This is a huge topic that cannot really be covered in one short blog, but I thought that I would touch on the subject and give an insight into my view.
As a young rider in the eventing community it can sometimes feel overwhelming and that you haven’t got a chance with some of the other competitors and horses that you are un against. Don’t read this incorrectly, I’m not saying that I am the best rider in the world, but quite often it can feel like if everyone’s opportunities were equal, with the same horsepower and same support teams, that you would be doing a lot better.
In the equestrian world there is a great deal of envy and jealously, in fact I have never known a sport that can be so unsupportive of fellow competitors, and so it can be easy to fill yourself with doubt.
Social media has a HUGE role to play in the pressure that any, but particularly younger, riders feel to do well. Of course, pressure is a good thing in order to get good results and perform to your best, but there is a fine line where if the pressure becomes too great, competing seems like an enormous hurdle and if you do have a bad day what are you going to write on your page? This type of type of pressure can be horrendous, the crippling fear of failure is something that many riders battle with regularly. I really struggled with this about a year into eventing my first proper horse ‘Chacoa’. Chacoa is a lovely horse that is super talented but can be quirky, halfway through my first season with him we started to come across some problems jumping, with him stopping and me often ending up on the floor. Obviously, I began to feel defeated in myself but also the doubts and concerns about what other people would think of me began to appear. I worried that people would think I was ruining a good horse or that his ability was wasted with me. I think that this is a fear that almost all equestrians have.
In the end I sat myself down and made the decision that this was either going to ruin any chance I had at ever doing well or I had to get myself into a better mindset for competing. I decided that I was just going to compete for me, not to impress other people, or worry about letting those who support me down, I had to go out there are compete just for myself. Since then my riding has improved tenfold, I don’t get those stomach-turning nerves that I used to and I enjoy every minute of competing (well unless I end up on the floor haha!!).
Just a piece of advice to all horse people; yes, we all have differing ideas about how horses should be kept, fed, trained, travelled, what level they should be competing etc. but please next time you think to criticise someone or ‘give them your opinion even though it wasn’t asked for’, just bite your tongue. As long as the horse’s welfare isn’t being compromised just live and let live.