By Piper Klemm
After spending many months at home like many of you, I re-emerged to horse show life with unprecedented organization, structure, and standards in my personal life. While somewhat jarring to settle back in to horse show life (port-a-potties, irregular meals and bathroom breaks, and the sort of physical exhaustion that only travel brings), I have been invigorated with just how incredible our entire community is.
Spending time with horses is the best way to pass any time, and the opportunity to hang out and learn from like-minded people is ever-present. Here are some of my takeaways from getting back to it.
1. The livestream has nothing on live action. While it is so great to have all these streams and they’re so much better than not getting to view at all, there is nothing like being at the horse show and feeling the electricity. The emotion and volume of effort that it takes to get ANY ribbon in this sport is overwhelming. Kudos to every person in every division who gets out there and gets sweaty and dirty. It is amazing at all levels.
2. You are either a student of this sport or you are a customer of this industry. Both are cool (Anyone who wants to join us in any form is cool and welcome), but one should not be confused for the other. If you truly want to excel, you have to be a student of the sport and stop thinking of yourself as the customer. True greatness will come from shedding ego and perceived power structure and being a student of the sport and losing yourself in the intensity of learning. (Me? I’m an amateur and a customer of the sport. I try my best and leave it all on the mat in any given ride, but I do not put the rides in to truly study or ever excel because I love this publication, and I’m all in here. We all choose where we belong in this community). It takes 10 years after your junior years to baseline any measure of success in this sport. Which is a really long time; keep at it.
3. Overcorrection is never the answer. In riding, in our own behavior, in our habits – overcorrection is never sustainable and never the long-term answer and rarely the short-term answer. Slow, methodical and incremental improvements in your riding, your health habits, and your attitude will win the day.
4. Move the jumps an intelligent and strategic amount for every horse. Every single horse is unique and needs to be set-up differently for competition. Just like our riders and owners – we all need something slightly different to get to our competitive best.
5. Stop talking, watch, listen, and jump to actual action faster. It’s amazing how when you are observing and your lips aren’t flapping, you can jump to action faster and get way more done in a day. What you do counts for more than what you say. Also, see #1 and think about how much time you want your trainer to spend talking to you versus training you. Again, either are fine, but this is your life and your competition goals. I spend a lot of time talking and getting comfortable, but again, I’m a customer and not destined for greatness.
6. Riding with a trainer coming from a place of fear doesn’t work. Being a competent and safe and educated trainer is so important. Give your trainer a bye on “bad” communication – we have enabled this as an industry. Take responsibility for all the things that your individual barn expects of you – whether it’s simply being dressed, clean, and on-time or to know what on-time is and how to get there. Remember that sitting back and watching can give you enormous anxiety, so plan your day accordingly.
7. Living out of a place of fear doesn’t work either.
8. Brand new tall boots are by no means what they were when I was a youngster, but they’re still really tight.