upset about. Part of my ability to smile this weekend stems from the trauma I’ve had in the past two months. After surviving all that, I promise you I can handle going off course in my jump off.

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Another part is the generosity of people that allowed/will allow me to show. I literally am paying for 90% of my shows this month with donations from the horse community. It would be a total slap in the face to them if I were to take that act of kindness and meet it with a sour attitude because I didn’t take home a ribbon.

My friend’s husband has a line that he will tell her if things don’t exactly go to plan. When a show is a total bust, he’ll counter with “Isn’t it a luxury to have a bad horse show?” That might not be what us equestrians want to hear after spending a lot of money showing and not having a great go… but it’s true. Just being able to ride our horses and take them places is a luxury in itself. As I was warming up for my medal on Sunday morning, we found out that a barn friend’s horse had to be put down due to colic. That’s sad. Going too fast down the outside line in the equitation… not sad.

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Tim used to always get upset at me when I didn’t seem to enjoy my riding. This hobby involves a lot of sacrifice, and that’s going to be even more true for me as I march forward on a single income. Celebration and despair are emotions all of us riders are going to feel. Being disappointed is unavoidable in the horse world. It’ll happen with shows, with breeding, with vet care… everything.

How we conduct ourselves  is a choice. I can choose to focus on the good with my horse life, and I will.

37 thoughts on “Attitude is a Choice

  1. This rings so true for me. After I lost Dad last year, little things weren’t as much of a deal. I notoriously avoided vegetables in my food growing up and into adulthood and was labeled a picky eater. After Dad passed away, I said, sure why not, when asked if I’d try my friend’s cooking and now have a new found love for tomatoes. My vegetable phobia just wasn’t a big deal anymore. Different, but the same?

  2. Love this. My attitude at horse shows is something I have had to work on, hard. I am so competitive and I like things done my way. I don’t normally get upset if things go wrong and I can always find the positive, however, I am a bitch to be around when I’m stressed. Poor Eric has been so good about dealing with me but I realized that it’s just not fair to him. He likes to come to my horse shows and he likes to help out and watch me ride. I should not be that mean to him. He just wants to help. So yeah, totally am with you on this.

  3. i mean those grilled cheeses with bacon should put a smile on anyone’s face. have you tried the chicken salad? also a winner!

  4. I’m totally printing this out and throwing it in my show info folder! As someone is also very competitive I do get pouty when my plan doesn’t work out and I can get totally into my own head and spiral downward from there. My husband is great at reminding me that this is supposed to be FUN. It’s not a job.

    Last Fall I totally went off course in the cross country portion of an event, so off course that I had to stop and look around to figure out just exactly where we were versus where we should be! I knew at that point that we were eliminated and the normal me would have freaked out. But, for some reason that day I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, what the hell, I came here to have fun and that’s what we’re going to do! I found the next fence and continued on my way to the finish with a smile on my face. The pressure was off and I was just galloping around the course having a grand time.

  5. “What a luxury to have a bad horse show.” This. This right here. I need to print this out, laminate it, and carry it around with me at all times.

  6. Wow, how timely and necessary this post was for me to read. I just had a conversation with my trainer last night about some of this. Expectations definitely get the best of me in my riding. Definitely saving this to read before every horse show ever.

  7. I’ve thought a lot about my attitude and mentality lately — in terms of life, work and riding. While I think I am a more naturally negative person, I’ve been working hard to change that. It doesn’t always happen and it certainly takes a lot of awareness, but so far, I think it’s been a really great change in my life. For me, success in large part is what I make it. I can choose to focus on the negative and not feel successful, or I can choose to focus on the positive and feel accomplished.

  8. Preach! Great post, shared it with a few friends.

    I’ve been doing a lot of work on my attitude in the last year. There are been some tough times but they have helped me be grateful for the good times.

  9. Very, very well written! It’s easy to get cranky about having a less than perfect ride or finishing out of the ribbons, but it is absolutely a luxury to have a bad horse show!

  10. What a great way to look at the life of horses and showing. Or just life in general. I can be pouty and competitive, but I have been trying to look at things now in a “look what I was able to do” kind of light.

  11. Bravo. I tend to stay pretty positive as well, but I do that on purpose. Because I can be so intensely competitive that I’d be happy to shove someone out of my way to win, l have to force myself to go into it with a “we’re just here to have fun” attitude or I’d be miserable. I hated showing as a kid and in college, but I’ve really been enjoying the shows I’ve been to this year with the goal being having fun, not winning.

  12. I love all of this. We can all learn something from this, and I honestly wish I could hang this on the front of everyone’s lockers at my barn. Life is precious, just having the chance to try should be enough.

  13. This is a great post. You could be a motivational speaker for equestrians. Enjoy the ride no matter what. I must embrace this sentiment.

  14. These are very good points to keep in mind and come from a good perspective. I’m really glad that you were able to get out and show.

  15. my grandfather is fond of saying ‘perspective is reality’ and if your perspective is narrowed into horse show tunnel vision, going too fast down that line in the equitation course is a pox upon humanity. but really, i side with you here. sometimes it’s not nice to think about (and so very sorry for your friend who lost her horse!), but there really are much worse things. you, personally, very likely wish you had less experience in that regard. but having that broader perspective really can be instrumental in finding joy (or the more sedate but still invaluable ‘enjoyment’) in things that would otherwise be disappointing.

  16. Love that line from the friend’s husband. Even at our worst days as riders, it is such a luxury to even be here. Although, from time to time, I will allow myself moments of “JSHFKSAHFJASHFA”, I try to maintain that same attitude. It could be so, so much worse.

  17. I completely agree that attitude is choice. I can’t imagine finding your husband dead, but I did have my own life changing event. A couple years ago I found out that my then fiancé had been cheating on me for years. That sucked but even worse was the fact that I had helped raise his daughter as my own and in one day she was removed from my life as well. I basically lost a child. It was a death in its own way. So now when I have a bad ride I have perspective that my life has been worse, and this is new to me because I have always been competitive.

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