What It Means To Compete Against Yourself

April 18 2016

By The Honest Trainer


With competition season fast approaching I started thinking about how excited I am to get back out there and compete. For me, nothing beats the thought of riding in front of a judge and spectators and receiving a score upon conclusion. I know not everyone thinks like this, but I do believe most other eventers are like me in that regard. The interesting thing about the sport of eventing is that generally you are not part of a team of other competitors, but instead it is just you and your horse pinned against others. The others, however, are not always the same riders at every other show, and it actually is rare to compete against the same person more than once or twice a season. So who is it that I am dying to compete against? The answer is myself.

As a child I was never in to team sports and mostly dreaded going to games. My parents insisted I try soccer, basketball and field hockey, but nothing stuck. Not being very athletic (or coordinated), I felt insecure next to the other girls on my team. Horseback riding was a different type of sport where if you made a mistake or placed badly, you had no one to blame but yourself.

Every time I walk into the dressage ring my first thought is that I am going to ride the test better than last time. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t, but I always want to keep trying. After the show is over I think about my performance for days. I analyze video and critiques from the judge and think about how I can make improvements. I ride my horses every day, painstakingly practicing movements over and over until I am satisfied. To an outsider it may seem like a lot of work, but to me it is one of the most important parts of my life.

What motivates me to compete is different than what motivates most athletes. It is not so that I can beat the rider that always wins my class, or so that I can help support my team. My results will only be compared to my past performances, not other people’s. It allows me to set goals and achieve them, when I am physically and mentally prepared. The sport of eventing is special to me because I am competing by myself and only for me.


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