Have you ever gone to a show after working really hard, only to have your high hopes of success dashed by your uncooperative four-legged partner? Most of us probably have, and sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the positives. I was guilty of this just a few days ago.
My childhood barrel horse, who I’d re-homed when I moved to Texas, recently returned to my care through an unusual twist of events. I had never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d get the chance to ride her again, let alone show her. She is admittedly below the caliber of most speed horses in the North Texas area, but as a Novice Amateur in the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), I decided to give breed shows a whirl.
Our first event of the year was the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. I kept my expectations low – after all, I hadn’t run my mare in a competition since 2008. While there was a lot of room for improvement, “Lucky” really impressed me at the event. She earned two APHA points – her first ever – and won me a few ribbons to hang on my wall.
After everything went well in Fort Worth, I was really excited for my next show. I worked hard. She worked hard. I knew we were more prepared than we had been for the stock show, so naturally this show would be an even bigger success, right? After showing horses all my life, you’d think I’d know better!
By the time the speed divisions started at my show last weekend, it was well past 11 p.m. My classes ran until the wee hours of the next morning, and to say my mare was fed up with the whole shebang would be a massive understatement. Her two barrel runs were decent (despite hitting the third barrel on run No. 2), but it got progressively worse from there.
On the drive home, I was disappointed, frustrated and, honestly, embarrassed. I thought to myself, perhaps we aren’t cut out for this level of competition. I was throwing myself a genuine pity party! (Here’s a shout out to my very patient friend and co-worker Brandyl Brooks, who was nice enough to haul my horse and tolerate my whining on the drive home at zero dark thirty.)
The next morning, I reminded myself that I was lucky just to be showing Lucky, and that my goal when I started this journey was just to get her back in the show pen (which I’ve achieved twice now). My new goal was to get her qualified for the APHA World Show, and just enjoy the time I have left to run my 24-year-old spitfire of a mare. I’d lost sight of that, but don’t worry, I put myself in my place! I know my show next month will be fun, no matter how we place.
Perspective, folks – It’s all in how you look at it.
Have you ever lost perspective in the competitive horse show world, and then realized how fortunate you are just to be doing what you love? Send me an email about it at [email protected].