Publisher’s Note: Do you have to be inherently selfish to be a great rider?

BY Piper Klemm

I love this time of year because it is such a privilege to see the level of competition we have coming up in our schedule—to watch the best hunter and equitation riders all compete under the same roof, and to watch the most magnificent horses tackle every challenge Indoors throws at them. 

A couple years ago I was sitting in the stands at Harrisburg admiring every hunter that walked in the pro divisions when I started to look at the in-gate. In the class I was watching, every single rider had a significant other who handled many parts of their daily lives for them. I kept watching and thinking about this. Showing at the top level is such a team sport—of course, it is rider and horse first, but then it also takes so many people to handle the complications and logistics of today’s horse show world. 

Down to the most basic, all of these horses needed to be entered immediately on a certain day when their riders were probably competing at another horse show. Every show required a myriad of hotels, flights, and arrangements for riders, staff, clients, and horses. 

To peak at any time, but especially in a certain moment, you have to say no to so much. No to yourself, no to those around you who you love, and no to outsiders. And you do need to be selfish and put yourself first because you have so many who are counting on you and depending on you doing so. 

To be at the top of the game, this is a necessity. To be the best at anything, you are asking all those in your life to support you. You have to be selfish. If those in your life agree to sign up for that experience, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. 

It breaks down in two forms. 1. This is a lifelong sport. There is no time to take your foot off the gas of being selfish unless you consciously choose to. 2. This behavior trickles down into the rest of our community as juniors and amateurs emulate the professionals.

I don’t have any answers and I struggle with all the same things. Last weekend I volunteered at a horse show rather than practicing my own riding. It will have consequences next time I show. Earlier this summer I spent two weeks riding and let other things in my life suffer. Balance is something that most of us need, but balance cannot exist at the elite or top of any sport. Those who make the most sacrifices tend to end up on top. 

As we go through Indoors, let’s think about what we want our lives to look like in 2024, what fills our cup, and how we keep ourselves sustained to have the energy to do the best possible job for our horses. Let’s think about how we acknowledge who is doing their part so that we can go out and accomplish great things. Let’s celebrate those who are all-in for the sport, and spend other parts of their lives being great friends, great caretakers, and integral parts of our community. Let’s celebrate giving and everyone’s role. Let’s all give just a little bit more of ourselves to the common good. 

Let’s all have a great Indoors! 

Piper Klemm, Ph.D.TPH PublisherFollow me on Threads at @piperklemm