BY CHLOE HARDGRAVE
I was tired. I wanted to go home. I was covered in sweat and tears from the round before. My horse had pushed me past the point of a bad show round. I wanted to give up.
Now, this was not a one time thing. This was an every day, every lesson kind of ordeal. It was not just a single class. It was a routine. I began to feel like something was missing. I questioned everything from my horse to my ability to ride. And in this anguish, I realized something—the people you surround yourself with contribute to how you feel at the end of the day.
It matters who you horse show with. I heard a quote once, it said: “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness in you even when you don’t see it yourself.” This is especially true for your barn family. Lets face it—we all need someone to lift us up, no matter what we may say or feel. Here are five things that made me realize that the people you’re with at horse shows matter.
Horse People Aren’t Supposed to Be Mean Girls
Sometimes people in the equestrian industry can come off as rude or harsh, but that is a stereotype. The people you surround yourself with should not be this way. Sure, not everyone is going to be all smiles all the time. But you can not have people constantly bringing you down.
If you feel like all you are getting is negative remarks, maybe you need to confront the situation. Don’t let yourself get pushed to the floor because you assume it’s just as case of the “mean girls” at the show. Trainers and teammates can be nice and supportive of one another. Surround yourself with people who are kind!
We All Need Encouragement
I was told once that you should not base your success on the encouragement of others. Sure, we should not be longing for attention and validation from everyone we meet, but that is not the same as encouragement.
Recently, I had a really bad round. I was sore and upset, and was at a horse show with my team. They had all watched the round, and knew I was mad. What happened after that round was something I will never forget. I got pats on the back, encouraging words, and funny jokes to make me smile. It made me realize that I deserved to be encouraged and uplifted by those around me.
There is something about having a bad round and getting off and having good people around you. Sometimes all you need is support. And no, it is not going to happen every time. But, at least when you have more encouraging remarks than bad, you remember them far better. Surround yourself with people who encourage each other!
Be That Person Spreading Positivity
Have you ever heard the saying, “Do unto others as you want done to you?” I get how hard it is. But, be the person that—despite your own feelings and despite how others may be treating you—treats others with as much kindness and respect as you would like them to treat you. It is not easy at all. But, the right thing is not supposed to be always easy. It is supposed to be, well, right. Chances are, no matter how someone is treating you, at least you feel good knowing that you did your part to spread some cheer and support. Surround yourself with people who treat others the way you want to be treated.
Having fun is supposed to be the whole reason for horse showing. You are supposed to have fun with your friends and those around you. I had the best time this last weekend. Despite having a bad round, I was assured that when I dismounted my horse, I was going to have a good time no matter what. What exactly is the point horse showing if you do not have fun riding and it’s just as miserable on the ground? Allow yourself the fun that horse showing brings. Surround yourself with fun people that want each other to have a good time.
You are Allowed to Be Human
So often we, as equestrians, allow ourselves to almost be inhuman. We fake our emotions to be tough. When the fact of the matter is, at the end of the day, things do damage and affect us. Not necessarily physically, but mentally.
It hurts when someone makes a mean comment to us—even if we shrug it off. It is harmful when we get left out or are not included with the rest of the team, even if we laugh and say “whatever” in the moment.
I know I have learned to do a really good job of hiding how I feel, but it is not healthy. Do not hold how you feel about things. If someone on your team or within your riding circle is hurting you emotionally, do not feel obligated to hide it. You do not have to “suck it up.” You do not have to let it be a small thought. You are human too, and you have a right to be upset. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Surround yourself with people who want what is best for each other.
Realistically, we are all going to have faults and flaws with one another. But, do not allow yourself to believe that there are no good people in the world. Because there are.
I know some pretty amazing people. We uplift each other, we are there for each other, we encourage and congratulate each other, we have fun together, we vent to each other, and we stick together. I’m thankful for those people. And I have realized that in this sport, you do need those people. Who you horse show and ride with makes a huge impact.
Chloe Hardgrave is a sixteen year old show jumper from Southern California who is a H-B Rated United States Pony Club member. Currently, she’s working with her OTTB Johnny “Walk the Line.” Chloe has always loved writing.